Thursday, 20 August 2015

** Dungeness RSPB Reserve. **

After last Thursday's attempt to see what was about at Dungeness being washed out due to the horrendous weather, I thought I would go and see what today was going to bring. The weather was on my side, that was a good start.
The water level is low enough for the islands and shallows to show, so after leaving the centre I stopped off in the Firth Hide for a while to see what was about. The one species of bird that couldn't be missed was a good  number of Sand Martin.
There wasn't many waders about, the only ones I saw was 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, and a few Redshank. There was quite a few wildfowl around, but there was one that stood out from the rest, and that was a male in eclipse Red Crested Pochard. The other birds seen here on Burrows Pit was: Marsh Harrier(f), Greylag Geese, Canada Geese Cormorant, G/C/Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveller, Cormorant,  G/B/B/Gull, L/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, B/H/Gull,
Pam and I had our lunch over the road at the ARC Pit. I made this next stop because of  the variety of birds that was here, thanks to the notice board in the centre. As over the road the water level is low, as low as I have seen it for a long long time. There was plenty of birds to keep happy, and it didn't take me long to see 7 of what I saw 1 of a Oare Marsh last Saturday, and that was WOOD SANDPIPERS. After seeing that one at Oare, I thought that was going to be  it for this year, I have never seen 7 together and I might never again.They had other waders for company, 1 Greenshank, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Ringed Plover, 7 Black Tailed Godwit, 3 Redshank, 36 Golden Plover, c60-80 Lapwing, 7 Ruff.
The was a Grey Heron up to it's chest Stalking it's prey  in front of the reeds in front of the hide, It is a fascinating thing to watch, moving about in the water with virtually no ripples as it eyes up it's next meal and then comes the strike, with such accuracy. Many people like me may think that it is quite something to see, but how many of us actually stop to think about the little creature is had just downed?
Among the duck here was 2 Garganey, the one I saw was a female, as for the other one, I never did find it.
The remaining species was virtually the same as over the road, but in larger numbers, and that includes Sand Martin.
I didn't want to stay too long because the word had been going around about a Bedstraw Hawkmoth that had been trapped last night at the observatory , and is a rarity, so Like a few others Pam and I went there to see if we could see it, but once we got there Dave Walker was out and the observatory was closed. We waited around for a while but he never returned, so a number of us didn't get to see it, still "That's life".

So this is where I pick my "Bird of the day".  Today I am going to be unorthodox, there are quite a few nice birds to chose from,  but I am picking the    ** GREY HERON.** 
 This is not a bird I would normally think of picking, but after having such close views of watching how it feeds, the stealth and the concentration in the eye for that pinpoint strike. That is my reason why.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

** Oare Marsh KWT. 15th August 2015.**

On a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon at 21c I took a trip to Oare Marsh to see if there was any sign of the White Rumped Sandpiper, but it wasn't to be, but there was plenty of other birds about, mainly wader varieties because the water level is just about right for them. I was lucky enough to get to park down the road. One of the first birds seen a short distance out was a Avocet with what seemed like a broken right leg. There was a good number of them about, but not as many as there is Black Tailed Godwit. The BONAPARTES GULL is still present with the B/H/Gulls. I did manage to see one of the birds I wanted to see and that was the  WOOD SANDPIPER, not a wader I see very often. some years I don't see one at all.
There was some Golden Plover spread out on one of the islands with 1 or 2 LITTLE STINTS feeding among them. Dunlin was in good number, many of them still in breeding plumage.
While I was there off to the right was 2  CURLEW SANDPIPERS feeding and even further right on the dried out mud was 4 Yellow Wagtails,  at times they seemed to be playing chase.
Later on while casually scanning through the birds all of a sudden they all went up and it was caused by a Peregrine Falcon making a fly by.  After the birds settled again 11 GREENSHANKS flew in and landed directly out in front of me. There was also a few Ruff here and there and among them was one that was showing the remains of it's white ruff (I believe they are called satellite). 3 Common Terns flew in for a while.The other waders present was: Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank. Swallows was feeding low over the scrape.
The biggest bird I saw in the sky was out over the sea hide, and that was a VULCAN BOMBER. It was part of the airshow that was taking place at Herne Bay, as corrected by Derek, not Eastbourne as I thought, because it was on the same day. I had great views of it through the scope. It is something to be admired, I believe it is a plane that was built ahead of it's time.
Other species of bird seen was: Herring Gull, Cormorant, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveller, Coot Moorhen, Dabchick, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Wood Pigeon,

