Saturday, 20 December 2014

Cattle Egrets at Dungeness

With reports still coming through of two Cattle Egrets at Dungeness coupled with images of them at a reasonable distance I decided on another visit to see if I could connect with them at a closer range than my last encounter. I arrived at silly o'clock  and it was still dark so I had a quick tour around the village before returning as the sun came up. The Cattle Egrets were in the field with the cows along Denge Marsh Road and slowly woke to feed. I was joined by Rob Gordon (nice to meet you Rob) and we both enjoyed a couple of hours with the birds as they came close to rest on the hay which irritated the cattle.
We managed a few respectable shots of the action whilst chatting.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egrets
Cattle Egrets at Dunge
Having had my fill I moved on in search of Firecrest and after a long walk around the lighthouse, moat and trapping area I found just four birds, a fly over Cormorant, a Robin, a Blackbird and thankfully a Firecrest.
(It was looking like I'd not see one in 2014 but a brief glipse at the rear of the trapping area was enough to put that risk to bed thankfully) After my long lonely walk around the trapping area I moved onto the RSPB reserve and lost count of Great White Egret sightings, there must be at least seven down here.

Heron and GW Egret
Great White!
I spent some time with the Tree Sparrows which I always find entertaining to watch and managed a half decent shot of one too.

Tree Sparrow
From here I moved on towards Walland Marsh with news of Bean Geese between Horse Bones Farm and Hawthorn Corner. All I needed was to find either Hawthorn Corner or Horse Bones Farm and as I passed a farm I quickly reached a row of Hawthorns alive with winter thrushes and it dawned on me that the farm I passed must have been Horse Bones so a quick U turn and I was watching Bewick's Swans and four Tundra Bean Geese for my second year tick of the day.

Bean Geese
Last stop as I was only six miles away on the way home was the White Ibis. I know it's most likely escaped from somewhere and has no chance of acceptance but something made me go see it. 
(Another tick on my escapee list....if I had one)

White Ibis....honest just to the right of the left Cormorant.
Views were distant as it fed on one of the lake islands amongst the Cormorants but my first visit to Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve won't be my last. 

Year list now 268

ps....Had to post the pic below just for the Jims...

and one more last pic.....sorry lot's in this post 
A couple of Sparrowhawks found the mounds in the cow field to their liking today and I managed a quick snap of one before some local workmen spooked it.

Cracking day in when can I get out again?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Quick tour of North Norfolk

The day started early with a session at Wolferton hoping to connect with the Golden Pheasants but this proved a poor start to the day with the triangle really quiet giving up just a couple of Muntjac deer during our visit. We moved on to Titchwell were the car park was alive with Chaffinches and the resident Robin came down to feed from the hand as it usually does on our visits. Walking the main path I left the Jims searching for Water Pipit and made my way to the beach. The Freshwater marsh has been flooded as part of the reserves management programme so held very little bird life on our visit. The beach was where all the action was with Grey Plover, Sanderling, Knot, Black & Bar-tailed Godwits all present although the sea itself was very quiet. Three Twite moved off as I got to the boardwalk area.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
We drove from Titchwell down to Salthouse where a half a mile (seemed a lot longer) walk along the shingle finally delivered when we picked out a flock of over fifty Snow Bunting  feeding with at least fifteen Twite. As the flock was large it was easily spooked and our images were taken at distance but it was nice to see such a large group.

Snow Buntings
Snow Buntings
The fields around Salthouse held lot's of Brent Geese and a Black Brant had been reported.
On route we'd stopped at Lady Anne's Drive Holkham to scan the Pink Footed Geese hoping for a Bean or maybe even the Snow Goose that's roaming Norfolk with the Pinks. Our reward here was a threesome of Grey Partridge which was followed by two more groups during our tour. Always good to catch up with the Greys.

Pink -footed Goose
Grey Partridge
Our final stop was to watch the Corvid roost at Buckenham Marshes. We'd scanned the Geese and probably had the Taiga Beans but the light was fading and the group were distant so that year tick will have to wait for another day and gives good reason to revisit and watch the incredible roost as the Corvids arrive from everywhere to fight for space in the trees with extreme volume.

