Tuesday, 13 September 2016

** Oare Marsh In Extreme Heat **

It has been a long time since I posted on my blog. I have been going out at times, but only for short periods. I haven't be able to take any pictures and I won't be able to  because my telephoto  lens broke and I cannot afford to get a replacement, so my blog will have to go pictureless for now.
Today Pam had a hospital appointment at 9am, so that's why we went there. I was expecting it to be hot today but not at this time of the morning.
We arrived  before mid day, and the temperature was hitting 31C. I was beginning to regret going.  At the East Flood the first thing I noticed was just how much drier it has got, there is so much mud showing. In the shallows was 100's of Black Tailed Godwits, not to be out done there  was a high number of Ringed Plover on the mud, and Golden Plover. There was 4 Grey Heron spread out on the East Flood, 2 of them would have made good photo's, they was sitting on the top of 2 large grass covered mounds, none of them was interested in feeding, along with all the the other birds the heat was just too much for them, the Herons was gulating more than I have ever seen before.
I had this bright idea  about getting out of the sun, so I went to the hide. It was't too bad when I settled down and then it started getting warmer and warmer, I stuck it for as long as possible, I finally had to concede to the heat. I did manage to make bit of a list. I am glad I got it done when I did because just as I was packing up I heard the sound of a helicopter and it was getting closer. It turned out to be a police chopper. Apparently someone from the  Oare area had disappeared, I am not sure when this happened, but the police chopper got closer and closer, it went up and down the creek,  then it turned and went over the hide and around and over the reserve, there wasn't bird that didn't take to flight, this happened twice then it moved on, there was also a police dinghy patrolling the Swale. When we left the temperature was now 32.5c
I cannot pick a bird of the day, the only winner today was the sun!

Friday, 15 July 2016

** Norfolk Holiday + Bempton Cliffs **

NORFOLK; Pam and I have just returned from a trip to Norfolk, East Runton, near Cromer. One of the reasons was to see a few wildlife species that I have never seen. It was a break that we had already booked, but as it happens it was a holiday that was needed, Pam needed. Back in May Pam had to have a operation to have a Cell Squamous Carcinoma removed. If it hadn't already been arranged we would have arranged one. If she ever needed a holiday it was now.
We had lots of lovely days out, but I am only writing about my wildlife sighting.
The first place I wanted to go to was Hickling Broads, but I had to wait for a lovely calm warm day, and I didn't have to wait too long. As I arrived and started my walk around the the trail the first thing I saw was this, now you don't see many dragonflies like this one!
From here I followed the path around towards the first hide, and just as I went though the first gate, on my left was a Swallowtail Butterfly on a thistle. Another couple turned up and they was over the moon to see one. I seem to be lucky when looking for  Swallowtails.
That was one down, 3 to go. As I got close to the centre I came across some nice Foxglove.
  I also  saw 1 other species in butterfly. I thought it was 2 but thanks to Greenie he has informed me that they are all pictures of large Skippers. 

The next one was not going to be so easy, that's what I thought, but as I got  to the end of the trail where it splits, left to the boat trip, right to the centre. I could only go a short distance to the right because the trail was flooded. Just a few yards along is a small wetland with plenty of reeds. I stopped on the bridge for a rest and I saw this dragonfly hunting. I kept looking at it with trepidation hoping that it might be what I was looking for, and it was, a Norfolk Hawker. It's a pity it didn't come a little closer.

