First trip of the year for Keith and I to the London Wetland Centre.

On arrival, we heard that a Bittern was showing well from Hedley Hide and so we went off in that direction. sadly it had retreated into the reeds by the time we arrived and it was a 60-minute wait until we saw one fly out from the reeds and head across to another section of reed-bed. We did have the pleasure of a Sparrowhawk keeping us company in a nearby tree during our wait.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Our next stop was the Peacock Tower and a search for the resident wintering Jack Snipe and Water Pipit. The latter proved no problem although as soon as I got onto the bird it took flight and disappear from view. Another wait followed before I spotted one on their usual island. We were able to watch it feeding in and out of the vegetation for about 15 minutes before it was lost from view. Then a few minutes later, it or another one, ran across the island. I guess something had spooked it, although we couldn’t see any other bird in the area. keith reacting quickly managed to get a photograph as it passed across his lens view.

Having seen the specialities, there was time to wrap up the commoner species on the reserve.

Tufted Duck (male and female)
Eurasian Robin
Grey Heron (one of last years young)
Northern Pintail (2 males)

On our way to see if there was a Grey Wagtail in the Otter enclosure (our usual place to find them as they feed in the fast running water) we heard that a Bittern was again showing from Hedley hide and so we diverted there and this time we were lucky and it was still in view when we arrived.

Eurasian Bittern

The light was now failing fast and so it was time to call an end to a great day.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Eurasian Bittern [sp] (Botaurus stellaris)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Water Pipit [sp] (Anthus spinoletta)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A morning walk with the warden at the Kent Wildlife Trust reserve at Bough Beech near Sevenoaks. This is a working reservoir but the northern end is managed as a nature reserve.

The morning starts well with a Barn Owl which has taken to roosting in a Tawny Owl nest box.

Barn Owl

Making our way to the orchard, we record a number of small birds including Blue, Great and Marsh Tits, Nuthatch, Dunnock, Robin, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. A flock of Fieldfare erupt from out of the trees and one is later seen gorging on the fallen apples in the orchard.

Dunnock

Then it is onto the reservoir where there are a number of duck species. I miss a brief view of a Mandarin Duck and there are no Goosander or Great White Egret two of the specialities of the site.

Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Egyptian Goose

Then back to the car park and one last chance to view the Barn Owl before departing

A good morning walk with some excellent birds.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A new year and a trip up to central London affords me the chance to spend an hour in Hyde Park. Starting at Lancaster Gate, I soon find a Redwing amongst the Blackbirds in the trees. On the Serpentine, there is the usual assortment of water birds whilst in the lakeside vegetation, Grey Squirrels and Ring-necked Parrakeets are taking advantage of the tourists offering food.

Grey Squirrel

Checking the Little Owl tree on the eastern side, there is no one at home. This used to be a reliable site but haven’t seen an owl here on my last 3 visits. Reaching the bridge I cross over to the western side and begin to trace my way north again.

Egyptian Goose
Great Cormorant

Once again, the Little Owl tree on this side turns up trumps as the owl is sunning itself in the entrance to the hole.

Continuing north I come to the leaf yard. This is a favourite bird feeding place for visitors and amongst the Parakeets, pigeons and squirrels there are a number of Great Tits and Blue Tits.

Great Tit

Also seen are a Coal Tit and a Wren skulking in the undergrowth.

Wren

My final point of call is the Italian Garden, where a Red-Crested Pochard has been seen recently. A smart looking bird, this is probably an escapee from one of the central London bird collections.

Red-Crested Pochard

Then its time to move onto my appointment, but a very good hour with some nice birds.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Little Owl [sp] (Athene noctua)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time to see something that is unusual and which you may never see again. Continuing our flashbacks to the past, here is a post from April 2013 of a Nuthatch trying to enlarge the entrance to a nest box. Presumably fancied it as his des-res. Not seen since and the box has continued to house a Blue Tit nest each year.

Here are a couple of short video clips of the Nuthatch trying to get into nest box 2

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Winter Fungi

Posted: January 2, 2019 in Natural History
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Some pictures of some fungi seen on my recent trip to New Hythe Lakes

2000 posts and still going

Posted: January 1, 2019 in Announcements
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The New Year Greeting was my 2000th post on the site. If you had said to me back in 2012 that I would do 2000 posts I would have thought you were mad, but here we are and still going strong.

Thanks to everyone who reads, follows and comments for your support ocer the last 6 years.

Greetings

Posted: January 1, 2019 in Announcements
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Wishing you all a peaceful and productive New Year

Keith and I trying to wrap up a few local rarities for the year.

Our first stop is Chatham docks which has been home to a Black-Throated Diver for a couple of weeks. No 2 dock seems to attract them as a couple of years ago it was the winter residence of a Great Northern Diver. When we arrive we find a group of local birders watching the bird sleeping on the water.

After a while Keith and I together with some others move closer down the side of the dock basin to try and get some closer shots. Eventually the bird wakes up and starts moving around.

Also present on No 2 basin was a Eurasian Shag

Then it is off to New Hythe Lakes in search of Ring-Necked Duck, an American species that occurs here occasionally in winter.

Brooklands Lake

After leaving the station we make our way to the first lake but cannot see the duck amongst its more commoner cousins.

As we make our way down to the next lake we meet a young birder who tells us that it is at the southern end of the enxt lake, Abbey Mead. This seems to be its favourite spot although it has wandered to other lakes in the complex during its stay.

Abbey Meads Lake
A couple of distant shots of the Ring-Necked Duck. The top one shows the grey flank with the white area at the front and the bottom the peaked head which are two of the features which distinguish it from Tufted Duck. Below is a third image taken by Keith which shows the peaked head and white markings on the bill.

On the way back home we passed over Jane’s Creek on the River Medway at Strood. Keith just happened to be saying it was a good winter site for Common Sandpiper when I looked down and there was one standing on the mud. Keith had his camera at hand and tried to get a picture of it from the train!

Common Sandpiper seen from train (Keith)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Black-throated Loon [sp] (Gavia arctica)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Little Owl

Posted: December 28, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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Here some pictures of the Owl that we photographed in Hyde Park last week.

Studies on Crow

Posted: December 27, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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These are some photographs I took of a carrion crow which I found in Hyde Park last week.