20th November 2011
Cold, foggy, calm start, becoming sunny and warm.
News of a Blackpoll Warbler in Tonbridge Wells on Saturday late afternoon had me re-organising my plans for Sunday. I'm not a huge twitcher, but an American warbler in Kent was too good to miss, so I joined a small crowd on the housing estate this morning. Sadly, the bird didn't show while I was there, I stayed until late morning. As far as I'm aware, it wasn't seen all day.
After lunch, and having knocked off a few jobs at home, I took a late walk up at Reculver to look for owls. Once winter arrives, when the weather is cold and still, I really enjoy late afternoon walks, sometimes at Stodmarsh to see the harriers coming in to roost, and other days out looking for owls as they start to hunt at dusk.
I parked at Shuart at 3:45pm, still light enough to see across the fields a fair distance, and walked up the path towards the railway line. I stood at a good vantage point where I could see in all directions and waited. Soon I had 2 Marsh Harriers fly west, presumably off to roost somewhere on the marsh. A small number of Redwings were flying around calling, and a Waterail was squealing from the reeds near the railway.
Just after 4 o'clock I had a wonderful moment when I saw a Barn Owl flying low up the path towards me. I fully expected it to veer off any second, but instead it flew right over my head very low, and as it passed I looked right in its eyes it was so close, no bins needed. A Cett's was calling, 2 Corn Buntings flew over and a Buzzard sat on one of the large bushes out in the fields.
About 4:15pm, with the light rapidly fading, I watched a ring-tail Hen Harrier hunting, then I wandered slowly back towards the car. Near some hedges I waited a while, and then I saw the first of 2 Long-eared Owls hunting on the edge of the field, and a second bird flying along the path beside me. What a fantastic last hour of the day.