All the years that I have been coming to Norfolk I have never seen one, now I can say if anyone asks, I can say " Yes I have".
On our way home we passed a lovely lighthouse, below is a picture of it.
After having a lovely day in Hunstanton I wanted to stop off at Titchwell RSPB reserve because I was hoping that a certain bird might be there, it had been there for for a while. I got there at  4ish. I asked in the centre if it was about and they said "Yes", but it  was mixed in the what was estimated to be about 5-6 thousand Knot. The bird in question was a Great Knot, also known as the Eastern Knot. Apparently they breed in the arctic barrens, and there distribution is not fully known. I was lucky because when I got near just passed the hide there was about a dozen birders watching it. As it happens it was close to the front of the Knots, once seen it was easy to see the difference, bigger, a black and rufous back and a white front with black/brown spots. I believe the sighting of one of these birds in the UK is very low. That was number 3, and the one I really wanted to see. Whilst I was there 2 Spoonbills flew in.The other species of birds seen whilst there was: Spotted Redshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Black Tailed Godwit, Avocet, Ruff, Greylags, Moorhen, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, B/H/Gull, Common Tern, Stock Dove, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, C/Crow, Rook, Cuckoo(Heard). There was also 4 Red Crested Pochard in eclipse at the viewing screen. On our way back when we got as far as Cley a Barn Owl was out early hunting.
The final one meant going out at dusk and waiting for the sun to set. You might have guessed what bird I am talking about, the Nightjar. I found out that one of the best places to go was Salthouse Heath. If anyone is interested in knowing where it is. this is where I went. Along the A149 until you get to The Dun Cow Inn, near Salthouse and Cley, go up the road next to it as far as the crossroads, turn right, and a little way along is a small lay by on each side of the road. The one on the left goes down a short way to a small car park. from here just follow the track and you end up with plenty of gorse and a few trees around. I stood here for quite a while and then I heard it, the churring.
While I was listening  2 other birders turned up and while we was all listening between us we heard another 3 join in, then one of them saw one fly up and land on a branch of a nearby tree. Hearing one was what I wanted, seeing one was something else, the wait was well worth it. I have tried before at Kelling Heath but never had any luck. So now I saw the "Big Four" that I want to see.
On another day I paid a visit to Cley because I heard that there was some Spoonbills there, and they was right, I saw 7 while I was there all feeding together.  Cley seems to be the place for them, last year while there with friends we saw 11. I did see some nice birds, what I saw was as follows:  : Greylags, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Swift, House Martin, Mallard, Coot, Shelduck, Avocet, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Reed Warblers close up.
Pam and I went to visit friends at Fakenham and afterwards I went to Sculthorpe Moor. It is a lovely reserve but you need to be able to walk OK, it is quite a big place, plenty of woodland and reeds.so I didn't stay long, but I did see a couple of birds which I haven't seen for a while, a Nuthatch, and a Marsh Tit, the latter I haven't seen for a very long time.
BEMPTON CLIFFS: We arrived at Bempton on a lovely sunny day. After having a chat in the centre I made my way down to the cliffs, Sunday wasn't a day I wouldn't have chosen but I had no choice. The first thing I noticed was the smell of guano, there was a lot of Gannets around, if you know what I mean. I took a slow walk along to another 2 viewing platforms and overall I saw 9 Puffins, close enough for great views through the bins, but too far away for a decent picture. I did attempt some  but they didn't come out that well, as you will see, but at least I have a record of them. Below are Puffin, Guillemot, and Razorbill pictures.

It was great seeing many of the young sea birds on the cliff ledges. but it was even more impressive watching the huge rafts of birds on the water, it never fails to amaze me watching Gannets diving for food, it's a good job they have got air sacs between their muscles and skin, hitting the water at up to 60mph is no mean feat. Many other species was seen to which I am not going to list, but my grand total for the holiday was 76.
Now how do you pick a "Bird Of The Holiday", there are so many to pick from, but after great deliberation I have gone for 2, the **GREAT KNOT**, for being such a very rare visitor, and the **NIGHTJAR** to be out on the heath in the dark and hearing that churring sound is something I will not forget in a hurry, plus seeing one was such a huge bonus.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

