Saturday, 20 February 2021

Brambling and Buzzards

 20th Feb.

I had a good walk today from Graveney to Faversham via Nagden accompanied by Mark C. A big change from the cold snowy weekend last week to fifteen degs this weekend and  lots of warm sunshine. A large flock of 60-70 chaffinches with four brambling amongst them were feeding in the fields then flew up onto some trees.


Reaching the Creek two greenshank were in the channel with c.20 redshank and four teal and at the sewage works three or four chiffchaffs were singing plus several reed buntings and I counted thirty nine pied wagtails around the sewage works.


On the way back we saw at least five buzzards one I photographed being chased by a carrion crow.

Buzzard and Crow

       I saw my first bee sp this year clinging to some low vegetation but I don't know what its ID is.

After the two walk my step counter recorded 9500 steps and we covered a distance of three and a half miles.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Great White Egrets at Seasalter

 14th Feb

A message from Geoff alerting me to three great white egrets on the main dyke by the pumping station at Seasalter.  They were visible on the frozen dyke as I drove along the road to the pumping station. I got a few shots from the road for the record and after half an hour they flew a couple of hundred yards into the plots out of sight after which I went home....too cold.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Holiday Is Over

 13th Feb 2021

Today was my first time out birding since my last post on the 3rd of Jan, six weeks ago, somewhat of a record.  What with covid going rampant and a new kitchen to be fitted, decorating, the government lock down and horrible weather I didn't mind.  However, as all the work was done and it was a sunny day, I decided to get back out with the binos and camera.

After the seven inches of snow we have had over the last week the roads were surprisingly clear but most pavements were still icy especially after the minus four degs C last night.  Arriving at South Swale LNR I walked across the snow towards the huts seeing a pair of teal on a frozen pond.  At the sea front the high tide was just leaving the beach and attracting several waders. 

                                    Female teal on the frozen ponds behind the beach huts

At the water's edge a dozen grey plovers were feeding along with c.40 dunlin and knot but were continually being disturbed by people walking along the beach.  I was taking photos from a distance when a photographer, who I later saw was taking seashore photos using a tripod, just walked in front of me, flushing all the birds....ignorant twat.

                                                         A dozen grey plovers on the water's edge

Further on four skylarks and a couple of meadow pipits were probing the grassy bank apron that was free of snow, all birds looking weak and tired. 

                                                                   Three or four skylarks

A couple of lapwings and curlew were flying about enabling me to get a couple of shots and three song thrushes were scratching around grassy tussocks looking for food.



I saw circa.fourteen bar-tailed godwits fly fly onto the water's edge which is unusual to see them so close and a small number of knot joined them.

            I was always under the impression that bar-tailed godwits were larger then grey plovers
                                     but this photo shows this is not always the case.

                                                        Knot looking rather tatty

I  met Mike R and accompanied him along to the white post, unfortunately flushing several snipe which were also feeding on the snow free wall apron. Finally, I saw a pair of stonechats that were very  approachable in their weak state so I made every effort not to disturb them feeding.

                                                               Lots of snipe seen flying about


On the way back I came across a couple more song thrushes looking rather tired and worn, all ground feeding birds must be having a real hard time, I normally see a few pairs of stonechats rather than the one today.

                                                            Song thrushes suffering

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Seasalter 1st Jan - 3rd

 1st Jan 2021

As usual I did some intense birding around the patch to see what total I might get. A few stops before the Sportsman added waders and some 'garden' birds then headed up towards C. Coote. Being only 1 deg C not many small birds were evident, lucky to find blue and great tit, no dunnock and only got pied wagtail, which is very abundant there towards the end of the morning. High tide was 1.00 ish so pushed on to C.Coote noting lots of wigeon, teal, 2 pintail, 3 shoveler and the male eider put in an appearance. Met Chiddy and together we had brilliant views of the male hen harrier and a merlin. Only distant views of the whitefronts plus a marsh harrier, a single golden plover, little egret and mute swan. The final total for me being 45, with silly misses eg great crests, dunnock, goldfinch, wood pigeon, meadow pipit!!

2nd Jan.

First new bird at breakfirst was a grey wagtail in my postage stamp size garden, no ponds in the area.

