Saturday, 26 April 2014

Hoopoe (Upupa epops) - Snodland, Kent. 29th March 2014

I arrived at Snodland and after parking up near the Tesco distribution depot I made my way towards the Sandhole Golf Club. I had seen that the bird was being spotted near a large pile of sand near the Golf course so wandered across the footpath that ran alongside it. I ambled along checking every viable spot visible from the path with no luck, a calling Green Woodpecker then came in to view as it flew overhead but I could see little else.

As I followed the path towards the golf course I met a incredibly nice birder who I chatted with and he very kindly took me to the location behind Sandhole farm where the Hoopoe had been seen on most occasions.

We arrived to find a dozen or so people viewing the field from two locations along the hedgerow, sadly they hadn't seen anything and a few of them decided to take a walk around a route that led back round the golf course, and behind some of the gardens and fields that the Hoopoe had been seen around. I stayed and looked carefully through every blade of grass and tree branch just in case it was hiding away.

Ten minutes must have passed and I was just about to have a wander to see if I could find it anywhere else, then one of the birders that had left earlier to take a look around returned. He calmly asked if we'd seen it, to which everybody replied that they hadn't, he then told us that it was sat under a trampoline, in a back garden just up the path. Everybody soon mobilized and trooped up the footpath and within a minute we were looking at the Hoopoe which was sat under a trampoline and just visible. It hopped around under the trampoline for a couple of minutes, amongst some large muddy furrows in the back garden's lawn, then suddenly it raised it's crest fully then took flight.

I was very pleased to have seen it but really wanted to get some better views so decide to stay and see if I could find it amongst the numerous perfect habitats for it that surrounded the golf course and gardens. A couple of birders had met the owners of the garden we had all seen it in and they very kindly gave permission to allow somebody to go in to the garden and have a very quick look to see if it was still there, they did and it wasn't there.

I spent the rest of the afternoon looking for it in various locations with no luck. A very vocal Chiffchaff distracted my attention for awhile and I watched it singing away above me at the top of tree, amongst a small overgrown orchard a Blackcap began to sing from a hedgerow within a few feet from me, it's fluty call advertising it's presence but never showing itself until it finally flew from the hedgerow and across the orchard. It perched in view then dropped down in to a nearby thicket from where it began to sing again. 

I headed back out in to the golf course after deciding to take one final look at all the Hoopoe's favoured haunts before I left, just in case. The golf course had a small number of Wood Pigeons feeding on it, a few Blackbirds, Mistle and Song Thrushes and a pair of Green Woodpeckers, above the Golf club car park circled a Sparrowhawk.

Disappointingly the Hoopoe didn't reappear and I left feeling rather lucky that I had seen it even if it wasn't the best of views.

No comments: