Herring Gull

Herring Gull

Friday, 12 December 2014

* The return of Jay's to the garden.*

It has been a long time since I sat and did a bit of garden birdwatching and while looking out of the kitchen window yesterday I had the pleasure of watching 2 JAY'S make their way into the small bush where the crushed peanut holder is situated and fill their crops with as many peanuts as possible. One sat on the ground and waited until the other had finished, before doing the same.
They have obviously got good memories, the last time they visited was towards the end of last winter, I think my peanut bill is about to rise, mind you they are an attractive looking bird, and having them in my garden is something special.
I have also got male and female BLACKCAP'S feeding in the garden, they mainly feed on the apples that I have put on top of a bush, both those and the Blue Tit's seem to love them. I have also been watching REDWING'S feeding on the berry bushes in the park.
The total species of bird I saw yesterday was as follows: Chaffinch - Goldfinch - Greenfinch - Robin - Dunnock - House Sparrow - Blackbird - Starling - Blue Tit -  Great Tit - Blackcap - Jay -  Magpie - Collared Dove -  Wood Pigeon. (Flying over) C/Crow - Herring Gull - B/H/Gull.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

** Information on Oare Marsh reserve road closure **

I thought I would post the below notice of road closure at Oare Marsh. The information below is from the Kent Wildlife Trust/ Oare Marsh web site. Just in case anyone is planning a visit in the near future.
To find out more about it check out the web site link below the notice.:

"Unfortunately Oare Marshes will be closed to vehicles from 24th November 2014 for 15 weeks due to South Eastern Water installing a new water main. We apologise for any inconvenience."


**20/11/2014 Elmley NNR & 19/11/2014. Halling: river & Marsh Rd**

Elmley NNR. 20/11/2014.
I wasn't planning to go out today but at around lunchtime I thought it might be nice to pop over to Elmley NNR for a couple of hours. We arrived at about 1pm. The track to the car park did have some birds scattered about. The majority of birds seen was Starling, closely followed a large flock of  Golden Plover. There was, as expected a good number of Marsh Harriers out and about, one female coming very close.
As we neared the final bend of the track 2 Ruff was feeding. I spent my time in the Wellmarsh Hide, the weather was nice, bright, calm, but hazy in the distance. On my way down to the hide a male Stonechat sat proudly on the top of one of the reeds.
The water level in front of the hide is high, there is only 3 small islands showing, only one of them had any birds on and that was 7 Snipe.  The only wildfowl on the water was 3 Teal, and 3 Mallard. There was a good number of Curlew scattered over the whole area. The far side of the reserve held a large gaggle of Brent Geese. The Wigeon numbers are still low, but I expect there number to rise significantly  later into the winter Most of the one's I did see was grazing in the distance. Today belonged to the birds of prey. Marsh Harriers was showing well. In one right to left scan I counted 11, 2 male, 5 female, and 4 juvenile. Now if you are wondering how I remember it was right to left and not visa versa well it is easy, because they was hunting virtually all the time I was there I spent a lot of  time scanning and counting.  A Common Buzzard spent a long time sat on a fence post  near the Counterwall Hide. There was 5 Kestrels in the area, but the best of the lot was a small falcon that was moving over the ground like a little torpedo, then it came to rest on a mound of earth, the bird in question, a female Merlin.  On our way back to the car park a Dabchick was feeding in one of the dykes, a  Little Egret was feeding close by, and  further on a Grey Heron flew over heading towards the river.
Other birds seen over my 2 hour period:  Mute Swan, C/Crow, Rook, Magpie, W/Pigeon.
On and under the feeders: Pheasant, Blue Tit, H/Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Moorhen,
My "Bird of the Day" is the ** MERLIN.**
On our way home as we neared the A229 junction off of the M2 3 Common Buzzards was seen  flying south.
Halling: River and Marsh Rd. 19/11/2014.
It has been a good few months since I went for a walk to the river and Marsh Rd, but I decided to push myself to go out today, the weather was lovely so that helped. There was  nothing out of the ordinary to see on the way, apart from some low life who has dumped 6 car tyres near the cemetery bridge.
The tide was on the turn when I arrived, but while checking out the water I did see a Kingfisher cross the river and perch itself on  one of the reeds. There was also 11 B/H/Gulls and a few Common Gulls mixed in with them on the water, along with 5 diving Cormorants. As usual there was quite a few Mallard scattered here and there, in total over my walk I saw 13.
My next stop off point was the railings near the common to scan the part of the river that goes around the bend to the north. Just as I arrived I noticed 2 large white birds on the mud flats, Little Egrets. There was a few waders scattered around, Lapwing and Redshank. After about 10-15 minutes 4 Dabchicks came into view, sticking together, diving in unison.
Marsh Rd was worth a good look, due to the amount of rain we have been having, there was a chance something might be there. The field in question is the first on the left going down to the river. I was right, there is enough water there to keep 7 Teal happy, along with 1 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 6 Moorhen. There was also a male Kestrel making it's  presence known.
The birds seen on my way home was: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Jackdaw, C/Crow, Magpie, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Robin, Starling, H/Sparrow, Dunnock,W/Pigeon, C/Dove,

