Sunday, 28 June 2015

Icterine Warbler

28th June

A message from Mark Chidwick alerted me to an Icterine Warbler found along the N.Kent coast to which I duly went on my way. 

 Always distant

Found by Barry Wright it could be heard singing for much of the time, the first time I have heard them in song!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Last Few Days

Its been fairly quiet on the patch lately but I added sparrowhawk plus large skippers and meadow browns were on the wing early this week. Tuesday evening I took a trip over to Oare finding the Bonaparte's gull out on one of the islands plus numerous black-tailed godwits and good numbers of avocets.

On the 24th I counted 49 curlews out on the mudflats and 3 egrets but nothing else except gulls and oystercatchers. On the landward side a blackcap, chiffchaff, 1 emperor and 1 hairy dragonfly, my first variable damselfly and 2 stock doves. Just the usual everyday species which have had a good breeding season, lots of young about.

 Young Whitethroat

Variable Damselfly

On the 26th the high tide roost was populated by people but I doubt if there would be anything now anyway. A couple of Sandwich terns were out in the bay plus a couple of shelduck (their recent big numbers have now gone). A walk over the plots didn't reveal anything new except a kestrel for the month but along the seawall at last, a rook, the first for the year. The past few years has always seen a pair of rooks along the wall near the toilet block but not this year until now!

 Dyers Greenweed

Small Tortoiseshell

On the plots I noticed a lot of Dyers greenweed growing along the tracks obviously spread by vehicles and plenty false oat grass (arrhenatherum elatius) and cock's foot (Dactylis glomerata). Yes, if nothing else you can always have a go at the grasses!

Today 27th I went to Stodmarsh...........should have stayed at home!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Up North

18th June

After a few days around the local patch seeing the usual shelduck, cuckoo, 2 gadwall, cetti's etc. I visited my brother for a few days conveniently close to the Farne Isles. The journey up the A1 produced plenty of buzzards and a count of 8 red kites which fizzled out as we approached Lincolnshire.  I booked  a two and a half hour trip from Seahouses out to Staple Island although there was plenty of room and booking was not really required (they didn't run to Inner Farnes that morning). 

Seahouses Harbour from the pub where we had lunch

Eiders in the harbour

Approaching Inner Farne - boats hold up to 70 people

Motored around stopping at the common seal colony for photography

Arctic Terns flying around us tempting photography

Masses of guillemots plus shags and a few razorbills

 You had to be quick to catch puffins from the boat as they dived on approach

Most of the guillemots seemed to be loitering and not on eggs

Taken from the boat - lucky the sea was calm 

Visitors on Staple Island

On Staple Island, manned by several young National Trust wardens 

The puffin breeding area - holes everywhere

 Lesser black-backed gulls patrolled the puffin breeding area and tried to attack the puffins as they flew in with a beak full of sand eels

This one made it without being robbed

Razorbills were nowhere as abundant as guillemots

Shags were well advanced with their breeding, this one was being targeted by three wardens to have a radio tracker fitted. It was growling and swearing at them, all the time most unhappy, when we returned after doing our circuit they were still there, the bird still unhappy which I suggested but they said no, it was fine! They were ready with a noose on the end of a pole, no doubt to go around its neck!

 Kittiwakes were plentyfull

Can't resist the puffins

 On our return to the harbour we did a circuit around Inner Farne after an hour on Staple - the Arctic terns breed here but not on Staple.

A few shots from the boat - light changes rapidly the razorbill here was taken at ISO 6400 as I had it set on auto.

Whilst I was visiting the area it was clear that swallows were in considerable more numbers than in Kent and kestrels were quite common along the roadsides. Off course roads  were much better all over, mainly new dual carriageways, no tiny lanes plus facilities were new and numerous eg. a brand new hospital just opened close to where I was staying. It is quite clear there is a north south divide and we are on the wrong side of it plus they have more birds as well! 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Quiet Fortnight

Not much to write about over the last two weeks, I keep plodding away at Seasalter hoping something good will turn up. I made several short visits as when time allowed and on the 3rd the 3 dunlin were still present plus 59 shelduck just off the outfall. On the 4th, a longer visit finding 2 hobbys, 12 egrets, 33 shelduck, stonechat, 13 lapwings heading west, a family of coots with 7 young in tow plus the usual whitethroats, warblers etc..

On the afternoon of the 4th I went to Scotney Castle hoping for downy emerald dragonflies to which I duly found several plus lots of azures, a few large reds and a grey wagtail busily feeding its young on damselflies!

Downy Emeralds

Another short trip to SS on the 5th (a hot stormy day) revealed 6 gadwall (seen earlier at Swalecliffe) with the 31 shoveler

On the 6th there was a fresh breeze but sunny morning at SS where I had a good walk around the patch. Several swifts were hawking overhead (15+) and along SS Lane 1 cetti's and 2 buzzards. Along the seafront all the usual birds including 3 cetti's, goldfinches, chaffinches, coots, stonechat, cuckoo,2 house martins, 1 chiffchaff, 6 swallows, marsh harrier, 3 bearded tits (the biggest number I have seen there), linnets, whitethroats, 1painted lady and 1 red admiral.
On the mudflats, 31 shelducks plus an egret.


Sunday the 7th I went to Stodmarsh but pretty quiet there from the Reedbed hide, harriers, g.c.grebes, grey heron and common terns.

PM: An afternoon outing to Doddington Place and gardens and in the garden a hummingbird hawk moth.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth

On the 8th another visit to SS. and much the same as always; 3 stonechats, 1 cetti's, 3 linnets, 1 cuckoo, 1 young lesser whitethroat and another painted lady etc..

The 12th was a sunny day and looked good for dragons at Westbere and the Norfolk hawker was one of the first I saw followed by blue-taileds, azures and then by the river several demoiselles and a male scarce chaser. Whilst watching the dragons a kingfisher landed on a tree close by allowing me a shot through the reeds.

 Norfolk Hawker

 2 Scarce Chasers

Male and Female Banded Demoiselles
The 6 above photos taken with my 7d mk2 + mk2 100-400

 The four above taken with my SX50 bridge camera for comparison

On the 13th at Seasalter a strong wind, (again) and only 16 degs.. checked out what was left of the high tide 'what was an island' roost to find 3 ringed plovers and the winter plumaged dunlin that has been hanging about for a few weeks but nothing else. On the sea 2 Sandwich terns and a g.c.grebe. On the plots the cuckoo was still calling, the coot family still had their 7 youngsters and in the NR a family of wrens plus a few chaffinches. Lost interest after 30 minutes and went to the school fete for tea and cake, much better!