Great Crested Grebe

These articles are written for the CR6 magazine and reproduced here with the permission of the author, Brian Hobley (01883 625404). If you would like to reproduce them in your magazine, it would be courteous to ask him. 

As if the bug is not bad enough…. On the 23rd February Brian T, myself and another friend went to Poulter park by the River Wandle on the border of Sutton and Merton. We saw yellow browed warbler, Siberian chiff chaff and common chiff chaff, firecrests. goldcrests and grey wagtail. Only then to be caught by some idiot in full hazard gear spraying some type of pesticide on the far bank in a strong wind blowing in our direction! So much for ‘ELF and safety’ as all 3 of us suffered mild poisoning.
On a lighter note on the 15th March a few of us went to Stodmarsh near Canterbury the wind was a bit strong but we had very good views of plenty of close ducks: gadwall, shoveller and teal.
Brian Hobley

I want to thank the people at Knights, Chelsham for their help in advertising The Big Garden Bird Watch on 25th January.
The weather has not been very helpful as far as birding goes - we had to postpone our field trip on 16th February due to Storm Dennis. It's a good job three of us did a couple of trips to find some rarer or uncommon birds! We went looking for long tailed ducks, known as old squaws by native Americans, as a flock calling sounded like a group of chattering squaws! Found 2 on Scotney gravel pit near Lydd then the next stop was Dungeness RSPB reserve to look for a male smew, a beautiful black and white duck known by previous generations as' the nun'. In the same area were great white egret and a fly-over of wild geese possibly white fronts.
Further onto the reserve while eating lunch we saw a male golden eye - another black and white duck, smart but in a different way to the smew. Having been told there was a fire crest in front of the Firth Hide a short time later we found 2 fire crests, 2 or 3 chiffchaffs and a nice flock of long tailed tits. Then off to Walland Marsh looking for the group of wild Bewick's swans unsuccessfully, but we did find a flock of 100-200 fieldfares - the first of the year for us.
The daffodils are coming out and hopefully the weather will get better! So keep looking and feeding!

Brian Hobley

We started our first field trip of 2020 on a not very inspiring morning, wet and drizzling which cleared by 9am to produce a sunny but windy day. A repeat of the last trip of 2019 was very productive. Roughlegged buzzard, common buzzard, lots of marsh harriers - a success story from just three in the whole country in the 1970s to a few hundred  now. Just a single hen harrier - the most persecuted bird in Britain especially on grouse moors where they just disappear even when radio tracked. Wader numbers were good with a large flock of knot, golden plover, dunlin. lapwing, avocets and oystercatchers to name just a few. The day ended on a high note with a LONG EARED OWL roosting in the old orchard on Elmley National Nature Reserve. Later we had cracking views of at least 4 barn owls - one as close as 8 feet away.
Locally the birds seem few and far between red kite, common buzzard and the usual garden birds.
Keep looking and feeding something will turn up - it usually does!

Brian Hobley