Saturday, 11 February 2012
Saturday 11th February 2012
The car thermometer read -11.C as I left Barming for Whetsted, 20 minutes away, to see if I couldn't catch up with the Hooded Merganser that had been seen by Marcus Lawson yesterday afternoon. Three pairs of gloves did little to keep the chill from my fingers as the sun slowly rose.
The River Medway was frozen on one side of the Golden Green lock, and water vapour rose from other demonstrating how cold the air was! At Whetsted the pit was almost completely frozen, with only a small area of free water and this was crammed with wildfowl. It made quite a sight to see Little Grebe, Widgeon, Gadwall, Coot, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye (single female), Smew (a very fine drake), Red-crested Pochard (two)all crammed into together. On the ice was a large flock of Greylag Geese and 46x Barnacle Geese!
Unfortunately the Hooded Merganser had left, but I was pleased to add a pair of Goosander to the list as I walked back over the lock gates on the Medway.
Later I cycled into Maidstone along the River Medway from Barming. I was surprised to see a redhead Goosander on the river by Tovil footbridge, and it was still present but opposite the Lockmeadow complex as I cycled home. Redwings and Blackbirds were constantly darting ahead of me and I counted 46 on the 2.5 mile journey home - quite some number. However the best was saved until last; with it almost dark and sure that nothing else was to be seen, I caught sight of a redhead Smew about half way along the river between East Farleigh and Barming bridges. It was on its own, but as I cycled towrads it a couple of Moorhen shot away from the bank and spooked it. It took flight down the river towards East Farleigh. Quite a day for sawbills!