Monday, 24 August 2015

More from the weekends trip to Dunge

A few more images from the weekends birding in Kent.

Yellow Wagtail
Pied Flycatcher

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Whinchats and Wagtails

An early morning drive down to Dunge delivered a fantastic bit of birding.
At least FIVE HUNDRED (as estmated at the obs) Yellow Wagtails had dropped in around the lighthouse and surrounding area. Grounded I guess by the southerly winds which no doubt put them off the long flight over water deciding instead to go to ground and get a good feed up at Dunge whilst waiting for the wind direction to become more favourable for their long migration. Whinchat numbers had increased and we counted at least twelve birds but I guess there were many more in the area. Three Black Redstarts were seen along with one of the local Ravens and several Stonechat.

Yellow Wagtail

Common Whitethroat have had a great year and they appear in every bush. A couple of Willow Warblers were noted and a single Wheatear before we found a Pied Flycatcher in the Lighthouse garden and another at the MOD site. Several Swifts were noted hawking out at sea.

From the seawatch we had hundreds of Gannet, good numbers of Sandwich Tern and a few Common Tern. Large gulls were most evident and a single Yellow-Legged was picked out in flight.
A Great Skua mobbed and robbed a Gannet almost killing it in the process and an Arctic Skua tumbled it's way east. A single Common Scoter and several Kittiwake made up the entertainment as far as the birds were concerned but we had the company of a Grey Seal and several Harbour Porpoise too.

From the hide at ARC we picked out three Wood Sandpiper and a Little Stint before finding a Common Sandpiper and Snipe. Ringed Plover, Golden Plover and Lapwing made up the rest of the party.

When all the bushes are taken the car ariel will do.

What you'd call " A good bit of birding"

Year list now 251

Sunday, 16 August 2015

White rumped Sandpiper Oare Marsh finally!

Another visit to Oare Marsh today and I was greeted with news that the White-rumped Sandpiper had been seen. A walk out along the sea wall to view the north corner and I finally got a confident tag on this elusive little bird just as it got up and flew away. So at least I've finally seen it both walking and flying so It's making the list even if that's all I get on it. The Dunlins it was feeding with soon returned but alas not the WRS so a walk back around the reserve to the main track is in order where I picked up a party of Bearded Tits on route along with a fly over Peregrine and a group of c15 Ringed Plover on the mud.

White rumped Sandpiper
The white rump!
As I got to the bridge I set up to scope the various birds feeding starting with a small group of Dunlin feeding close in and noticed a Little Stint with them and then Bingo!..The White rumped Sandpiper was feeding close in with them and it remained there for a couple of hours enabling most of the gathered birders to make there way around the reserve and get on the bird. A little cracker it was too.

I enjoyed watching it learning more about it and taking in the rest of the riches this reserve has to offer.

Some highlights from todays visit.

White rumped Sandpiper
Bonapartes Gull
Little Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank
Little-ringed Plover
Ringed Plover
Bearded Tit
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Black Tailed Godwits, Lapwings,Avocet, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Redshank,
Greenshank all in big numbers again.

Bonapartes Gull at Oare Marsh
Black-tailed Godwit
This is the life!.......they are always asleep.
Just a few waders
Year list now 249

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Oare Marsh "they've got it right"

The people looking after Oare Marsh have got it spot on. The management team should be congratulated on a job well jobbed. Water levels are perfect, fringes well managed, the grazing is well controlled and the whole thing is just spot on. A big well done!

Seven species in this frame......(listed at the foot of this post!) 
We visited last Sunday and I left convinced I'd found a small sandpiper but not quite sure enough to nail it. When on Monday morning a White-rumped Sandpiper was reported that gave me the ID I'd been looking for. Bad light and distance preventing a guaranteed ID on the day.

Where's Bonny.......You can just see the head to the right of the Avocet behind the Golden Plovers head.
A return was on the cards and today we arrived at first light and enjoyed the reserve until late afternoon but failed to find the WRS with reports that it was flushed by a Marsh Harrier and then failed to settle yesterday.
But our failure to refind the target and nail the ID was quickly forgotten with the rewards that the marsh delivered today.

