For those of the group who ventured out to Sevenoaks on a cold, snowy and foggy day all eleven were rewarded as they arrived with great views of redwing in the paddock as you approach the reserve gate. Most also saw a pair of song thrushes in the car park. The robins looked particularly perky – probably in anticipation of Hazel’s bag of dried meal worms. The talk between the group was about earlier sightings, at the reserve, of thirty or so siskin and eyes were duly peeled. A flock of small birds flew in but seemed to be mostly goldfinch but one bird that hung around high up in the tree tops was felt to be a siskin. The plan was then to head along the right-hand path and we were quickly rewarded with some lovely views of goldcrests – much to Andy’s delight. We arrived at the Tyler Hide with high hopes of seeing some snipe. Alas, there were none. There were however, other birds to hold our interest including teal, lapwing, gadwall and tufted ducks.
We then carried on and as the group stretched out a bit Sally, at the front, spotted some bullfinches and although the group were urged to catch up most were only rewarded with the sight of the bullfinches flying off. Now the group were together and a short while later a small flock of long tailed tits with some goldcrests were seen flitting around in the trees. Suddenly a sparrowhawk came through causing great panic and a rapid dispersal of the birds. The sparrowhawk landed in a tree and it appeared to have been unsuccessful. We arrived at the Sutton hide and a grey wagtail was spotted. Even better was a pair of great crested grebes doing their courtship display, something many had never seen before. The Slingsby Hide was rather lacking in bird life so we set of back towards the visitor centre. Very quickly a pair of tree creepers were seen by some. Lunch was had in the visitor centre which provided some welcome and warm refreshment.
After lunch, we set off up the left-hand path. A kingfisher was spotted by Ann passing under the bridge and flying out over the lake. As the group headed to the Willow hide it stretched out a bit and those to the rear were rewarded some treecreepers – much to Steve’s delight. From the hide a pair of Egyptian geese were seen way out across the fields. Also seen were shovelers and canada geese. The walk continued up to the field where a sparrowhawk, possibly a male, was spotted flying quite high which was then joined by another one, possibly the female. The walk back down the central path rewarded us with a flock of thirty or so siskins high in the trees to our right – to all our delight. The time remaining allowed a return visit to the Tyler Hide. Malcolm was excited to see magpies displaying and a couple more treecreepers were seen. Sadly, no snipe were seen but the last spot was a pair of little grebes across the lake by the bank.
All in all, not a bad day, some fifty species seen but no babies – much to Malcolm’s annoyance.
Thanks to Peter and Karen for leading and the trip report. Thanks to Sally for the photograph.