Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Crossbills and a Penduline Tit.

I accepted Tim Gutsell's invitation and last Sunday morning (20th) I joined him for a visit to Hemsted Forest, an area of woodland just outside of Benenden in the west of the county. On arrival at the car park, just after 9.00 am, a sight too often seen nowadays was the handy work of fly tippers, an unsightly blight on the surrounding landscape.

Obviously dumped from a truck or van and first thoughts were surely it would of been just as easy to drive to the local dump but then the council's in their infinite wisdom employ the use of height restricting barriers that bar entry to the sort of vehicles required to carry rubbish of this size, hence mini dumps springing up all over the English countryside. That's not an excuse for fly tipping but I do think the authorities could do more to prevent this ever increasing blight on the Kentish landscape. That's enough with the politics.
A short walk down the main track where a small gathering of people were congregated, and not long to wait until small flocks of Crossbills were seen in the surrounding trees. We learnt that one particular tree held an amount of water where the main trunk split into three, the water presumably from the recent rainfall, and the birds periodically came back to visit for a drink. This seemed a good enough spot to set up camp and indeed we stayed in the same spot for the morning. The small flocks returned to the tree throughout our stay allowing us to get a few images and I would estimate that we had probably up to 20 birds with us at any one visit.

Crossbill (Male)

Where the water was trapped and an ideal oasis for the Crossbills.

Male Crossbill having a wash and brush up.

Crossbill (Female)

A nice morning spent in bright sunshine (although cold) and good chatting to a few of the local east Kent togs that were also there. Other birds noticed (off the top of my head) were Great Spotted and  Green Woodpecker, several small flocks of Siskins that landed in the Crossbill tree, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Wren and Dunnock, a Nuthatch heard and a Raven flew over. Raptors were scarce with just a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel seen.

An early rise for me on Monday 21st and at 05.12 am I was in the garden trying to get an image of the super wolf blood moon that I heard about from the nightly news bulletin. Although I had the wrong equipment and not a clue what I was doing I did manage an image that portrayed the colour, if lacking a little in detail.

Later that morning I had a call from Mark Chidwick telling me of a Penduline Tit, seen from the Feast hide at Grove Ferry. Due to work commitments I could not get there until the afternoon. I arrived at half past one and made my way to a very packed Feast hide. The bird was out on the small clump of reeds in front of the hide, vigorously hammering away at the heads of the reed mace. I squeezed in and managed a few record shots of the bird as although as close as it was possible to be to the hide, in truth it was still just a little to far out to get any quality images. Five minutes after I arrived it flew off and to my knowledge, has not been seen again. Still, always a good bird to see on the reserve, however briefly and thanks to Mark for the telephone call.

What next ???????

Saturday, 5 January 2019

2019...Up and Running

A visit to the Reed bed hide (Stodmarsh) for an hour on New Year's morning, making use of the blue skies and wintry sunshine. A Marsh Harrier came close and started the camera clicking for 2019. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got during my stay.

I went down to Seasalter on the 3rd and although it was a drab and grey morning, a few waders were on their high tide roosting spots so I waited for the tide to drop. Highlight for me was a large flock of several hundred Knot that landed on the mud left by the receding tide (an occurrence I do not see too often) and around 60 Bar-tailed Godwit's, following the Knot in. Also seen were Oyster-catcher's, Dunlin, Ringed and Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Curlew and a 500 + flock of Brent's that settled on the sea after leaving the fields beyond the sea wall. Out by the off shore wind farm 4 diver Sp's were seen flying west.
Just a few images of a winter plumage Dunlin to show from the mornings walk along the beach from the Sportsman pub to the white post and back, a morning more for the binoculars rather than the camera.