Monday, 2 May 2016

Bank Holiday Birding and recent stuff

Managed several patch visits this weekend as well as a nice afternoon at Oare Marshes and a quick drive over to Otford for the WESTERN RUFOUS TURTLE DOVE, which showed well after only about an hour waiting, always nice to see a new bird and conveniently close to home!
The new patch has been busy in the last week, lots of things arriving good numbers of SWIFT, SAND MARTIN, SWALLOW and HOUSE MARTIN. A couple of LESSER WHITETHROATS are rattling around the patch and a CUCKOO has been calling for about a week. Notable birds new for the year have been COMMON SANDPIPER, COMMON TERN (3 today) and a DUNLIN whizzed around the upper lakes. A few YELLOW WAGTAILS have been seen including a flock of 7 that dropped in briefly last weekend a PEREGRINE was only the second of the year and a nice surprise was a SHORT EARED OWL that flew up from the long grass in the small water meadow.
On Saturday afternoon a stroll round Oare Marshes was a nice change of scenery, about 4 WHIMBREL were milling around the reserve and the LITTLE GULL was busy feeding over the east flood for most of the afternoon. Good numbers of SEDGE WARBLERS were in song and BEARDED TITS called almost continuously but didn't give themselves up easily, allowing only a few fleeting flight views in almost 30mins scanning the reeds. A LESSER WHITETHROAT and a NIGHTINGALE sang from the same group of bushes at the entrance to the west flood footpath. Birds of prey were thin on the ground with 1 KESTREL, 1 SPARROWHAWK and 2 BUZZARDS. There were still good number of BLACK TAILED GODWITS most in resplendent summer colours, AVOCETS were dotted around probably about 10-12 in all.
The random HAWFINCH photo is from a work trip to Portugal!
 Various photos from the weekend follow.

Hawfinch - Portugal

Little ringed Plover

Little Gull



Common Tern

Tufted Duck


Reed Bunting

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Dungeness 25th March

The decision was local patch or Dunge, it wasn't until I sat in the car it seemed like a good move to head to Dunge. I arrived around 8.20 and had a quick coffee, first bird whilst pouring my strong starter for the day was a FIRECREST in the edge of the lighthouse garden, these were to become order of the day. A quick seawatch revealed little, a few GANNETS, a distant Diver sp. and 4 flocks of BRENTS was all I could muster in half an hour so I headed back to the lighthouse garden. There were maybe 4 or 5 Firecrests a couple of CHIFFCHAFF, soon to be joined by more and best of all MC and DW were watching 2 'Continental' COAL TITS, the first I had seen on this country from memory, which is not always to be relied upon!
Continental - Coal Tit

A walk round the bushes produced at least 5 or 6 more Firecrests in various locations, a flyover SISKIN and 2 SPARROWHAWK, at least 2 Chiffchaffs also sung.
I headed to the reserve and met briefly with SB before heading out around the walk, the weather was glorious, another Firecrest was added as were 5 SMEW, SPOONBILL, GREAT WHITE EGRET, BEARDED TIT and eventually round to see BLACK NECKED GREBES. I couldn't find the hoped for Sand Martin or Swallow.
I decided to head back to the point to enjoy more Firecrest action in some great light, I also added 2 BLACK REDSTARTS to the days tally. Also here was an unexpected HUMMINGBIRD HAWK-MOTH
One of many Firecrests

Fly by Sparrowhawk

Bearded Tit on the reserve

Hummingbird Hawk Moth


On the way home I popped into the local patch, it was fairly quiet no sign of the Little Ringed Plovers I had seen on the 21st or the Jack Snipe, the 2 SEO's were still present though.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A quick dash to Sheppey

I had a couple of hours spare today so decided that now Sheppey is less than half an hour away it was long overdue a visit to see if the SHORE LARK was still around. After a brief encounter with a smart SANDERLING, a group of three birders approached with the same goal in mind, what was nice is that I found they lived very close to me so hopefully it would be good catch up with them around Boughton Monchelsea, so Barry if you are reading this hope to see you again. One of the group quickly found the Shore Lark as it made it's way towards a group of fishermen it gave brilliant views and was happy to pose for photos until it ran out of beach to explore, when it flew off not too far to start again.
Camouflaged Sanderling

Great views of this Shore Lark

With limited time it was either head to the local patch or take a quick look along the Elmley entrance track, I decided on the latter. As ever birding from the car afforded great views of the many birds spread along the track, from a distant PEREGRINE hunkering low to the ground, to splashing STARLINGS throwing water everywhere. There were good numbers of BLACK TAILED GODWIT, GOLDEN PLOVER, CURLEW and RUFF as well as 2 BUZZARD and at least 5 MARSH HARRIER. As I left a LITTLE EGRET hunted in a pool close to the track, a gust of wind produced a chance to see what Little Egrets would look like with hair gel!!!!!



