Sunday, 31 January 2016

** RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2016 **

Yesterday lunchtime, Saturday 30th January, I did my 1 hour RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, and I couldn't have picked a better day, weatherwise, bright and sunny.
Settling down at the kitchen window I recorder the following:
JAY  = 1.
ROBIN = 1.
HOUSE SPARROW = 24 ( daily count is always between 20 - 35)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

** Oare Marsh reserve with a nice surprise**

I spent a couple of hours at Oare marsh reserve this afternoon, and the trip was well worth it,. Shortly after settling in the East Scrape Hide a guy taking pictures showed me a couple of pictures of a bird that he had just seen, but he wasn't sure. He told me that this bird was still sitting on a mound not far from the hide. I had a look and to my surprise it was a WHINCHAT. I have seen the odd early arrival before but never as early as this. There was 2 other birds that arrived on the grassy area out in front, and was a maleSTONECHAT, and a Green Woodpecker. When I left home the temperature was 1c but it didn't take long to rise to 6.5c and sunny. There wasn't much in the way of waders because the water level is quite high, but a couple of species did turn up, Black Tailed Godwit,Ruff, and Lapwing, all of the other birds was mainly  wildfowl.
There was some Brent Geese flying west with a few Cormorants bringing up the rear. Raptorwise, there was plenty of Marsh Harriers out and about on the other side of the swale, plus 3 Common Buzzards who were hanging around together, only occasionally drifting apart.
I stayed until about 3.30pm in the hope of seeing a bird that normally makes a appearance around this time and it did, the BARN OWL, it was lovely watching it quarter the reeds, especially with the sun on it, so I went home happy with what I did seen in the time I was there.
The complete list of birds seen was as follows: G/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, B/H/ Gull, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Brent Geese, Dabchick, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shelduck, Shoveller, Whinchat, Stonechat, Green Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Ruff, Lapwing, Black Tailed Godwit. C/Crow, Magpie, W/Pigeon.
 My "Bird of the Day" is the  **WHINCHAT.**

Thursday, 7 January 2016

**Wednesday,6th Jan 2016. Scotney Pits & Dungeness RSPB Reserve.**

I needed to get my years bird list up and running, so I put my trust in the weather girl on Tuesday night who said it was going to be a nice day, how right she was.
Scotney pits was my first stop because I wanted to get the BARNACLE GEESE on the list. What I didn't know, was there was some even better bird species there, one being in my top 5 birds, and that was a male SMEW with a female in tow. 3 birders was leaving as I arrived, and they told me that there was TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE in with the Greylags which they hadn't found, then just another birder pulled up I found it. Talk about a needle in a haystack, but after a bit of scanning it was evidently clear that was it, slightly smaller darker neck and head, and the bill being smaller which is black and orange.
It didn't end there, I saw a solitary BRENT GOOSE  and about a dozen WHITE FRONTED GEESE. To round off the geese there was a good number of Canada Geese on the far bank. As I was packing up Alan Woodcock (Snodland and Surrounding Area)arrived. After a short chat I told him about the geese and off he set with his camera to see if he could get any shots of them.
The other species seen at Scotney was: Wigeon, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Mute Swan, Cormorant, Mallard, Shoveller, Little Egret, Lapwing, Redshank, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit.
Before arriving at the reserve I already knew quite a few of the birds that I was going to see so I could write them down straight away.
The first birds seen on arrival was a GREAT WHITE EGRET and a LITTLE EGRET feeding in the shallows behind the farm house.
While in the centre I was told of some good birds that was here, so off I went to look for them, this is where fellow birders come in handy, it saves one having to spend a while looking for them. The first one is the bird that has been spending a lot of time in the same place for a few weeks now, and that is the LONG EARED OWL. From here I went to the Firth Hide, the only birds of interest seen from here was GOLDENEYE, 2m,3f (no disrespect to the other species), then while I was packing up another birder picked up on a small bird in the reeds just out in front, it was a CHIFFCHAFF.
There was 2 more surprises to come, both from the Dennis Hide. The first was a SLAVONIAN GREBE, and the second one had to be seen from outside the hide, and that was 3 SHAGS.
The other birds seen was as follows: Marsh Harrier, Greylags, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, including sinensis species, G/C/Grebe, L/B/B/Gull, G/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, B/H/Gull, Pintail, Teal, Shelduck, Shoveller, Wigeon, Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Robin, Blackbird, H/Sparrow, Rook, Magpie, C/Crow.

Now this is where I do my *Bird of the Day*. Where do I start?
I have made my decision, and I gone for the little  fragile looking black and white drake
** SMEW **

Monday, 14 December 2015

** Great Northern Diver at Chatham. **

Pam had a appointment today at the Medway Maritime Hospital, and afterwards we went down to the dockyard outlet centre. After having a look around Pam said "Have you brought your bins with you, you can go and see if the diver is about".
As it happens today I didn't, but Pam's Nikon 9×25 are always in the car, and they are pretty good on nice days, and today it was.
I knew where to look, it was in basin number 2. I didn't have to spent long looking for it, the diver was at the far end spending most of it's time feeding.
After reading about it being there for the last ? amount of days I was please to see it is still there.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

