Seventeen members met at the Kent Wildlife Trust Reserve at Sevenoaks. Our arrival matched the arrival of a clearer sky after a really wet start to the day. This is a reserve developed from previous gravel extraction where lakes have formed in the pits fed by the river Darent. It was noted by a number of members how full the lakes were. In past visits the field to the right of the drive-in has proved of interest and a small flock of chaffinches and goldfinches were seen. In the car park other woodland birds were flying around including great and blue tits as well as a couple of very friendly robins. Andy, an early arrival, had looked over the West Lake and had a glimpse of a kingfisher and the group saw cormorants, mallards, tufted ducks and coots.
We set off towards Tyler Hide and picked up greylag, lapwing, shovelers and great crested grebes on the East Lake. At the hide, teal, pochard and gadwall were present. Among the numerous black headed gulls (all in winter plumage) there were a small number of common gulls. We then headed up to the Tower Hide where a few of the group spotted a little grebe. From here we turned back, rather than continue around the circular path. Near the car park some of the group saw a red kite fly over and others saw a heron pass by. Along the wooded path white saddle fungi were identified.
As we walked along the Darent a jay was busy flying back and forth across the path. A small number of long-tailed tits along with chaffinch and great tit were also present along the path. We stopped at Willow Hide where more canada geese, coots and tufted ducks were seen. We then set off to Carter Hide and on the way a goldcrest was very busy flitting around among a small group of long-tailed and blue tits. From Carter hide a few lucky members got a glimpse of a kingfisher. It was then back to the visitor centre, getting a good view of a wren on the way, for a well-earned lunch in the sun.
The group then travelled on to Bough Beech, parking on the causeway. The smaller lake was as low as I have ever seen it with only a couple of pied wagtails moving around the edge. The reservoir had more of interest. Wigeon and little egret were quickly added to the list along with a number of male mandarin ducks, looking very splendid, on the far shore along with a great white egret standing among a group of herons. It was decided to then walk up to the oast house – formally a Wildlife Trust Centre but now sadly closed.
On the way a number of fieldfare were spotted in the trees and a buzzard flew overhead.
At the oast, three bird feeders were attracting various birds including a coal tit seen by everyone and a nuthatch seen by a few members. A kestrel came over and perched high up giving good views through the scopes. A search for an owl box across the pond proved fruitless but a great spotted woodpecker flew in and landed on a tree for all to see. Other birds spotted by a few people were song thrush, dunnock, goldfinch and pheasant.
We then walked back to the causeway thinking what next when a downpour made up our minds for an early withdrawal.
Overall, we were very lucky to have a dry and sunny day with some 40 species being noted.
Thanks to Karen and Peter for leading the walk and writing the report. Thanks to Karen, Steve and Terry for the photographs.