Friday, 1 February 2019

Visit To Grove and Rock Pipit at SS

24th Jan.

Not knowing where might be productive I paid a visit to Grove Ferry and the magic of the Feast Hide. Two togs were already in place but the shutter buttons had been fairly quiet the only quarry on the menu being teal and gadwall plus the coots. I had a look from the ramp on the way up but it was surprisingly empty of birds, maybe all the teal in front of the hide had just flown over. A couple of stars for the morning were a water rail and a green sandpiper which only made brief appearances, also a buzzard and a marsh harrier were in the area. I stopped for just over an hour and left just after eleven.


29th Jan

A lovely bright sunny day although only 3 deg C. but I thought just right for a walk up to the western end of the Coote. The high tide was early morning about 6.45am but I hoped for a good specie count which kicked off at the Sportsman with c.200 starlings and c.500 lapwing, most being behind C.Coote. There's not much around the chalets, 3 chaffinches, dunnocks and robins but I stopped here to try and get a decent dunlin shot (still trying). 

The tides lately have washed away much of the lower beach undermining the seawall in time. There was a time when the shingle/land was up on the apron of the wall where the woman in red is standing and stretched across at an angle to where am standing.

Moving up to CC I counted 47 seals on Horse Sands and c.2500 knot on the flats and just a handfull of brents. Inland on the fields c750 golden plovers and the lapwings plus 1 linnet and 12 skylarks.  At C Coote; 2 stonechats, 1 reed bunting, c.50 wigeon were visible above the channel edge plus c.100 teal, just a guess, also 1 egret on the Coote and on the sea 36 mallard. The best birds being 2 rock pipits just below the wall although at one point they were feeding on flies on the seawall.

 Rock Pipit

This is a view from the western end of C.Coote looking at the shingle bank that has appeared over the last few years and appears more or less mid channel. View it large. The tally for the morning was only 30 species.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Pale-Bellied Brent Again

21st Jan.

I missed the best views of the red moon as there was some cloud when I got up to look at it.....maybe next time.  However, it was a cold frosty but sunny morning when I reached SS., the sea was flat calm and the wind was non existent.  Plenty of dunlin near the NRA and the kingfisher was at her usual spot.

 Most of the brents had moved somewhere, maybe Sheppey but this juvenile was hanging about at the bottom of the beach

I decided to walk up to the western end of C.Coote, on the way seeing a small group of c.20 brent flying past which I quickly snapped finding the pale bellied brent amongst them.

Almost at C.Coote I could see Mike Roser and Bob Gomes at the far end finishing the WEBS count. On route I counted c.200 teal, 1 shoveler, 1 pintail and a good number of wigeon and inland 4 stonechats. 

 A good number of dunlin had roosted on the tip of CC.

As the tide rose, HT at about 12.30, the 'inland lake' filled and attracted several wigeon.

24th Jan.
A cold morning at SS, the dykes at the NRA pumping station had frozen which enabled me to see a water rail which was running along the edge reeds but the poor old kingfisher was at the usual perch but with the water frozen, will it survive.
A short walk around the huts to take some photos then off home........cold.

 Robin on one of the beach huts

 Scraping the barrel.....starlings make good pictures when the sun is out....this needed ISO 1250

The resident stonechats here were hunting along the track leading down to the beach, I just stood still for a while and let them continue enabling me to take a couple of shots.

Plenty of Waders

18th Jan.

 I made a visit to Hampton finding the purple sandpipers feeding on the steps as they prepared to sit out the high tide... hardly anything else.

 A turnstone (just a few) was the hardly anything else plus one redshank.....I've never seen more than one this winter.

 Hopefully these two will make for next winter, there used to be four....presumably these are the same returning they come to their end will that be the last seen here?

 Moved onto Seasalter finding the kingfisher again......onto the beach taking a few shots as the tide went out....redshank.

 As the tide went out a bit of stealth got me close to a few of oystercatchers coming into feed.

 On the way back to the car this house sparrow posed for a shot before I went on to Oare after hearing about a Bewick swan on the East flood.

The Bewick was half way out on the flood and after twenty minutes it took off flying towards Sheppey.

Sat. 19th Jan.

Another cold morning at Seasalter.

 High tide at Seasalter  pushed the dunlin flock up onto the outfall for a short period......there's always someone who wants to walk out on it.

 Grey plovers are a more or less a guaranteed sight at high tide when they roost on the breakwater posts near the wall.

As the tide dropped c.200 bar-tailed godwits dropped in to feed just in front of the Sportsman PH along with the knot and dunlin etc..

20th Jan

Another visit to SS., I was still experimenting using my 1.4 converter but the results were not very good, it may have been atmospherics giving a sort of 'noisy' picture so I think I will stick to 'just the lens' on its own.

 Dunlin with converter

Sanderling with converter

A great show of waders, mainly dunlin on the 'island'.

The oystercatchers kept company with the herring gulls.