** A Sunny Trip To Dungeness RSPB Reserve.**

We woke up to lovely sunny day today, and at about 11.30 I asked Pam if she fancied a trip to Dungeness reserve so that I could do a bit of birding, not feeling that great she said she would, bless her. As soon as we started off the temperature was at 15c,  I had a feeling that I wasn't going to need my fleece, and I was right.
From the Visitors Centre I went to the Firth Hide, because I was told that there was a lovely little bird out in front of the hide. I set up my scope , which today I had it on my hide clamp because it was lighter, easier on my shoulder, and it didn't take 5 minutes to see it. The bird in question is a BLACK NECKED GREBE in full breeding plumage, black neck, golden ear tufts, and red eye. Top bird.
Apart from the usual species of bird seen the other species I saw was: LINNET, CETTI'S WARBLER, SEDGE WARBLER, CHIFFCHAFF, REED BUNTING.
From here it was over the road for a hour at the ARC Pit, the temperature was still about 16c, and no wind. On the way out along the track was a small flock of Linnets.
 I thought there might be a few in the hide because there was a couple of cars in the car park, but it was all mine. As usual I sat in Ken's corner. I left my mark there just over 11 years ago,I thought someone would have  scrubbed it out by now, but it is still going strong.
Hopefully it will be there for a long time to come.As soon as I opened the window I heard the squeal of a Water Rail.
Again the birds there was as over the road. There was a good number of Great Crested Grebes partnered up and displaying. It was getting close to packing up time when I saw 9 birds having a wash and brush up, and after a short time they all went up and started feeding from the water's surface, they was COMMON TERNS. It is possible that they have just arrived back from their winter holiday in Africa.
Total list of birds seen: Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Black Necked Grebe, G/B/B/Gull, L/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, B/H/Gull, Common Tern, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Shelduck, Shoveller, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon (2 at Denge Marsh) Coot, Moorhen, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, C/Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, C/Dove, W/Pigeon, Blackbird, Starling, Linnet, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Great Tit, Chaffinch, House Sparrow.
The camera did get another outing,but no luck today.

My "Bird Of The Day" can only be the  ** BLACK NECKED GREBE.**

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

** A Run Out To Leysdown**

Pam and I are are a lot better, my problem isn't  as bad as Pamela's, was, she has virtually recovered, and I am going to have physiotherapy for my shoulder. After a long time Pam said that she wanted to get out for a drive so we went to Leysdown. This wasn't a birding outing, but we did have a drive down Harty Ferry Rd. The first thing we saw was a lot of cuddly baby lambs, then as we rounded the bend at the bottom along by the large dirt mound on the right was 2 RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE, my first of the year. The pictures aren't that good as the sun was in front of me. It has been a long time since I posted any pics with a blog that I am not sure about the settings I am using. I usually use aperture priority, I suppose it is back to trial and error.
From here we drove down to the viewing mound to turn around, as we pulled in this is what we saw in the ditch on the left.
Like many fly tippers is it really too much trouble to dispose of  their crap like decent people do, it just goes to show what scum bags there are out there. IF they feel they must do it, they could at least
leave it on the side of the road so that it can be collected easily. Is this what it has come down to now, virtually everywhere you go to now it can be found. Jokingly, is that it annoyed me because there wasn't anything that was of use to me, even if there was, how was I going to get it......typical.
On the way back was half a dozen Reed Bunting, 4 male, 2 female, then to my surprise I saw a bird that  I was very happy to see and that was a male WHEATEAR. I managed to get a couple of pictures of it, but not being that close wasn't easy, after cropping it  etc on here it didn't turn  out as good as I hoped it would, still it a record shot for me.

This Wheatear was half way up the hill going towards the main road, on the right where the five bar gate is among lots of wood, there is a tall metal pole there.
The other birds worth looking at was 4 Marsh Harrier on the thermals and another being mobbed by a Common Buzzard.
Here is a few random pictures that I took earlier this year that I didn't post.
This is the old Sheppey crossing that seem to take for ages to come down.
Couple of Starling shots.
And finally a poor attempt at a male Marsh Harrier in flight. I admire people who can get pictures of birds in flight.

Bird Of The Day is easy, seeing as I wasn't there long enough to have a good look around, I can only go for the ** WHEATEAR.**

Thursday, 24 March 2016

** Haven't Given Up Blogging.Shoulder Injury The Reason .**

Hi to all you bloggers out there. I have not posted for quite a while now, but I have been reading what you have all been up to, even if I haven't left a comment.
The reason is, because since my last post I have damaged my right shoulder, which has been giving me a lot of pain, another one to add to the list, but I have been told that this problem should/will get better but it could take a while. It is worse when walking, the pressure that is transferred from shoulder through the crutches is, how shall I put this, "NOT NICE".
Pamela  as also been very ill over the last two weeks. I was going to write  here what was wrong, but I thought twice about it, this is not the  place, then I had a thought, if it makes a person feel better, maybe they have nobody to talk to about it, who is to say they shouldn't, after all aren't we all part  of this living world?

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.**