Black-tailed Godwit (One of several hundred on East flood today)
Wood Sandpiper
Little Stints
Little Grebe

10 Little Stint
5 Curlew Sandpiper
3 Knot
4 Little Ringed Plover
12 Ringed Plover
18 Ruff
16 Greenshank
1 Woodsandpiper
1 Common Sandpiper
4 Greensandpiper
I Spotted Redshank
1 Peregrine
1 Swift (think that may well be the last for the year)
1 Bonapartes Gull (Getting harder to find in winter plumage)
1 Great Black-backed Gull
2 Common Gull
Dozens of Black-headed Gull
2 Lesser Black-backed Gull
3 Common Tern
1 Whinchat (Jimmy found this little gem on the western side where it spent the whole day)
3 Snipe
16 Yellow Wagtails
Loads of Dunlin, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Lapwing and Avocet
Along with a steady list including hundreds of hirundines.

Oh and we had some entertainment with the Red Arrows and a Vulcan flying through.

The Red Arrows
Overall a cracking day watching birds even if the WRS failed to make it on the year list despite being 99% sure we'd seen it last week.

Answer to the seven species question above........How did you do?  
Black-headed gull, Golden Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Avocet, Redshank and Bonapartes Gull.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Dungeness NNR

We arrived at Hanson Hide over looking ARC pit at Dunge this morning around 7.30am and were quickly put on both Little Stint and Wood Sandpiper by the only other birder present. A female Ruff, Dunlin and Redshank being the only other waders present apart from the large roost of Lapwing. The reeds were alive with Cetti's, Sedge and Reed Warblers whilst Swallows and Sand Martins have already started to gather.

On the reserve we saw five Stoat and two Mink running along the road which is not something you see everyday. Not sure Mink have any place on an RSPB reserve. Best bird on the reserve was a splendid Lesser Whitethroat tending it's young.

We paid a brief visit to the fishing boats but it was dead with the gull roost being out on the mud as the tide out. On the sea we had distant Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns whilst a very distant Skua moved through at pace. Three Scoter and a single Auk flew East and at the hide we eventually located a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls. The sea wall area was alive with Butterflies and several Hummingbird Hawk Moths were resting or feeding on the wall.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hawk Moth
Painted Lady
A drive around the MOD land gave up a pair of Wheatears which are probably the first migrants to arrive ready for departure to foreign lands. No Whinchat but a couple of Stonechats were present.
A decent morning in Kent with just the M25 roadworks as a negative.


Year list now 248

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Cornwall for a day

Work took me to Cornwall Thursday afternoon. A nice hotel on the coast with good food, drink and company as a reward "for doing well". So a drive down on Thursday for dinner and drinks was followed by more drinks on the Friday.....a little messy!

But Saturday came and the time was my own so I shook of the hangover and made the short drive down to Porthgwarra a place I'd wanted to visit for a while now. Timing wasn't great with clear skies and very little wind but it made for a nice walk along the cliff tops where the local deers watched as I plotted up and scoped the calm seas for a while. Hundreds of Gannets and thousands of Manx Shearwater along with Fulmars, Shags and gulls. Throw in a couple of Dolphin sightings along with the odd Seal and that was the sum of it really. A great place that I'd love to visit again when the wind was bringing a few rarer Shearwaters in. (Chough are supposed to be doing well here having spread from the Lizard point birds but I didn't see or hear any during my stay.)

View from Gwennap Head
I left and whilst driving back passed a sign for Hayle nature reserve so diverted to make the short trip aware that a Ring-billed Gull had been seen here on Friday. I parked up and walked out to the estuary where I quickly found the target sitting out on the river bank with a group of mixed Herring and Black-headed Gulls. A nice year tick that's finally moved the list again after a couple of weeks with no action.

Ring-billed Gull on the Hayle estuary
I just had the 340 mile drive home to manage now but broke it up with a stop at Stokenchurch where I enjoyed a) a break from the drive and b) over thirty Red Kites all flying over the common as the locals put out their BBQ scraps for them.

Red Kite Stokenchurch Common
Red Kite at Stokenchurch 
Red Kite at Stokenchurch
Red Kite Stokenchurch 

A long trip but it's wet the appetite for a longer visit with my good lady so she can see the sights and I can spend a little more time sitting looking at the sea.