Thursday, 29 November 2012

Four days late...

I visited Sevenoaks WR on Sunday for a couple of hours mid-morning. Not sure why it's taken me so long to blog about it this time... maybe because it was one of those days when all the birds were too distant, or too quick for me, or too badly lit, and my photos just aren't that inspiring. But the birding was pretty good.

Grebe hide was busy so I didn't hang around for a go at the feeders, but headed straight for Willow hide. The trees are really starting to look pretty bare now. Little flurries of Siskins made sneezy calls as they whizzed overhead, and somewhere a Green Woodpecker chortled sardonically as it saw me coming and made sure I didn't see it. I reached Willow hide and settled in, noting straight away that the water was very high and apart from the usual swarms of Coots and a few Gadwalls there wasn't too much to see.

All was peaceful, until one Coot came clattering across from the far side of the lake to start a fight with another Coot, and soon a few others joined in. The ensuing ruck lasted about a minute and provided some welcome photo opportunities.

I was keeping an eye on the skies, and noted several Jays and Magpies plus a Stock Dove and more Siskins going over. Then a Sparrowhawk whirred low over the water, and plunged into the trees on the lefthand shore, where it had a mostly hidden altercation with a Magpie, sending the latter flapping away in alarm.

In the far corner of the lake there were a few extra ducks, including six Shovelers, five drakes and a duck, and a solitary Wigeon. No Teals - I imagine they have decamped to the East lake where there is some shallower water for them. A Kingfisher shot past at very close range and unphotographable speed.

Greylags and Canadas were feeding in the sheepfield beyond the lake. Five Egyptian Geese (probably the same five I photographed last time) pitched in among them, and had a noisy displaying session before settling down to feed.

I went on to Carter hide. Two people were already in situ, and moments later a Kingfisher flew in and landed among trees on the waterside, not particularly close but very nicely lit in full sunshine. As we watched, it moved in little darting flights along the shore, made one failed dive halfway along, and then flew across the lake and away. Nearby three Tufted Ducks were lolling and preening in the shallows.

I decided to head for the viewing mound at the corner of East Lake - I didn't feel like doing a full walk, as there were clouds building rapidly in some parts of the sky, and after getting thoroughly caught in the rain the day before I didn't fancy doing it again. On the way there I photographed this oak leaf, in its last flush of life.

From the mound I could see straight away that all the Lapwings were up, and so were the gulls. There's a couple of Commons among these Black-headeds.

This activity indicated a bird of prey was around, but I didn't spot it until it was almost too late. Pity. This is only my third Common Buzzard here, and a few moments earlier would probably have made a nice photo. Oh well. It disappeared among the trees, and gradually the birds over the lake settled down again.

I stayed on the mound for a while, photographing gulls and playing with camera settings. I noted a Jay feeding on the wooded island directly below, and two Kingfishers rushing low across the water some way off. Little groups of Teals were dabbling around the various islands' shores. Then this Carrion Crow came out of the trees, looking agitated.

All the other birds went up too. Among the Lapwings and gulls was a solitary Snipe which absolutely belted away high over the trees. I managed to get on to the raptor that had disturbed them a little quicker this time - it was a Sparrowhawk, second of the day.

I returned to the visitor centre after that, and found Grebe hide was empty. A Nuthatch was on the feeder, giving me lovely point-blank views as it scrambled about over the squirrel-proof cage, then squeezed inside to feast on sunflower hearts.

I held out for the Marsh Tit, which did finally show up and behaved beautifully, taking a single seed from the feeder then carrying it off to a branch and eating it before returning for another. Just a pity its chosen branch wasn't very well lit, but you can't have everything.

I'll finish with this Blue Tit. Someone remarked the other day that Blue Tits always look grumpy. Can't say I see it myself... :)


Rohrerbot said...

Excellent finds! Especially love the Kingfisher. Such a brilliantly colored bird. Looks like a great day to bird:)

Phil said...

Hi Marianne.
Snap! Had a similar visit to Sevenoaks myself this morning. Didn't see a single raptor though.
Very nice post as ever. Hope you are keeping well.

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
As you say , light is a big problem now , but you managed to find some sun , esrecially on the Kingfisher . Like the Coots doing their 'square dance' , always gives me a smile .
Still little in the way of Winter visitors on site , but the colder forecast might bring something in .