Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Holiday to Kos


My usual Lesbos destination was fully booked this year as Thomas Cook cancelled all the April flights due to the thought of a migrant problem that does not exist. So I thought we might try Kos, it has a couple of wet areas so the internet told me so it could be nearly as good. However, it wasn't, nowhere near, I had a car for four days but there was a dearth of small birds. Not one wheatear, tern, etc., I learnt from the two regular birders there were special places to go that could have produced a wheatear or two, they commented they had never known such a poor year.

We stayed at Tingaki right next to the 'salt lake', a huge shallow lagoon which held c100 flamingoes, 5 curlew sandpipers, 2 greenshank, 1 common and green sandpiper, c.150 ruff, c.15 little stints, 2 ringed plovers, 2 LRPs, c.30 stilts, 3 Kentish plovers, reed warblers, cetti's, 1 tawny pipit, ruddy ducks, 2 little bitterns, 5 squacco herons plus hirundines, 2 cuckoos and most mornings bee-eaters were flying over, lots of crested larks, hooded crows, lesser kestrels. Spur-winged plovers were easy to see with at least four around the lake, bred in past years I was told.

Rollers are quite common near the airport as there are some sandy valleys that they like, I saw four altogether. A couple Eleonora's falcons, 2 long-legged buzzards and the kestrels were the only birds of prey I saw. What was common all across the island were jackdaws, everywhere, up in the mountains, all over plus odd to see several magpies here as well. My list amounted to only 51!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Wheatear Week

25th April

A few highlights from Seasalter today were; 8 whimbrel, 6 wheatears in the sheep field opposite the Sportsman, 2 Med gulls overhead, c.50 swallows, 54 turnstones roosting on the beach beyond the white post, another three wheatears by the huts again (might they breed), 6 mipits, 4 skylarks, 1 house martin and the lone rook seems to have made its return. 

 Is that a growth on the side of its bill



At Seasalter there were 9 wheatears in the sheep field opposite the Sportsman  plus three on the beach and one on the field along Seasalter Lane.  I went up onto Wraik Hill and looked down on the levels counting 140 corvids, didn't give much hope to the breeding lapwings and redshank ( I didn't actually notice any either), also 7 greylags and 4 Canada geese. I was pleased to hear a nightingale in the Wraik Hill car park plus 2 lesser whitethroats in full song and a buzzard  high up.  No yellowhammers along Pye Alley  but several whitethroats plus lessers and chaffinches.  Also two heavily armed helicopters flew over.  Returning, there was another nightingale singing half way down Foxes Cross hill.

 Goldfinches on the plots

30th April

A strong SE wind kept most things under cover plus all the wheatears bar one had cleared out, even the ones on the beach. I changed the plan and went to Oare finding Murray back on station plus a spoonbill was there to greet him along with a squadron of 28 knot, some in breeding plumage and a greenshank was flying about.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Bluebells and Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler

19th April
Something different, I went to Kings Wood to photograph bluebells!

23rd April

Another visit to the patch and getting out of the car I heard a cuckoo  calling from over on the plots and seaward three whimbrel flew past.  Moments later Julian arrived and then Geoff, who was already there as well, texted,  'greenshank on the beach'. We crossed the road down to the beach just in time to see and hear it flying west.  Last evening, I made a short visit and heard a nightingale on the plots, so this morning I hoped it was still going to be there. Sure enough it was keeping company with the grasshopper warbler close by and further on, super ears Julian heard another which he located enabling me to get a record shot. I could see it singing but couldn't hear a thing!

Two or three cetti's made their presence known plus plenty of song from sedge/reed warblers, wrens whitethroats, goldfinches, one long-tailed tit and a couple of stock doves etc..  Later, I went to the Sportsman and the sheep field opposite held seven wheatears with another three by the huts. A short walk up to the wall revealed  four meadow pipits, 2 pied wagtails and three linnets and in the reedbed reed and sedge warblers.  On the sea there were seven great crested grebes, six brents and three shelducks.


