Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Signs of a seasonal change at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve - weather has become horrible, lots of groups of hirundines are going over, the (still very leafy) woods are full of Chiffchaff chat and there aren't very many insects around. I went to the reserve with Shane this morning, an impulse decision, and because it was a bit rubbish we also went to Bough Beech. It was a mostly sunny morning, with light breezes, and was getting quite warm by lunchtime.

One of the afore-mentioned hirundines, photographed over the car park. This bird's brownish smudgy neck says it's a juvenile House Martin, just a few weeks old and ready to take on the world.

We went directly to Willow hide, hoping for a Kingfisher show. We did see at least one but not photographably. The water level here has risen a little, not as much as I'd have thought from all the rain there has been lately. There were good numbers of Teals on the water but no sign of the first autumn Wigeon yet, nor even any Gadwalls or Shovelers. Flyovers included several Jays and a few Stock Doves, including this one which (in blithe disregard of the season) was carrying a bulky bit of nesting material.

On to Tyler hide, where the muddy shores everywhere looked good for waders, except (apparently) unless you actually are a wader. After much searching I finally located a distant, embarrassed-looking Snipe, but apart from that, just Lapwings, Teals, BHGs and a shedload of geese. We continued to Sutton hide and found a lot more geese with a few Cormorants among them, including these two doing their werewolf impressions.

The insistent squeaking of three Great Crested Grebe chicks hassling their parent carried to us from the far side of the lake. Another GCG, this one unencumbered by offspring, paddled into the nearby shallows and gave itself a very thorough preen, striking various cute and bizarre postures in the process.

On the walk back, it was warm enough for butterflies. We found two Commas feeding on the dregs of Buddleia flowers near Tyler hide, plus a few whites. The wildlife garden produced a couple of Common Darters, the only dragons around today.

And so on to Bough Beech, which we reached more by luck than judgement thanks to my shoddy navigating and a sat nav that couldn't find its signal. We pulled up on the causeway to scan the reservoir, which was very depleted with much exposed shore. On the other side, the water here was reduced to a few pools and channels.

At last, a wader! And an unexpected one. This Black-tailed Godwit was in one of the channels, all on its own, and was giving itself an indulgent face-and-bill mudpack treatment.

Nor was it the only wader around. Further out on the same side was a fine Greenshank, and we found another on the reservoir side. Back on the... non-reservoir side, Shane found a Common Sandpiper bobbing about on a pile of rocks, and finally we pinned down an example of the most expected wader of all, a Green Sandpiper.

On the reservoir side, there were lots of Greylags on the shore nearby, and scattered Little Egrets as far as the eye could see. This one wasn't very far at all though. There were also Mallards, Tufties and BHGs, plus a single winter-plumaged Common Tern energetically fishing.

We walked down to the visitor centre, stopping at the gate by the orchard where the feeding station used to be and noting that it wasn't there any more. Is this just a summer thing? I hope so. Then on to the little hide. I was pleased to see that the pool that it overlooks has been effectively screened off from the paths now. However, on opening the hide windows we discovered that the pool is not (at least not at the moment) a pool at all, but an expanse of soggy-looking green vegetation across which a few Moorhens were wandering. I scanned the dead trees behind the pool-that-isn't-a-pool, ever hopeful for a Little Owl, but found only a few Goldfinches and Linnets.

So it was in a state of mild disappointment that we headed back to the causeway. I suppose a migrating Osprey was a little too much to hope for but not even a Buzzard? Ah well, it was nice to be out. And I found another wader at the last moment, a Snipe that was much closer than the one at Sevenoaks, and showing off its lovely chestnut tail feathers into the bargain.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Hi Marianne,
I spent some time at both those reserves from late morning onwards :-)

I saw everything you did at Bough Beech apart from the Greenshank.

I failed with the Kingfisher in the willow hide, but got to see both migrant and Southern Hawaker, photographing the latter :-)

Shame I didn't get to see my first sighting of you though :-)