Monday, 15 August 2016

Ravens Galore and Travels Around Kent

7th August
I responded to a tweet GB had posted about four ravens he'd seen at SS. I quickly arrived and just saw them before they flew off inland together but there were five birds, a family group? Also a greenshank flew over head down on the beach where I also counted 26 egrets.

9th August
Had a day out visiting Samphire hoe, St. Margaret's and finally Lydden where I found some chalkhill blues and a silver-spotted skipper.

 Oak Eggar in the gents toilet, Samphire Hoe

 Hoverfly - Espisyrphus baleatus

 Chalkhill Blue

Silver-spotted Skipper

10th August
A visit to the plots at SS. revealed a few Essex skippers, blues and one brown argus , the first I'd found at SS.

 Brown Argus

 Essex Skippers

A visit to Scotney Castle produced a few small red-eyed damselflies and brown hawker plus a boring visit around the old lady's house.

Small Red-eyed Damelfly
Seasalter again, only produced 60 ringed plovers, and 1 dunlin on the roost plus a load of people! Went home.

Some shots from the Herne Bay airshow.

Most shots ruined by all the coloured smoke!

Missed a lovely red sunset at Seasalter, I kept looking out of the window whilst I was doing this blog- I'm spending too much time on the PC, its got to stop. Might have to just keep the Flickr going with a few added notes.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Interest Coming Back

5th August

Gradually awakening from my summer slumber and getting out a bit more although grand children are on holiday now, which I do enjoy (to a point) so time is still difficult. However, a few highlights from my brief excursions included a wheatear on the evening of the 30th of July followed by a brent goose the next morning at Seasalter.  

On the 1st August it was outing to the African Experience at Port Lympne zoo where its nothing like Africa one little bit. The animals are out of range for the camera and they drive around without stopping in an old lorry, I spent over £100 on the day, never again.  However, the gorrillas were good when they let them out into the paddock area.

 'What hairy arms you have got grandad'

'Just one more'

On the 3rd I went to Oare finding the Bonaparte's Gull, rather white-headed now plus the curlew sandpiper, gone are the days when we used to see over one hundred!  On the way home a coupleof Sandwich terns were off Seasalter.

5th August

I thought I would try and stay at SS for longer than half an hour, lol.  Out on the mudflats I counted 202 black-tailed godwits, 3 grey plovers, 1 brent just off the outfall, 24 egrets, 1 bar-tailed godwit and an odd sighting of 2 snipe sitting out on the mudflats their legs gradually getting covered by the incoming tide before they eventually flew off.
The plots were very quiet just a stonechat, blackbird and a couple of whitethroats but I soon got interested in the butterflies, lots of common blues, gatekeepers, large skippers and a couple of small coppers all in one small area.
I only had my little Panasonic camera and standard 24-70 zoom so I had to crop in an awful lot.


Large Skipper

 A Stable Fly I think

Small Copper

 The first time I have noticed the large flats on the antennae on common blues which also appear to have a series of lines/ridges on the flat.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Long Quiet Period

Yes, its been that, either other things going on, very little about, rainy, too hot, pollen, grand children or more likely I couldn't be bothered. However, I have had a few short ventures to Seasalter etc.which I will list but nothing doing much with the camera.

6th June
Seasalter Plots;  whitethroat juvs, 2 lesser whitethroats, the usual cetti's, marsh harriers, goldfinches, c.15 swifts etc. plus 1 hairy dragonfly.

11th June
Much the same as the above plus a visit to Wraik Hill where a cetti's was singing from the bottom of the hill. On the top, 2 chiffs, a few robins, chaffinches and a couple of whitethroats, rather quiet plus no butterflies during my walk around. Back down to the seafront again revealed a hobby, 2 stonechats, 2 linnets, 2 stock doves, 5 egrets, 2 shelducks.

29th June
Seasalter again, sunny and windy; finding 1 whimbrel, 65 curlew, 50 blk. hd gulls, 60 herring gulls, 4 linnets, 2 swifts.

