Sunday, 28 September 2014

Dungeness and a surprise Nightjar at Middlesex Filter Beds

Arriving at Dungeness this morning, we decided to head for the beach and a short seawatch.
The sea was very calm and with hardly any wind there was not much movement to speak of.
Small groups of Guillemots, Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns were seen along with a single Kittiwake roosting on the beach.
A single seal appeared close to the buoy and provided the only other moment of interest before we moved on towards the observatory.
The bushes between the road and the observatory held good numbers of Chiffchaff and Blackcap along with a couple of Black Redstarts and a single Common Whitethroat.


Chiffchaff

A Sparrowhawk and Kestrel drifted across, but more of a surprise was the appearance of a Raven overhead.
More Black Redstarts were seen on and around the fences of the houses leading to the observatory, with several Meadow Pipits being caught in the traps.
Very little else of interest was seen on the walk around the moat, so we left and drove the track leading to the reserve.
The bushes held good numbers of Stonechat with smaller numbers of Whinchat and two Lesser Whitethroat.
A Marsh harrier drifted across the water in front of us and several Bearded Tits could be held "pinging". Double figures of Snipe flew overhead along with Curlew.

Whinchat

Stonechat
Having planned to return home for around one, this changed when news of a Nightjar found at the Middlesex Filter Beds was reported.
Parking in the Nature Reserve car park at the Essex Filter Beds site, we headed off along the river crossing the red bridge as we went. Entering the Middlesex Filter Beds section we found a small group of birders and were quickly put onto the bird.
Having taken the scope, it came in very useful not only to get cracking views of the bird, but to give many interested locals a view as they walked, jogged and cycled through the park.

Nightjar


Friday, 19 September 2014

Barred Warbler, Gunners Park

Barred Warbler at Gunners Park in Essex. 
This produced mixed thoughts, having spent over three hours last weekend staring at bramble bushes in the vain hope of catching a glimpse of one at Thorpeness in Suffolk.
We left Thorpeness with no sightings and only a couple of Whitethroat, Dunnock and Robins to show for the three hour vigil.
So today I wasn't that keen to make the trip, eventually a second report  persuaded myself and dad to hit the road and head for Gunners park.
Three miles away from the park and the pager bleeped into action to report that the Barred Warbler was "showing well" from the concrete pad in the Northeast corner.
After the satnav got confused about a new road layout we managed to locate the car park and quickly made our way along the footpath and headed towards the concrete pad.
Two birders were present when we arrived, but the bird had seemingly gone to ground just before we arrived.
Twenty minutes later and a likely looking bird flew across and dived down behind the hawthorn bushes we had been staring at.
Dad took a walk round to the footpath that ran behind these bushes and located the bird shortly afterwards. I joined him and a short time later managed to spot the bird in an apple tree that was right next to the Hawthorn.
Views were mostly brief and fleeting, but it seemed to follow a simple pattern. Dive into the middle of the Apple tree, flit back left and into the Hawthorn, grab a Hawthorn Berry and move back into the safety of the Apple tree.
After watching the bird do this 4-5 times I managed to pick the bird out in the Apple tree and got prolonged views as it sat there eating the fruit.
The presence of a Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler didn't help picking up the Barred, but both of these birds would fly from here across the short grass into neighbouring scrub, whereas the barred seemed to stay either in the Apple tree or the Hawthorn.
A trip I wasn't that keen on when we set off, proved well worth the journey.






The map above shows the Car Park and the favoured feeding area while we were there today.
You can view one side of the Hawthorn, Brambles and Apple tree from either the concrete pad or the other side from the footpath.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Pectoral Sandpiper at Minsmere

Deciding to head for Suffolk again this morning, hoping to grab some views of the Barred warbler at Thorpeness.
Arriving on site around 7.30 we found two other birders present, one seawatching and the other looking for the warbler. Both had been present from first light.
There had been no sign of the bird so far this morning , after searching for over two hours and with plenty of birders joining us in the search we had still had no luck.
We decided to head off to Minsmere and hope for better luck locating the Pec Sandpiper.
After reaching the five bar gate it was another 3/4 mile walk to the pool. The bird was found instantly feeding among the short vegetation. A very smart looking juvenile bird.

Pectoral Sandpiper

On the walk back we met plenty of birders who had been at Thorpeness searching for the warbler, none had any luck locating it, Nearing the car park the pager reports that the Barred Warbler is showing again!
We decide to give it another try. But again we drew a blank, with only the occasional Dunnock, Whitethroat, Robin and Blue Tit seen feeding among the favoured areas.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Landguard trip, plus Lesser Grey Shrike, Hollesley Suffolk

This morning we decided to head for Suffolk rather than Kent, and the morning started with a leisurely stroll around Landguard NR.
Weather conditions on route were changeable with a brief rain shower followed by mist and after reaching the car park it had turn cloudy and overcast. 
As soon as the Search of  the bushes began a smart looking Whinchat was found perched up. The first circuit of the common produced large flocks of Linnets with good numbers of Willow Warblers, Goldfinch and Pied Wagtails along with Smaller numbers of Blackcap, Whitethroat and several immaculate looking Lesser Whitethroat's. Wheatear's were also seen in good numbers.

Wheatear



I managed to miss a Wryneck feeding on the grassy bank of the compound, and a second one was missed when I arrived just after a couple that were totally oblivious to the gathered crowd just strolled straight through the area the Wryneck was feeding in.
After reaching the point and scanning the rock's at the water's edge we managed to locate a single Purple Sandpiper. It was roosting when we found it, but the incoming tide spraying the rock it was on soon persuaded it to find a safer spot.

Purple Sandpiper




On the return circuit I finally managed to get some good if brief views of a Wryneck. It landed on the ground between two bushes and then perched up on some teasel before disappearing into thicker cover.
It then appeared briefly on our side of the bushes, but all to soon it was back in thick cover.

Wryneck
With time short we decided to abandon any thoughts of searching for a Barred Warbler reported at Thorpeness and instead headed for Hollesley hoping to get a view of the Lesser Grey Shrike.
Taking the grassy path out towards the beach we could see a small group of birders/photographers away in the distance on the beach.
As we sat ourselves down next to them the bird re-appeared and gave some stunning views through the scope.
It would perch up on top of nearby bushes and launch attacks on anything it fancied for a meal. The success rate was very impressive.

Lesser Grey Shrike