When I was at Barnes last week, a very helpful lady told me where to find Kingfishers in Sussex and this was to be the Loder Valley Nature Reserve which is part of Wakehurst Place in West Sussex. The gardens are maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew but the land is owned by the National Trust; so as a member of the latter, entrance was free.
I duly requested, and was given, my pass with number for the security gate, and I headed off through the gardens. I'd not appreciated how far it was to the beginning of the reserve. Neither had I realised how far it was through the reserve to the relevant Kingfisher hide!
However, the journey was very well worth the walk. As I entered the hide, I was immediately made aware of the Kingfisher sitting on a branch not far from the Kingfisher Bank; at least one pair has young there.
The light wasn't brilliant but I was delighted to get this shot - best one to date!! The hide is basic and the viewing "gap" very narrow - I had to take my lens hood off the lens to get the lens through the gap!
This female sat calling in a tree with a branch constantly between her and my camera. Her call was answered and a male arrived, mated and immediately few off - nothing unusual there then. ;)
Pity I was trying to find a better spot for pictures when all this happened and I couldn't get the camera up quickly enough; despite this it was a wonderful sight to witness.
The gardens are beautiful and I took a few shots as I walked through.
Very pleased with my Kingfisher sighting I made the trip back. On my way down I'd seen this Charcoal Burning equipment and..
on the way back up the very steep hill, it was alight! Apparently they only burn charcoal four times a year and today I was in the right place at the right time. The Charcoal produced is then sold in the shop.
It had taken me about 20 minutes to walk from the hide up to where the gardens started. It then took a further 35 minutes climbing all the time (and quite steeply) until I got back to the visitor centre and exit.
A very helpful couple had told me about a much quicker way and one of the staff in the centre gave me detailed instructions how to get there.
I trotted off to the car and drove around to the "other entrance". I shall be calling in very regularly now on my way down to Sussex. :D
I shall have to go back. One of the females was still feeding young in the Kingfisher Bank and with today's mating and (recent)previous others recorded, it looks promising for the next week or so at least.
The hide was adequate; the Tern hide seemed to have disappeared altogether and the Cormorant hide had so much surrounding growth that you could hardly see out of it!
But Cormorants and Terns were seen, as were Greylag Geese; a lone Great Crested Grebe and Coots. A Green Woodie called on my arrival; Chiff-chaffs called constantly and Nuthatches were heard on several occasions as were Blackcaps. So not a bad day all in all AND - the M25 was a good journey!!