Thursday, 2 May 2013

Back on the patch

It's that time of year, when a young(ish) woman's thoughts turn to taking bad photos of newly arrived warblers on her local patch. Tuesday dawned sunny, and I was on my way to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve by 6am. Arriving at the reserve, the first thing I noticed was two fat Rabbits inside the wildlife garden, where they are Not Supposed To Be (there are gates and a fence to keep them out). I decided this probably wasn't my problem, and instead busied myself trying to photograph the Garden Warbler that was singing lustily from trees behind the garden. I didn't have much luck so went into the Grebe hide, noting Coal and Marsh Tit among the birds coming to the feeders.

Here's the Marsh Tit. I'll hold off posting a pic of the Coal Tit as I went a bit mad with them in my recent posts from Scotland :)

I headed for Tyler hide first. The daffs and narcissi are out on the woodland trail. I visited Tyler, Sutton, Kingfisher and Slingsby hides but saw rather little from any of them - the lake is now almost gull-less, and wildfowl (besides the ubiquitous Mallards and Tufties) down to a handful of Teals and Gadwalls.

On the walk back through the woods, I heard a couple of Willow Warblers singing and after much patience managed some shots of one of them.

I was just heading up towards Willow hide when I heard a familiar, much-loved and entirely unexpected song - Sedge Warbler. This was a patch tick for me - happy days! I had always hoped to find one but really didn't expect to do so here, in quite a thick bit of the woodland - the more open areas by Long Lake look much more suitable. But I'm not a Sedge Warbler, so what do I know? The Sedgie was exploring the riverside and showed quite well a few times.

A patch tick is always a treat. I continued towards Willow hide in cheerful mood, pausing to photograph (badly) some Blackcaps just by the hide. Then I briefly got my lens onto another warbler and nearly fell over with shock - ANOTHER patch tick, a Whitethroat. Again not really where I thought I'd find one, I would have put money on my first patch Whitethroat being near the big field at the far end of this part of the trail. But again, I'm not a Whitethroat... I sat on the bench and waited, and it showed well on a pile of cut logs.

The walk to Long Lake brought photos of a more expected warbler - Chiffchaff. There were also Reed Warblers in all the usual places but I barely managed to see any of them, let alone get any pics.

In the little meadow by Long Lake, I checked the refugia and found this lovely Grass Snake under one of them. It didn't move a muscle as I took its pic, only flinching slightly when I gently replaced the refugia. Pity about that ruddy great shadow on its face.

I went as far as the big field, which was very quiet. I flushed a Green Woodpecker here, which flew up into the trees and hid (almost).

Then back to the meadow, where I found another singing Garden Warbler. I managed to approach this one without its knowledge by sneaking around behind a bush and got some close, if rather obscured, photos. Then I explored the meadow in search of insects, although it was still chilly. A careful look around eventually produced my first Bee-fly of the year. Also a pair of Long-tailed Tits here, looking like they were nesting.

I went back past North Lake, where I saw my first Coot chicks of the year.

There are dozens of Blackcaps on the reserve at the moment, and I'd seen plenty of both sexes, but it wasn't until I'd nearly finished my walk that I managed a vaguely passable photo of one.

The reserve was getting busy (with people) by the time I got back to the car park, and the wildlife garden was full of children on a school trip. Hopefully they dealt with the rogue bunnies :) I finished with another look in Grebe hide - the Marsh Tit and Coal Tit didn't show though, so I had to make do with this rather fine-looking Chaffinch.

1 comment:

Graham Canny said...

Hi M,
Looks like another great day out. Some really lovely photos there, especially the Whitethroat and Chaffinch. I guess another visit down there is in order!
Best wishes, Graham