My Bird of the Day (apart from the Vulcan Bomber) is the  ** WOOD SANDPIPER.**

Thursday, 13 August 2015

** Pictures of Ollie and his little friend.**

Yesterday (12th August) I went down to my neighbours to see how the Barn Owl chick is getting on, and I was surprised just how much it has grown in a week, it is now about 3 weeks old. While I was getting engrossed with it Astrid went outside and brought Ollie the adult male in. She sat him on the back of a chair right next to me, what a handsome bird he is.
I took my camera with me this time to take a few record shots of them. The little guy was quite happy sitting on a towel, but Ollie was a lot more inquisitive as they are. He eyed me up at one point, moving his head up and down, side to side, wings out a little bit, but it didn't last long.
I ended up staying there longer than I intended to, but she didn't seem to mind. I hope to go back again soon, probably next week to see how much the chick has grown.
Below is a few of the  pictures I took:



Thursday, 6 August 2015

* * Isn't it strange how one thing can lead to another. **

Isn't it strange how one thing can lead to another, sometimes good, sometimes bad, on this occasion it was good.
A few weeks ago a few kids found a lost tortoise just along from us in the entrance to the park. It still hasn't been reunited with it's owner. How do I know, well as Pam and I was going out yesterday I saw a lost tortoise notice on a lampost. I phoned the number and left a message saying what we knew, later that afternoon I had a call from the lady who owns the tortoise. It was't until she told me her name that it rang a bell. We only found out about 5 or so weeks ago that one of the home owners down the road keeps owls, and that is her.
She said " I am about to feed my 2 week old Barn Owl and would you like to come down?"
Well you can guess what I said.Pam came with me, and was greeted by a pair of hands holding this tiny ball of fluff.I could never imagine that one day I would be stroking and having my finger nibbled by a 2 week old barn owl. Another thing I did was something that Chris Packham does, and that is to sniff it. It has a lovely smell, but not a easy smell to describe. She is so dedicated, the chick has to be fed every 3 hours.
She also has a adult male Barn Owl which she flies, a male Little Owl, it isn't until you are inches away from one that you realise just how small they are, and finally a Scops Owl
After chatting for a while I found out that she use to have a Eagle Owl, but it got out of hand, it was a rescue bird. I look forward to watching the baby develope into a beautiful adult.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

