Thursday, 26 November 2015

Bits and Pieces

A few visits around the area over the last few days hasn't revealed much. On Sunday after the blow, I counted 54 barwits, c.5-600 knot plus the rook put in an appearance. Other birds were kingfisher, cetti's, 3 redwings, 2 stonechats and a distant kittiwake.

The following frosty morning produced some teal on the plots and 5 black-tailed godwits just off the outfall were a welcome month addition. Tuesday was a camera day, finding quite a few waders and a cracking egret coming into land made it a successful morning.

Today, Thursday, I checked on the SEOs finding 2 on the wing plus a marsh harrier and I found 6 fieldfares needed for the month! It was the first time I actually saw an owl catch a vole/mouse and eat it whilst sitting on a gate.  A short seawatch revealed 214 wigeon in mid-channel plus 8 g.c.grebes.
I then took a drive over to Hampton but no purps. just a couple of redshank and turnstones - waste of time.

 Distant record shot of SEO with prey

Saturday, 21 November 2015

What a Blow

21st November

Initially, I went to Grenham Bay but no sign of a surf scoter so could only think to get back to SS and sit in the car by the Ski Club and see what went by.  Immediately, big numbers of kittiwakes (c.500) were flying west along the beach in groups of c.40 every few minutes plus even more out on the sea keeping the c.400 gannets company, the most I have seen I think! A couple of small parties of little gulls came in close plus a few singles throughout the one and a half hours I was there. Using bins  the distant birds went past mainly unidentified but a group of 7 bonxies flew close along the beach allowing me time to get a few photos.

As midday approached the wind seemed to die off a bit allowing me to get out and scope 2 juvenile pomarine skuas sitting on the sea, occasionally lifting up briefly showing all their barred underparts. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Quiet Weekend

A few short visits to the patch over the last few days didn't prove very exciting except for the SEOs which totaled 3 in the air at once but four have been seen M.R.. This Sunday pm again saw two patrolling the fields but fighting against the strong winds. Also we finished off with a nice merlin flying in and settling on a mound by one of the gates.

Light was low - needed ISO 3200!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Goosander and Wheatear Brighten up the Week

After a rainy couple of days in Norfolk it was back to much the same weather at Seasalter although not quite so wet! 

8th Nov.
Still very mild, 14 degs. - a look over the beach and sea produced 1 male merganser and 8 sanderling plus dunlin, turnstones and ringed plovers. A flock of c.20 siskins flew west along the seafront and inland the plots were quiet. At the LNR, a little grebe was in the ditch just behind the Sportsman PH which was a good month tick.

Again, very mild, 17 degs., and not much doing - I parked up by the outfall which afforded a view over the sea and whilst having a coffee  a goosander swam past the outfall, I was out like a flash camera in hand getting a few shots.  

As it was mild I didn't need a coat so I stayed out a bit longer (its amazing how much more you see when you get out of the car)!  A few dunlin of various sizes were on the outfall and I picked out two showing the differences in bill lengths. The larger one is perhaps the Greenland Arctica or Northern/eastern Russian race Alpina? The small one, maybe  Schinzii which breeds in Iceland/Baltic and a few in the UK.
The brent flock only numbers about c.250 and still virtually all adults - the most juvenile birds I have seen was a group of five!

Various size differences in the dunlin bill and leg length.

Another visitor that I'd not seen for a while was Whitstable's race of 'pied crow', seen flying west over the sea.

The sub- race Whitstableii race of crow! 

One of the smaller races of dunlin

Hearing of Geoff's wheatear at Swalecliffe prompted me to get there and see this unusually late individual that would normally have gone back south in September or early October. I eventually found it on the Herne Bay side after seeing  stonechat and little egret on route.  

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

SEO Week!

28th Oct.

An afternoon visit to Dover harbour to photograph the female red-breasted merganser that had been a few weeks I later heard.

   Beautiful plumage details on the cormorant

31st Oct
It was a sunny morning but still a bit misty, I parked up by the plots entrance and was listening to the radio report on the Manston story. It was a phone in and quite 'to the point' so I opened the boot to continue listening, got the scope out and seawatched there for a good hour.  Quite a good move as I picked up two short-eared owls coming in off the sea, one of them going over the plots. Other birds included; 2 pintails, 10 shovelers, 20 wigeon, 22 g.c.grebes, 4 gadwall and 8 gannets.

The brent flock numbered 314 in front of the plots with just 1 juvenile and further along on the LNR I found a goldcrest in the first bush growing out of the 'apron'.


I went to Sandwich Bay to try and photograph the owls but failed to connect well, they were always distant, I only got a couple of record shots.

1st. Nov. 

This morning proved to be a waste of time as Seasalter was covered in thick fog however, I managed to find 36 species inc. kingfisher, snipe, 3 gadwall and 19 collared doves on wires by the Sportsman.

2nd Nov.

It was still foggy at Whitstable all morning so in the afternoon I went to Sandwich as I heard it was clear and photographed the short-eared owls. I saw 2 birds but another surprise was a covey of 26 grey partridges, the most I've seen. 

3rd Nov.

Seasalter looked quiet as I tried to bump up the month list managing  to add greenfinch, plus c.80 bar-tailed godwits, a flock of c.75 knot, the first I have seen since August, plus another kingfisher. However, things came to a halt when I saw two short-eared owls hunting over the field behind the LNR which was when I went back into photo mode and spent the next hour or more with them and the camera. The light was bad needing high ISOs and not much contrast for the focusing system to work well.