Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve - 1000hrs - Mild, cloudy, sunshine, showers, s2 - Spent the day in north Kent recceing out a couple of sites for forthcoming articles in Birdwatching magazine, both of which were new to me. First stop was the Kent Wildlife Trust`s wetland reserve near Sevenoaks, and most impressive it was too with loads of hides and viewpoints overlooking a wide variety of riparian habitats; I particularly liked the wadery islands and shallows that attracted 30 Lapwings, 5 Golden Plovers, 3 Snipes and a Green Sandpiper. From Tyler hide the expected Teals, Shovelers and Wigeons were also well represented along with loads of diving ducks in the deeper water and a smart Grey Wagtail on the margins. From Sutton hide had brief views of a Water Rail scuttling about in the reedbed, plus a Kingfisher from ... Kingfisher hide of course, where there was no shortage of strategically placed perches. The damp woodlands held a number of Treecreepers, Greater peckers and a couple of tit flocks, one which contained Marsh Tit, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest (Lesser peckers are regular here too, and I can see why, loads of dead, rotting timber). Siskins and Goldfinches could be heard overhead and a couple of Nuthatches `tuited` away near the bird feeders. I was fascinated by the bee house near the car park, which apparently is in the Guinness Book of Records as the world`s largest - and they`ve got the certificate to prove it!
In summary, a very well managed site and a credit to KWT. Oddly enough, during the three hours I was on site I didn`t meet another soul.
Trosley Country Park - This large woodland and downland site perched on the North Downs was in complete contrast to the wetlands at Sevenoaks, and as expected at this time of year was largely bereft of birds. However, we did manage Marsh Tit again within a 5 species tit flock and a couple of Redpolls overhead. The ancient yew trees along the way were magnificent, and also a welcome shelter when the rain came hammering down, while the views across the Weald of Kent to the south were breathtaking, when the rain let up ... Barney loved this place as it provided him with plenty of new smells and a few squirrels to chase, none of which were harmed, of course.
An added bonus here was the Bluebell Cafe and I can highly recommend the sausage butties.
Jays - Bird of the day, for sheer numbers alone, had to be the Jay. While we`ve had a few down on the Marsh they seemed to be everywhere up here; in the woods, wetlands, villages and flying over the roads and motorways to and from home. There must be thousands here at the moment.