Broadwater Warren – 25-07-15

Shaun, Alan and Maureen, Martin and Carol, Bob and Judy, Bob H and Sue, and Bob P and Sue P met Alan Loweth, who had very kindly agreed to lead us on a guided tour of the Reserve. Alan was an excellent guide, being both expert and enthusiastic. It was interesting to hear of the continuing restoration work which has so transformed the area, which now consists of approximately 450 acres split almost fifty/fifty between woodland and heathland, having previously been largely given over to conifer forest.

Alan explained that there were approximately 50+ dormice resident in the Warren, which make use of some of the many dormice boxes provided, and that the Warren was the only U.K. reserve with such a number.

We had hoped to see adders and grass snakes, but despite Alan checking nearly all the refuges, none were seen.
It wasn’t an ideal day or time of year for birds, but avian highlights were buzzard, kestrel, treecreeper, stonechat, whitethroat, goldfinch, goldcrest, chiffchaff carrying food, grey wagtail and spotted flycatcher. The restored heathland provides ideal conditions for, e.g., nightjars, wood larks and tree pipits.

There were plenty of butterflies about, including green veined white, silver washed fritillary, small blue, red admiral, gatekeeper, small copper, speckled wood, and many meadow browns. Other interesting insect species noted included a spider with its funnel web, a long horned beetle believed to be Strangalia maculata, and a handsome Dor beetle. Dragonflies seen included a fine male Emperor.

Another interesting area once entirely hidden by rhododendron is an old sandstone quarry. The apparent rock face is in fact now just sand; it does offer the possibility of a sand martin bank in the future, once further tree felling and clearance has taken place.

Many thanks to Alan for sharing his time and knowledge so generously.

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Bird Group Outing To Hope Gap And Arlington Reservoir – 07-09-14

Alan and Maureen, Shaun, Alan N, Martin J, Chris M, Jeremy, Deirdre and Sue met at the Barn CP on a warm and windless morning, and headed down towards the Gap. The scrub on either side of the path held many whitethroats, a redstart, a goldcrest, willow warblers, lots of chiffchaffs, blackcap and the other usual suspects. A sparrowhawk provided good views overhead. We found a wheatear on the cliff edge, but missed out on whinchat and stonechat. Rock pipit was conspicuous by its absence, though we did hear and see meadow pipits later in the morning.

There were few birds offshore, though a couple of fulmars glided past; a lone duck gave distant views, and our best guestimate was that it was a scaup. Little egret, oystercatcher, herring gulls and cormorants were seen, and a tern was heard calling offshore as we walked up the hill towards Cuckmere Haven. More little egrets were seen as we scanned the Haven, but it took us a while to find a buzzard. A kestrel flew over as we walked on.

By now it was very warm, and lunchtime seemed overdue. Chris M had to leave us here, with chauffeur duties calling. After sandwiches and coffee, the rest of us made a brief foray up towards what had been the dung heap, and heard and saw yellow wagtails overflying. There were more linnets here, and we did see and hear a lone skylark. A weasel was patrolling the track in search of a meal. Fortunately, a spotted flycatcher was seen on the top of the adjoining hedgerow, and we all had good views of it. Three wheatears (at least) were on the field edge.

It was agreed that rather than joining the throngs of twitchers at Shooters Bottom, we would have a stroll round Arlington Reservoir. This enabled us to increase our bird list – though coot remained absent, as did pheasant – with black headed gulls, lesser and greater black backed gulls, moorhen, three common sandpipers, Canada and Egyptian Geese. The only ducks we found were mallard and teal, but there were the usual great crested grebes on the water. At the farm, there were large numbers of swallows and house martins landing on the telephone wires and a pine tree before whirling round again. We did have close views of juvenile house martins, begging for food, which was very pleasing. A grey wagtail was on the roof of the house, and a few more were heard calling. There were the usual house sparrows here, too. Two common sandpipers were on the dam edge, and a few pied wagtails. (The best view we had of common sandpiper was the one on the opposite edge of the reservoir as we headed back). Green and great spotted woodpecker were heard, and a jay was seen foraging on the ground near the woodland.

