Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dungeness and a New Patch Tick for Seasalter

On Saturday I needed a change of scenery and went to Dungeness hoping to see all the goodies there. I didn't go early as it was raining at home but it was forecast to stop which it did soon after I left. First stop at the ARC where the red-necked phalarope performed nicely but always to far for any photos. A couple of garganey were in the same vicinity plus a range of ducks, waders and hundreds of sand martins. On the walk back to the car a migrant hawker was buzzing around some flowers begging me to try and get a flight shot which to which I did my best with my bridge camera.

Next quarry  was the melodious warbler in the Denge Gully. I parked at the end of the tarmac road and walked the last 1/2 km only to find loads of cars parked next to the bird almost, still the exercise did me good. The bird soon appeared for everybody plus a wryneck, I got a shot of it in a bush but left after a while as there were 'too many photographers' lol.  On the walk down two ravens flew overhead, honking away.

Today, I stayed local at Seasalter and with the tide out it gave me the opportunity to do a wader count. Unfortunately, apart from the 127 grey plovers, curlew and oystercatchers there was little else to see, I never see all the redshank and dunlin that roost at Oare and only a few blackwits, c.125 usually but not this morning, hopefully this will change. Stopping by the plots I saw a weasel cross the track and run further towards the bridge. Incidently, I saw a stoat pop his head out of a rabbit hole behind the huts the other day. I walked up to the wall seeing 3-4 wheatears but missed the whinchat further up reported by Andy Bowers. I wandered back along the track leading out to the road where I saw two male willow emerald damselflies, a new patch tick for this fairly rare odonata.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Staying Local

On Wednesday 27th (a working day) I went to Swalecliffe after a text from Geoff alerting me to a little stint and a wryneck seen that morning.  I thought the twins would like to go twitching with grandad for an hour or so especially as there was a big play park on site as well.  Of course by the time we got there the stint was gone and the wryneck had flown into the unknown but as luck would have it the wryneck flew in and landed close to the marsh, a tick for the boys and over to the playpark! 

Today, 29th I did the local circuit again clocking a buzzard as I drove over the new roundabout leading to Wraik Hill where it was very quiet, the best being a chiffchaff. Down on the levels a marsh harrier and c.40 swallows and a dozen house martins were circling the Mt.Pleasant corner but the strong wind was keeping most things out of sight. On the seafront the tide was out but a wader count of 112 grey plovers and 27 egrets plus c.75 black-tailed godwits.  The plots had little to see except a kingfisher and a green woodpecker.

They are fearless

Further on by the Sportsman and just on the LNR, c.300 golden plovers flying west plus a stoat popped his head out of one of the rabbit holes behind the huts, too quick for the camera! Along by the wall, 3 wheatears and a whinchat flew out from the reedbed.

I returned late afternoon around 4pm to the Sportsman when the tide was in finding a sanderling with some ringed plover on the beach just in the LNR.


Back at Seasalter at the 'island' roost site I was playing around with the camera after seeing a You Tube demonstration of the video with the SX50. You can get great video at 100x and even 200x just but you can also take photos at the same time giving you full size pictures at 100x mag which could be very useful when getting a shot of a distant bird.   Here is an example;

The 'island' with herring gulls on it

Zoomed in to100x and a shot taken whilst videoing, full size, uncropped

The photos can only be jpegs and are a bit noisy at full size but certainly sharp enough to get an acceptable ID photographs. Must use the tripod next time as well!

Friday, 22 August 2014

South Swale LNR

This morning I thought I would go a bit further west with a walk nearly up to Castle Coote. First stop was on the 'rise' just past the Sportsman where within two minutes I had close views of a male marsh harrier followed by a buzzard being mobbed by a crow. Parking up by the pub I then took the path down to the beach huts finding the usual 30+ flock of linnets and further on near the start of the wall 4 wheatears and 2 whinchats.

Further on 3 yellow wagtails flew west along the beach, then an egret flew east, a bit early as the tide was still high!  Out over the cut fields I was surprised to see a merlin zooming about and further on I did another count of the corvids, mainly crows, 240 in the fields! Quite a few dunlin (28) were flying west along the edge of the beach with another 24 feeding on the water's edge with a few ringed plovers. I took a few photos before they flew off when dog walkers came along, 3 grey plovers also flew by at this time.

The compartment behind C.Coote still had 38 cows in it, I thought they were gone, it would appear they are a semi-permanent fixture. The reedbed and grass strip seemed devoid of birds and only a couple of butterflies were noted.