Corvid roost at Buckenham

Monday, 15 December 2014

good fishing at Fishers Green

Great-crested Grebe
I spent a couple of hours in the Bittern Hide at Fishers Green this morning hoping to see Bittern but sadly failed. Water rail numbers were strong and the bird feeders were busy with Tits and finches taking advantage of a free meal. Reed Buntings showed from time to time and the Moorhens were joined by Mallard,Gadwall, Tufted and Shoveler. Out on seventy acres Egyptian Geese performed noisily and a large gathering of Lapwing showed unrest although the panic seemed to be Heron induced as they harassed the Cormorants.
Great-crested Grebe
A Coot caught a large Crayfish and snacked on it in the reed bed and a couple of Great Crested Grebes fed well in the pool by the hide catching a fish with almost every dive.

Chiffchaff were present and large numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare have arrived.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Great Grey Shrike at Chilham in Kent

We finally paid the Chilham Shrike a visit today to add a year tick to our list and what a cracking bird it was.
with the weather bright, very cold but with little wind we headed first for Elmley arriving via the new faster smarter Dartford crossing we pulled into the reserve at 8am just as the gates were opened.

Marsh Harrier
Stonechat with a little help from photoshop
300 plus Curlew were feeding on the wet fields at the entrance along with good numbers of Ruff and two Common Buzzard hunted low across the fields flushing the large flocks of Lapwing and Starling.
Four Marsh Harrier and several Kestrel were seen along with several Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.
A Pheasant posed for a close up and a Kestrel hovered above the car giving another photo opportunity.

After Elmley we made the 20mile journey across Kent to Chilham pulling into the layby at Branch Road we noticed the Shrike sitting up in fields behind the sports centre and managed a couple of shots as we watched it hunting from bushes and at times the over head wires. It was nice to see the bird so active and It looks at home here so I guess it'll stay the winter.

Great Grey Shrike at Chilham

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Rough-legged Buzzard at Wallasea Island

Another drive down to Wallasea Island this afternoon. First birds seen were the huge flocks of Corn Bunting and Skylark. Two Ring-tailed Hen Harrier hunted the flocks continuously and were joined by a pair of Marsh Harrier and a very large female Peregrine which had eyes on the Lapwing and kept forcing them high with the Lapwing doing all they could to stay above the falcon.

After an hour or so I spotted a Buzzard and it's hovering flight prompted me to get the scope out which revealed it to be the suspected Rough Legged. This was my first for Essex and it gave great views for ten minutes before returning over the ridge and out of view. After yesterdays six Short-eared Owls it was disappointing not see any on the visit but as we pulled away from the car park at around 4pm an Owl flew along the road towards us and then sat on the fence before taking flight and heading off towards the back of the fields.

All in all a fabulous visit again spoilt only by the traffic getting home.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Short-eared Owls at Wallasea Island

A brief stop at Wallasea Island this afternoon gave me the opportunity to see no fewer than six Short-eared Owls hunting. One was mobbed by a Peregrine and another interacted with one of the two ringtail Hen Harriers present. A Marsh Harrier joined the games as it flew through whilst five shorties were in the air together and a Rough-legged Buzzard was also reported this afternoon but wasn't seen by me on this visit.

Short-eared Owl
SEO hunting at Wallasea Island

The images don't really do the experience justice but I'll keep trying to catch a better image of these magnificent birds.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Isabelline Wheatear in Cleveland

Work took me to Yorkshire on Monday and what luck that was with an Isabelline Wheatear deciding to drop onto the beach at Seaton Snook on the Sunday. Thankfully the bird found food and hung around for me. Arriving on the beach to find around fifty other interested birders with the bird performing well along the tide line in front of them all. I sneaked further up the tide line to position the sun behind me as most of the guys were shooting directly into the sun. Sure enough after a short wait the bird made it's way along the tide line and gave me a solo show just a few feet in front of me and what a little super star it was.

Isabelline Wheatear Seaton Snook Cleveland
Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear at Seaton Snook

The Twitch for the Isabelline Wheatear
I would usually have needed to let this little cracker pass with my "soft" two hour rule but once again a work do provided the route to bagging the lifer as it had earlier this year with the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Whilst away I had the opportunity to do a little cley pigeon shooting and falconry being allowed to fly both Eagle Owl and a stunning Bateleur Eagle. The falconry centre also held Golden Eagle, Goshawk, Steppe Eagle, Peregrine, Harris Hawk etc. Although I obviously prefer my raptors flying free it was nice to get up close to some of these magnificent birds.

Bateleur Eagle
The bedroom at the Consiton

The view from my bedroom.
Life list now 351
year list now 265