Thursday, 13 November 2014

** Winter Birding At Dungeness RSPB Reserve.**

I thought it was about time I caught up on some winter birding, so where better to start than Dungeness RSPB reserve. Pam and I arrived at the visitors centre at about noon. The first hide I went to was the Scott Hide. I come to this hide mainly in the winter when a lot of the wildfowl seem to gather in this area. I have seen some of the scarcer winter visitors from this hide over the years
Once in the hide, there was  a large gathering of duck near the bank, there was also a nice count of egrets around. Most of the duck was Shoveller. Mixed in with them was many of the usual species: Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted, Gadwall,  There is also a good number of Pintail and Wigeon here. The other regulars was G/C/Grebe, Dabchick, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Cormorant(it has been a while since I have seen so many gathered here, quite a few was loafing/resting in the tree's on the long island out in front) G/B/B/Gull, L/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, B/H/Gull, Common Gull.
Then there was  a couple of the not so common species that turn up most years, and they was 2(f) GOLDENEYE, and 1 BLACK NECKED GREBE.

Getting back to the egrets, while scanning over the whole area  there was a 10 seen, 9 on the far shore line very close together. 4 LITTLE EGRET and 5 GREAT WHITE EGRET, and not to be left out 2 Grey Herons was a little further along.
The last 1 was hanging around in the tree's with the Cormorant's and that was  a  CATTLE EGRET. It stayed there for quite a while before it took to flight. It passed over the hide and headed towards Christmas Dell hide.
There was a lovely surprise to be seen just as I was about to pack up. I was doing one of my final scans over the water when I did what is called a double take. The reason...a male RUDDY DUCK. I thought I was seeing things at first, After the cull that was done here it was nice to see one again.

When I came out of the hide I walked a distance up the track to where some cattle was grazing in the flooded field on the left hoping to see the Cattle Egret, and I didn't have to wait long. I caught up with a couple of birders and they put me on to it, but no sooner had I eyed it up when another one flew in. It landed close to the other one, and then they made their way over to the far side of the field, following the cattle where the long grass was.
The skies was getting darker this meant getting over to the Hanson Hide, ARC pit. Once there most of the birds was in 3 large groups. Once again many of the species there was the same as over the road. It is nice to see a lot more wildfowl arriving. There was another 4 female Goldeneye along with 2 more great winter visitors, the first being 2 SLAVONIAN GREBE, and the other one is a redhead SMEW.
2 female Marsh Harrier scattered most of the birds with a few low fly overs, they also put up a GREAT WHITE EGRET.
It has been a long time since I have posted one of my 'Birds of the Day', and today I saw a lot of good species, but from the moment I saw it I knew that this bird was going to be the one, and that bird is the drake  *** RUDDY DUCK.***
After leaving for home  we went through Walland Marsh. It wasn't to see if there was any good birds about, although that would have been a bonus, it was because I wanted to see the wind turbine with the damaged rotor blade that had been bent in two when it was hit by lightning the other day at Little Cheyne Court (see link below for report and photo's)
We did see from one of the lanes, but to get a better view we turned left at the main road and headed towards, Rye where and got much better views. Below is a couple of my photo's.

Monday, 10 November 2014

** Fallow Deer rut. **

At the end of last week Pam took me to Knowle Park, Sevenoaks to see if I could see a Fallow deer rut, as I have done over the past 2 years.  We didn't arrive until after 12pm. After a bit of lunch I went on my walk-a-bout to see what was showing, or should I say hiding. I walked towards the ice house and circled around making my way back towards the car park via the grassy hill where I saw the rut last year. There was nothing out of the ordinary seen just the usual groups of Fallow and Sika doe's and young males scattered here and there.
I was hoping to see one of the white harts that I saw last year but it was not to be, well it is a big area, but it did seem like wherever I went I was accompanied by Ring Necked Parakeet's.
Once at the top of the hill I spotted a couple of people taking pictures of what I could only assume to be a stag.
Rather than walk towards them I turned left and went down the slope towards the track that leads to the golf course. Something that was a bonus  was that the wind was in my favour. When I was on the track I started to walk towards where they was at and then I saw the stag.

I was lucky to get  this picture because as you see it started to move off. This was due to one of the photographers trying to get a bit too near.
When it did move on the stag came in my direction, so I moved behind a small tree out of sight.
Once he move across the track the females that was near him followed and began grazing in a large grassy/brush area where a stag Sika deer was at.

I watched these deer for a while when something to the left of me caught my eye, it was another Fallow stag walking down a slope. Was this what I came here hoping to see? The answer was yes. The stag I had been watching looked up and started walking towards him and the females followed slowly behind him.
The 2 Stags met and ignored each other, females grazing, then I noticed a behaviour that I saw last year. They started walking parallel to each other, turned and stared at each other for what seemed ages, and then it kicked off.
Now the last thing on my mind was take some pictures, I was to engrossed in watching the rut, but then I said  to myself " You better try and get a couple of shots of this before it ends".
I did my best but they couldn't have picked a worse place for it, well photograph-wise. As you can see in the pics, definitely not ideal.