** Oare Marsh KWT. Yesterday 20/07/2015.**

Knowing that there was quite a few waders at Oare Marsh and being a nice day I (and my lovely taxi driver, Pamela) decided to have a look for myself. I was expecting to have a job to park in the pull in half way down the road but it was empty, what I did see was round about  8-10 birders/photographers gathered by the fence. I asked them what they was looking at it wasn't long before I was looking at the same birds, they was 2 TEMMINCK'S STINTS , well that was a great start for the day, not to mention for the year list.
The water level is just right for waders that feed at different depths .The highest number of waders was Black Tailed Godwits, I am not really into counting birds when there are so many, all I will say is that they was in the 100's, many of them still in their wonderful breeding plumage.There was plenty of Avocet around, always a nice bird to watch feeding.
There was 4  other really good waders species on the scrape, those that are stopping off to feed before making that long flight back to Africa, 1 LITTLE STINT...2 CURLEW SANDPIPER,..4 RUFF, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER. TheCurlew Sand and Ruff are still showing signs of their breeding plumage.
The other waders scattered around was: Redshank..Dunlin...Lapwing... Oystercatcher.
Over in the small bay in the far right corner 9 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons was roosting.  Wildfowl seen was:Mallard..Shoveller..Shelduck...Gadwall.. Tufted Duck, and Greyag Geese.
On the gull front the BONAPARTE'S GULL is still showing, and a nice looking gull it is with it's lovely black hood. I believe it is  migrant from North America, and there is occasional sightings of them over here most years. The other gulls seen was: Black Headed Gull...Herring Gull..Common Gull, and a Great Black-backed Gull which flew over the scrape putting all the birds up. They also went up again but I couldn't see what caused it, but it was a lovely spectacle,especially the Godwits with the sun on them showing off their orange/rufous colours.
The other bird species I saw was: 2 Cormorants..one female Marsh Harrier in the distance... Mute Swan..Coot..Moorhen..Swallow.. Starling..Pied Wagtail..Skylark..Reed.. Bunting..Carrion Crow..Jackdaw..Magpie..Wood Pigeon, and Collared Dove.
My visit had to end  before I wanted to due to me falling off of my seat, now before anyone says, no I was totally sober��. I didn't just fall off as you do, I think it was caused by something that happened  just before that, so I am resting up on the sofa writing this on my tablet.
My days bird list was: Greylag Goose..Cormorant.. Mute Swan..Grey Heron..Little Egret..Mash Harrier..Mallard..Tufted duck..Shelduck..Shoveller..Gadwall..Coot..Moorhen..Bonaparte's Gull..G/B/B/Gull..Herring Gull..Common Gull..B/H/Gull..Redshank..Lapwing..Avocet..Dunlin..Ruff..L/R/Plover..CurlewSandpiper..Temminck's Stint..Little Stint..B/T/Godwit..C/Crow..Jackdaw..Magpie..W/Pigeon..C/Dove..Starling..Skylark..Reed Bunting..Pied Wagtail..Swallow..

Now for my "Bird of the day" . I decided before I started writing this what it will be, and that is the ** TEMMINCK'S STINT **

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

** Local Twitch to Oare Marsh KWT Reserve.**

Having nothing planned for today, and reading in bird reports that the North American Bonaparte's Gull is still hanging around at Oare Marsh I thought I would go on a twitch, not far. Some people think twitching is going a fair distance to see a bird, but really twitching can be anything from going 50 yards down the road, to 500 or more miles away.  I sum twitching up as "Going to see  someone elses bird."
Pam and I arrived at Oare at about 1.45pm. I was expecting there to be more people there than there was. We managed to get parked up in the lay-by half way down the road. There was one car behind us and when I got out I went and asked these 2 birders if they had seen the gull, back came the answer "No" I got myself settled  and started looking through the B/H/Gulls because that is where it has been spending most of it's time. I spent about 40 minutes looking, on and off while checking out the other birds and when I had another scan through the gulls at 2.30pm I found it, the BONAPARTE'S GULL. I was pretty certain this was it straight away. I did the basics before we left home and read up on it in the bird guide books, and also how it differed from the B/H/Gull. I also had my field guide at hand while there.
My I.D was confirmed when it sat up and preened, black head, shorter blackish bill, grey upper parts, and slightly smaller that the B/H/Gull ( The last time I saw one was 2013 and that was here at Oare Marsh ).The 2 guys next to me was happy when I got them onto it. It made me feel good a little while later when someone asked them if it was about, and one of them said "Yes, that gentleman there found it". It wasn't because he said I found it, it was because I got called "A gentleman"........WOW!
While looking for it among the gulls I noticed a B/H/Gull with a yellow ring on it's left leg with 2FPX on it. I will send this off to find out it's history. Another nice sighting was a beautiful Mediterranean Gull.
It was a good afternoon for the birds to feed, the water was full of Black Tailed Godwits, a good number of Avocet plus there was 2 Grey Heron's fishing out in the deepest parts, each of them on one occasion caught a eel, and there was 3 Little Egrets feeding in the shallows.
In the short time I was here I saw the following species:
Cormorant,  Mute Swan,  Grey Heron,  Little Egret,  
Greylag Geese,  Coot,  Moorhen,  Marsh Harrier(f),  Mallard,  Gadwall, Shoveller,  Shelduck,  Tufted Duck,  Lapwing,  Avocet,  Black Tailed Godwit,  Oystercatcher,  Bonaparte's Gull,  B/H/Gull,  Mediterranean Gull,  Herring Gull,  Common Tern,  Swift,  Swallow,  Skylark,  Starling,  W/Pigeon,  C/Dove,  C/Crow,  Magpie,

