Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Sunday 7th February

A quick jaunt down the River Medway first thing with the kids, we managed to flush 3x Snipe on a marshy area just west of Barming Bridge this morning, and the noted the remnants of a Blackbird and a coughed up pellet (Sparrowhawk?) nearby.

Later I escaped to do the late visit for BTO Atlas Tetrad TQ65R. I started in the hamlet of Pizien Well, just west of Wateringbury. A few of the gardens were well-stocked with feeders and was continually visited by Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Goldcrest and a Coal Tit, but no sign of the Marsh Tit or Blackcap I'd seen on the earlier visit. The owner of the garden saw me scanning his bird table and came out and asked if I wanted to sit on the bench in his garden to watch the birds....how many places do you get residents making an offer like that! He then produced an impressive list of all the wildlife he'd had in the garden over the last 20 years. The list included Tree Sparrow, Hawfinch and most surprisingly Hoopoe that he told me had landed briefly on the lawn of the adjacent garden a few years back! I wasn't to be so lucky today, and as I left the hamlet the weather deteriorated - I tramped through the derelict orchards which were deserted, not a single Fieldfare or Redwing, amazing has I'd seen 200+ a couple of days ago near East Malling.

Up Park Road, skirting round the grounds of Mereworth Castle and towards the Triumphal Arch (contour 108), I was lucky to get a covey of Bullfinches (7 in total) and a single Redwing. No sign of the Common Buzzards I'd expect on this patch and only another single Goldcrest by the old East Peckham church. Things weren't looking too good, I seemed to be well down on the species count of 34 I managed on the earlier visit. However things were to take a turn for the better. I nonchalantly scanned a small pool that is cut in half by the southern axis of the tetrad where I added Mallard and Moorhen to the list, but was amazed to see a drake Mandarin Duck sail past - then another, and another and then a squabbling group of another four - eventually I saw 9x drakes and a single hen - what a result! I ended up with 30 species, but some shocking omissions such including Magpie!
I finished off the afternoon by driving home via Teston Country Park to scanning the area check for a Barn Owl that had been reported just west of the bridge. I saw the smart new owl box and roost pole but no sign of the bird itself. Something to check for again.

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