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)

Friday, 8 May 2015

** 7th May: Elmley NNR **

Hoping that it was going to be a nice day I decided to go to Elmley for 3 hours. As it happens, the weather forecasters was right.
Skylarks, Little Egrets, Lapwing Marsh Harrier, Pheasant was seen from  the  track going to the car park. I was hoping to see a Yellow Wagtail, but it wasn't to be. Once at the car park it was nice to see so many House Sparrows nesting in so many boxes that they have put up, plus the Swallow has returned to nest again in the ladies toilet, plus  Chaffinch,Greenfinch, and Dunnock in the orchard.

 The  birds of interest on the way to the hides was a good number of Reed Warblers singing, a male Reed Bunting, a Dabchick in breeding plumage, Little Egrets,and a pair of Coots with 5 little ones bringing up the rear and Mute Swan sitting on a nest,
While Pamela and I was sitting having lunch in the car park area a passerine flew up and sat on one of the fence post not far away, it turned out to be a  male **WHEATEAR**. This was a first for me, so even if I saw nothing different I was happy.
I was surprised that there wasn't that many people there. so it meant that I had the Wellmarsh Hide to myself most of the time which meant I got to sit in my favourite place (Ken's corner) I wasn't expecting to see many different species of birds, due to the fact that they have gone home for the summer, but what I did see was enough to keep me entertained. Out in front of the hide was a good number of Avocet, most of them courting and mating, and B/H/Gulls doing the same thing.
Other species of bird that dropped in now and again was: Oystercatcher, Teal, Wigeon,Shelduck, Redshank, Common Tern which kept returning the whole time. The ones that stayed the whole time was: Mallard, Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Moorhen, Coot.
In between scanning the reserve I did a bit of sky watching, as you do straight away I got onto 2 Common Buzzards soaring on the thermals, then it seemed like wherever I looked there was Marsh Harriers.
Later on during my visit I picked up on 6 in the same area though my bins, but after getting the scope on them I picked up on some more,4 to be precise higher up, 10 is something I have never seen before in one part of the sky. It goes to show that the breeding population of Marsh Harriers in the area is very successful.
It's strange that when people like me/you go to other places in the country where they are found how excited  other people get when they see one, yet if you live down this area you don't really take much notice of them, it's like "Oh yeh a harrier".
Getting back to birds  I saw, there was a good number of Avocets in the pools at the far end, plus Canada Geese, and Greylags, Mute Swan,  Cormorant was sitting on a post, 2 pair of Pochard, and a few of the prior mentioned wildfowl: Shelduck, Wigeon Tufted Duck.
Through out the whole time I was there I must have see a good dozen or so Swallows darting back and forth from one end to the other. Birds I saw passing through was: G/B/B/Gull, L/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, C/Crow, W/Pigeon, Collared Dove, Starling.
After leaving the hide and making our way back to the farm house the same species was seen apart from a Grey Heron..
Before leaving I had a quick look over the wall next to the toilet block when me and another birder watched another Wheatear land down by the owl boxes, this time it was a female, a pair of them in one day, I am very happy with that.
Heading back down the track I was hoping to see one or more Hare, one would have done, but I had no luck, not like Greenie, talk about right place right time, if you want to see how many he saw then have a look at his blog ,  http://www.greenieinthewild.blogspot.co.uk/ .  Nice photo's  Greenie.
After a enjoyable afternoon at Elmley the species of bird I saw in all was as follows:
Time for me to select my "Bird of the day". Not difficult, it has to be the male ** WHEATEAR.**

Below is a 3 Avocet pictures that I took and 1 B/H/Gull

Thursday, 23 April 2015

** 22nd April. Stodmarsh and Oare Marsh.**

Yesterday, 22nd April I took a long over due trip to Stodmarsh. I thought I heard that the weather was going to be pretty good, it couldn't have been further from the truth. Once at the car park I thought a fleece would have been adequate, but I ended up needing a lighter coat over the top, and I wasn't the only one there  dressed like this.
 I spent about two and a half hours in the Reed Hide, because as other people came in I asked if they had seen anything else and they said that it was very quiet all around, and I didn't really feel up to doing much walking.There was a couple of photographers in there when I arrived and, as you do, asking "Seen anything"? Back came a answer I didn't want to hear " You have just missed the ringtail Hen Harrier by about 20 minutes, I never did see it. There was about 4 Marsh Harriers putting on a good display. There was some firsts for the year for me while there,  those being: SWIFT, HOUSE MARTIN, GREENSHANK, COMMON TERN, REED WARBLER.
The other species seen was: Mallard, Shoveller, Gadwall, Teal, Coot, Moorhen, G/C/Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, G/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, C/Crow.
The birds seen on my stroll back was: Magpie, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Wren, Pheasant, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker (heard).
I was hoping that at least one of the Garganey would still be around but they seemed to have moved on, as did the Green Sandpipers.
Shortly before leaving the hide the weather started to change, it warmed up and blue sky appeared, so not being that far from Stodmarsh to Oare Marsh I thought I would go and see what was about.
Arriving at Oare Marsh late afternoon was very pleasant, meaning there was very few people around. even the sun was shining brightly. I started off looking from the lay by half way down the road. There was plenty of birds about, most of them being Black tailed Godwit, about 3/4 of them in breeding plumage. In with them was Turnstone also in breeding plumage, and Redshank. There was small groups of Avocets feeding in the shallows, a few Oystercatcher here and there, and 3 Common Tern resting, 
From here I moved to the East Hide. I did this for a good reason, to see a bird, well 2 birds that I have been waiting to see, those being GARGANEY. I knew that they had been here for quite a while because I looked for them a few weeks ago without any luck.
When I first saw them they was laid up on the grass area to the right of the hide, then after a while they went for a swim, and with the light on them they looked terrific, That was the best and closest sighting of a male Garganey I have ever had, even the female looked good, she might me dull, but it was nice to see her subtle head markings. Other species seen from the hide was: Herring Gull, B/H/Gull, Little Egret, Greylag, Mallard, Shelduck, Shoveller, Pintail, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant,Pied Wagtail.
There was one thing that annoyed me about this day out, and that was when we was on the M2, and  I said to Pam " I have only left my camera at home". It hurt the most when I think about the close photo's I could have got of the pair of Garganey. 
All together I saw 41 species, As for my "Bird of the Day", no other species came close, it had to be the
*** GARGANEY.***
My day actually started by seeing 2 of the many Common Buzzards soaring over the M2 near the Sheerness exit.

