Thursday, 28 January 2010

January 28th.

During the afternoon I called into the Little Lunsford lake to take pics of the Goldeneye.

A walk round the lakes at New Hythe during the morning produced little of note apart from the Goldeneye on Brookland and 15 Fieldfare which flew over north,no Redwing were seen.

January 27th.

When I arrived home from the lakes I was pleased to see no less than 6 Reed Buntings on our feeder.Also a male Blackcap was seen in the garden,which now makes three,the other two have rings (2 males and 1 female).

A quick look at Brookland lake during the morning produced the brown-head Goldeneye and 2 overflying Grey Wagtail the last of which came over from the direction of the river.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

January 26th (Dungeness)

I spent the morning and early afternoon at Dungeness,it was colder than I had expected with a raw wind.My first point of call was the fishing boats where I had hoped to see the Snow Bunting which has been seen in the area.Although I missed out on the Bunting there was good numbers of Guillemots with a smaller number of Gannet offshore,all of which were mainly passing east.
From there I went round to the RSPB reserve,stopping off on the way at the RAC pits to take pics of a Marsh Harrier which was in the air not far from the road.Once on the reserve I saw most of the specialities but one bird I wasn`t expecting was frustratingly seen just a few minutes before I arrived at the Dengemarsh hide.A male Penduline Tit had been seen just a few feet away from the front of the hide feeding on bullrush heads,I felt sick and to make things worse the light had just improved.Although I stayed around for a while it wasn`t seen again.
I was partly compensated a little later on when I found a showy Slavonian Grebe on one of the smaller pits further on round the path.All in all a good days birding and I must have seen at least five different Marsh Harriers,four of which were in the Dengemarsh area.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

January 24th (SPOT THE BITTERN)

During the afternoon I thought I would pop down to the lakes and try and see the Bittern that can sometimes be found on Abbey Mead.Anyway as luck would have it I was halfway along the path which runs between Brooklands lake and the railway when I met Terry Laws.He told me he had just been watching a Bittern a few yards further on.Terry was onto it straight away but it took me a little while longer,it was in the reeds that run along the edge of the lake only about sixty feet away but was very well concealed.We both waited around for a while to see if it would come out into the open but it just melted further into the reeds.Terry left soon after, I
walked further along to Abbey Mead where I saw nothing on note.On my way back I had a quick look for the Bittern but it was still not showing.Anyway my thanks to Terry and I understand it was his first visit to the lakes since the New Year,so at least he got off to a good start with the Bittern.

Friday, 22 January 2010

January 22nd ( Cuxton river and pools)

My intention this afternoon was to go and have a look at Halling Common,but as I neared Halling I had a change of heart and thought I would go further afield,mind you not that far just up the road to the pools under the motorway bridge at Cuxton.I have often looked down at the pools as I passed in the car and thought they looked interesting and I know on this part of the river you can still sometimes see Dunlin.I approached the pools and river via the roundabout just before you go down into Strood.The pools didn`t disappoint for a first visit birds noted - 15 Teal,8 Mallard,60+B h Gulls,1 Common Gull,1 L B Gull,100 Lapwing,2 Snipe,20 Redshank,I Little Egret and best of all 1 Greenshank.Along the river more Lapwing were present along with 30+ more Redshank,I Oystercatcher and 3 Black-tailed Godwit.The Godwit and Greenshank are probably the same birds that were seen at Halling a few weeks ago,I saw no Dunlin.

January 21st.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Overcast and dull during the morning,brighter during the afternoon,quite mild.

A short visit to Holborough marsh during the morning produced little of note apart from 2 Little Egrets.I then went onto the lakes where the only different sighting from yesterdays visit was a drake Wigeon on Abbey Mead.

During the afternoon a short ringing session in the garden produced 2 Blue Tit,4 Long-tailed Tits and 1 Blackcap (male).The Blackcap had a fat and muscle score of 4/2 and a w.t of 24g,the average summer w.t is 18g.Its nice to know they are doing well after the cold spell.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

January 20th (New Hythe)

I was out this morning between - 1030 most of the time it was dull and overcast,also rather cold.I parked in the Brookland car-park,where it was nice to see the continued presence of the Goldfinches and the red-head Goldeneye on the lake.I then walked out to the river where there was a good number of Lapwing at least 40 birds,along with 6 Gadwall,60 Teal,1 Dabchick,1 Shelduck and 1 Snipe.As I walked past the sunken marsh a Water Rail called and 25 Stock Dove flew over north.Duck numbers on Abbey Mead are now rather low,just 50+ Tufted Duck,8 Gadwall,6 Pochard,14 Mallard,60+ Coot and 6 Crested Grebe.I had a quick look at the Heronry where I saw 2 birds.I then continued over the rail and back to the car along the millstream path.The only birds of note being 3 Woodcock which flew across the path as I walked through the west scrub.I think they were probably put up by two dogs that were crashing all through the bushes,yet again.On my way around I met Phil Sharp who informed me that the red-head Smew can now be seen on the motorway lake.

