Sunday, 15 January 2017

1st week of January

1st January 2017

I spent three hours of the morning on the local patch  and a late visit to Swalecliffe trying to find out what species could be found.  At Seasalter all the common birds but missed a few silly ones like song thrush and dunnock, the only gem being a kingfisher. At Swalecliffe I added a bonxie, red-throated divers, 51 sanderling and a nice flock of linnets finnishing off at midday with 47 sp.

A drive through Seasalter and Graveney finding mistle thrush, rook, heron and great tit. Thoroughly bored I went to Milton Creek again even though the tide would be wrong. I walked out to the creek mouth finding the eider but no sign of the long-tailed ducks. 

I went to Hampton finding the purple sandpiper, only one, then back to SS seeing 2 short-eared owls.

Walked up onto Victory Wood finding three stonechats, flock of c.40 linnits, green wood pecker, greenfinches, robins, song thrush, wren but no sign of Geoff's Dartford warbler  he'd seen the other day before. Also I saw a flock of 44 blue tits.

PM. A visit to Reculver to look at the SEOs and may be a photo but they were about but too distant. One egret was hanging about in the area plus a couple of stonechats and kestrel.

A visit to Dungeness to see the grey stonechat finally, not the presumed Stejnegers's, an interesting bird never the less. I also saw the ringed-necked duck, why is called ring-necked, the only ring is on the bill so perhaps it should be called 'ring-billed duck'. Its no doubt an escape anyway, loads of them are in kept captivity.

The last week has been decorating the hall, stairs and landing, just glossing to go! Get it done in the cold weather and have the summer free!!!!!!!!

The Last Week of December Including the Milton Long-tailed Ducks

28th Dec.

A heavy frost this morning at Seasalter with a mist hanging over the marsh again,  high tide being about midday.  A walk along the beach revealed c.400 golden plovers, c.1000 knot plus the usual dunlin, turnstones, grey plovers, redshank and counts of 32 ringed plovers by the YC, and c.150 lapwings.  As the tide came in 62 wigeon on the sea plus 8 teal and a surprise seeing 6 gadwall among them. Further out were 5 red-throated divers and 20 grt crested grebes. On the LNR it was rather quiet with only 3 blackbirds, 25 crows, 1 moorhen, 1 song thrush, 2 skylarks and 2 snipe, all close the the Sportsman.

Moved onto Bossenden Wood for a bit of camera action but that was quiet with only a couple of nuthatches, 1 coal tit plus blue and great tits and a chaffinch.

29th Dec.

I thought I would try and see the long-tailed ducks at Milton Creek this frosty morning.  Had a spot of bother finding the right place to park etc but soon on my way down the side of the bridge and out along the creek towards the sea.  It was the first time I had been there and a great selection of birds to be seen, teal, wigeon, avocets, black-tailed godwits, 1 spotted redshank, 3 greenshanks, redshank, marsh harrier, fieldfares, stonechat, little grebes etc.. It wasn't long before I saw the long tails coming up river with the tide, clearly visit on a incoming tide.  I got a few shots but they were always on the other side of the creek so pictures needed a fair crop. Met Keith Privett and Dick who were further out near the shore earlier finding an eider.  

Spotted  Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit

31st Dec.

Back to Seasalter again, the weather changed from frost and sun to a dull but a mild 7 deg. The tide was out, birds much the same as usual but the knot flock had increased to about 3-4000, it was more of a day to see how many species I could see which only amounted to 40. I did note 5 stonechats, 1 egret, c.500 wigeon, 20 teal were perhaps the only highlights.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


Not a lot going on for me this month but here are some of the 'highlights'.

2nd Dec.

A trip to Dungeness on a day when Cook's pool was frozen and the ring-necked duck was nowhere to be seen. However, at the RSPB, 3 female smew, a couple of goldeneye and all the usual duck then a drive over to see the long staying black-throated diver.

Hampton pier finding a rock pipit on the beach in front of the car park.

Seasalter; Met Geoff and took a walk around the plots, pretty quiet, a green woodpecker, marsh harrier and on the mudflats a large flock of c.1000 knot.
Moved onto Hampton later meeting Flickr 'contact' Sandra Standbridge from Herts., Saw the 2 purple sandpipers plus a Med gull on the beach.

pm. I drove over to Oare for a quick look, nothing so came back to SS seeing 2 barn owls, 1 SEO and 3 marsh harriers.

