Monday, 31 March 2014

Seasalter again this Morning.

I thought I would try and do some birding today rather than lug the big camera around looking for photos that aren't there.  Camped out on the beach seat by the pumping station and did a bit of sea watching with my tiny ED50 (must get something bigger). A dozen common gulls kept company with the many black headed and herring gulls feeding from the outflow as the tide came in. A female merganser flew westwards and an egret was feeding on the mudflats further west. A flock of 112 brents made an appearance plus a couple of shelduck and later a Sandwich tern circled the outflow before going east, managed a record shot with my 300mm.. Further out there were about 16-18 g.c.grebes plus 3 red-throated divers  and further out 3 common scoter .

Inland at the plots entrance a pair of coots continued building their nest in the dyke (first for ages)! A chiffchaff was singing and a male marsh harrier flew across the reeds plus 6 linnets went overhead. Moved up to S.Swale and met Ian Shepherd, didn't add much else except 28 wigeon out in the estuary, still no wheatear or beardies, finished with 40 species for the morning along the seafront.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Changes on the Way

A lovely day at Seasalter this morning where I started at Wraik hill finding 2 chiffs and my first blackcap, not much else on the reserve but plenty of chaffinches and 3 yellowhammers etc in Pye alley Lane. Wraik Hill'Bottom' was its usual lifeless self. I hope all the clearance work is not going to scare away the nightingales. 

Moved down to the seafront where the brents were nowhere to be seen and at the hightide roost, 29 ringed plovers, 6 dunlin but nothing else except a few oystercatchers. A walk over the plots revealed 7 snipe and a pair of marsh harriers plus two med gulls overhead and a little egret on the field behind Waldens.  Several butterflies, with c.6 tortoiseshells, 2 peacocks and a green veined white and a walk around the huts was still without wheatears!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Last Ten Days and Virtually no Photos!

On the 16th a trip to Deal in the hope of seeing the shorelarks failed yet again but consoled with views of some of the red kites that flooded into Kent that day, 6 in the air together at one time!  After that it was just a few trips out to Seasalter and on the 17th. 28 g.c.grebes offshore, 2 cetti's plus 6 redwings in the sheep field when I was looking for the hoodie which seems to have cleared off. The next day I ventured over to Bossenden Wood seeing c.70 redwings in a field at Dargate, then at the wood a couple of nuthatches on the log. I didn't stop there long and took a walk around the wood finding two treecreepers and a marsh tit. 

Next on the 25th I intended an intensive search around Seasalter hoping for a big list, (still no wheatear). Started well with a pair of stonechats by the NRA, cetti's and marsh harrier over the plots but moving onto the S.Swale LNR things went pear-shaped. The tide was a mile out, the mudflats like a desert, only on the far distant tide line a few birdy specks could be made out. I  managed to tease out a couple of reed buntings and a mipit and along by the white post two peregrines flew over to Sheppey, what a surprise! I've still not recorded a bearded tit this year yet, hopefully soon, or is it my ears.  Still no photos. Cheesed off I went over to Snodland to see the hoopoe in the afternoon and what an elusive devil that was but finally latched onto it at 4.30. Still no photos.

Today, I thought I would check the Seasalter high tide roost, luckily a nice flock of 29 sanderling were resting on the 'island' (now after the last few years joined to the beach by a thin isthmus). also here were; 3 redshank, 6 dunlin,18 ringed plovers and c.50 turnstones plus c.70 oystercatchers and a few curlew. Just off the beach were c.70 brents, this number have been hanging about here for the last couple of weeks - a chance for a photo before the shutter seizes up from lack of use!

29 Sanderling - one of my highest counts (very little sand here)! 

 C.70 Brents still at Seasalter.

Went over to Grove afterwards where I met Steve Ashton but a rather wasted drive. Nothing from the Feast Hide except 4 tufted ducks and 4 marsh harriers overhead. A paddle to the Harrisons Drove revealed just 3 coots on the expanse of water and the flooded fields opposite attracted half a dozen lapwings. Very little to see and no photos! It will all change this weekend!!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Quiet Week

