Tuesday 3 February 2009

Late report of early January trips

On 4 January I decided to do a Kent round trip to start me off for this year. First stop was Folkestone to see the waxwings. I left in the dark and arrived at the retail estate well before nine. I quickly saw the waxwings and took a record shot, noting several more common birds before moving on to West Hythe for the night heron. It was there, and notable other sightings were kingfisher, goldcrest and kestrel making 19 species by 9.00. Shortly afterwards I saw green and great spotted woodpecker, redwing and snipe to total 37 by 10.00.

The road to Dungeness brought long tailed tits, marsh harrier, golden plover, red-legged partridge and curlew, but my total rose to only 43 by 11.00.

At Dungeness there were many waterbirds, notably goosander, red-breasted merganser, pintail, greenshank, smew, red crested pochard and bittern. By 13.15 I was on 64. On to the fields north of Lydd where, on 1 January, Josh Jenkins-Shaw had seen many geese. I saw only greylags so on to Scotney Pits. In the fields on the way were several Bewick's and whooper swans. At Scotney itself I was rewarded with a single bean goose and c.35 white fronted geese, several scaup, a flock of barnacle geese (don't say it, David), stonechat and, at Jury's Gap some turnstone.

My total for the day stood at 75 and the light was beginning to go. A man I'd met told me of the long-staying long-tailed duck at Lydd-on-sea so I decided I would risk it. The light was fading as I arrived and I was expecting to have to pick out the duck against the setting sun at the far Southern end of the lake. As it happened the sun had already set and the duck was at the Northern end of the lake not too far away. I quickly saw it in the scope but when I looked with the camera to take a record shot the scene in the viewfinder was much darker, and it took some time between discounting the tufted ducks and waiting for the long-tailed duck to surface again after frequent dives before I was able to get a picture.

A large flock of rooosting oystercatchers brought my total for the day to 77; not bad for a short winter's day. A good start to the year.

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