Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Gale Force Winds

30th March

I went down to Seasalter beach but the gale force NW wind soon got me back in the car, I then headed off to the Reedbed Hide at Stodmarsh, a much better idea. Well perhaps not a lot better, sure the conditions were but birds were scarce, just a few marsh harriers, buzzard, kingfisher and a few ducks hiding in the reeds. I managed a few shots but subjects were always distant as usual. 

Today, the 31st was even worse so abandoned all thoughts! 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Wheatear at Last

27th March

I accompanied Geoff Burton to Swalecliffe where we saw a spoonbill flying over towards Sheppey five minutes after getting out of the car.  A dozen sanderling were on the mud plus a few ringed plovers and turnstones. The rest of the morning was rather uneventful apart from 2 goldcrests in the churchyard.

I went to Reculver hoping to photograph SEOs but no luck although one appeared late afternoon but was badly placed for photos. At the 'green wall' c.25 corn buntings were a surprise and back at the oyster farm a wheatear was on the apron but didn't allow a close approach.

Big Buzzard Day.

Wed. 25th March.

Another morning out at Seasalter with a cool NE breeze coming in off the sea but the sun made an appearance mid-morning warming things up.  My first stop was along SS Lane where I saw a marsh harrier put up c.80 teal from the dykes and also spooking the dozen or more lapwings. A cetti's warbler burst into song along the roadside and 4 skylarks were having a chase around over the field. 

Along the seafront a stop at the pumping station revealed 70 brents, 4 shelducks, 5 redshanks, 4 grey plovers and 3 dunlin although a good number of waders were further out on the tideline but numbers were clearly reduced.  

On the plots, 2 moorhens, 2 reed buntings, 2 cetti's, 3 goldfinches, 2 linnets, 1 chaffinch, 1 kestrel, 1 chiffchaff, 4 snipe and 8 buzzards circling high up.
Another look out to sea showed c.150 grey plovers far out and another buzzard came along the beach putting up the gulls.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Goodbye Tractors

21st March

I've not been able to get out for several days due to other commitments so this was the first full morning at Seasalter. A very cold morning with a bitter northerly gale blowing made the 7 degs. seem like - 5 degs. below. However, a few short walks, one getting wet, didn't produce much, most of the big wader flocks seem to have gone. The other things that were on their way were the two tractors that had been on the beach for years, why now, who knows, they made a good vantage point for watching the high tide beach roost.  

I could only find 4 brent geese in front of the NRA pumping station and the dykes only held 4 teal, 4 coots and a couple of mallard. I walked out towards the conifers finding a few mipits, 1 reed bunting and 3 pied type wags overflying but the wind was keeping everything out of sight.  I saw three skylarks in the field opposite the Sportsman plus c.30 curlew and a marsh harrier overflew the area.

I returned to the beach roost site where c.60 turnstones were settling into one of the 'dips' in the stones trying to shelter from the wind. A flock of c.40 dunlin couldn't make up their mind  whether to stay or fly off although a couple remained on the beach with 11 sanderling, 4 of which finally flew off with the dunlin flock. It also signaled me to fly off to places warmer!

Seasalter Circuit

10th March

I started at Wraik Hill reservoir finding 54 redwings in the horse paddock and field opposite plus wren, greenfinch, blackbird, jackdaws, grt tit and dunnocks etc. Another stop at Wraik Hill Country Park only revealed robin, blue tit, starling and crows. Further down at Seasalter Lane a quick look over the levels revealed lapwings displaying, 1 marsh harrier, 9 swans and chaffinch.  Along the seafront a count of 280 grey plovers, 161 brents 2 shelduck 7 g.c.grebes, 8 shoveler, c.30 teal, 2 coots, 1 barwit,  2 mergansers, 1 red-throated diver, 1 stonechat, 1 cetti's, 1 reed bunting and 24 goldfinches.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Big Grey Plover Count

Sunday 8th

Another morning at Seasalter, the tide was out so plenty of time to scope birds on the mudflats. It was a bit thin on the ground except for grey plovers which were spread out from just off the Ski Club to right up into the Swale, the biggest gathering being on the mudbank right out off Shellness point. There were a good few yesterday but this mornings total being the largest amount I have ever seen  with numbers around 1000 I estimated.  Two mergansers were a first for the year and 5 grebes were also on the sea plus three lesser black backed gulls on the mudflats. Representatives of all the other waders were on the scene including 2 barwits but still no black-tailed godwits.
On the plots, 5 shoveler, 1 gadwall, a few teal, 2 coots, moorhens and on one of the paths 5 snipe, 4 mipits, 2 cetti's, green woodpecker, 1 linnet, 1 marsh harrier and a couple of reed buntings. A stop by the YC revealed a buzzard right overhead and a one point circling over the 'hard' before heading inland again. I walked up to the start of the wall on the LNR seeing another two buzzards, 1 kestrel, 5 shelducks and a pied wagtail bringing my total to 48 species finishing at 11.15.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Free All Day

Friday 6th

I wasn't sure quite what to do today but needed to do a bit of catching up so I started with a drift through Seasalter finding 2 cetti's along SS Lane (another by the Sportsman) plus a rarity in the shape of 5 greenfinches in a bush along the lane, lately a mega!  Down to the seafront, plenty of waders still, dunlin, turnstones, grey plovers, redshank, curlew and 52 brent geese by the outfall plus a lesser black-backed gull.  In the NRA dyke the duck were a bit thin on the 'water' with 3 shoveler, 4 coots and c.dozen teal.

I then moved onto Chilham to see the GG Shrike, there it was as I arrived and nobody else, wonderful. I spent the next hour busy with the camera and watching the shrike. I took all shots using the converter as it is always distant although at the end of the session I took the converter off and got a couple of shots of the bird when it landed on the ground briefly. Fairly happy with the results but should have used a tripod to stop shake.


I've hardly seen a SEO this winter let alone taken a photo of one so I made my down to Sandwich where two or three are almost guaranteed by Dickson's corner. I waited until 5.10, but no sign, not my year for owls!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Out at Last

4th March

I 've been laid up for the past couple of weeks with flu but today and teamed up with Geoff Burton I felt I would get out again.  We started at Oare Marsh and what a muddy place, the flood was fairly quiet holding just a few ducks, to deep for waders.  A couple of stonechats were just west of the carpark and from the path two little grebes were in the ditch plus a distant pochard in front of the west hide and one marsh harrier. On the incoming tide four grt c grebes plus the avocets were taking flight up the Swale.

After a stop by the cottages we moved to Seasalter nearly running over a red-legged partidge in the road as we neared Graveney.  A pair of stonechats were in the field opposite the sub-station but little else. Stopping by the Sportsman the field opposite was teeming with  birds, the short sward created by the sheep always seems to attract flocks here. Perhaps a 1000 dunlin with ringed plover, turnstones, redshanks, curlews, lapwings and 9 golden plovers. Another stop by the NRA revealed 6 shoveler, 3 mallard, a couple of coots/moorhens and teal in the dyke. On the beach another group of roosting dunlin plus a few redshank, turnstones 3 sanderling and a welcome sight of two lesser blacked gulls.  Moving inland to SS Lane we had a great view of a male marsh harrier and 2 buzzards over the levels and later saw them again at Wraik Hill.

A very laid back morning's birding but we managed to scrape together nearly sixty species.