I've not been out that much this week, what with the weather and looking after the twins but managed a couple of local outings in the fog. Seasalter has been much the same with c.2000 and c.1000 knot on the 6th plus a few snipe on the plots and a visit to Wraik Hill produced my first bullfinches and a yellowhammer along Pye Alley Lane. Cetti's warblers have started to call with singles along SS Lane, 1 -2 on the plots and one in the reeds opposite the Sportsman. I've not seen the hoodie this week but the last sighting was on Saturday the 8th. 
Friday the 14th was foggy again at Whitstable so I thought I would make a dash for Dungeness as it was clear the other day when foggy here. As I approached Ashford the fog cleared to brilliant sunshine, hurray but as I neared the Ham Street by-pass, oh no, fog again. It remained like this all day but with brief periods of sun and limited vision which did not go down well. A look in the ARC hide produced a few goldeneye but all birds were distant as it was around the RSPB circuit. I did see two redheads plus a slav grege but all miles away from the hide as every bird was. Its strange, why is it that when in a hide all the birds are about as far away as they can get yet when I walked from one hide passing some open water several duck came quite close! Perhaps birds are frightened of hides! The only specie coming close was a great crested grebe which soon zoomed off realizing someone was watching it.

Also whilst walking around the circuit a great tit was impersonating a penduline tit but stayed long enough for a few photos, wouldn't get that in the hide.

Today, the 15th, another walk around Seasalter finding; 170 brents, 17 g.c.grebes, chiffchaffs at the NRA plus the Sportsman and at Wraik Hill. Also on the NRA dyke a male wigeon on the bank with a few mallard, teal, 1 coot and 2 gadwalls. Over the plots 2 marsh harriers were on patrol and along the wall a few turnstones, 1 grey plover a couple of mipits and skylarks but little else to excite.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Hooded Crow Again at Seasalter

Had a little bit of a tour around the east of the county today with the first stop at Seasalter to note whether the hoodie was about but no sign in the usual field. Prior to that, a quick look over the seawall revealed c.8000 knot right out on the mudflats, difficult to estimate but more than I've seen before. Moved onto Bossenden and played with the nuthatches again, they must have about half a hundred weight of peanuts stashed away in the woods somewhere!  Continued onto buzzard country seeing up to a dozen plus a couple of tortoiseshell butterflies and a brimstone, a nice surprise.

With such a fine afternoon, I obtained permission to go out again and went to look for the hoodie again but it was not in the usual field. I then went to the seawall and using the scope picked out 16 shoveler, 31 pintail amongst the c.400 wigeon, the sea was a flat calm also 42 g.c.grebes.  Phoned the sheep farmer to come and remove one of his sheep from the seawall! Then a call Mark Chidwick who was watching the hoodie back on the field again. Went back and hoping it might come closer for a better photo but not to be. It finally flew off in the direction of the Wye St farm copse at 4.30.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Buzzard and Afternoon visit to Seasalter.

I thought I would look for some buzzards or raptors to photograph on this sunny morning but found  rain instead, however, it did dry up late morning allowing me to find two.

Mid-afternoon I took a run down to Seasalter and stumbled on the hooded crow again, same sheep field but perched in a bush this time. From the Sportsman continue on towards Faversham for 200yds, then park on the right by the gate and look into the back of the sheep field, hopefully it might be there or over in the fields behind where it will be probably out of sight! I got a poor distant shot but it had its back to me and flew off to the fields behind fifteen minutes later.

Whilst there a marsh harrier flew overhead but when I first arrived two green sandpipers flew over the road and across to the pasture. 

I then had a quick look on the beach as the tide was just going out seeing about 1000 knot, a few dunlin, c.100 brent and a barwit.

Knot and few dunlin.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The First Days of March

On the first of the month it was just a case of sitting in the car waiting for the early morning rain to clear at Swalecliffe, I not one for getting wet. Then I walked out to meet Geoff, Ted and Philip huddled behind some bushes at the 'obs' trying not to get wet and seeing very little for their resolve  and they missed eight sanderling as I walked along to them! However, with nothing to photograph I went over to Hampton finding  four purple sandpipers posing on the rocks with a few redshank.

2nd March
I thought a visit to Wraik Hill might prove rewarding, however, too muddy so I drove along to Pye Alley Lane where my hopes were rewarded with a pair of yellowhammers.

Tried to get the car as close as possible to the perched male and without getting out I had to awkwardly twist out of the car window at an uncomfortable angle to snap a record shot but it didn't turn out that well. Going down to the seafront, the tide was out and no sign of the 4000 strong knot and dunlin flocks or much else, perhaps they have moved on. I didn't stop long and went over to the woods meeting up with Nick Smith, a regular flickr member who I''d never met. It was good to meet and had a good chat through the rest of the morning, later joined some of the 'big guns', Steve Ashton and Tim Gutsell plus a couple of my neighbours!. We all filled our boots with  nuthatch photos but nothing else turned up apart from blue and great tits.