I was back again in the afternoon and had two nets up in the west scrub - birds ringed - Blackbird 1,Long tailed Tit 3,I also had 4 retraps,3 long-tailed Tits and 1 Great Tit all of which were first caught in the west scrub either in 08 or 09.

Monday, 18 January 2010

January 18th (west scrub) and (Halling Common)

Another quick look at the west scrub this morning produced 1 overflying Woodcock,small numbers of Redwing, 4 Greenfinch and a calling Cetti`s Warbler.

During the afternoon I looked in on Halling Common between 1230-1330,the river was high.Now that the cold spell has passed far fewer birds are to be seen,for instance I had no geese or duck apart from 4 Mallard.On the wader front I only saw Redshank (35+) and 2 Snipe,but there again it was high tide.Other birds of note were Little Egret 1,Yellowhammer 1 and at least 25 Magpie.
Janaury 19th 1963 (watercress beds)East Malling) very cold,windy,more snow.
Birds present - Mallard 7,Teal 21,Wigeon (1 drake) Smew (1 red-head) Heron 1,Snipe 2 and Moorhen 3.

January 20th 1963 (watercress beds) East Malling - birds present -Whooper Swan (3 adult) Grey-Wagtail 1,Kingfisher 1,Snipe (many) Wigeon (1 duck) Teal 25,Mallard 15 and Heron 1.
During the afternoon I rode my bike to the river at Holborough and saw one adult Whooper flying down the river towards Halling.Other birds seen there were - Teal 20+,Snipe,Dunlin 150,
Curlew 3 and Smew (2 adult drakes and 2 red-heads).

Phil,good records for the watercress beds,but that winter of 1963 was exceptional.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Janaury 15th (BITS AND PIECES)

January 15th -New Hythe (west scrub) - 6 Woodcock were put up from one small area and a Green Sandpiper flew over.Only a short visit was possible today so I thought I would put it to good use and find myself a Woodcock,I half expected more than one,but not six.

Janury 14th - (Garden) - A female Blackcap was caught with a healthy fat and muscle score of (2 and 2) and a w.t.of ( 20.3g).

Most of the snow has now gone but it remains cold.Only two Redwing were seen in the garden today,both feeding on Ivy berries.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Janaury 12th (Garden)

Adult Redwing below,rounded tail feathers,no triangular white markings on tertials tips.

Young bird upper,pointed tail feathers,white triangular makings on tertials tips.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Redwing today were more numerous around our estate than Starlings,at least 30 were in and out of the garden all day.Another first for the garden this winter was a single Mistle Thrush.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

January 10th (Halling,Common)

Although still cold with a northeastly a thaw had set in.9.30-10.30am.the river was on the turn from high tide.
Birds of note - Black-tailed Godwit 4,Ringed Plover 3,Ruff 2,Curlew 8 + the usual Lapwing and Redshank,Gadwall 5,Wigeon 11,Canada Goose 58,Greylag 3,Mallard 6,Snipe 6+,Jack Snipe 1,Meadow Pipit 40+,Rock Pipit 2,Skylark 4 (northwest) Redwing 60 (northwest)Fieldfare 20 (northwest) Linnet 9,Yellowhammer 2 and Kestral 1.

You would think a few more good waders would make the effort to fly a bit further onto New Hythe,I know they reach Holborough at times.

From the beginning of the 1970s through to the mid 1980s,Ruff occurred almost annually between August and May.Most of the records were from the marshes at Holborough and Burham.The maximum recorded was 35 from January 31st-March 19th,1976.

