29 March 2014
A Hoopoe was found in Sandy Lane, Snodland back in January, occasionally and very infrequently visiting the lawns along the road. However it largely eluded birders. Last weekend Jeremy Hall managed to pin it down and a number of birders caught up with it in the gardens around the small hamlet at Sandhole. Despite the location being literally five minutes from my home I hadn't visited.
With a quiet, sunny morning and the need for some fresh air I decided a five minute drive was about right and headed over late morning. The Hoopoe had been seen early on out on the Golf Course, but had disappeared. I spoke to a couple of birders leaving the site having not seen it and got the low down on when and where it had been seen. I walked out across the golf course and through some of the scrubby surrounds. I saw at least 8 Green Woodpecker, 2 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel plus the usual hordes of Magpie. I reached the sand pile and the mounds near the horse paddocks on the Birling side of the course, but there was no sign.
Glancing at my phone I discovered that it had been seen within the hour I'd been on site in 'the horse paddock'. A this point I was surrounded on one side by a string of horse paddocks and stable buildings, some even containing horses. But there were no birders anywhere in sight - ad definitely no Hoopoe?
I re-checked the paddocks and with no sign wandered back to my car at the Golf Centre. Just before I arrived I walked onto Sandhole Lane and scanned a field. As I stood there a birder on a bicycle came hurtling past and disappeared up a footpath running up the hill to the right of Sandhole Farm. He just looked like he knew something so I decided to follow. Half way up two birders came the other ay and pronounced 'It is still there'. A few paces further and I was watching the Hoopoe quietly feeding along the edge of a large lawn. It often wandered into the light woodland feeding in the fallen leaves, but would return to the lawn edge if undisturbed by the Rabbits, which seemed to like chasing it around. Apparently it had been here for nearly two hours - for the record, horse paddocks are easily identifiable - they have a stable and usually a horse in them! This is a large garden lawn. For future reference it is also easy to explain where it is - on the hill behind Sandhole Farm. Apparently it spends quite a lot of time in this field and some of the surrounding gardens, though these are largely very private and impossible to view. You can just see part of the garden behind (with the trampoline in it) from the footpath that runs to Sandy Lane, and can see the large mown lawn (with the poly-tunnel in it) on the footpath that runs into the golf course from Sandhole Lane to the right of the line of conifers.
|Hoopoe and Rabbit|
|Feeding in the leaf litter|
|Enjoying the sunshine|