Sunday, 21 August 2016

Kent Birding: Dungeness and Oare Marshes

An early morning sea watching session from the comfort of the hide at Dungeness produced three year ticks in the form of several Arctic Skua's, three Manx and two Balearic Shearwater. Also noted during a two hour session were large numbers of Gannet along with single figure counts of Common, Black and Sandwich Terns plus Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebe and Fulmar.
Moving on to Oare Marshes we found the water levels on the East Flood to be the best they have been for quite a while, and we soon located six Curlew Sandpiper for another year tick. Two Little Stints were also seen plus large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks. Among these large flocks were 20+ Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Lapwings 4 Knot and single Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Turnstone, Kingfisher and Water Rail.
As the water levels rose on the creek, the gulls started dropping in on the flood, and eventually the Bonaparte's Gull was found among them. 

Now minus almost all of it's summer plumage Black hood it proved difficult to pick out among the large flocks of Black headed Gulls and difficult light conditions.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

White Stork, Beddington Farmlands

A White Stork first reported at Beddington Farmlands in London on the 22nd July, was still being reported intermittently throughout the week and again yesterday. 
So we decided it was about time we paid the site a visit. Setting off at 4.30 this morning for a  relatively short trip of 30 miles. It's a site I have never visited before, and with no access to the site unless you happen to be a keyholder, I wasn't even sure how much of the site would be visible through the fence from the public footpath.
Parking up in a designated parking bay along London Road, we headed off along the footpath off Mile Road and crossed the railway bridge. The fence surrounding the main site and lakes was right in front of us, and we were surprised by how much of the main lake you could actually see from this viewpoint.
A quick scan of the shingle islands produced several roosting Grey Herons and at the left hand edge of the main lake stood the White Stork.

Not looking forward to sitting for hours in London rush hour traffic, we decided to head in the opposite direction and go searching for the Bonaparte's Gull at Oare Marshes.
Upon arrival there were large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers and smaller numbers of Dunlin and Ruff along with at least three Green Sandpipers feeding along the edges of East Flood But there was no sign of the Bonaparte's.
We decided to head down to the boating ramp and give the creek a scan. Scanning through the Numerous Black-Headed Gulls the Bonaparte's suddenly appeared in the scope!

An enjoyable morning's birding.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

American Golden plover, Rye Harbour NR

Sunday 5th June

Another early morning meet up with Brian and we head off towards Rye Harbour. Parking up in the car park we head off along the footpath towards the "Black hut with the red roof" to scan the scrape opposite.
Although partly hidden the full summer plummaged individual is quickly found on a small shingle island. It soon becomes more active and gives great views.

American Golden Plover

Two Med Gulls flew across the scrape and Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Sandwich Terns were all seen along with several Little Terns either roosting among the shingle islands or flying over the scrape. A single Wheatear was also seen.

Little Tern

Dungeness proved to be very quiet but a drive along the entrance track did produce great views of at least five Hobby. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

It's not just a Hobby!

Sunday 29th May

Having met up with Brian at 4am we headed off towards Dungeness hoping to find the Rosefinch from the previous day still on site. Unfortunately after having walked the moat around the obs and then the whole area around the trapping area and Long Pits there was no sight or sound of the bird. A Black Redstart was showing well on the power station wires but there was very little else.
A brief stop at Arc Pit produced Cuckoo and Marsh Harrier but again it was very quiet. We returned to the reserve to find the gate still locked, so decided to head for Galloways. Having only driven a short distance from the reserve Brian spotted a Hobby perched up on an old wooden building, using the car as a hide it allowed a close approach and gave fantastic views!

We left Dungeness and headed for Worth Marsh hoping to locate the Montagu's Harrier. Soon after arriving it was seen hunting the fields at the side of the railway tracks. It was soon mobbed by the local crows and it drifted across the tracks and out of view.
A brief detour before heading for Elmley in search of Spotted Flycatchers paid off when we managed to find a pair shortly after arriving at the site.

Spotted Flycatcher

The entrance track at Elmley proved relatively quiet.A Marsh Harrier dropped into the grass and showed well, before it was attacked by Lapwings trying to protect their young. Sadly for them the Harrier left with a youngster in it's talons.

Marsh Harrier

It took a while to locate any Yellow Wagtails but eventually a few were seen before we left for home.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Great Reed Warbler Paxton Pits, Cambridgeshire

Having met up with Brian this afternoon we head off to Paxton Pits Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire. Sixty miles later and we are parked up in the car park and heading off along the Heron Trail. Before arriving at the Washout Pit, we can already hear the Great Reed Warbler blasting out it's song. We join the small group of birders already present and scan the reedbeds opposite. It wasn't long before the bird was found, at first low in the reeds then higher as it made it's way up the reed stems into full view. 

Great Reed Warbler

As we walked back towards the car park a Turtle Dove flew up and headed across the tree tops for a bonus year tick.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Great Spotted Cuckoo Portland, Dorset

The lure of adding Great Spotted Cuckoo to the life list proved too much this morning. Meeting up with Brian at 4am, the 168 miles ahead of us passed without incident and having made good time we arrived in Reap Lane Portland around 6.45am. we joined a small group of birders already on site. Forty five minutes later there was still no sign of the bird. Brian having walked up the road and scanned the surrounding fields and allotments returned without having seen any sign of the bird.
Just as we began to think we had missed our chance of seeing the bird news broke that two birders had managed to locate the bird in the top field, We headed off up the hill and were pleased to find the bird perched up in a nearby bush. A nesting Blackbird soon started harassing the Cuckoo and it took flight and headed back down towards the allotments.

It eventually returned to it's favoured feeding area and we enjoyed watching it gorge itself on caterpillars for the next hour. Having been enjoyed by plenty of arriving birders, the bird took flight and headed off high towards the observatory, where it remained for the majority of the day.

Franklin's Gull and Red-Footed Falcon in Essex

Saturday 14th May

Having met up with Brian at midday, we briefly contemplated making the trip to Portland for the Great Spotted Cuckoo!
Quickly seeing sense we instead headed for Abberton in search of the Franklin's Gull and were rewarded with prolonged flight views of the bird as it flew back and forth across the reservoir. Also present were at least three Black Terns and Two Arctic Terns among the numerous Common Terns.

We then headed to Vange Marsh and immediately located the Red-Footed Falcon. It spent the majority of the time in the air either hunting or being chased by the local gulls.

Red-footed Falcon

Also present were a pair of Black-winged Stilts. Judging by the mating taking place there maybe some offspring in the near future.

The Red-footed Falcon remained until the temperature dropped slightly and then disappeared, presumably to go to roost. The Black-winged Stilts remained until two Avocets dropped in and promptly harassed the stilts. They took to the air and headed off in the direction of Bowers Marsh.