Thursday, 4 October 2012

I've got visual!

Today, just before I set off home after two fairly quiet hours at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, I had a patch 'first', although I've heard one here before. Let's start at the beginning though. I arrived at about 7am, under clear skies, and checked in at the screened feeding station in the wildlife garden, which is usually pointless as the feeders tend to be empty. Not today though. Both feeders were full, and on one was a Nuthatch and on the other was a Coal Tit. Nice. (Though it was too dark for photos.)

On to Willow hide, my plan being to sit there til the sun lit up the water and then, hopefully, a Kingfisher would come and pose for me. (Spoiler alert - this didn't happen.) When I walked in, there were several Gadwalls and a couple of Teals very near the hide but they paddled hastily away, despite my attempts to keep quiet. Having arranged the furniture to my satisfaction (the benches are too low for a short-arse like me but luckily there are a couple of kitchen stools in there too which are a bit higher) I settled down and waited.

The female Mute Swan was feeding quite close at hand, but her fella was nowhere to be seen. I hoped he was OK and, if he wasn't, that she'd be OK. She was making do with the company of a lone Canada Goose. No Egyptian Geese around today, and the only Greylags I saw were a trio that flew overhead at height.

 Because the water was still shrouded in shadow, I focused my attention on the sky and attempted to photograph whatever flew by. This Great Spotted Woodpecker came out of the big tree on the island opposite, heading straight towards me. I'm amazed I managed to catch it - I suppose to get an in-focus shot would have been too much to ask...

Sun getting higher now. The lit-up autumn foliage made a nicely coloured backdrop for this not-quite-sharp male Mallard.

My very best ever Jay in flight pic was taken from this hide a couple of years ago, and I have yet to rival it. This was the best of today's efforts and it's not great, but there was certainly no shortage of acorn-laden Jays, just none of them close enough. Those white blobs in the background are half of a flock of six white domestic pigeons that were wheeling about beyond the lake.

Phew, he's OK. Mr Mute checked in about an hour after I arrived, and powered across the lake in full blown-up aggression mode to join his mate.

Another flyby, a young male Blackbird, yet to develop his yellow bill. I also saw a Mistle Thrush... but that doesn't really amount to impressive winter thrush movement. However, I did see a couple of small flocks of Siskins and, a vestige of summer, a trio of Swallows.

Several frisky Gadwalls arrived, and bickered together with much nasal quacking, before five of them took off and circled the lake, the four drakes all overexcited in the presence of a lone (and rather worried) female.

Another drake, who had been on the water directly in front of me, leapt air-wards to join them.

I left soon after this and walked back towards the visitor centre, noting singing Chiffchaff and Wren, and another little gang of Siskins. I went into the wildlife garden and looked through the screen - still too dark for photos, and moreover the bench was soaking wet. So I walked around the outside of the screened bit to see if I could spot anything interesting in the willow that serves as a launchpad for birds using the feeders. I found a good spot to stand and noted Chaffinch, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, plus a Nuthatch.

Then a Marsh Tit appeared, posed beautifully on one of the screen posts for 0.002 milliseconds and flew. I had to wait, after that, and eventually after four repeat performances from the tit I was pointing my lens the right way at the right moment, and got the photographic evidence of the first Marshie I've seen here, nine months after I heard but failed to see one up by Long Lake.


Alan Pavey said...

Some lovely shots Marianne, really like the Gadwalls, excellent. I still haven't managed any sort of Jay shot, yours is really nice and great light on it :-)

Warren Baker said...

Like those Gadwall shots Marianne :-)

I'm still tring to catch a 'Jay in flight' If I dont get one this year I never will, they are everywhere!

Not had a Marsh Tit on my patch this year, I used to have a regular pair overwintering, but they seemed to have disappeared since spring 2011

loribee said...

Lovely report and photos once again. I especially like the gadwall in flight and the marshie. Congratulations on your piece on the crake in Birdwatch Magazine by the way :-)

Mike H said...

Lovely shot of that Narsh Tit Marianne and great account of your time spent there. One day we will bump into one another!

Rohrerbot said...

Love your trek. Gorgeous shots. The ducks are always a sign that fall is in there air over here. That Swan is a treat:)

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Well done getting the MT shot , I've been on the lookout for them there too after reading reports .
Great Gadwall-overhead shot .