Friday, 9 December 2016

** 3 Waxwings At Strood This Lunchtime.**

On the way to doing my mum's shopping today. I took a detour to Strood to see if the Waxwings was showing. I did go to look yesterday but I dipped out.  I arrived at around 12:40. I started looking in the berry bushes/tree's when I neared the top of Bligh Way. Once I  reached The Bounty pub I saw a guy with his camera sitting on the wall. I spoke with him and he told me that  they had been feeding on the berries at the junction of the pub and Albatross Avenue opposite, but he hadn't seen them because he hadn't been there long.
He knew who I was, which surprised me, he remembered me from the time when there was Hawfinches in the churchyard at East Malling. His name is Graham Nicholls. Nice meeting you Graham. I was coming back along Albatross Avenue when I saw him looking up into a tree, and at the top was the 3 WAXWINGS. I was expecting to have to wait a while but I am glad I didn't have to. They did fly over the road to feed on the yellow berries, but they kept going back to the tree opposite. I did try and take a few pictures of them but none of them was very good, I cannot take pics of birds in the top of tree's. I might have been late doing my mum's shopping, but it was worth it. There is plenty of food in that area for them so  hopefully they will hang about long enough to give other people a chance to see them.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

** Dungeness RSPB Reserve.**

I haven't been to Dungeness for quite a while so it was about time I did, and I couldn't have picked a better day, the weather was lovely, sunny, and just a little breeze. I arrived at  about 12.15 and we to the Firth Hide. It is nice to see the water level is pretty low, with some good sandy beach's out front.  There was good views of 3 Black Tailed Godwits surrounded by lots of Teal. There was many of the usual wildfowl that one would expect to see,  and it is nice to see the Pintails increasing, the males look stunning when the sun is on them. There was 2 other wader species out in front and they was Lapwing and a single Avocet. The birds at the far side went up occasionally when a Marsh Harrier did a few fly byes.
After a while of scanning the birds I came across a female  GOOSANDER which was shortly followed be a female GOLDENEYE. Out of all the G/W/Egrets around I didn't see any. The other  species of birds seen was as follows: Little Egret. Grey Heron. Cormorant. G/B/B/Gull. L/B/B/Gull. B/H/Gull. Common Gull. Mallard. Shoveller. Shellduck. Tufted Duck. Pochard. Gadwall. Teal. Pintail. Wigeon. Mute Swan. Coot. Moorhen. Pied Wagtail. Starling. C/Crow.
I then decided to go across the road to the ARC Pit, but when I got to the track a  short way up from the farm house  I pulled over where  couple of cars was at, they was scanning the water in hope of seeing the RING NECKED DUCK that had been reported being there.....somewhere!
My stop was not in vane, at the far end of the field where all the cows were at was the CATTLE EGRET . I was happy with that, I would have preferred the other one but hey still made my day. Just before I left Mike Hook came along and said "Hi". Nice seeing you again, been a while. The other birds in the fields was: Canada Geese, Greylag's, Wigeon.
I did go over road after a while I thought there might be a few more there than there was. The car park was empty apart from a couple, and one of those was just getting ready to go. Once in the hide after chatting to a lady we heard the squeal of a Water Rail, and it sounded close by. After a while of watching the reeds out of the side window we didn't see 1....we saw 2 WATER RAILS together. That is the closest views I have had of one, not only was I excited, I was also annoyed, I had left the camera in the car. I never expected to see something so close, I really should know better shouldn't I ???
Time was getting on which gave me just enough time for a couple of scans, and I am glad I did. About three quarters of the way out from the hide was a BLACK NECKED GREBE. That was the icing on the cake, nice weather, great birds, and a bag of chips on the way home, well that was the plan, but the chippy was so busy I decided against it. We drove through the lanes back to Lydd where we unexpectedly saw a Common Buzzard sitting on the ploughed field.
 So it is about time I started to pick a ** Bird of the Day again. Today I am choosing the ** 2 WATER RAILS **

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

** Knowle Park. 01/11/2016. **

I was a bit late with my yearly visit to Knowle Park, and weather-wise, chilly and misty. I picked the worse day of this week.  I didn't expect it to be very busy, but I was wrong. Pam and I went to restaurant before I went for a stroll to see what was around. I did see plenty of female Fallow Deer, but most of them was quite a way off.
After a short time, as I was walking near the road a stag crossed the road a little way down from me, and it was not in much of a hurry, it went into a clearing and settled down in a dip which is surrounded by about 8 tree's. I slowly crept up to it keeping a tree between me and him. The pictures in this post are not that good, I seem to  be having problems with settings, I played about with them to get a few photo's, plus apart from that the old arthritis in my fingers doesn't help with steadiness.
The stag seemed to be very happy where it was, and it didn't seem too bothered with me being around. I took plenty of pictures moving around the tree's trying to get one from different angles,

As I wandered off down towards the ferns there was a small herd of does. I slowly moved towards them but they heard me when I trod on a twig and started to move away.
I knew I wasn't going to get any more shots here so I started to make my way back to the car. About half way back I startled a young white hart stag


When I was finally back I came across a couple of old tree stumps, so I decided to take a picture of them

Hopefully I will get back into the swing of blogging again.

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.**