My "Bird of the Day" today is a no brainer, it can only be the ** BONAPARTE'S GULL.**

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

** A Break At North Norfolk.**

Last week Pam and I went to Norfolk for a break to visit friends. We stopped off on the way for 2 nights at a B&B at Great Walsingham. All the while we was there we saw many pheasants and believe it or not most of them was the melanistic type, males (mainly glossy green above, and glossy purple below) The B&B  was a short distance out of town, which meant  there was a chance of me seeing a barn Owl, and I was right. The owners told me that there was a pair breeding in one of the old barns in the farmers field at the back, and they have at times had one sit on their front wall, so in the early evening I went outside  to have a look around, and I didn't have to wait long, The Barn Owl was flying about quite close by, it looked very handsome when it was flying over the oil seed rape fields. The following evening I saw a distant Marsh Harrier quartering the fields a little way off, and when I told the owners they said that they are regularly seen because a short distance away is the reserve of Sculthorpe Moor.
The following morning while looking out of  our bedroom window 2 Grey(English) Partridge walked across the road and into the owners garden. Nice ending to our B&B stay.
Our friends live at Overstrand, but on the way we stopped off at Wells Next The Sea, and I am glad we did. It was a nice day and while sitting at the harbour I saw a lot of gulls  and a few Common Terns around looking for  food, as they do, and then I saw 2 smaller birds, I knew what they was straight away. They was nippy, hovered, dropped down for food, yellow bill, and legs, I am of course talking about one of my top 5 birds. 2 LITTLE TERNS.  5 days later when we started out for home we went via Wells and to my surprise the 2 Little Terns was still there.
This wasn't a birding holiday but we did go out  on 2 days, the first was a trip to Titchwell RSPB reserve.  It was a lovely day but there wasn't great number of bird species about but what I did see was well worth the  the trip. I had a look around from one of the benches that overlook the scrape. There was a few of the wader species that are seen at many places at this time of year, the only different one was a solitary Little Ringed Plover, but what was keeping me there for quite a while was watching 9 LITTLE GULLS scattered around, that was one of 2 good species of bird I was told to look out for when I was in the visitor centre.
The other species took me a bit longer to see because this species was on the other side of the reserve. When I arrived there was 2 other birders watching through the screen at what I wanted to see and that was  RED CRESTED POCHARD. It wasn't just the species I want to see it was the number, there was 12 in all, 5 stunning males and 7 female. On our way back I saw a few birders on the east bank at Cley, I asked them what was about and they told me that there was 2 Spoonbills out on the salt marsh, so I walked on a little further and then I saw them, another nice bird for my holiday list.
My final day out was to Hickling Broads. it was a glorious day, ideal for looking for swallowtail butterflies.
I asked in the centre if any had been seen and she told me to keep a eye on the thistles next to the path that leads away from the hide. I did this and I didn't have to wait long, SWALLOWTAILS, 3 of them flying up and down. The first one I nearly trod on. The pictures are not that good due to the fact that they didn't settle in one place for long.

The other 2 was flying up and down the same area. identification was easy due to the fact that one had wing damage and another had tail damage.

The picture below was a point and shoot, I just happened to see them together so I fired off a couple of shots, this is the closest I got to getting both of them in one picture.

I have been there many times and never seen them as close as that, at one time another seeker and I was as close as 4-5 feet away. Amazing, "What beauties".

And now for my usual *Bird of the Day* It should be quite difficult but to me there can be only one, and that is the ** 2 LITTLE TERNS.**

( I know it is not a bird but how can anyone not want to put the Swallowtail as their best sighting of the day)