Another trip to SS to add more species, still cold, 4 deg C, and dull cloud. Lots of waders on the wet field opposite the Sportsman, redshank, turnstones and the odd ringed plover plus c.200 lapwings and good numbers of curlew. Added meadow pipit with seven skylarks and a reed bunting on the way......several stonechats on route and a close bar-tailed godwit as I walked back along the beach hoping to see the snow bunting which I saw near the white post.  So, so, easy to miss as its so tame and sits quietly as people walk by rarely several shots.  

I returned mid afternoon to the sub-station entrance seeing a pair of gadwall, a woody plus a count of 73 coots feeding on the grass.

3rd Jan.

I had a walk along Sandbanks Lane finding hundreds of chaffinches with a few brambling amongst them. Other notables were great spot and mistle thrush. Only two redwings, no fieldfares....used to be orchards here but now berry fruits mainly so not a home to these thrushes anymore.

                                                       Front and back view of the mistle thrush

                                                            Great Spotted Woodpecker

On the way home I stopped by the YC  for some seawatching finding 2 red throated divers and 21 great crested grebes.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

The Eider

 30th Dec. 2020

Went out for a walk along the Seasalter LNR this morning, quite nippy , 2 degs C but no wind and sunny so nice conditions. The tide was coming in rapidly and I could see a raft of c.250 wigeon mid channel but little else of note. Apart from half a dozen stonechats and a couple of skylarks the landward side was deserted although brents were beginning to arrive on the wheat fields. 

I decided I would walk up to the western end of Castle Coote,  about two miles, still nothing much going on. Lately, flocks of dunlin have taken to roost here in large numbers at high tide and large clouds of them were wheeling around before landing, although today many took off back to Sheppey.   Wigeon and teal were slowing drifting back to the western end of the Coote and then flying over the shingle into the lagoon where they seem to feel safe at high tide. 

One surprise was seeing the male eider that has been around for a few weeks and was approaching the entrance swim into the lagoon. It was quite wary of human presence and often steamed back out when alarmed as a few people were walking by and may have worried it.

I met Mike Hatton and the warden 'Laura' who told me she had just resigned after two years with the Trust, so no warden at the moment.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Snow Bunting at Seasalter

 22nd Dec. 2020

Day four of being in the covid 4 lockdown and I needed a walk after doing jobs around the house. I cleared some more out of the garage and fitted a new bright led light above the workbench, watched some TV and one day of rain so now time to go out but only to Seasalter.

It was not early, just 9.30 when I left the house but hardly any traffic and only two cars parked by the Sportsman PH really quiet and eerie.   I walked along the beach keeping off the muddy seawall footpath and in doing so hoped to find the snow bunting I keep missing.  The tide was out and nothing to see except the odd stonechat coming up on the wall so I had a chat with Steve A on the phone and slowly walking along the beach when I stopped suddenly.

I had to cut the conversation as the snow bunting was just twenty feet in front of me feeding. Keeping still I took plenty of photos, the bird not concerned by my presence. I slowly lowered myself to get to a better shot, getting up not being so easy. Unfortunately the light was awful, so dull, and in the 'shade' of the wall, needed high ISOs.  I moved away and watched for sometime pointing it out to Kevin D who came past along the seawall. Fifteen minutes later two large dogs came past and it was off flying really high and finally out of sight towards Harty Church.

I took a photo of the common seals on horse sands as it was such a calm day, their numbers seem to be
 increasing lately, I counted over a hundred the other week.

On the way home I checked out the whitefronts counting 28 in a field next to the brents, strange how they don't like one another's company.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Reculver, black redstart, kestrel. peregrine at SS

 17th Dec. 2020

A quiet few days seeing the whitefronts still at South Swale, the large brent flocks and the usual waders etc. I made a couple of trips to Reculver to get  shots of the black redstarts, I didn't go for the snow buntings which seemed to be attracting many birders/photographers.  An obliging kestrel was in the area  posing for shots and a peacock butterfly, I think flew past me by the towers.



Late pm I went to Seasalter checking for owls and harriers but nothing to see whilst I was there except for a peregrine perched on the top of a pylon.