Trip reports

Bough Beech (Leader Giuseppe Raffa)

Bough Beech (Leader Giuseppe Raffa)
House martins [Nick Upton]

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Situated between Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and Edenbridge, the Bough Beech nature reserve, which is run by the Kent Wildlife Trust, is undoubtedly one of most interesting birdwatching spots in West Kent and it has been part of the group's programme for a very long time.

As tradition dictates, the group (nine members in total) assembled not far from the causeway, where we normally spend most of our time. A dunlin, still in summer plumage, shortly followed by common and green sandpipers were the first birds in our list, but unfortunately - despite our expectations - the only waders of the day. House martins and swallows were present, though not in huge numbers, but at least they reminded us that it is still summer and we should all try to enjoy the great outdoors.

From the causeway - apart from the usual suspects - we also spotted pied and grey wagtail, as well as linnet. As far as I am concerned, the latter was probably the star bird of the day, as I managed to focus my scope on a colourful male for quite some time. On the raptor front, a very vocal buzzard finally decided to perch on a tree not far from where we were, which made our job very easy, if I may say so!

Shortly after 10 am, we decided to move on and check the hide by the visitor centre. On the way there, I positioned my scope in front of a nearby owl box, where - during my pre-visit at the beginning of the month - I had been lucky enough to see a barn owl. No luck this time, but at least we all had good views of a kestrel, which had perched not far from the hide.

After a coffee break, we set off again, hoping that the reserve nature trail would boost our list. We repeatedly heard nuthatches calling (but we saw none) and then - despite the thick vegetation! - we all had the chance to see a party of long-tailed tits (probably ten birds or so), moving through the woodland around the reservoir, perhaps prompted by the numerous buzzards calling and soaring overhead.

Before returning to the visitor centre, we enjoyed the sight of a charm of juvenile goldfinches, feeding and moving frantically by the farm close to the public footpath that is part of the reserve nature trail.

No star bird (great white egret, kingfisher or spotted flycatcher) in our list, but a lovely morning with very pleasant company.

Giuseppe Raffa