Sunday, 25 January 2015

Ups and Downs

15th Jan.

I went down to the high tide roost by the tractor at Seasalter  finding 69 ringed plovers, 8 sanderling, 7 barwits, 28 redshanks, 45 brent, c.1000 dunlin plus some turnstones and a g c grebe on the sea.

Looked pretty quiet so I drove over to Stodmarsh where it  rained all morning, I got to the Reedbed hide seeing 3 beardies, 1 pochard, a few gadwall displaying and mallard.

Displaying Gadwall

Whilst looking after the two 'herberts' Geoff sent a message late pm saying he was watching a SE owl at Seasalter. I managed to get an hour off and got down to see it plus a  bush full of linnets.

I made the journey down to Pett expecting to see the lesser yellowlegs but par for the course it was not there and had been refound at Rye. By then rain had set in but I sat it out at Pett whilst having lunch hoping it might return. Plenty of wigeon, lapwings etc to see but at 2.00pm I aborted and called in at Chilham on the way home seeing the shrike again.


Another visit to Seasalter in a raw north wind and only 4 degrees C.. I managed to clock up 40 species which included 84 ringed plover on the roost, 3 gadwall, 2 coots and 30 teal in the NRA dyke, 2 snipe, 2 goldfinches, 1 song thrush, 24 brents and c.300 lapwings opp the Sportsman.On the LNR, 2 stonechats, 19 skylarks on the path feeding, rather unusual and c.800 feeding close to the beach as the tide came in. Returning to the HT roost I saw 5 sanderling, and c.400 dunlin


It was a sunny day as I drove east to Sandwich BBOT but as I passed Reculver the sun had gone in, mist and cloud ahead and stayed there all morning (sunny at Whitstable all am)! However, not to be put off I continued and at the obs 3 yellowhammers feeding on the track with lots of chaffinches etc.. Parking up I walked down to the Restharrow Scrape where there were numerous teal, gadwall, shoveler, little grebes etc.. After a short stay I walked along to the YC meeting Nick and Adam but no sign of the black redstart. Finally found it out on the beach track but very distant and not worth chasing in the cold (2 deg).  On route back the stonechats performed admirably for the camera albeit at very high ISOs and I called in at the hide again but nothing new.


Spent a few minutes down on the beach at Seasalter as still sunny taking wader photos.


A nice sunny morning, only had a couple of hours as guests for lunch arriving  so where to go?   Thornden woods seemed a good bet and I still needed treecreeper and firecrest maybe a bit of luck. At first the area seemed empty but I saw one tiny bird in the undergrowth which was a firecrest, brilliant. Another half hour still no flock but eventually some long tails came in plus a couple of nuthatches, goldcrests coal tit and 2 treecreepers. Three great spots close by were arguing most of time when the firecrest came into view again. I tried for a photo but no light as usual however, using ISO 2500 I managed to get a record shot, they are so fast.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Last Few Days and a Visit to Dungeness.

8th Jan.
I took another trip to the local woods finding a pair of lesser spots, goldcrest, nuthatch and tits but no sign of treecreeper yet.  Moving back to Seasalter I ticked off long-tailed tits as they flew across the road by the Lucerne estate and stopping at the NRA I saw 4 shoveler, 4 gadwall and c.100  teal in the dyke. Further on on the LNR I saw a pair of stonechats near the start on the concrete seawall but little else.  As high tide was approaching I went back to the roost near the Ski Club and counted 14 sanderling and c.800 dunlin and maybe c.40 turnstones but no count of these, just a guess!

 An American F15 'Strike Eagle' at Seasalter on the 7th.

14 Sanderling along the beach

On the 9th it was pouring with rain and I stopped briefly at the NRA again and saw a kingfisher from the car after which I aborted.

A visit to Grove on the 10th and sat in the Feast hide to shelter from the weather all morning but managed to catch sight of a hen harrier (fem) plus a couple of marsh harriers, 32 mallard, 8 gadwall and teal on the pool.

