Sunday, 23 January 2011

Some wanderings and back to the patch

First the 'wanderings', yesterday four of us set off to north Kent for a day in the field. We arrived at Reculver close to 7.30am in what could be described as inclement weather, it was pretty cold in the north wind. Heading for Coldharbour, it appeared fairly quiet, a small group of Sanderling were on the beach and a female Stonechat clung on to the side of a bush for dear life! Then the small group of Snow Buntings tumbled by keeping low, as ever they were camouflaged very well but we did manage to find one grovelling around before they disappeared over a breakwater and out of sight. There were good numbers of Brent Geese maybe 200 or so which were undecided on whether to stay on the beach or head to the fields as they flew back and forth during our visit. We neared Coldharbour and picked up 3 larks heading down the beach but were unable to relocate them immediately but eventually another birder found them settled and we had brief views of the 3 Shore Lark, my first in Kent, as we headed back we found them again and everybody saw them well, suddenly the weather didn't seem quite so bad!

We made a quick stop at Tescos in Whitstable and were fortunate that the Waxwings dropped in while we were there. After a few minutes they departed and we moved on to Oare Marshes, there was the usual good selection of waders that included around 70 Avocet but the highlight of the visit was a ring tail Hen Harrier that graced us with its presence. Also a really well marked male Marsh Harrier was a joy to watch as it hovered over the reeds. Our last stop was New Hythe, somewhere I haven't visited much, the first real noteworthy bird was an adult Whooper Swan, I don't know if it has been around just for the winter or if it is a sort of 'feral' resident, still a nice bird. We were lucky also to find a Bittern sitting in the reeds but showing well enough. Lastly a female Goldeneye was seen on the next lake and the weather really wasn't quite so bad by the end of the day.

Today at the castle it was quite a struggle really, not much flying about at all, a few Green and Goldfinches were in the car park and I was met by a couple of curious Robins

Part of the welcome party

As I walked by the veg garden a distant Buzzard drifted south and 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers chased each other round a nearby birch. The lake was still pretty quiet but I enjoyed watching 3 Goldcrests going about their business. At least 3 Mistle Thrushes were heard singing around different parts of the estate and the Siskin flock numbered about 50 as it flew over the lake. I decided to check the Linnet flock Stephen had found on Friday, I found them and there were about 60 birds plus 3 Skylarks feeding in the low winter wheat. The winter thrushes are starting to congregate in the Park field, normally they appear here just before they are ready to go, there was probably a mixed flock of about 100 birds, the valley watch today did produce the Peregrine again high up this time and barely flapping as it flew east.

These thrushes decided to fly off to save me getting frustrated with more out of focus close-ups!


Phil said...

Hi Alan, the Whooper Swan at New Hythe is a long staying 'escapee'. Most likely from a collection at Leeds Castle I believe. It's very tame but a nice bird all the same. Glad you were able to track down a New Hythe Bittern.

Rachel J said...

Don't forget the Jay that turned up on demand to boost the day's tally!

Alan Pavey said...

I had forgotten the Jay!! Thanks for the info Phil, there was a good selection of birds there and Bitterns are always a treat.