Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Surprise at Chilham

31st Dec.

I started the morning at Seasalter and a quick look at the roost, nothing different and very quiet on the flat calm sea. Next, to the woods, where I met Dave Barnes where we soon had lesser spot, nuthatch, goldcrests, firecrest, coal tit, treecreeper, grt spot, long tail/blue/great tits. Following this I went to Chilham for another look at the GGShrike which always kept its distance but the surprise was a distant 2nd winter glaucous gull spotted by a young eagle eye. I managed to get a few photos but only had my 300mm fitted.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Bits and Pieces

Friday 19th.

After the early morning rain cleared up I went to Dungeness or perhaps should I say Lydd and pay my respects to the two cattle egrets alongside the Denge Marsh road.  As I arrived one was sitting on a roadside fence post but I was unable to get a photo and had to wait when they were walking about in the mire! A quick stop at the ARC finding a goldeneye and GWE then onto the RSPB where there were 6 goosanders, 1 fem smew, 1 Slavonian grebe. 200 cormorants and 1 ruddy duck (keep that one a secret).
On the way home stopped at Chilham to say hello to the shrike again.

Sunday 21st

Just a quick trip down to the Seasalter roost lunchtime after having a special breakfast with the kids and 'Santa'.. Plenty of dunlin and a good count of 16 sanderling

24th Dec.

A bit of birding and Xmas shopping this morning......First stop was at Seasalter, a rather cold morning, finding 22 gadwall, c.50 teal in the NRA dyke, nothing much else here so onto a mission to get 'Buckaroo' if that's how its spelt.  After Canterbury was searched by my other half I was sent to Tesco's etc but we both failed to come up with the goods.  Someone said, 'try Kids Corner', Herne Bay and yes, bingo they had some.  Going back to Whitstable I thought I'll have a look at Hampton and yes, the 4 purple sandpipers were on show. I then took a walk along the prom back towards Swalecliffe hoping to see the Med gull I saw the other week but no luck, just turnstones.

26th Dec.

A couple of hours out this morning visiting Swalecliffe finding the 6 snow buntings and a huge goldfish or Koi c.18 - 20 inches long in the Brook. How on earth did that get there?
Back at Seasalter, a kingfisher at the NRA plus teal, coots and mallard. Out on the mud, c700 knot, the odd grey plover etc.

28th Dec.

A morning at the cold Stodmarsh 'Reedbed Hide' proved rewarding with 3 bitterns seen plus distant marsh harriers and sparrowhawk.

30th Dec.

Another look around the patch, the first stop was along SS Lane, the whole area white with frost. No small birds about but a few swans, a heron plus two hares chasing across the fields to the south.  At Mt Pleasant corner a peregrine was on a pylon plus 4 song thrushes, 6 fieldfares flying over and a chaffinch.
At the seafront the usual waders plus 65 barwits just off the NRA, c1000 knot, c.100 goldies on the flats and good numbers of dunlin all over. I walked into the plots which were quiet except for a flock of 32 mipits which seemed unusual, a group of 17 teal were sitting on the ice covered dyke and two snipe were flushed by something. Lastly, a marsh harrier flew west over to the fields behind the LNR.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

To The Woods

14th Dec.

This morning I visited the local woods and after a while came across a tit flock which held c.20 long-tails plus great/blue, 2-3 coal tits and 3-4 goldcrests. Also amongst them was a lesser spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and a couple of treecreepers. Green and great spotted woodpeckers were also seen plus jay, wren and chaffinch.

Distant record shots!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Harrier Day

Sat.13th Dec.

Another morning on the patch as it was a lovely day, perhaps I could get a good specie count today. Starting at Wraik Hill reservoir I picked up a dozen birds for the list which included 6-8 greenfinches, a rarity down below at Seasalter plus a marsh harrier heading for the marshes. It looked as it had come from Stodmarsh,  I have seen them before in Clowes Wood heading in the same direction.
Next stop was the 'Wraik Hill Country Park', looked as it had suffered a nuclear attack after its scrub bashing. However, c25 redwings were feeding on the berries on the remaining bushes but there was little else.  Moving down to the levels a bullfinch flew across the road near the Thanet Way flyover and at Mt Pleasant corner a cetti's burst into song. 
On the seafront by the pumping station, the usual array of waders including 52 lapwings by the outfall. On the plots c.50 teal, 3 gadwall and a dozen mallard plus several snipe jumping up from the wet grass in various places and a pair of stonechats.  Back on the beach, 5 sanderling, c.250 brents, barwits, goldies, c.1000 knot, dunlin, grey plovers etc. and in the distance on Horse Sands, 136 seals. 