Sunday the 11th was a lovely sunny day after the frost so I made a visit to SBBOT and the Restharrow hide finding lots of teal, gadwall etc plus 2 goosanders on the far side of the scrape. A sparrowhawk put in a lengthy appearance on the back fence, finally seen off by a crow.

12th.  A flying visit to Hampton Pier after I went to the 'dump' finding the Med. gull sat on the beach.

On Tues. 13th., after the rain I made a short visit to Seasalter and walked into the plots seeing two marsh harriers together plus a distant buzzard but little else. So I went back east to Swalecliffe finding the 8 snow buntings which do not pose for the camera and feed on the steep sides of The Brook, totally immersed in the shade and out of sight!  Other birds noted were a few greenfinches (a Seasalter rarity), goldfinches, 10 linnets, 1 curlew, 1 stonechat and a chiffchaff.

Pm..  I went over to Oare. lots of water but hardly any birds just a few lapwings and a few oddments. I walked the circuit as it was good exercise if nothing else but I did find c.205 avocets feeding on the other side of the Creek. Of course a few redshank and dunlin feeding on the remaining mud as the tide swept in.  As I left at 4.00 pm. a barn owl came into view as I drove back up the road. Fortunately, my camera was in the car and I managed to stop and get a few shots in the fading light.

Jan. 14th

I made a late decision and headed for Dungeness arriving mid-morning at the cattle egret aviary. I don't think I could get as close in a zoo or private collection and now with another night heron at Nickoll' quarry one has to assume someone has lost a lot of birds from their collection. Can any of the recent records be taken seriously?

Anyway, moving to the ARC, lots of water and not many areas for ducks to haul out. A handful of goldeneyes, a marsh harrier and a couple of views of a bittern in flight at the back of the pit plus a great white egret.  The marsh harrier was having a scrap with a cormorant, both launching/diving themselves to settle their differences.

Moving across to the RSPB., I walked the circuit,  the first stop was at the Firth Hide where a grt white egret was just in front of the hide and two chiffchaffs were flitting about below the front of the hide.


I saw a distant black-necked grebe was on the far side of the pit after which I continued onto the Scott Hide where I met up with Steve Ray. It seemed I arrived at an opportune time as 2 red head smews were swimming directly towards the hide coming to almost about 30 feet away. Plenty of camera action during these few minutes!  Also here were c10 pintail, plenty of shoveler and teal etc.. I continued onto the last hide at Denge Marsh but there was little there except a cold wind coming into my face so I headed back to the car.

On the way home I thought I would check out the shrike at Chilham and the first scan of the usual bushes revealed nothing but then bingo it was so close by the bridge I almost missed it!  The light had gone so photography was only possible using high ISOs so I banged a good few shots from the car hoping one would be usable before another car came along forcing me to move off!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Just Birding

1st. 2015

After a busy evening and early morning I managed a few hours sleep and allowed out for three hours on the morning of the 1st before more family commitments. It was just a prowl around Whitstable, starting at Swalecliffe then onto the woods where the day before sported all the goodies but this morning, none! Finishing at Seasalter I only managed to see 53 sp..

The Last Few Days

A few more outings locally produced, peregrine, bullfinch plus three marsh harriers (hunting together) over the plots.  Along the seashore the dunlin and sanderling roost kept interest alive plus a group of c.65 barwits were just off the outfall. Sanderling numbers have been good this winter with twelve seen on the 5th.  A couple of trips to Stodmarsh were rewarded with bittern views on both occasions plus marsh harriers and a few redpolls in the wood.

I have also called in at Hampton a few times finding just three purple sandpipers recently and a walk along the prom as far as the Coastguard cottages revealed 85 turnstones, 65 ringed plovers, 7 sanderling, redshanks  and 18 linnets.  Today, (6th) I escaped from the twins for an hour and found the Mediterranean gull at Hampton which landed on the sea in the corner by the outfall.