Friday, 8 January 2010

January 8th.

remaining very cold,northeast,more snow.
Three Redwing arrived in the garden late in the afternoon but unfortunately only stayed a short while.The Blackcap (male),Pied Wagtail and Reed Buntings and 3 Greenfinch were also present.
The Blackcap was at times feeding on the fat balls,this is a first for me.
During the morning I walked along the Millstream from the Lunsford lane entrance as far as the Millstream lake and then back again.I was hoping to find a Water Rail or Jack Snipe as in past years,although I had no luck with either of those species I did however flush a Common Snipe,see the Kingfisher again and get quite close to a Heron.During the walk I saw very few small birds apart from a Robin,2 Blackbirds,1 Reed Bunting,1 Song Thrush and 6 overflying Redwing.On the way back it started to snow again.

The last time we had prolonged snow like this we lost our Cetti`s Warblers,lets hope it ends soon but not before some good birds turn up.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Garden (January 7th)

In the garden the male Blackcap was back,no sign of the female though.Two species that can be regarded as scarce visitors were also seen,2 Pied Wagtails and 4 Long-Tailed Tits.In the garden opposite two Redwings are present,so hopefully it wont be long before they pop into ours.

More Snow January 7th (New Hythe)

Clear at First,later snow,very cold 8.30am-10.00The west scrub held 6 Fieldfare,4 Redwing and 4 Greenfinch and a Kestral was also seen.Along the Millstream,3 Reed Bunting and 1 Kingfisher were present.The stream also held at least 40 Coot,probably birds that would normally frequent the streamside lake,which is now completely iced over.I couldn`t locate the Wigeon that was present on Tesco lake on the 4th,but still good numbers of Gadwall and Tufted Duck.

Best birds today in the Abbey Mead area was the sighting of a Bittern that flew across the lake just before the snow started falling at 9.30am and the red-head Smew.The last named can be hard to locate even though the open water it is on is quite small.
Good numbers of Lapwing are still present along the river and the fox was seen again.So far it has been a strange cold spell,no hard weather wildfowl or Grebes,apart from the one Smew and no hard weather movements to speak of.

Monday, 4 January 2010

January 4th

Clear,cold,light snow cover from during the night.

During the morning I made a quick visit to Tesco lake which is now one of the only lakes that is free of ice,birds noted - Wigeon 1,Pochard 18,Tufted Duck 200,Gadwall 50 + and Coot 300+.

When I got home from the lakes two Blackcaps were now feasting on our Ivy berries (male and female)

Between 1300-1400 I made a visit to Halling Common,birds of note were - Curlew 7,Redshank 25,Common Sandpiper 1 (possibly 2) Stonechat 1 (male) Fieldfare 15,Redwing 4 and Rock Pipit 1.

The rock Pipit flew up from the marsh and hitched a ride on a floating mass of weed.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

January 3rd New Hythe

clear at first,clouding over from the northeast,occasional sleet showers 8:45am-10:15.
As I pulled up in the Brookland car-park,a Grey Wagtail flew down into the marshy area at the edge of the car-park,which was a nice start.Carrion Crow,Wood Pigeon,Moorhen,Goldfinch,Blue Tit,B h Gull,L T Tit and Blackbird were also seen.Brookland lake held the usual birds Pochard,Tufted Duck,Coot,Mallard and G C Grebe.On reaching the sunken marsh,I had added,Dunnock,Song Thrush,Collared Dove,Heron and 2 overflying Herring Gulls,the first of about 20.From here I walked through the small wood out to the river hoping to flush a Woodcock,but no such luck.However the river,which was right down held,Gadwall 4,Mallard 2,Teal 60,Redshank 2 and one lone Lapwing.As I walked back I flushed a Snipe,a Wren and a Reed Bunting.The walk round the river to Abbey Mead was rather quite and I only added,Pheasant 1,Greenfinch 2,Bullfinch 2 and 1 calling Cetti`s (which is unusual to here one call at this time of the year) the Fieldfare and Redwing seem to have deserted this area now.As I reached Abbey Mead,which was partly iced over,the first of the sleet showers started to fall.The lake and its surrounds held - Pochard 18 (there are now about 60 in the New Hythe/Leybourne area,nothing like their former numbers),Tufted Duck 20+,Mallard 4,Shoveler 1,Gadwall 6,G C Grebe 2,Little Grebe 4,Cormorant 6,Jay 1 and Kingfisher 1.On crossing the railway,Steve Nunn was waiting on the other side,he was hoping to find the Smew he had seen on Abbey Mead yesterday,but I think it must have flown.From this point on I was in a rush,it was now 10:am and I had promised to be home by this time.I walked back to the car-park down the Millstream path, only adding Mute Swan 2 and Redwing 20,to the list(33 in all)which was rather poor.At the far end,I saw a charm of Goldfinch in one of the small Alders which line the stream,one bird looked interesting,which I thought could be either a Goldfinch X Redpoll,or Goldfinch X Greenfinch.I would be interested if any readers have any thoughts on what it might be.
Although I looked hard,I didn`t see House Sparrow or Starling until I was back in the village (how times change).
When I got home I glanced out of the Kitchen window and saw my first Blackcap (female) of the winter.

