Saturday 31 August 2013

Kingfisher at Grove Ferry Kent

Just a few photographs that say it all about my morning at Grove Ferry where the Crakes proved difficult but this female Kingfisher entertained.

As we sat in the Harrison's Drove hide waiting for the Spotted Crake to show a Kingfisher flew through heading towards David Feast hide so we headed back and sure enough we found her just outside the hide.
I may have to post more images of this encounter as she was a little stunner.

After this we headed over to Margate cemetery in the hope we might find a Wryneck or two but alas we couldn't pin any down. We did see Ring-necked Parakeets and White Letter Hairstreak butterflies here though before heading to Reculver and then on up the A2 home.

Friday 30 August 2013

A long walk at Walton

I visited Walton on the Naze today taking my Dad with me on a rare occasion without Jim junior in search of a Red-backed Shrike. We pulled into the car park at the Naze and asked at the cafe (like you do) for some directions as to the Shrike's location. Luckily the lady behind the counter runs the Holland Haven birding website and was very familiar with the Shrike and put us on a good path to it. We walked about a mile or so along the sea wall passing first the John Weston nature reserve then the sewage farm which was particularly unpleasant in the warm breezy air. I quickly picked up the Shrike (272)  as it sat at the top of a thorny bush and gave the scope to Dad to get on then we lost it as a Kestrel landed in a bush not far from the bird.
In the next hour and a half we had no more of it but did connect with at least five Whinchats and four Yellow Wagtails before walking back and seeing three Wheatears on the sandy cliff banks. Photographic opportunity was sadly missing today despite me lugging both scope and camera all the way. The walk was much longer than I'd imagined when I invited Dad but he survived it thankfully.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Wryneck at Salthouse

I travelled to Norfolk in the early hours this morning. On site by 7am I started at Burnham Overy and walked down to the boardwalk turning right to walk down to Holkham Pines. The walk delivered 23 Wheatear, 5 Redstart, a Tree Pipit, a Pied Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroats, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipits and a warbler that had me thinking I'd found an Icterine but as quick as I got on it I'd lost it so it remains in the probable box. I walked back and did the west walk to Gun Hill where yet more Wheatears and Redstarts performed with Linnets, Wren plus Pied & Yellow Wagtails but no sign of yesterdays Icky.
Making the long walk back to the car I decided to try Salthouse to see if the reported Wryneck might show for me and it turned out to be a good call as the bird obliged. I watched it for around three hours feeding on the shingle and coming to about twenty feet of the few birders/photographers present and only spooked by passing dog walkers. (Why they can't see people are interested in the area they are about to march straight through and take a short detour is beyond me.)

Wryneck at Salthouse

On the walk back to the car I stopped to snap an obliging Knot and Dunlin in a small pool by the car park.

Knot and Dunlin
Knot and Dunlin
Small Tortoiseshell
Did you know the term "put a Jinx on someone" comes from the Wryneck. The bird was used in witchcraft due to the strange habit of turning it's head almost 360 degrees and it comes from the genus of birds called Jynx. Wrynecks are found all over Europe but only on passage from breeding to wintering grounds are they found in Britain in Spring and more so in Autumn. They are related to Woodpeckers but feed mostly on ants from the ground rather than trees.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Wanstead Little Grebe

Little Grebe at Wanstead
Redstart, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat were the highlights of a short walk around Wanstead park today but the Little Grebe was just crying out to have it's photograph taken so I obliged.

Monday 26 August 2013

Spotted Crake at Grove Ferry

With another family day at the coast on the cards I thought it would be wrong to miss the opportunity to see the Spotted Crake reported from Grove Ferry. Shortly after arrival at the viewing mound I had the bird in the scope as it walked along the edge of the reeds on the far side. Views weren't great looking into the sun but more than good enough for the tick. My son came with me and seemed to enjoy the mission too. We stopped in at the hides and had brief views of a Kingfisher and Green Sandpiper but didn't manage to see the Wryneck which seemed a little shy today with the bank holiday crowds present and it had already attracted the attention of the local Sparrowhawk.
Common Blue

We had a little lunch at the picnic site nearby before heading to the coast to enjoy a cornet on the sea wall.
Later we took a detour for some Amber Nectar and had Marsh Harriers for company from the pub garden. So a lovely day out in Kent and I still managed a tick to take the year list to 271.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Sabines Gull in Aveley Bay Rainham

