Trip reports

New Hythe Lakes (Warren Mann)

New Hythe Lakes (Warren Mann)
Cormorants [Karen Snow]

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

We managed to see 14 species between the four of us before we left the car park. They were mainly garden birds but included song thrush, goldfinch, dunnock and a fleeting view of a grey heron. Unfortunately, in terms of species this was by far the most productive period of the day, but who judges the quality of their birding day just by the number of species seen?

We made our way around Brookland Lake. This and the surrounding scrub, whilst not a bird-free zone only added herring gulls, great tits and the first of many tufted ducks to our list. We moved on, but the lower end of Abbey Meads lake was not much better. We saw cormorants, pochards, great-crested grebes and chaffinches in addition to the numerous tufties and coots. When we reached the top of the lake we ventured a little way down the path immediately alongside the River Medway. We did not go far as previous spring tides had made it very slippery. We did see teals, mallards and moorhens, but there was no sign of the grey herons which normally nest in the trees on the far side of the river. We gingerly retraced our steps and then checked the northern end of Abbey Meads where we saw four or five each of gadwalls and little grebes. We had hoped to make our way along the top of the lake by the high path close to the lakeside. However, this was overgrown with bramble and was impassable, so we used the lower track next to the fence instead. At the far end we had a glimpse of a jay, then we checked the lake again and saw about 100 pochards over the far side.

We crossed over the railway into the country park where we added shovelers on the Railway Lake and had a glimpse of a pheasant as we walked to Streamside Lake. There we saw nothing new but were amused by the antics of a number of very quarrelsome coots. Fortunately, it was the avian equivalent of footballers' "handbags."

We walked to the largest lake. The names of the lakes in the country park vary with which leaflet or map you are using. This one is known as Leybourne, Tesco's or Windsurfer's Lake, or the Ocean. Despite its size it had very few birds on it and all we added to our list was a couple of mute swans. Then, out of nowhere, an Egyptian goose landed in the water close to where we were standing, and we got excellent views. We walked up the causeway between this lake and Johnson's Lake where we saw Canada geese. We did not linger long as our view point was fully exposed to the cold biting wind.

We decided to have a look for Kidney Lake (aka the Scrape), or as it is labelled on one map the "key conservation area". After some difficulty we found it, but the local wild life must also find it hard to locate as there was nothing on it, nor on the nearby Round Pond other than a nice pair of shovelers. We saw the Egyptian goose again at the far side of a large grassy area and then it took off and gave us a nice fly-by. We decided this display was more than enough to make it our bird of the day.

We made our way back to the car park by the path along side the little stream and saw another grey heron. We had one last scan of Streamside Lake and saw a small wader at the end of a point. On closer inspection it proved to be a green sandpiper having a bit of a wash and brush up - a good finale to our pleasant morning walk.

Warren Mann