Late morning on the 18th we made a rare excursion into the Rother Valley, an area that is very under watched. 3 Shoveler (2 drakes) were noted in the flooded fields by Blackwall Bridge (Wittersham), another Peregrine at Hexden Channel and a Great Spotted Woodpecker along Rolvenden Layne. Late lunch was taken back at Eastwell Lake on the edge of Ashford where we met KP. Birds noted here: Common Buzzard, Kestrel, immature Peregrine, Grey Heron, 3 Wigeon (1 drake) and a Little Grebe amongst the common wildfowl, with the undoubted highlight being a female RED-CRESTED POCHARD spotted by Mum. A year tick for us all and only the third noted here.
We then followed KP to Conningbrook GP's where a drive along Blackwall Road revealed 3 Little and the Great White Egret, while further along between Blackwall and Goodcheap Farms we noted 1+ Brambling amongst a large mixed flock of c500 Chaffinches and Linnets, quite a sight for this winter. Inevitably birds of prey were attracted to this feeding frenzy and we noted 1 Kestrel, up to 3 Common Buzzards and a cracking male Merlin zooming through. To round things off a Woodcock flew around us, having been flushed by walkers in a nearby copse.
Of course the route back home came to an abrupt halt when I discovered the Iceland Gull in the roadside fields - see previous blog post. KP managed to return to the area to confirm the sighting. A great bird for Ashford. A red-head Goosander was noted from the main road bridge over the river Stour.
Sunday (19th) dawned bright and sunny but with a cold wind. We set off towards Conningbrook again and surprise, surprise, the ICELAND GULL was still present in one of the fields. A couple of calls/texts were made at 09:05 but by the time birders arrived the Gull had moved on (while we were checking out the lakes nearby). However between us all, we were able to confirm there were now TWO Great White Egrets present on site along with 4 Little Egrets, 4 red-head Goosander, 2 Great Crested Grebes, several Wigeon, 2 Mistle Thrushes, and a flock of Long-tailed Tits.
|3 of the 4 Goosanders taking off (all red-heads) and a Tufted Duck muscling in|
|Great White Egret along the river Stour|
|Great White Egret - not difficult to spot here|
|Great White Egret in flight|