Called into Dunkirk briefly to see four ring ouzels.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Grasshopper Warbler Returns

Sunday16th April

I had a walk around the plots meeting up with Geoff, birds seen were; 2 lesser whitethroats, 4 common whitethroats, several blackcaps, 7 swallows, c.200 goldfinches as they were tracking west all morning in small groups of 12-15, 1 reed warbler, 2 stonechats, 1 grasshopper warbler, 2 marsh harriers, 2 common terns, c.40 teal. Moving on to Wraik Hill I saw 2 bullfinches on the side of the road, another lesser whitethroat and a nightingale singing away on the Foxes Cross hill slope. Later I returned to the seafront to photograph wheatears again.

Camera Business

9th April

A walk around the plots produced a willow warbler and a sand martin which were new for the year and a couple of cetti's, 3 chiffs and 3 blackcaps were noted.


I went up onto Wraik Hill for a change and could see shelduck out on the levels plus 4 Canada geese and 4 greylags with a white farmyard goose keeping them company. On the Hill itself, a couple of chiffs, 1 willow warbler, wrens, robins and a swallow. Moving back down to SS Lane I saw heron, marsh harrier and a stock dove. 


A photography day looking for wheatears where I found 3 by the huts plus a few linnets, 3 swallows 1 sand martin and a grey plover on the beach at high tide.


First thing this morning I went to PCworld to get an A3 printer that was on offer then back down to SS finding a few wheatears and pied wagtails to photograph.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears

8th April

What a hot day, shirtsleeves at this time of the year! Mainly a photography day along the LNR and around the huts where I found a wheatear and further on 2 yellow wagtails plus lots of reed buntings coming onto the wall to feed on insects.  Also I noted 3 Canada geese flying westwards and I counted 90 shelduck just off Castle Coote with 11 wigeon. 

Heat haze was a problem with photographing birds on the hot wall.

Sedge Warblers Arrive

2nd April

I went to see the judging of the Kent County Photographic Association's annual competition which lasted all day. however, I was back early enough to have a quick visit to Seasalter finding my first sedge warbler of the year but no owls.

3rd April

It was a bright, misty morning with some sunny periods later on as I checked out SS Lane. I saw 2 Canada geese on the levels plus several lapwings, possibly c.30 birds present, 1 heron, 3 mallard, 5 swans, 1 cetti's, blackbirds, chaffinches, coots, 4 jackdaws on the field behind.  At the sea front there were 29 shelduck just off the pumping station, (they seem to gather there at this time of the year lately), 6 redshank, a few brents, 25 curlew and 1 g.b.b.gull.  On the plots; 2 chiffchaffs, 6 wrens, 1 heron, the 2 Canadas flew over heading towards Sheppey, 2 cetti's, 1 sedge warbler and 8 linnets.  

5th  April

A trip to Eagle Heights with the grandchildren, I took several photos but deleted virtually except some head shots of the Steller's.  When they flew the Steller's it did go very high finding a friend in the shape of a red kite which just followed it around, clearly mystified at this huge bird.

A huge 'conk' on the Steller's Sea Eagle.

7th April

At Wraik Hill I couldn't hear any nightingales but saw a pair of bullfinches, 1 blackcap, 1 jay and scoping down on the levels, 7 shelduck, 1 egret, swans and lapwings but little else on the flooded scrapes, kept wet by the pump. Back at the seafront just 1 redshank, 3 curlew, 3 cormorants and inland, 2 cetti's, a blackcap, reed buntings, plus 2 swallows and a wheatear on the track down to the concrete bridge.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

1st April

I took the boys to football first thing but was rewarded later with a view of the waxwing flock behind the Jet Garage at 10.30 as I went to Seasalter. At SS, so quiet so just spent time photographing reed buntings etc. again.

I returned at 7.00pm seeing the barn owl and a short-eared owl plus 4 Canada geese flying over, seemingly going to land on the levels.