Just went out for a walk with my little camera and walked out onto the Whitstable 'Street' taking a few photos looking back.

A walk at Seasalter produced very little except two bottles of  'Whitstable Bay' oddly left on the seawall by the YC. With the tide out and the Whitstable view before me, the two bottles made an ideal subject.


A pm visit to the 'rise' seeing 4 SEOs in the air and earlier in the morning, 1 red admiral and c.2500 knot.

Called in at Marshside to find the cattle egret right up on the hill so no chance of a photo then back to Hampton seeing the Med gull and one purple sandpiper.

Another trip to Hampton (maybe the new SS) getting more photos, good to see a little egret quite close there.

A very quiet visit to Stodmarsh, just a couple of marsh harriers, hardly any birds. Saw the cattle egret again on the way home, still out of range though.
pm. Saw the 4 SEOs again at Seasalter.

A change of scenery, I went to Minnis Bay and walked back towards Reculver. I got close to c.60 sanderling on the beach, a couple of them having a fight!

On the way home I called into Hampton again getting another shot of the Med gull and saw the two purple sandpipers.

A sunset picture towards Graveney, enhanced a bit!

A frosty morning and mist rising up from the marsh, looked good for some photos.

Later, I went to the Whitstable harbour for some reflection photos as it was a beautiful calm day.

I needed a walk as a few extra pounds have been noted on the scales lately and exercise has been my main goal when I go out recently!  I parked by the SS YC and walked to Castle Coote, about 3 1/2 miles according to my 'app'. The large flock of c.1000 brents was still present plus 2 pairs of stonechats and a group of 18 skylarks feeding on the beach taking flight ocassionally was good to see.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Black Brant to Tufted Duck

15th Nov.

Another visit to SS finding 9 egrets, c.1000 dunlin on the roost plus ringed plovers, several ringed plovers plus a handful of barwits and grey plovers. On the sea I counted 6 grebes and a dozen great black backed gulls. I moved onto the LNR finding 3 stonechats, a dozen reed buntings, 1 chaffinch and 1 linnet. On the back fields were c.500 golden plovers and c.500 brent which were back and forth onto the sea and at one point I had a close view of the black brant.

 The Black Brant

House Sparrow


A day out with the other half, I thought Hythe would be a nice place to go and look around the shops and of course I nearly forgot I could spend some time on the seafront, might be something to see. What a surprise, some purple sandpipers, spent a good hour with them waiting until they showed on the rocks.

  One of Three Purple Sandpipers at Hythe


A short visit to SS finding a little grebe on the plots, 12 stock doves over flying, 1 stonechat, very quiet. On the sea shore, 7 egrets and I counted 83 bar-tailed godwits.


Made a visit to Ramsgate harbour to see the shag reported the other day and on the way back I stopped at Hampton to see the purple sandpipers.


Another short visit to SS seeing a few scoter flocks, 3 mergansers and a red-throated diver then mid-morning, no, not a trip to Folkestone to see the Forsters Tern but of home to get ready to attend a 50th wedding anniversary, which was very nice! The time I  heard about it I would have missed it anyway.

Sun. 27th

Back to SS seeing a black redstart in the chalet park, a little grebe in the 'set aside' dykes and back near the car 5 eiders inc. 2 nice adult males were on the sea, which later flew west after 20 minutes. Later a flock of c.60 greylags flew across towards Sheppey, the sea was quiet apart from a small raft of wigeon.  The plots were not very productive except for 2 marsh harriers, 6 fieldfares, 2 long-tailed tits etc..

 Some of the Five Eiders

A nice sunny morning at SS and the incoming tide gave me time to  count 66 redshank in the tidal pools plus 7 grey plovers etc..  On the plots, quiet again but c.25 coots made quite a splash, plus a I saw a male sparrowhawk and lastly a water rail was squealing near the bridge. On the sea, 4 scoters flew west into the Swale and 2 RT divers flew east and just one gc grebe. It was also good to see the return of the lone rook on the sea wall by the toilet block, a regular visitor for a couple of years.   Then  return to Hampton seeing the two purple sandpipers, c.10 sanderling and a couple of redshanks.

29th Nov.

