15 December 2018

A busy year for Third Age Birders


Hello birdy people, well, we finished off our year in perfect birding weather for our trip to Bough Beech Centre and Reservoir. What a beautiful winter's morning - cold, bright, sunny and calm - and a great opportunity to catch some rays after the recent dank and grey days.  15 of us were happy to abandon the pressures of Christmas preparations to spend time convening with nature at our local beauty spot. A chance to pause and breathe deeply. Our first treat was the "top  of the trees" appearance of two large flocks of fieldfare and redwing - winter visitors from Scandinavia who travel here every autumn because it is warmer!  

We quickly became familiar with the fieldfare "cackle" as the abandoned apple orchards at Bough Beech are a main attraction for them. We cosied up in the hide to view woodland birds attacking the two peanut feeders - chaffinch, goldfinch, great tit and blue tit, and were treated to the now rare appearance of a greenfinch feeding alongside them while a family of wren busied themselves in the reeds in front of us. A walk along the reservoir causeway allowed good views of pochard, great crested grebe, wigeon, cormorant and teal. 

Best spot of the morning was a single black necked grebe in winter plumage. This grebe is a rare breeder in the north and again comes south to warmer climes. The insistent honking of gossiping geese pierced the peaceful air - heard before seen as we reached the end of the causeway. These must be the guys who fly noisily over my house at dusk - demanding attention and never failing to stop me in my tracks. The signboard listed redpoll, goosander, snipe and mandarin but we didn't hang around in the hope of seeing them this morning because of the very low temperature.  In spite of this we were fortunate enough to see 37 different birds without really trying.

starling, blackbird, chaffinch, coot, cormorant, crow, wood pigeon, tufted duck, dunnock, gadwall, pochard, teal, mallard, Canada goose, goldfinch, greylag goose, robin, great crested grebe, black necked grebe, greenfinch, black headed gull, buzzard, heron, jackdaw, kestrel, jay, magpie, moorhen, wigeon, great tit, blue tit, coat tit, redwing, fieldfare, mute swan, pied wagtail, wren. 

During 2018 we have travelled near and far in our aim to see as wide a variety of bird species as possible - 

January - Sevenoaks Wildfowl Trust
February - Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex RSPB 
March - Kelsey Park, Beckenham
April - Tankerton, Whitstable, Oare Marsh, Faversham
May - Bough Beech
June - Broadwater Warren, Tunbridge Wells, RSPB
June - Rye Harbour West Sussex RSPB
July - Dungeness, Kent  RSPB
September - Sevenoaks Wildfowl Trust
October - Isle of Sheppey - Elmley Marshes
November - Cliffe Pools Thames Estuary
December - Bough Beech

I am now making plans for 2019 and hope to find some new locations as well as revisiting old favourites. That's the joy of birding - the same venue can be a very different experience each time we visit.


23rd January - Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex. Full day BOOKING NOW

4th, 5th, 6th or 7th February - Minsmere  RSPB - you are invited to join us for the day - we have a holiday cottage on the reserve

21st February - Gillingham Country Park and Bore Place. Full day BOOKING NOW

26th March  South Norwood Country Park and Kelsey Park. Half day BOOKING NOW

16th April, Dungeness. Full day

24th May, Bough Beech. Half day

13th June, Whitstable, Tankerton, Oare Marshes. Full day

5th July, tbc. Winchelsea, Rye or Minsmere. Full day, 

The Third Age Birders group now has 40 members. Because of this I would ask you to always book your place as soon as you have decided as an ideal number is 12 or less. I operate on a first come, first served basis. If full, I will put you on a short list. If a particular venue proves very popular we will aim to go twice in the month.  

Seasons greetings to all and here's to a happy and productive birding New Year.