Friday, 30 March 2012

Odds and sods

One of seven Little Ringed Plovers seen south of the river today.
There are a wealth of good sites south of the Thames which, mainly for logistical reasons, I don't visit as often as I would like. So today it was time to renew my acquaintance with two of them - Crayford Marshes, on the south shore of the river, and Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve.

Thanks to Kev Jarvis's spot-on directions I quickly caught up with the overwintering Spotted Redshank at Crayford - an excellent local record. Earlier on Kev had had a European Shag fly upriver with an adult Great Cormorant, and fortuitously the same birds came back past an hour later while I was on site. Two Little Ringed Plovers on a nearby flood were my first of the year and completed a very worthwhile visit.

Adult Red-breasted Goose at Sevenoaks WR: where did it come from?
Notwithstanding obvious question marks over its origin, it was unringed and appeared rather wary. Honest ...
Like most of the industrial Thames riverside these marshes will have changed beyond recognition over time. Two centuries ago they were doubtless truly wild, barely inhabited places. Back in early 1776, somewhere in this area following a severe frost, Britain's first Red-breasted Goose was shot here. There were no geese in view today, so instead I had to head south to Sevenoaks, on the fringe of the London recording area, to see ... an adult Red-breasted Goose. There are always question marks about lone adults of this species in Britain, especially inland; this unringed bird was actually quite wary, taking to the water when someone appeared on a nearby bank, unlike a lone White-fronted Goose and the local Greylag and Canada Geese. An Egyptian Goose completed an unseemly trio of feral goose species.

A pair of Mediterranean Gulls was a surprise at Sevenoaks WR, but they didn't stay long.
Sevenoaks also produced a fine pair of breeding-plumaged Mediterranean Gulls which indulged in some brief display before heading off high to the north. Kingfisher,my first Willow Warbler of the year and five more Little Ringed Plovers added further interest in a short visit to this excellent local reserve.

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