Sunday, 6 January 2013

First Four Days of 2013


Robin at Riverside Country Park
2012  was not a brilliant bird watching year for me with only 130 spieces seen, some 32 down on the previous year. The continual dull and wet weather definitely put a damper on the hobby for me as well as a serious reduction of photographic opportunities. However with a New Year came a new start and although I have not been out Bird Watching as such, Wendy and I have been out for walks most days with camera and binoculars (and once with a telescope - but it was still a walk NOT Bird Watching even though we then stood for an hour watching birds). All pictures in this post were with my Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Waxwings - Tescos, Whitstable
New Years Day saw us visiting friends in Whitstable and whilst there we took a short stroll to Tescos Car Park where over the last few weeks some Waxwings had been seen. Soon after we arrived in a car park devoid of all birdlife except a rather bold Herring Gull, a small flock of 70+ Waxwings gathered in a tree before flying off. Unlike my previous sightings at this venue they did not stay to feed. Fortunately a sunny day provided a few nice photos. I understand a smaller flock is still there.

Waxwings - Tescos, Whitstable
On 2nd January We went for a walk along the Medway at East Barming, the day was dull and drizzly with a heavily overcast sky turning from frequent showers to constant rain. We started walking West along the river which was high, turgid, fast flowing and a horrible muddy brown colour. There was a reasonable amount of bird activity from small numbers of Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbirds, Robins, Blue Tits and Great Tits inhabiting the bushes, whilst the river itself was empty except for the odd Moorhen along and on the opposite bank.

Chaffinch - Riverside Country Park
After half a mile due to the worsening weather we returned, on the way back we added a Sparrow Hawk and a Cormorant to the day list. Before leaving we checked the woods to the East where a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare were found in a couple of the taller trees together with a large number of Wood Pigeons scattered among the rest. A small flock of Long Tailed Tits were sheltering in the woods though still constantly on the move. Other sightings on the day included Carrion Crow, Wren, Starling and House Sparrow.

Carrion Crows (silhouette) - Leybourne Lakes
The 3rd January was another heavily overcast day so we stayed local and went to Leybourne Lakes. Ocean (Tescos) Lake provided sightings of Cormorants, Mute Swans, Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe and what I believe were Aylesbury Ducks. We strolled on towards Streamside Lake when we saw this female Kestrel sitting in a tree over the footpath.

Female kestrel - Leybourne Lakes
We took a look at the Dipping (Round) Pond, but only a few Coots were seen however some Long Tailed Tits were performing at the edge of the pond, if only the sun had been out to show their full splendour in the photos.

Long Tailed Tit - Leybourne Lakes
We took the path between Streamside and Railway Lakes, in Railway lake we saw a pair of Dabchicks swimming among the many Tufted Ducks that were there whilst in Streamside we saw Shovelers, Gadwalls and Black Headed Gulls along with a single Pochard, we were also fortunate enough to see a Kingfisher flying low over the water near the west bank.
Female Tufted Duck - Leybourne lakes
During the walk we had also added Blackbird, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Collared Dove, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Heron (flying overhead), Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker to the days list.

Collared Dove - Riverside Country Park
The 4th January was yet another gloomy overcast day with the added excitement of a chill in the air but undaunted we spent 2 hours of it at Riverside Country Park in Gillingham, the tide was out and a lot lower than I have seen it for some time – somewhat in contrast to the high level of the Medway we had seen at east Barming.

Robin - Riverside Country Park
We started off at the sunken pond finding Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons, Great Tits, a Robin, a couple of Dunnocks and several Moorhens.
Moorhen - Riverside Country Park
Next we moved West along the shoreline where I was happy to see a number Redshank on the mudflats.

Redshank - Riverside Country Park
A scour of the muddy estuary towards Kingsnorth Power Station revealed Curlews, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Black Headed Gulls, Herring Gulls and a couple of Grey Plovers, also in one of the gullies were a large number of Teal. We followed the path West until it turns South again from here a scan of the mudflats gave us some Dunlin, Wigeon, Carrion Crow, Lapwing and a sole Greenshank near enough to photograph.
Greenshank - Riverside Country Park
In addition, nearby on its own was an Avocet with a missing left foot who was continually struggling so as not to sink into the mud.
Avocet - Riverside Country Park
Further out in the river were some Brent Geese and a number of Cormorants whilst watching them was a Lesser Black Backed Gull.

Dunnock - Riverside Country Park
We returned to the car park via the woodland walk which produced sightings of Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Jay, Long Tailed Tit, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Riverside Country Park

The four days had only brought us 55 species, but as this was 42% of my 2012 total I was more than happy, in addition despite the very poor light on 3 of the days I did still manage to get some nice shots.