I made my way back to the plots at Seasalter where I found c.6 whitethroats, 2 willow warblers, 2-4 reed warblers and 1 blue tit and 2 dunnocks.  A check on the beach roost produced a count of 330 ringed plovers, 48 dunlin, 2 lesser blk backs with two juvs., a few herring and blk hd gulls. One herring gull  looked slightly different, much bigger and was sporting a orange/red ring No. L8FT apparently originating from the Thames Ringing Group. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Seasalter Again

I met the new RSPB warden this morning along SS Lane and discussed the future and work on the levels, she also informed me that they had found a big number of Norfolk Hawkers on the site as well. Moved onto Mt Pleasant corner finding a stonechat, whitethroat, c.25 swallows and 6 house martins

A rather distant stonechat 

Down on the seafront the tide was high and a roost count was impossible with people on the island and on the beach although c.20 ringed plovers hid in one corner. On the sea, 1 Sandwich tern,2 common terns and 1 grebe. Looking over the plots 4 buzzards together again and a sparrowhawk joining the party. Another couple were further west  behind S.Swale later possibly some of the four. The walk into the plots was quiet again only producing a whitethroat and a couple of reed buntings plus 3 emperors and 1 ruddy and common darters.

Common Darter

Coffee break was taken on the beach front seat in front of the pumping station  where a clouded yellow, 3 common blues and meadow brown were feeding in the grassy area.  Lastly, I walked around the Sportsman beach huts finding c.30 linnets, 2 mipits and a wheatear plus my first yellow wagtail this year feeding on the beach!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Buzzards at Seasalter

After a trip to Southern Ireland for a family reunion, followed by a visit to the Birdfair I have finally a been out birding a couple times. The first morning back a call from Geoff Burton about a Terek sandpiper at Swalecliffe got me down there pretty quick but it was always very distant and difficult to see and finally flew off at 12.30..  

On Monday morning a visit to Seasalter produced; 133 golden plovers in front of the YC., 24 barwits, 3 knot, 4 egrets, 1 lesser blk back, 1 dunlin, a large flock of 102 grey plover, 35 linnets, 1 marsh harrier etc..

Today, Wed., another trip to Seasalter, the tide was high and on the beach roost were 131 ringed plover plus four turnstones and another c65 turnstones on the 'oyster barge', 14 dunlin, and one wheatear. Out on the sea a sandwich tern was on one of the yellow buoys, 4 grt c grebes but nothing else. On the beach 'village green' section lots of flowers including a large patch of toadflax that I never seen here before plus yellow horned poppy, sticky groundsell, blk knapweed, sandwort, valerian to name a few. A couple of tortoiseshells and whites were attracted to the flowers.


A quick look into the plots was so so quiet, just a family of swans with 7 full size cygnets on the dyke.

Further on by the YC. the tide had just left the beach attracting 110 curlew to drop in and feed and out over the fields several buzzards, first a pair going west followed by a single one. Then in the sky further east another 3 or 4 buzzards, tried to make one into a honey but couldn't, these kept company with 2 hobbys. Another surprise were 3 snipe that rose up from the fields and flew west, the new telescope proving its worth!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Willow Emeralds and Wheatears

On the 1st of August I went to find the willow emeralds and take a few photos with the little camera. A rather windy day but the bushes provided some shelter and I soon latched onto two emeralds which hardly moved all morning, only the traffic lifting them momentarily.

Later on it was a lovely evening so I did a trek out along the S.Swale finding c.325 blkwits, 1 peregrine and a count of over 324 crows over the C.Coote part of the reserve. It seems unlikely that any breeding terns, redshank, oystercatchers etc will have any chance of success when all these raiders are on the loose, I think there needs to be a cull! 

I didn't go out over the weekend accept to Sevenoaks but this morning a visit to Seasalter beach produced; 10 r.plover, c.30 turnstones, the 3 now resident lesser black backs and young, 2 kestrels, 52 golden plover, 16 egrets, 25 goldfinches, c.30 linnets, 23 sparrows on the seawall, 9 swallows, 1 mipit, 5 barwits plus blkwits in ever increasing numbers and last of all 3 wheatears who more or less stayed together near the start of the seawall etc. etc.

A few butterflies including 1 clouded yellow, 2 blues, 8 tortoiseshells, 1 red admiral, small whites, meadow browns and gatekeepers. Most of these seen off the reserve as it has hardly any flowers, what the cows missed the EA finished them off by mowing all the banks!
The bushes beside the track leading back to the road held blue tits, a common whitethroat, sparrows and starlings plus a green woodpecker dropped into the grass behind the huts.