SS again finding the black redstart again but nothing new except for a tufted duck (new for the year)in with the wigeon raft, and a glimpse of the crane flying with a few swans on Sheppey.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

New Addition To The Camera Bag

11th Nov.

I went out this morning to test my new 1.4 extender Mk3 at Seasalter. Along the wall, by the breakwaters there is normally a few waders resting on the posts at high tide which make ideal subjects.  On my way by the huts a short-eared got up from the grass, looking tired as if it had just arrived.

Later I moved onto Hampton finding some oystercatchers and sanderling plus a kingfisher flew out from the brook and landed on the 'large breakwater'. It was some distance but I thought I would give it a go and try for a photo. Only getting a 1/100 sec shutter speed I was amazed that I got a fair image, not wobbly at all and a large crop.

Later a little egret flew in and landed on the rocks giving more opportunities, the sanderling further back along the beach didn't play ball so I didn't bother any more with them. I met another photographer, Dan Moon who was trying his luck for the purple sandpipers which I have not seen yet this autumn.

Sat 12th Nov.

A miserable looking start to the day with rain in the air so I was going to give it a miss today but a call from Steve Ashton moved me to join him at Seasalter where he wanted to do some kit testing. Fortunately, the rain had just about stopped enabling us to walk up to the wall and have a try at the grey plovers and redshank etc.. As we were about to finish a flock of 8 small birds landed very close to us on the wall apron, snow buntings. We got a few shots but as usual along came man and his dog and they flew westwards but landed. We went back up on the wall and within a minute the snow buntings were running back towards us on the apron.  A few more close shots but at very high ISOs, then off they went again, back over to Sheppey I think.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Last Three Weeks

21st Oct

I took a walk along the seawall at Reculver hoping to see the shorelarks again but no luck. However, I did bump into a snow bunting which was in the deep shade of the wall and managed to get a couple of shots before it wandered a bit further along the beach and then lost. Also I met Gary Faulkner, a Flickr contact. 

25th Oct


I have been researching photographic equipment that would give me a better and lighter kit for some time now. I had always admired results from the new Nikon 300mm F4, small and half the weight of my lens and then the Nikon D500 which was the new all singing and dancing camera from the Nikon stable. With trembling nerves I bagged up all my Canon kit and traded it all in for the above kit plus a 1.4 extender. The first day out it was great, smaller, lighter and seemed to respond in every way as it was the following day.  However, as we all know, its what looks good on the PC and not the back of the camera. Reviewing the shots I got that horrible feeling, 'what have I done', oh know.  

The results were not terrible but clearly not as good as my Canon, rather soft and no real 'bite' in the detail. It was not a focus issue as front and back of the focus point were just the same. I was convinced there was a problem with either the body or lens as this combination should have produced equal or better results than my Canon kit.  Fortunately, I was able to go back to the shop where they took it all back and returned my Canon kit, thanks to them!   

Fingers slightly burned with that experience I was not going to try another kit from elsewhere but it shows that when you buy new, be careful because even paying out a lot of money does not guarantee you will get first class results.  I have known several cases where this has happened so always buy 'on approval', you shell out a fist full of money and you are given a box with gear that's untested and could easily have faults.

28th Oct

A fine day so I went to Stodmarsh meeting up with Steve and Tim. Walking to the Marsh hide we had good views of a heron with an enormous eel which it swallowed without too much trouble.  A couple of beardies showed briefly but otherwise it was fairly quiet.

29th Oct

A visit to SS plots proved rather unexciting, the only thing of note being 14 fieldfares in one of the trees otherwise it was goldfinches, song thrushes, chaffinch, wren, cetti's but it was good to see 2 greenfinches here. On the LNR I took photos of this grey plover resting on the breakwaters.

30th Oct

A rather damp quiet morning.

2nd Oct.

A day out with the other half to Sheffield Park gardens, managed to get in this week, last week we had to abort, crowded, no room in car park.

3rd Nov.

A short pm visit to SS seeing 8 snipe flying over plus a distant barn owl, no shorties today though.

5th Nov.

The weather was doubtful but I went to SBBOT, the hide was unexciting with mainly teal on show so I went along the toll road and found the greys.  I parked up and just waited until they came close (6 off) mizzly rain started but I managed a few shots as they gradually came towards me.