Monday, 6 April 2015

** Oare Marsh. 5th April + Harry is back.**

Yesterday, 5th April I went to Oare Marsh with a couple of really good friends of mine. The weather was bright sunshine, but a little breezy. The night before, I checked on line to see if anything out of the ordinary had been seen there,and there had, it was a pair of Garganey, but alas the whole time we was there they never showed. we set up our spotting post in the lay by half way down the road.
There wasn't as many birds there as I thought there might have been, but there was enough to keep me interested. The largest number of birds species was Black Tailed Godwits, followed by Avocets. One of the Avocets had leg rings which was all above the knee. On it's left leg was blue above a green rings and on the right leg was from top to bottom, cream, yellow, orange. I am always curious to find out what I can about ringed birds so I did what I usually do and that is send my sighting to the B.T.O.
About 40 minutes later I had my first sighting of a SWALLOW. It flew across the east scrape heading north east. I also saw my first SKYLARK. Seeing and hearing Skylarks on a sunny day, is a nice thing, I also think it makes you feel good.
Watching the usual species of birds going about their business is always relaxing, then at times something turns up that excites you for a while, and for my friends and I, it was 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS. While scanning the water I got to where most of the B/H/Gulls was, and then these 2 birds stood out like a sore thumb, they was both in their full breeding plumage, bright red bill, black head,and broken white eye ring, with the bright sun on them made them look wonderful.
A G/B/B/Gull made a couple of passes over the scrape putting the birds up. I was hoping that it might bring the Garganey out of hiding, but no such luck. The occasional Marsh Harrier made a appearance, and 3 Common Buzzards was soaring together high up in the bright blue sky.
The total species seen was: Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Cormorant, Mute Swan, G/B/B/Gull, B/H/Gull, Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Dabchick, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Avocet, Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveller, Shelduck, Pintail, Starling, Skylark, Swallow, Magpie, C/Crow, W/Pigeon.
We stayed until about 3.30pm before leaving for home.

            My "Bird of the Day" was  the  **MEDITERRANEAN GULL**.
While writing this post I am happy to say that Harry my Hedgehog is back, it is just outside the french doors, about 2 feet away from me. It made it's first appearance 2 nights ago.
 I am assuming (and hoping) that it is one of the 2 hedgehogs I was feeding last year right up until they hibernated. I have been putting dry meal worms out for about a week now, but now it's back I am feeding my hedgehog Chappie mixed with dry meal worms (only the best for my little friend)

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

** Red Kite in Halling **

Today I took a walk down Marsh Road to the river. When I arrived the tide was high so I wasn't expecting to see much on the water. There was only a few birds about, they was Cormorant, Common Gulls, B/H/Gulls, Mallards.
There was more birds in the flooded field on the left going down the road which I checked out on the way back, but the highlight of my day was a bird that had me very very excited, in fact I couldn't wait to tell Pam about it when she came home from town. It has always been my favourite (no1) bird ever since I saw my first one in Wales. As you may have guessed it was the beautiful RED KITE.
I was just approaching the kissing gate at 1:15 when I saw this large bird fly over the salt marsh. I was could see what it was but then when you see something special like this you think to yourself, it can't be, can it? I did managed to get great views of it.
As it passed over the tree's towards the flooded field. I made my way through the gate to scan the area, hoping for another good look at it, but it was now heading in a north easterly direction.
There has been one seen recently up on the north downs, so there is a possibility that it might be the same bird.
I then stopped off at the flood to see the bird there, but all the time thinking about the Kite. There was 4 Shelducks, 4 Gadwall, 5 Moorhen, 1 Coot, 5 Mallard, 1 Grey Heron, and 2 Little Egrets.
So, bright sunshine, nice birds, and a lifer for Halling which was my one hundred and first  species made my day complete.
I have no need to do a Bird of the Day because it is pretty obvious what it would be. I would have to have seen a real rarity to beat the RED KITE but even then I am not so sure it would.
P.S.  Yesterday afternoon I had a male SPARROWHAWK fly in and land on the feeding pole, sitting there with the sun shining on it was a lovely sight to see.