* Dungeness RSPB reserve + Halling yesterday, 2nd Dec 2015 **

After reading about a Long Eared Owl at Dungeness RSPB reserve the last few days I thought I would take a trip to see if I could see it, it has been about 2 years since I last saw one. Everything was going well until Pam and I got close to junction 8 on the M20 when all 3 lanes came to a stand still. We  knew it was something serious, I think it was the police cars, ambulance, and fire engines that went speeding down the hard shoulder gave it away, this happened at 11.20am,  I said to Pam " I will see how long we sit here". I looked at the clock and it was 11.24, what bad timing. We waited for 50 minutes before the traffic started moving.
By the time we got to Dunge the weather was quite dull, it was also freezing cold, but it was worth it, I did get to see the LONG EARED OWL. in case anyone wants to see it, it is in the willows at the back of the dipping pond just through the gate from the visitors centre on the right.
It wasn't easy to see, if it wasn't for the 4 birders watching it I wouldn't have seen it, it was right up against a branch, as they do. There was no way I was going to be able to get a shot of it. but I did get great views of it through the scope.
 Due to the lack of time I had I stayed on the reserve ,an ignored the ARC pit. I started off at Scott Hide,but after after scanning all around there was nothing to write home about, just the usual birds.
From here I went back to the Firth Hide where I found some birds worth watching. There was 2 redhead SMEW a short distance out, a couple of female GOLDENEYE, and finally 1 male and 2 female GOOSANDER. Because of the bad light the male stood out well, he was looking really dapper. On the drive back to the gate I took another look at the owl but this time it was sitting further back.
So what started off as not good ended up a enjoyable day
My "Bird of the day just has to be ** LONG EARED OWL.**
This is not so much about the birds that was seen, it if mainly about a Jackdaw which is a bit of a celebrity around here. I have read and heard about it, and on this day I saw it. It is know for regularly visiting a certain house near the river where the owner feeds it, it even goes in their house. My encounter with it was when I was sitting by the river, I could hear this bird but it wasn't a Jackdaw call it was more like a small dog bark. I turned around an it was sitting on a bedroom window sill.
I then went to the other end on the road that is parallel with the river and sat down to eat a sausage roll.
After a couple of bites I saw something out of the corner of my eye, I looked around and there it was sitting on the back of the bench. I broke a few bits off held it out and the Jackdaw walked along and fed from my hand, I couldn't believe it. Now I know where to find it I will feed it again some time soon.
The only other bird that stood out was a KINGFISHER that shot across in front of me.
The birds seen while at the riverside was as follows:  G/B/B/Gull,  Herring Gull,  B/H/Gull,  Common Gull ( the most popular gull seen here),  Little Egret(3), Mallard(7), Cormorant(6) Mute Swan,  Lapwing(5),  Redshank(2),  Moorhen(3),  Kestrel,  C/Crow, Magpie,  Starling, 2 Pied Wagtails on the path.

Monday, 23 November 2015

** Garden Birdwatch. Sunday 22/11/2015.**

It has been a while since I did any garden birdwatching, and that must have been a omen to do it. After about 20 minutes while I was watching the Great Tits, Blue Tits, and L/T/Tits  in the bush just along from the kitchen window feeding on the fat cake, and whole peanuts and sunflower hearts, taking them away to eat safely, along came a COAL TIT. I couldn't believe it. That is not only a first for my garden list, taking my life tally to 62, that includes fly overs, but also for Halling list taking that total to 102.
I thought it might it might just be passing through, but it stayed all day. I decided to to keep a eye out today, Monday to see if it would turn up again, and it did, but this time it brought a mate with it, brilliant, all I can hope is it stays around for a long time. All the time there is food I don't see why not.
The peanut feeder didn't stay full for long. They say a elephant never forgets, well nor does a Jay. Last winter it was back and forth continually and yesterday one turned up, I couldn't believe it, and the another one joined it on another visit. Last winter at times I had 3 in the garden.
After having a break and coming back for another watch I was even more surprised. I thought the Coal Tit was the highlight, but I was taken aback to find a female BRAMBLING feeding at the top of the garden with  the finches. I tried to get a photo of it for a record shot which I did but is isn't good. I am struggling with taking pictures at times now. I am waiting to go into hospital to have painkilling anti-inflammatory injections in every knuckle due to very bad osteo-arthritis. I know what to expect because I have had it done before.
Back to birding, below is the pic I took.

As with the Coal Tit, I was hoping that it might return today, and it did, I told Pam where it was and she had a good look at it through the bins. I haven't heard of many being around at the moment, I feel quite privileged to have one in the garden at this time of the year, I am normally lucky to see one deeper into the winter. To end the day yesterday a female SPARROWHAWK shot over the roof chasing some Starlings. Another garden bird I don't see very often is a Wren, and that has been showing well.
I cannot remember having so many birds in the garden at this time of year before..
Below is a list of the birds that I saw yesterday and today.

Now for my Bird of the Day  which is the   *** COAL TIT.***

Thursday, 5 November 2015

** Elmley NNR. **

After many many weeks of not blogging I thought it was about time I posted something just to keep me hand in.
I went to Elmley NNR  at 1pm to see what might be showing. I wasn't expecting too much as it is still a  bit early for this reserve to get into full swing. I went later in the day looking for birds of prey.
It wasn't until I settled down in the Wellmarsh Hide that I realised it is 12 years this month since I left my monogram in the corner. I am surprised it has lasted this long.
Back to the birds. There was only one bird that made my day and that was a SHORT EARED OWL at 13:50. I saw this bird in the far distance head on, and as it got a little closer there was no doubt what it was, it's wing beat gave it away, to me it is moth like. It flew onto the reserve and settled on a post near the far bank, it was nice to get a good look at it before the weather started to change. When it did that's when I decided to call time. By the time I left the reserve it was raining hard.
During the couple of hours I was here I saw: 5 Marsh Harrier, 4 Common Buzzard, 4 Kestrel, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Mallard, Teal,  Shelduck, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen. Lapwing, Curlew, G/B/B/Gull, B/H/Gull, Herring Gull, Rook, C/Crow, Jackdaw, Pheasant, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch.

I wasn't going to bother with my "Bird of the Day" seeing as there wasn't any competition, but then I thought,  why not, so  here it is, it is the..............*** SHORT EARED OWL.***