The total number of species seen/heard was 57 – not bad for a busy Sunday!

Thanks to those gallant men carrying the telescopes, and to one and all for finding the birds. Shame about that seal, though…

Buchan Park & Warnham NR – 13th April 2014

Shaun, Alan and Maureen, Martin, Carol and Rebecca, and Bob P and Sue met Alastair on a warm(ish) sunny day for a walk around Buchan Park, which five of us had never visited before. Alastair very kindly led us, and we were soon picking up most of the woodland species (robins and blue tits being very much in evidence), including blackcap, goldcrest, willow warbler and chiffchaff. As we approached the first lake, a pair of grey wagtails showed very well. A couple of us had a brief view of a buzzard; later on, at Warnham, we saw a pair displaying.

As it was a fine weekend, there were very many dog walkers – but they were universally affable, including the dogs!

Alastair left us after a couple of hours, intending to do a patch walk. He reported later on Facebook that he’d seen plenty of birds, including a nice redstart – so virtue was rewarded once again.

Warnham proved to be another very pleasant venue, particularly as it provided a good cafe and loos. From the first hide, we saw a common tern – first of the year for many of us. Another grey wagtail was showing well here, too. Ducks seen were mandarin, mallard, and tufted, with a couple of great crested grebes. Grey herons (probably half a dozen or more) were flying about over the trees, doubtless agitated by an overflying buzzard. Later, as mentioned above, a pair of buzzards displayed over the woodland.

Reed buntings were seen on the feeders at the next hide, with the usual flurry of tits, a great spotted woodpecker, male pheasant, etc. Walking further on, we had good views of a treecreeper – always a welcome sight.

We may not have seen any rarities, but it had been another good trip in excellent company.

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Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 30th March 2014

Alan and Maureen, Bob P, Al, Sue and Shaun had an enjoyable walk round the Reserve on a day which started with us all feeling cold, and then having to peel off a few layers at lunchtime! There were plenty of birds about – including our first little ringed plover. A female goldeneye, many tufted duck, a pair of gadwall, some shoveler, mallard and teal were found, as were little and great crested grebe, Continue reading

Rye Harbour – 15th June 2013

Alan and Maureen, Shaun, Bob and Sue met at RHNR and were glad to have brought extra trews, hats and coats, as it was very windy. Dunnock, pied wagtail, house sparrow, herring gull, feral pigeon, chaffinch, jackdaw, blackbird, wood pigeon and collared dove were noted in the car park, and as we began our walk a whitethroat was seen and heard singing. A rock pipit was in full song somewhere on the salt Continue reading

Scotney Pit, Dungeness, Camber, Pett Pools – 31st January 2013

Al, Martin, Mick and I set forth at about 08.45 on a bright but blustery morning. Birds seen on the way were collared dove, song thrush, house sparrow, blackbird, magpie, herring gull, rook, crow, jackdaw, robin, black headed gull, mute swan. Camber produced a flurry of sanderlings on the shoreline, and oystercatcher. On the way to Scotney Pit, we saw a big flock of fieldfares. We were hoping to see Continue reading

Birling Gap, Hope Gap, Cuckmere Valley, 8th September 2012

Alan and Maureen, Shaun, Bob P, Richard P, Bob P and Sue met at Birling Gap on a brilliantly sunny morning, and began searching for birds from the free car park. Stonechats, meadow pipit, linnets, many swallows and two perched buzzards got us off to a good start. A fellow birder pointed out a high flying hobby – the only one seen all day. A sparrowhawk flew over, pursued as usual by a cross corvid.

A Continue reading

Old Lodge Nature Reserve – 12th August 2012

Al, Alan and Maureen, Shaun, Bob Pask, and Sue met at the Reserve on a lovely sunny morning. The birch trees near the car park were full of willow warblers and chiffchaffs, with a couple of long tailed tits and the odd chaffinch making up the numbers. Robin, wren and great spotted woodpecker (the first of several) were added, and a flock of greylag geese flew east over the valley. Coal tit and green Continue reading