Stylish Little Egret
Starlings making a splash!!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Christmas Break Birding

With a few days off and some good weather, a couple of days birding were long overdue. Stephen was free, so yesterday (29th) we headed to Norfolk for some general birding taking in the PALLID HARRIER at Flitcham, which showed very well and was a great start to the day, here we also saw BARN OWL, GREY PARTRIDGE and a fair number of PINK FOOTED GEESE flying over. While here a couple BRAMBLING buzzed as they also flew over, add to that several HARES, ROE DEER and an earlier MUNTJAC completing the scene it was a very productive first stop.
A short drive to Choseley via a shop to pick-up my missing traditional Scotch Egg, we were soon looking for ROUGH LEGGED BUZZARDS. These proved more difficult and a couple of distant short views in an hour or more was all we could muster, still the light was good so weren't disappointed. Where to go next was the question, after a quick stop at Burnham Overy and a quicker drive round the fully rammed car park at Titchwell we headed for a quieter walk at Burnham Norton where we had 5 Goose species plus a few LITTLE EGRETS as well as nice fly-by MARSH HARRIER. Holkham was next and a small lay-by looking north provided a great vantage point to watch the thousands of PINK FEET, several COMMON BUZZARDS (including one particularly light individual), MARSH HARRIERS and a  BARN OWL, no. 2 of the day. There was no sign the Red Rumped Swallow but the GREAT WHITE EGRET flew across the marsh just before we left. Driving to Cley we saw another 3 BARN OWLS, including 2 together just beyond Holkham. At Cley it was a bit too late to pick out the Black Brant but we enjoyed the spectacle as all the Brents and Pink Feet lifted off to head out to roost towards Blakeney Point, a great day out and great to catch-up with Stephen and reminisce about our birding over the years, including a magical morning on a snowy mountain in Poland watching Pygmy Owl and Three Toed Woodpecker............I can see them now as clear as anything :-)

So to today, strong southerly winds forecast, I was a bit late getting up but got to Dunge for around 9am GANNETS, GUILLEMOTS and KITTIWAKES were streaming down channel, many only just off shore giving great views. I was hoping for Sooty Shearwater as a few had been reported on previous days, the shout did come up twice while I was there but these were very distant and I didn't catch-up with them. There was plenty more to keep the attention though, the first winter CASPIAN GULL was seen several times and on the sea RED THROATED DIVERS, several BONXIES a single ARCTIC SKUA, SANDWICH TERN, plus a handful of RAZORBILLS all headed the same way. Trying to even things up were goods numbers of BRENT GEESE all heading up channel several hundred were seen this morning. Other birds here were SHELDUCK, FULMAR and TURNSTONE on the beach. A quick stop at the reserve added the LONG EARED OWL, almost hidden from view, 2 GREAT WHITE EGRETS and good numbers of GOLDENEYE. Driving back across the marsh didn't produce the hoped for Bewick's Swans just a couple of large flocks of FIELDFARE. Finally I dropped into the local patch which was quiet with just a single Snipe, Chiffchaff and Kingfisher.

pics from the last couple of days no particular order!!!
One of many Gannets today

Guillemot and an unseasonal Arctic Skua

Great White Egret - Dungeness

Pallid Harrier - Flitcham

View from Burnham Norton walk

Marsh Harrier

Barn Owl
Just a few Pink Footed Geese

Barn Owl

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A bit of Local birding

After a couple of weeks of inactivity, I enjoyed a nice local walk. The new patch hit 100 species today, a little later than I hoped for but still a nice mark to reach, this year so far the total is 87 with several common species missing.
There were good numbers of SWIFT, SWALLOW and HOUSE MARTIN around the area. Raptors were in good supply with at least 6 BUZZARDS, 1 KESTREL, 2 SPARROWHAWKS, 1 PEREGRINE and a HONEY BUZZARD! Other birds of note were 2 EGYPTIAN GEESE, several TUFTED DUCK, KINGFISHER, LITTLE OWL a couple of CUCKOOS, LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and a BLACK TAILED GODWIT! Some really nice local birds, add to that families of GREAT CRESTED GREBES, LAPWING and MUTE SWAN, it was a very enjoyable couple of hours.

A surprise find today

Young Lapwing

Distant Honey Buzzard

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Suddenly some activity!

With the new patch being 'unreportable', things to put on here have been a bit scarce to say the least! A couple of visits back to Sissinghurst have yielded the usual suspects which included a couple of flyover SISKIN a week or so ago, a bird that I haven't seen mentioned much this winter and a wintering BLACKCAP in the garden of our house Boughton Monchelsea has been nice.
Anyway to the activity on the 28th Dec I headed to Chilham to look for the GREAT GREY SHRIKE. It was in it's favourite bush by the  when I arrived around 8am and stayed in view moving to the hedgerow by the playing field for most of my time there, eventually I left around 11.30 having thoroughly enjoyed my few hours watching the bird. It was generally not close enough for any meaningful photos but when it was hunting it did come a little closer on one occasion.
Monday 29th, I picked up Stephen and we headed to Pett Level, the LESSER YELLOWLEGS was soon located but distant and among the Greylags there were about 7 WHITE FRONTED GEESE. A walk round Castle Water at Rye was very pleasant, at least 3 MARSH HARRIERS were very active a SMEW was in amongst good numbers duck which also included a few PINTAIL. Stephen picked out a GREAT WHITE EGRET from the viewing ramp in with some sheep and a couple of LITTLE EGRETS. Next stop was Scotney gravel pit, we couldn't find the Scaup but did find the 2 BLACK NECKED GREBES at the far side of the pit. Soon we were along the Dengemarsh Road watching the long staying CATTLE EGRETS, a few photos later and we checked in to the RSPB reserve, here we added GOOSANDER, more SMEW another GREAT WHITE EGRET and BLACK NECKED GREBE. A search across the marsh proved fruitless for Bean Geese and Bewick's Swans but it was as I always say great to be out on such crisp clear winters day.
Finally the 30th saw me on the new patch nothing out of the ordinary was noted but I had a slight mission that I wanted to get a half decent KINGFISHER pic having been watching the area nearly 6 months I had a spot in mind to set myself down for a while, the results are below. After getting a few pics news of a Little Bustard on East Guldeford levels came through and I was soon out with Stephen again searching the marshes a 6 mile walk and 3 hours or so later we admitted defeat, highlight on the walk was probably the 480 GOLDEN PLOVER near the wind farm and the odd MARSH HARRIER. Hopefully someone will have better luck in the coming days.