16th July
2 common terns on the SS outfall, c.50 herring gulls and 15 juveniles, 3 grt.b.b.gulls, no  waders. On the plots same usual stuff, whitethroats, reed buntings, nothing new except a kingfisher by the bridge.

Something different, chasing steam trains at Canterbury, missed it in the morning as it was an hour late but got it in the evening.

26th July
A short morning walk for excercise seeing 7 black-tailed godwits, 1 whimbrel and 1 bar-tailed godwit near the outfall plus 2 juvenile marsh harriers flying up the Swale.
An evening visit to Reculver seeing c.200 sand martins.

Oak Eggar in the garden

29th July
Another evening walk finding 54 turnstones, 5 ringed plovers, 2 lesser blk. back gulls and 5 whimbrel.

Sunset at Reculver

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Return of The Nightingale

4th June

At last an opportunity to get out birding for a change with a start at Wraik Hill area.  Along Pye Alley Lane I saw a bullfinch family plus a yellowhammer and whitethroat and back at Wraik Hill top 'reserve' a nightingale singing in the carpark, the first for a couple of years since the scrub clearance.  A peregrine was staring down at me from one of the pylons but didn't fly off and down Foxes Cross Hill another nightingale and a turtle dove made their presence known whilst a Mediterranean gull was calling overhead as it flew east in the rather misty conditions.

A distant shot through the mist!

I made my way down towards the seafront picking up sedge, cetti's and reed warblers along Seasalter Lane plus a marsh harrier.

The tide was already up to the beach so no chance of waders except oystercatchers and just one ringed plover. On the 'island' 6 great black-backed gulls, several herring gulls, one common tern and two shelducks. Looking out to sea through the mist I finally added a gannet and later a sand martin flew west.  Walking back towards the plots 5 greylags flew east seemingly coming from the levels and a couple of swifts were hawking over the fields.

Four of the 5 Greylags

A short walk into the plots produced two stonechat families plus two linnets, 2 mallard, c.dozen goldfinches, wrens, chaffinches etc. and two cuckoos.

Juvenile Stonechat

Back on the seafront, someone was throwing bread to a few black-headed gulls plus one nice adult Med gull joined the feast.

This evening I noticed lots of tiny moths in the garden which turned out to be the Diamond-backed moth, quickly got a poor photo.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

No Camera For A While

15th May
Two days after getting back from Lesbos I had a planned date with a Da Vinci robot at Canterbury that's kept me at home for two weeks. Felt fit enough to get out so my first outing was to Seasalter for an hour finding 2 hobbys and a family of stonechats, their youngsters in close attendance, my earliest record of fledging. Common terns were flying up and down the main drain on the plots plus a few hirundines and c.20 turnstones on the beach.

16th May
Another slightly longer visit finding a few more species new to the year inc. Sandwich tern, reed warbler and 5 swifts. Whitethroats, chiffchaffs, sedge warblers, several cetti's made their presence known and a peregrine was high overhead.  I managed to clock up 40 species before retiring home.

17th May
Over did a bit yesterday so told to just sit on the wall this morning but I managed to see half a dozen juvenile lapwings coming across from the fields behind the LNR plus a sparrowhawk and 2 sedge warblers. From the pumping station 'beach seat' 12 ringed plovers and 1 sanderling flew past plus a great crested grebe came in close to the shore.

Cut short and went home only to get out into the garden after a call from Chiddy about red kites he'd seen over his house. Sure enough 6 went past heading west, a couple very low, one even diving down into neighbours garden but swooping back up again. I stayed out  another 20 minutes seeing another 7, three of which went right overhead giving good views to my neighbour who had never seen them before locally.  For the last seven or eight years this has become a regular event from the garden, clearly a favourite flight path. Also a couple of buzzards. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Lesbos 16th-30th April

Even with all the media refugee scare stories I new Lesbos would still be a great place to bird and so I booked getting the lowest price ever!  After a few days it was clear there were no refugee problems and we didn't see one or any sign of them at all.  However, many small businesses across the island suffered because of the media scare stories and our flight  was only two thirds full, birders and  aid workers. We arrived a couple of hours after the Pope flew in for his visit and had a few delays with road closures as the Pope made his way to the camp at Moria which is a few miles from Mytilini.

