. . . . that twitching is a waste of time and energy
Missed the Hawfinch at Barming, Smew and Bittern at Leybourne, the Shag at Chatham, and got rained off at Mereworth. Not much to say about a wet cold Wednesday in February, but we made the best of it despite the wind and sleet.
So, after much discussion over the benefits of Blean and Barming, Barming won out as there was the possibility of catching up with Hawfinch. As we arrived so did a party of four others. The bird had been spotted at 8.30 am today, so we were probably two hours too late. We did find a close Goldfinch, several Magpies, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit, and rather a lot of Woodpigeons, but the Hawfinch eluded us. A Sparrowhawk shot through and spooked birds along the valley.
As we had stood about in the Churchyard in freezing conditions we decided to have a run over to Mereworth. With our trusty “satnav” Malcolm, we were soon lost and heading into the depths of Kent. Luckily between Irene and Malcolm they managed to trace our position on the map and after an ‘about-turn’ we were off down narrow lanes to find somewhere to park. It started to rain so we sat and enjoyed a leisurely “elevenses” before admitting defeat and deciding to move on.
Leybourne Lakes was our next attempt at some birdwatching, with a walk along the lake. Goldfinch flocks busied themselves feeding in nearby trees. A rather pale looking female Blackbird came close and a cheeky Robin snapped up a few dried mealworms which I had taken with me. Mute Swan, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Greylag and Canada Geese, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe and Mallard were battling with the heavy swell created by the strong wind. A couple of Cormorant were balanced on buoys. A tree on the other side of the lake had several Magpies in it, and more flew around calling noisily. A Blackthorn tree was just starting to flower, absolutely loaded with buds, I managed to find this fully open flower.
We decided to wander to Abbey Meads, but as we negotiated the muddy footpath we realised that it would be hard to get a good view of the lake. We still managed to find more Gadwall and Pochard, Kingfisher (thanks to Irene), Collared Dove and Dunnock were also additions on this part of our walk.
The afternoon was cut a little short when a rather sharp and cold downpour fell on us. Near the car park we found a Mistle Thrush perched on a tree – just a little too far away for a decent photo.
The final stop was at the Canal Basin at Chatham. Very little there for once as the weather was cold, windy and threatening to rain (again!) but we managed to see Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Mute Swan and Cormorant.
By now it was “home James and don’t spare the horses” – we were freezing cold and the tea and biscuits at Malcolm and Sallys were very welcome.