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.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Icterine Warbler at Reculver and my first POTW on Birdguides

So work took me to Kent today for a meeting giving me just enough time to head on down to Reculver in search of a life tick. The Icterine Warbler was on my dipped list having tried and failed before so it was high on my list going forward. A quick check that the bird had been seen today and I was on my way. I pulled into the Bishopstone Lane car park and walked down to side of the hedge to the left of the cars. After about twenty or so yards I bumped into three birders that had heard the target about half an hour earlier but said It had now gone quiet. Two of the three departed and I and the other guy moved into the footpath running inside the hedges as we'd been told that was the best place to hear it and sure enough within a minute or two the bird was singing it's little heart out and what a tune it delivered. Sightings were very brief but the song was fantastic and worthy of the tick it delivered.

Year list now 244 life list now 361

To top that off I got home to find Birdguides had awarded me my first PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Whilst at Bempton I'd managed to grab an image of a pair of Tree Sparrows and at the time thought I'd captured the moment well but didn't think for a minute it would be POTW...well chuffed with it!!

The photo and the comments form birdguides about it.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Spoonbill at Scotney Gravel Pits

We popped down to Dunge this morning and enjoyed a very quiet sea watch with Gannet numbers building and a decent count of Common and Sandwich Terns passing but with the wind in our face and the sea quiet we moved on and did the moat walk where the Jim's went off to find Black Redstart for year ticks whilst I sat myself down and enjoyed the moat life. First a young Fox cub popped out from the bramble but quickly ran for cover when he noticed me. Whitethroat were calling and showed well after a while as did Dunnock but there was little else to report. We did eventually find the Black Redstarts on the power station perimeter fence.

Herring Gull at Dungeness
Dunnock and Whitethroat
Common Whitethroat
A quick drive along the reserve track gave views of Marsh Harrier and a few Warblers but was otherwise quiet and the reserve was closed when we arrived at 9.15am which seemed a little strange.

We moved on to Scotney Gravel Pits in search of Spoonbill and after a while located two at the Sussex end of the pit. A drive further down the road into Sussex and we managed a couple of shots from the road. A nice mornings birding and home for lunch too so all's good in the browny point department.

Spoonbills on Scotney Gravel Pit

Year list now at 243

and an afternoon in the garden gave me the opportunity to grab a couple of images too.....

House Sparrow
Young Robin

Saturday, 27 June 2015

River Roding




Little Egret



Half hour along the River Roding this morning delivered the above along with a couple of Little Owls that didn't quite sit up for the camera. I did manage a small improvement in the Swift shot but I've still left room to improve so I'll keep trying to get the image I want with a bit more sharpness.

Grabbed the below Swift shot too....still not quite what I want it to be but a small improvement on the first efforts.


Friday, 26 June 2015

Baby boom

Just sitting out in the garden today I couldn't help notice how many young birds are enjoying my feeding station. I put out seed all year and the local feathered population seems to benefit.

Today alone I have had young, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Robin and Starling all taking full advantage of the feeders and enjoying picking insects from the leaves in the trees too.
Just good to see so many doing so well and I hope that my stocking up of the feeders has helped in some small part. The garden is alive with parent birds tending newly fledged birds and it's great to see.

Who'd have thought Frankentit could have produced this little charmer
ps....Last night I tried to get a shot of one of the regular Swifts that hawk over the garden but fell at the first. Back in the saddle I'll be trying to improve on the image below.

Tia "The special one"
Tia has enjoyed watching the birds too today, that is the small ones anyway, Doves, Pigeons and Magpies are quickly chased off to allow the smaller guys to get a look in.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A bit more Bempton

Barn Owl at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Barn Owl
Barn Owl
Northern Gannet at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
3rd year bird gaining more of the adults white plumage
Adult Gannet
4th Year bird retaining some dark feathers in the tail and wings

Trying to land amongst the Kittiwakes
Gannet at Bempton
Just great birds to watch!
Just a stunning place to visit.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Another trip "up north"

I've had three days in Yorkshire this week so took in a couple of hot spots during my stay.
First stop was Blacktoft Sands where a walk to Singleton hide revealed the Ring-necked Duck and a female Montagu's Harrier. The duck was tucked away and only just viewable in the scope whilst the harrier put a great show flying across the back of the reedbed for about forty minutes. Sadly the male bird didn't show whilst I was there but Marsh Harriers did in good numbers. The reserve volunteer told me the Montagu's were feeding young so that's encouraging and the Marsh Harriers raised twenty one young last season so they're doing something right here. A very nice reserve with a good selection of hides with easy access and only a short walk from the car park. Singleton is best to watch for the Monty and it's only a five minute walk.

Marsh Harrier
I also visited Bempton Cliffs and enjoyed great views of a Barn Owl hunting from the visitor centre and lot's of Tree Sparrow around the feeders. At the cliff face Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot and Puffin were all well represented and the noise was impressive. I love these seabird colonies as they're just so alive with constant comings and goings and little drama's on every ledge as birds look after young and try to find a little space to land etc.  Throw in a quick stop of at Flamborough Head and my whistle stop tour was over but it did bag me three year ticks taking the list to 242

Tree Sparrows making little Tree Sparrows
Barn Owl
Barn Owl