14 members of the group met up at the Brooklands end of the Leybourne Lakes complex near Snodland.
The weather was foggy but we were determined not to let that stop us!
Our walk began along a raised path through trees with a stream on one side and Brookland Lake on the other. Trying to look for anything on the water was difficult with binoculars magnifying the fog which was straining our eyes so we concentrated on birds in the trees and bushes closer to us. Many of which were calling but remained out of our eye-range.
Woodpigeons were sheltering in the trees stoically huddled on branches, but goldfinch were actively feeding along with several blue and great tit. A group of at least eleven long-tailed tit delighted us with their constant activity and contact calls as they fed in the trees surrounding us before moving off. At one stage three chiffchaff were seen low down in the dying vegetation from last year. We watched as they flew short distances using the vegetation as perches. At one stage two great tit were singing from either side of the path, maybe males starting early territorial stakeouts?
A female kestrel viewed the activity of both birds and humans from a perch on a nearby telegraph pole.
As the undergrowth opened up, more of the lake was visible and our leader for the day, Trevor had staked out a reported greater scaup earlier in the week. With this information we started to peer through the fog, although there were many tufted duck, despite all our efforts we were unsuccessful, but we did see a great-crested grebe in almost full breeding plumage and were treated to a speedy fly-past by a kingfisher. This was repeated several times on this lake as what appeared to be one bird flew back and forth during the morning.
As the day wore on the mist started to lift and our visibility improved, so we continued our circuit of the lake. Here we had another fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher as it shot past us.
When we were almost opposite where the original tufted duck group had been seen, Trevor called out as the greater scaup popped up into view. Looking slightly larger than the tufted ducks around it and with a bigger bill. If you zoom in on Steve’s photo you can also see the patterning on the back with grey wavy lines (often referred to as vermiculation) on a white background – a stunning feature. It was easy to tell the difference when you saw the two species together and and could compare them. We spent a while enjoying it diving then bobbing up several yards away, it was a great game of “spot the scaup” and everyone got good views.
We retraced our steps and made for the pop-up cafe kiosk for lunch, some with their packed lunches whilst others enjoyed excellent hot dogs and chips! We saw grey heron, many black-headed gull, several cormorant on the main Leybourne lake.
Our afternoon was spent on a looping path which would eventually bring us back to our outgoing route. During the afternoon we added dunnock, jay, gadwall, and had more views of the scaup, but the main star of the afternoon was a kingfisher which was far more obliging than the individuals earlier in the day. First it perched on reeds on the far side of the lake, then did a tour of the edge of the lake, at one point catching a fish, but mainly perched in places where we could get great telescope views. Celebrations ensued as it was the top of Maureen’s wish list for the day, and a first for her.
We returned to the car park, seeing it differently from the earlier misty walk. With time to spare several of us stayed on for a short walk along on another path on a different side of Brookland lake. Here we found siskin, starling and collared dove and what appeared to be the same female kestrel which chose a similar post to perch on but on the opposite side of the lake.
Thanks to Trevor for his entertaining and informative leading, to Steve for his excellent photographs but mainly to all those who ventured out despite the foggy weather.
It was great to see you all, dare I hope for better weather at Oare on the 29th?