Fairly happy with 52 species I left for an early lunch as I had permission to go to Stodmarsh in the afternoon!  With the intention of seeing a hen harrier I headed for the Marsh Hide arriving just before 3.00pm. Within a few minutes I a ringtail flipped over the bund and landed in front of the hide just a few feet beyond the expanse of water. It then flew another 30yds and sat in the grass for thirty minutes, finally flying off at 3.30 pm. No more 'hens' to be seen from here just a few marsh harriers plus a few more on the walk back.  Amazing numbers of fieldfares in the bushes plus a stonechat close to the hide.  Finished off by going out onto the Lampen Wall where I met Dave Brown who earlier had a very quick sighting of a male 'hen' diving into the reeds but now only 'marshes' were left so at 4.30 it was nearly dark and time to go home.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Did you Know

3rd Dec.
Not many people know this but if you wake up one morning or all of a sudden you lose your hearing in one ear, you must go to A&E straight away to get emergency steroid treatment, its appears its your only hope to get some hearing back.  It happened to me at the beginning of June and after  two months of 'lets see if its better in a fortnight' then try this spray and then take these antibiotics I finally got to an ENT consultant where of course it was much too late, my inner ear was shot to pieces. (Cause, unknown). The odds are one in ten thousand which does not sound a lot but that could be six to seven  thousand a year across the UK, yet nobody seems to be aware of it.  If you lose you sight in one eye its clear and you get attention straight away but ears don't appear to be important. 

However, today I finally got two hearing aids this morning which are helping but not much to my bad ear.

That's the health warning over.

4th Dec.

A visit to Swalecliffe on a cold gloomy morning finding the 13 snow buntings plus a chiffchaff and a male blackcap.

Snow Bunting
5th Dec.
The weather was still cold and gloomy, I stopped by the pumping station to look at the high tide roost finding; 130 ringed plovers, c.1000 dunlin and 9 sanderling plus a few turnstones, redshank and 30 brents etc.. In the dyke, 20 teal, 3 coots, 2 mallard and a kingfisher which seems to be quite a regular sighting now.  I received a call from Geoff who surprisingly was at Castle Coote where on walking back had seen two whooper swans on the arable. I shot up there just in time to see them fly off west (par for the course)!

 Grey Plover


The reedbed was quiet as usual apart from a couple of stonechats and a few waders roosting on the breakwaters.

Sat. 6th Dec.
A beautiful day after a heavy frost and light winds, I had a look at Hampton Pier where just  one purple sandpiper was on show then back to Swalecliffe finding 4 snow buntings and 5 sanderling.

Purple Sandpiper at Hampton

Snow Bunting 

I then went back to Seasalter to catch the high tide wader roost and a chance for some photos as it was a lovely day.

Ringed Plover and Dunlin 


Arriving back at home another high ISO 4000 test for the camera, through the patio doors.

Collared dove at ISO 4000

PM. had a wasted trip to Elmley, saw and watched two SEOs but they were flushed by togs who had permission to walk out into the field!

Sun. 7th
A bit rainy, finally ended up at Hampton seeing the four purps and a walk west to the Coastguard Cottages produced a Med gull on the breakwater.


Went to Stodmarsh, nothing from the Reedbed Hide except a marsh harrier etc. and in the aldercarr lots of goldfinches plus a few redpolls etc..

Marsh Harrier

Tues. 9th

Another heavy frost and a trip to Seasalter produced the usual teal, coots, etc. in the pumping station plus the kingfisher again. By the road here two stonechats were busy feeding plus a couple of pied wagtails. Further on in the field opposite the Sportsman; c.300 golden plovers plus a mix of 70 lapwings, several redshank starlings and curlew. Out on the mud, c.1200 knot and dunlin etc and on the sea 31 wigeon.


Oh dear, another year has passed.  Try something different so I went to Bossenden finding 2 nuthatches, 3 coal tits, and 2 treecreepers plus as I was leaving, a red admiral flew past settling briefly on a fence post.


I then went over to Chilham where the GG shrike was out on show but always too distant for a decent shot together with a pair of buzzards circling over the wood behind.

Back to Seasalter and the high tide roost, 19 sanderling this time plus the dunlin etc.

19 Sanderling today