Note the streaking along the flanks and on the back.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

January 2nd (Garden)

The Reed Bunting above is one of at least four now frequenting our garden.

Up until at least the mid-1980s,there was a regular roost of Reed Buntings in one of the reed filled ditches at New Hythe.Several ringing sessions were held each year during 1979,1980 and 1983.In all I had four recoveries,as follows -

ringed (young female) 24 10 79 Hall Wood,Fairseat,Wrotham,kent.
controlled 01 03 80 New Hythe,Kent.9KM SE 129 days.

ringed (adult female) 31 01 79 New Hythe,Kent.
controlled 24 10 79 Hall Wood,Fairseat,Wrotham,kent.9KM NW 207 days.

ringed (adult female) 01 03 80 New Hythe,Kent.
found dead 24 11 80 Fobbing,Essex.26KM N 268 days.

ringed (young male) 30 09 79 Hall Wood,Fairseat,Wrotham,Kent
controlled 02 11 80 New Hythe,kent.

A Reed Bunting ringed at New Hythe as a second year male on the 31 01 93,was controlled at Icklesham,Sussex,on the 24 09 93 49KM SW 236 days.

I have only handled a small number of Reed Buntings at Leysdown (Coastal Park) Kent,but so far I have had four recoveries,as follows.

ringed young (female) 12 10 91 Leysdown,Kent
controlled 09 08 95 Kroon`s Polder,Vlieland,Netherlands 345KM NE 1397 days.

ringed adult (male) 16 09 92 Leysdown,Kent.
controlled 30 10 93 Blankenberge,Belgium,153KM E 409 days.

ringed young (male) 23 09 93 Leysdown,Kent
controlled 28 10 93 Icklesham,Sussex, 57KM SW 35 days.

ringed young (male) 16 10 99 Leysdown.Kent
controlled 25 09 01 Faversham,Kent 6KM SE 710 days.

The vast majority of British Reed Buntings stay within Britain.However small numbers of Scandinavian birds winter in Britain and rather more pass down the east coast to wintering grounds in France and the Low countries.

January 2nd (Paddlesworth)

Just before mid-day Jeanette and I had a walk across the fields at Paddlesworth (which are at the foot of the North Downs),only about one mile from our house.The fields during the summer were sown with Rape but as yet the fields havn`t been turned over, so are now full of weeds.It was nice to see at least 40 Skylark,60+Linnet and 2 Reed Buntings taken advantage.Other birds noted were - Rook 50,Carrion Crows and a flock of at least 200 domesticated Pigeon,a Green Woodpecker called from the trees along the Downs.


8:30am-10:30 clear and cold,light covering of sleet.The New Year got of to a good start with a red-head Smew on the Railway lake.
Full list of birds recorded - Goldfinch,Greenfinch 2,Chaffinch,Lesser Redpoll 8,Blackbird,Song Thrush,Redwing,Great Tit,Blue Tit,Carrion Crow,Jackdaw,B h Gull,Herring Gull,L B B Gull,Common Gull,Redshank,Heron,Robin Dunnock,Wren,Magpie,Wood Pigeon,Stock Dove 2,Starling 2,G S Woodpecker 1,Green Woodpecker 1,Bullfinch 10,G C Grebe,Little Grebe,Pochard (50+),Shoveler,Teal,Gadwall,Smew,Tufted Duck,Kingfisher 1,Chiffchaff 1,Kestral 1,Collared Dove,Mute Swan,Canada Goose,Greylag Goose,Jay 2 and Pheasant 1,L L Tit and Goldeneye (46 in Total).

Ken,fancy flushing a Green Sandpiper in the east scrub,the last time I done that was way back in the 80s,it flew into one of my nets,shows how much that area has changed.