The dunlin were up and down flying a couple circuits when disturbed.

The kingfisher on her usual perch at the pumping station.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Hamsted Forest Crossbills

17th Jan.

It looked a fine day for a trip to see the crossbills at Hamsted but I had to drive through some snow showers on route but it was sunny when I arrived.  My first visit there and the several cars in the car park looked as if there was help on hand to locate the birds. It was only a 300 yard walk along the track where a dozen people were watching a group of crossbills which flew off just before I reached them. However, after a couple of hours they returned to the favourite tree and I got a few shots.

Reculver and Sandwich Snow Buntings

Tues 8th Jan

A visit to Reculver drew a blank as regards TO the snow buntings but good exercise if nothing else. The Environment Agency had started to profile the beach with three large lorries, digger and bulldozer which was scaring everything away (if there was anything there to start with). However, I did see a couple of stonechats, some linnets. c.40 mallard at Cold Harbour and an egret ...........home.

pm.  A short trip to SS produced 2 pink-footed geese flying over towards Sheppey from the Grove direction.

12th Jan.

A return visit to Reculver again hoping to see the snow buntings as it was reported they were happy feeding in the disturbed shingle amongst the traffic!  I was told by someone they had seen them this morning but it still required a walk to Cold Harbour lagoon before I saw them. I quickly got a few shots before a huge lorry rumbled past on the beach sending the two away into the distance. Stonechats were busy in the same area and preceded me along the way back.

I was out for the day so I called into 'Hats Hats' coffee shop for a drink before going to Sandwich Bay via Deal. No sign of the SEOs but met Bernie who told me of other snow buntings to be seen from the beach. I joined him in the search which soon showed them on the 'green' but continually were flushed by golfers but they always returned along with the dozen skylarks.

On the way home I stopped at Hampton finding the two purple sandpipers on the steps.

14th Jan.

Grandchildren for breakfast at 7.00am and the usual school run but greeted a beautiful red sky and sunrise that morning.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Week One Of 2019

1st January 2019

It was an early 6.00pm rise for me and the start of the obligatory New Year bird race around the old Whitstable Urban District Council Area (WUDCA). Starting in Clowes Wood I soon picked up a couple of tawny owls calling, 1 woodcock, crow and blackbird and at 7.30ish the light improved and a few great tits, robin and wood pigeons appeared. Back to the car park where I found goldcrest, long tailed tits and blue tits plus a possible redpoll but it was still rather dark especially at the top of the tree so its not on the list.
Moving around the corner to Thornden Wood CP I added coal tit, kestrel, chaffinches, great spot and c.50 golden plover overflying.
On route to Swalecliffe I added jackdaw, hse sparrow, starling and collared dove. At the seafront, brents, gulls, g c grebe, 2 gannets, 73 ringed plover, sanderling, merganser, red-throats, 8 snipe, 2 lapwings and turnstones.
Back on home ground at Seasalter I saw 2 gadwall in the pumping station dykes plus coots and moorhens.  Further west by the Sportsman PH I added 1 marsh harrier, grey plovers, c.3000 knot, a count of 370 bar-tailed godwits, shelduck.
Inland, along SS Lane 6 stock doves, pheasant and 1 heron and up on Wraik Hill, 3 redwings. 

I finished at 12.30 the final tick being goldfinch at home where I get loads and the mornings tally being 60 species.

3rd Jan.

Blessed with this grey cloudy weather I went to SS trying to boost the SS list only adding a large flock of c.75 goldfinches opposite the Sportsman and by the pumping station it was nice to see a kingfisher. Spent lots of time getting photos.

 I couldn't get close to the kingfisher plus had to try and view through narrow bars of the fence.

 Some of the knot coming in as the tide receded

 Redshank on the water's edge, always difficult to get close

 Bar-tailed godwits are always one of the first to arrive as the tide begins to leave the beach.

 A lucky shot to get the redshank in flight with something to say

Several dunlin along the water's edge

5th Jan

An icy north wind blowing this morning.....didn't fancy getting out of the car but at the SS pumping station the kingfisher was present again.

However, I didn't venture further at SS and drove over to Hampton looking for the purple sandpipers picking up jackdaw for the SS list on the way.  No luck with the purps but from the car park a Mediterranean gull flew past and circled a few times.

6th Jan

Another grey day at SS  the only thing of note were a count of 17 sanderling and 4 teal in the pumping station dyke.

7th Jan

I took a walk along the South Swale LNR adding 7 linnets, pheasant and 3 robins to the list.  The c.60 curlew flock were still using their new roosting field behind the white post, why they have taken to there, who knows. The reedbed appeared totally dead to my eyes and ears, I did see one skylark plus the c.1000 golden plover flock were still present and lapwings. I noted the numbers of brent and knot were reduced, maybe they were moving north or maybe they have moved elsewhere to feed.

Still time to spare I went over to Hampton again missed the purps again but found the MED gull sat on the beach in front of the car park.