I’ve just got back from the Group trip to Sevenoaks and Bough Beech – in the first really warm and sunny day I can remember this year! With Irene and Terry at the helm we were in for a great day out.
We started at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve where 20 of us gathered. As we scanned the first lake a Treecreeper appeared right next to us, gave a few a quick view and then flew off. We did catch up with another couple later in the day, so everyone had the chance to see them.
On the lake there were many waterbirds, including the usual Cormorant, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Great-crested Grebe, Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Shelduck, Teal, and Lapwing. Our attention was taken by a couple of Greylags who appeared to have a nest on one of the islands in front of the viewing mound. A Canada Goose started to approach and the two species had an altercation which resulted in both the Greylags moving to the water and the Canada Goose settling itself on the nest which appeared to have eggs. As we walked off we kept an eye on the nest and although the two Greylag came back out of the water and stood watching the nest (and almost guarding it) the Canada Goose remained incubating. I’ve tried to find out if geese are known for nest sharing, but to no avail so far – anyone out there know the answer?
As we continued around the reserve Ian found a Little Ringed Plover on one of the islands in the middle of the lake, then Malcolm found a second. When we tried to find them from a nearer viewpoint they had moved out of sight unfortunately. There were some gulls, mainly Black-headed, but Common and Herring were also seen by some.
In the Woodland areas there were large numbers of Great Tit and Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie and the ubiquitous Wood Pigeon. I could hear a Chiffchaff starting to sing, not the full version but enough to recognise. As we all listened the perisher went quiet of course. Chas found a Stock Dove on a nearby tree which we managed to get in the telescopes, and eventually we realised there were two, huddled closely together – a potential nest site?
By the open fields at the far end of the reserve there were more Stock Doves, a Green Woodpecker flew the whole width of the field right in front of some members of the group. A Grey Heron was stalking in a flooded area of the field. Whilst some watched two Snipe feeding in the marshy ground others watched three Common Buzzard circling overhead. The Chiffchaff was heard again, this time a little more of the usual song and a second bird could be heard further away. We did eventually see the bird – it’s so lovely to have our summer visitors starting to arrive, they were obviously enjoying the sunshine as much as we were.
Back towards the Centre, Malcolm and I could hear a new call which he recognised as Redpoll. Whilst we were looking for that we found a small group of Siskin – one splendid male with several females. The rest of the group caught us up and everyone had great views of the Siskin – it was more of a challenge to find the one or two Redpoll, but I think most folk caught up with them eventually.
Our first Brimstone Butterfly was spotted here, and Sally managed to pursue it and get some good photographs.
The final stretch of the morning led us back towards the water with Pied Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Egyptian Goose. Irene and Terry suggested lunch in the garden here before we moved on to Bough Beech.
So, fed and watered, we started our afternoon walk at the Visitor Centre. Whilst most of the group were in the hide John and I watched as Jackdaw were feeding, a Grey Heron and around 20 Shoveler were on the pool, along with Coot and Moorhen. At one stage the Heron flew from its perch in a tree, took a fish from the water and flew off with it securely in its beak.
The feeder outside the hide was bringing Chaffinch in, and there were Mallard seen from the new viewing platform. The main feeding station is opposite the car park, and once again Chaffinch were being attracted to the easy pickings. Pheasants were enjoying any stray seeds dropped, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Blue Tit and an occasional Marsh Tit all delighted us. Once again we saw three Buzzard soaring overhead – could they be the same three from this morning. Neville (the man with the superior Telescope) noticed a white wing tag on one of the birds, which will be reported.
From the Causeway we were amazed to see how much water was there, with no muddy edges to be found. Two Pied Wagtails were bobbing around in front of us on the concrete slipway.
Cormorants were on one of the few islands which had not been flooded out. Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Pochard, Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe, and the find of the afternoon – a couple of Redhead Goosanders. We finished off the day with a stroll along one of the footpaths leading from the back of the visitor centre, where there were several clumps of Primroses in bloom. We also found another Marsh Tit near the visitor centre. Some added Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Redwing. We also heard a Nuthatch.
Thanks to all who attended with special thanks to our two leaders; Irene and Terry.