When this rut came to a end the victor was the one that I had been watching, and he saw the loser off with such dominance by chasing him away for quite a distance, across the track, up the hill and then down the track towards the golf course.
On the way back to the car park I came across a couple of large fungi, which I have yet to look up the name of, perhaps someone can beat me to it. I have used one of my gloves to give some idea of size.

Below is a few pictures that I took of last years rut.

Fallow deer. White hart last year.

Monday, 22 September 2014

** Harry and Harriot. **

If you are wondering who HARRY and HARRIOT are, well they are my 2 visiting Hedgehogs. The bird life in the garden is at a lull at the moment.
I just happened to look out of the french doors on the front lawn one evening when I saw a hedgehog finishing up some of the dried meal worms that I  had put out for a couple of visiting birds. I put some more out the following evening and again they had been eaten. I said to Pam "I am going to put some in a dish close to the doors to see what happens". I did this and about 30 minutes later it turned up in the garden and came towards the doors, and started eating them. I did this for about 4 or 5 nights and every night it arrived. I went all out and put the dried meal worms and water as close to the doors as possible.
Now at this stage Pam was as curious and excited as I was. As with the other nights it arrived and started feeding oblivious to Pam and I looking out of the window. Pam went and sat back down when I had to call her back again, why, because another one arrived. I now had 2 hedgehogs feeding together, and still have.
 After I put the food out now, I sit on the floor right up against the window. When they turn up and feed which is every evening, they haven't miss one yet, the only thing that stops me from touching them is the double glazing, they are no more than10-12 inches away, tonight the male took a small lunge at her and I actually heard what I can only describe as a little growl, after that she kept her distance. They love a mixture of dog meat and dried meal worms. There is no way that they will not make the weight required to get them through their hibernation.
I would be interested to know what any of my fellow bloggers feed hedgehogs that turn up in their gardens
I said to Pam "Everyone is tucked up in their homes tonight not realising that there might be one of these little critters wandering about on their lawns looking for food to get them through the night."
I do miss my birds, but if I can help nature in other ways, then that makes me feel good.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

** Bough Beech Reservoir.**

Today was the day that I paid a long overdue trip to Bough Beech KWT. I kept reading that there have been various waders seen there, so I thought I would go and see for myself.
Pam and I arrived at about 11.30. When we arrived there was a birder there who looks as though this was his patch, he certainly looked at home there. I took a look over the hedge to see dozens of Canada Geese preening, arguing, as the do, it was hard to ignore then, the noise they was making.
I was about to take my scope across the road to check out the shallow water when this guy, I wish I had asked him is name, came over to me and suggested that I stay where I am and scope the area to the left of the main water. I did this  and I found the bird he told me about, a WOOD SANDPIPER looking very dapper. Whenever I see one I always have a good long look at it because I have no idea when I will see another one, there are very few of these birds seen passing through. Well that made my day straight away.
I crossed the road after a while and immediately got the "ol bins" working. The first wader spotted was one I wanted to see, my first this year, a GREEN SANDPIPER, except there wasn't just 1 but 3. The next species of wader seen was another sandpiper, COMMON SANDPIPER, 5 of them. While I was looking around counting them I should have also been looking up, sky watching.  Again if it hadn't been for the same birder calling out to me I would never have seen my favourite bird drifting around, and at one point directly above the car. The bird in question *** RED KITE ***(yesss) what a bird, words cannot do it justice, I was in my element. After that, I don't think anything could have upset me. There was a small bonus that came with it, there was a Common Buzzard bringing up the rear. Then it was back to see what species I could add to my days list. My full list is as follows: RED KITE...COMMON BUZZARD...GREEN SANDPIPER...WOOD SANDPIPER...COMMON SANDPIPER...LAPWING...GREY HERON...CORMORANT...CANADA GEESE...GREYLAG GEESE...MUTE SWAN...COOT...MOORHEN... B/H/GULL...COMMON TERN(5)...G/C/GREBE...MALLARD...MANDARIN...GADWALL...TEAL...TUFTED DUCK...C/CROW...JACKDAW...WOOD PIGEON...PIED WAGTAIL...ROBIN.
Today turned out to be more about quality, not quantity.
As for my 'Bird of The Day' there can be one, the wonderful *** RED KITE*** Barcud Coch, to give it, it's welsh name, because to me it will always be a welsh bird. (In 1997 all the remaining kites in wales desceded from 1 female.)
The Wood Sandpiper came a very, very close second. If it hadn't have been for the Kite, it would have been a clear winner)
Below is a picture I took some years ago in Wales of some of the many kites feeding at Gigrin Farm. Picture quality isn't good as it was taken with a old camera.