Sunday, 11 November 2012

SWR sunshine

What a contrast to yesterday. I set off at about 7.30am, under pure blue skies, the rising sun beginning to catch the treetops, and walked down to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. I got settled in Grebe hide, as this was where I'd arranged to meet Lisa and Adam for a morning of photo-taking.

The feeders were fully stocked, and within the first couple of minutes two Nuthatches and a Marsh Tit had visited, in addition to many Blue and Great Tits and a couple of Chaffinches.

I'm not sure if my presence kept it from visiting the feeders, but this Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in and surveyed the scene from a nearby, very shadowed tree trunk. Much Photoshopping was needed to stop it being a silhouette.

Lisa and Adam arrived soon after this and joined in with the feeder photography. I found a place to stand where I had a good view of a particular branch that some of the birds were using as a 'pre-feeder' perch, and got a few photos.

I was delighted when the Marshie came and sat on 'my' stick. The light was bad and shutter speeds not great, but a few were sharp enough.

The Nuthatches wouldn't use this stick though, so to catch them I had to look elsewhere. Luckily they sometimes hung around for a few seconds, just long enough to get a lock on.

This Robin showed up and began to hover ineptly before the feeder. I couldn't catch it in action but managed a few while it was getting its breath back. Meanwhile, another Robin had come into the hide and was hopping around our feet, searching for crumbs.

I'm not sure what the bright blue thing is behind this male Chaffinch. I suspect it's something that looks much better when completely out of focus.

We wandered up to Willow hide after this, not seeing very much on the way. East Lake was positively steaming as the sunshine started to work on it, resulting in a low, picturesque mist which I couldn't photograph as I didn't have a wide-angle lens with me. Sorry about that.

The view from Willow hide was disappointing - the water was high and most of the birds on it were Coots. A few Gadwalls, Mallards and Tufties joined them, plus the resident Mute Swans.

This Jay flew into one of the trees on the island. Knowing it probably wouldn't stay there long, I was prefocused and ready for when it flew, though I didn't really expect it to fly directly towards me. Of the resultant burst of shots, only this one is anything like in focus.

Although we saw no 'proper' winter thrushes today, it was nice to see several Song Thrushes, including this one on the way to Long Lake.

Long Lake was fairly quiet too. The Mutes that live there came over to see if we were going to feed them, and when we didn't the male started eating the bulrushes at the water's edge. Meanwhile, this young Cormorant flew over. At the far end, a Kingfisher flashed by and landed - too briefly for photos - in a lakeside tree.

We went down to the big field beyond Long Lake and looked out at a load of grass and not much else. Three Ring-necked Parakeets flew past, going into the same group of trees by East Lake where we'd found a nesthole back in May.

We returned to the start and walked along the south shore of East Lake, calling in at the Tyler hide where we found, in addition to stuff already seen elsewhere, Teals, Shovelers, Common and Herring Gulls with many Black-headed, a lone Snipe and a lot of Lapwings.

Then it was on to Sutton and Slingsby hides. Nice group of Tufties plus a male Pochard outside Sutton. Nothing from Slingsby except this male Sparrowhawk flying over distantly with a Carrion Crow in hot pursuit.

We returned to the visitor centre for much-needed tea after that. Lisa and Adam only had a little time left and opted to spend it in Willow hide, as we'd been told there had been Kingfishers seen earlier.

On the way we stopped to photograph this particularly dazzling Beech tree's foliage. I struggled to find a good angle for a nice composition. This was the best I managed.

All was even quieter at Willow hide, though a Wigeon had appeared at the far side of the water. Then a large flock of mainly Canada Geese flew in, with this fivesome of Egyptian Geese bringing up the rear.

Among the geese was this white one. I've seen it before, paired up with a Canada. Not had such close views of it before though, it's normally out on East Lake. This bird puzzles me, as the few very dark feathers on its back don't seem to tally with a barnyard Greylag (which is what most white geese turn out to be). I might post this pic for identification somewhere.

The Egyptians had landed on the far side but came swimming towards the island, giving us nice views as they went.

The Canadas, meanwhile, more or less simultaneously decided it was time for a vigorous bathing session. I happened to be looking at this one through my camera when it performed a forward roll, and I got my best pics of this amusing manouevre.

Other birds seen but not photographed included a few Siskins, and a Green Woodpecker that followed us around laughing heartily but refusing to be seen.

So, a good day all round, and photographing anything is a joy in weather like this. I was really happy to get some better Marsh Tit and Nuthatch pics in particular. But my bird of the day, by a country mile, is the gorgeous crocheted owl that Lisa presented me with at the end of our walk, a lovely surprise. Thanks so much, Lisa, I love him. Here he is :)


Warren Baker said...

You got some good flight shots there Marianne, like that Parakeet and Jay very much :-)

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Certainly was a contrast to Saturday , we were hedgelaying then .
The sun certainly brought the birds out for you , my last couple of visits there were very quiet .
I've often wondered about that white goose , would be interesting to get a positive ID .
Like Warren , like the flight shots .

Jingo said...

Great post. I think I would be pretty confident in saying your almost leucistic goose is, as you suggested, a domesticated/Greylag hybrid.