It was quiet the first week and quite hot (28 degs) some days and later windy which on one day made birding difficult. The saltpans channel contained virtually nothing, just a few stilts, very disappointing although in the second week the odd greenshank, marsh sandpiper put in an appearance plus a regular 3 Temminck's stints and a few other waders but nothing like what I have seen in the past.  The Kalloni pool is still overgrown but several wood sandpipers and a regular flock of c.30 glossy ibis's were always good to see.

The East River or its real name 'Tsiknias River'  has always turned up the goods and so it did this year with the penduline tits nesting again and downstream to the ford, spotted, little and Baillon's crakes coming out onto a partially submerged tyre in the river. This shortly went missing after a couple of days, removed for some reason, no doubt  by a photographer who didn't want it in his picture as one or two photographers were camped out on the dry river bed rather than viewing from the river bank!

 Little Crake

 Spotted Crake

Baillon's Crake

Black storks were quite common, always a couple on the river or saltpans and often seen soaring in the sky. This one below was dancing around trying to catch small fish fry.

Red-throated pipits were easy to see this year with up to 22 on the damp field in front of the pans, it was quite dry this year, other times this field has been a sheet of water with loads of birds.

Just a small wet patch for the red-throated pipits this year.

Several yellow 'dombrowskii' Romanian wagtails around the saltpans.

Long-legged Buzzard

On Monday the 18th took the usual route to the pans seeing; little owl, marsh harrier, com. sandpiper, little bittern, grt reed warbler, 1 grt egret, 12 little egrets and wood sands etc.

Great Reed Warbler

 Then a drive north to the Kavaki cliffes to see the Ruppells warbler, perched on its usual bush as it has done for year upon year.  Also here were blue rock thrush, black-eared wheatears, linnets and raven. 

 After lunch in Petra we made our way back to Kalloni stopping at the mini soccer pitch to see Scop's owl then onto Achlerderi finding goshawk serin, cirling bunting and a middle spotted woodpecker.

Scops Owl


Another morning we saw kingfisher, 10 purple herons and a nice citrine wagtail with the red-throated pipits. A new bird for me was pheasant, seen along the coastal track too the Polichnitos saltpans after which we found tawny pipit a couple of woodchats and a masked shrike.

Driving to higher areas we found wren and a lovely all blue damselfly with the odd name, Odalisque, found near streams, which it was.

Odalisque damselfly

A trip to the western part of the island was very poor, just the odd collared flycatcher, no migration seen at all, a real job to find spotflys and wood warblers compared to other years. However, on the way crag martins, Cretzschmars bunting, rock nuthatches and buzzards. 

Towards the end of the first week we had seen, 5 red-footed falcons, lesser kestrels, 10 bee-eaters, whinchats, red-rumped swallows, LRPs, middle spotted woodpeckers and Kruipers nuthatch.

 Whinchats - common

Bee-eater on fence at the saltpans

 Feldegg wagtail

Kruipers Nuthatch found at a different site this year

 Another successful visit to see the Ruppells Warbler- at least 3 in one spot, raven also

 This was a surprise, I thought all the donkey users were gone but clearly one or two are still in use!

One of the Glossy Ibises opposite the hotel

Six Ferruginous ducks were found at the start of the Potamia Valley

 Black-headed buntings began to arrive in the second week

 Yellow-legged Gull

 Common Sandpiper along the coastal track

Two collared pratincoles were on the beach by the Alikoudi Pool

 Crested Lark

 Ruff - small numbers

 The usual Spur winged plover paid its annual visit but didn't bring any friends

Short-toad Eagle
 Black-winged stilt

 Lesser-grey shrike

 Lesser Grey Shrike

On the last day a roller- distant shot plus a great spotted cuckoo