The weather again delivered a gift this morning with an early report of up to four Sabine's Gulls in Aveley Bay Rainham so after letting Jimmy know I headed on taking my good lady with me. Pulling into the car park at Coldharbour Lane I walked ten yards to the public footpath and was quickly put on an adult Sabine's Gull by a couple of guys that were already on site. We were soon joined by the Jims and Harry & Barry. We watched the gull for a while and enjoyed good views of several Black Terns fishing in the Thames.
House Sparrow
Pied Flycatcher

I left the guys watching the Thames and headed off to collect my son and daughter in law as we'd promised them a lunch by the sea. We decided on Dungerness where we enjoyed a nice walk on the shingle beach followed by lunch at the Pilot which I can recommend. Of course I noted a few birds whilst there including several Whinchat, lots of Wheatear and a couple of Pied Flycatchers.
A lovely day out with Billy & Gemma, and a tick to boot...can't be bad.

PS They loved Dunge too and Gemma gave the camera another workout
below is a selection of shots she took today.

Selection of Gemma's pictures from Dunge today 
I think Gemma and I have a similar eye when it comes to photography, she likes the weird stuff like me.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Tick 269 with a Wryneck at Landguard today

With the wind and rain forecast this weekend we're in line for a fall of migrants and I decided we'd put our money on a Wryneck so we headed up to Landguard this morning arriving around 7.30am in the rain.
We walked the shore finding Wheatear, Whinchat and Pied Flycatcher along with a very confiding Golden Plover. After a good soaking we headed back to the car and decided to drive further up the A12 and make a stop at Minsmere where we found double figures of Green Sandpiper, several Greenshank and Common Sand, a family of Water Rails showing well along with Spotted Redshank and Ruff to name a few.
With news coming through that Wryneck had indeed been found at Landguard we stopped off again on the way back down the road and were fortunate enough to connect straight away with one bird although the guys on site thought there could have been three there. We found another Pied Fly, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtails at least ten Wheatear and the Golden Plover is still showing off to the gathered birders.
Golden Plover
Golden Plover
Golden Plover
Golden Plover
Pied Flycatcher

Tick 269 for the year with the Wryneck today leaving me looking for another ten to match last years total.

Friday 23 August 2013

Red-necked Phalarope at King George Reservoir Chingford

News arrived early this morning of last nights rain delivering a Red-necked Phalarope into the reservoirs in Chingford. I was on sight at 8am to meet Ian L and finder Harry L (Of Harry & Barry fame).
Ian kindly gave me good directions that enabled me to scope the Phalarope just before it flew. The bird was unsettled for the hour I watched it but dropped in just close enough for a poor record shot. Roy W managed to get on sight early too before I left at 9am and I'm told most of the locals managed to connect during the day. Another good find by Harry on this permit only site that delivers good passage birds.
Also of note were a couple of Clouded Yellow butterflies in the car park at KGR

Distant record of the Red-necked Phalarope
Canadian Greylag at Rainham
I moved onto my original destination at Rainham where I saw the above hybrid (Canada x Grelyag)
Again Clouded Yellow butterflies were in evidence along the sea wall, it's proving a good year for these visitors.
The weather again looks good for a few passage migrants to drop in over the weekend so here's hoping.
My daughter in law came for a stroll with me too today and managed to grab a couple of pictures on my old Nikon....She didn't do too bad either.
Gemma's first outing with a camera......more to come perhaps! (Well done Gem)

Thursday 22 August 2013

Rain stops play

I had planned a trip to the coast today with my good lady but the weather put a stop to that idea.
It has rained all day in Essex limiting me to a short trip to Lea Valley CP where I scanned the lakes but found nothing of note with the highlight being a couple of juvenile Great Crested Grebes.

Whilst I have been reading the blogs I follow this week with reports of Red-billed Tropic Birds and all the drama associated with that particular find, Jaguars in Brazil, trips to China etc etc I find myself making do with trying to get a half decent shot of a Canada Goose in the rain but I suppose that's life. My time will come, I've always fancied watching Bears fishing for Salmon. Better get back to work to pay for it first though.

Canada in the rain
Great Crested Grebes
Swan (playing hide and seek)

Monday 19 August 2013

Pectoral Sandpiper at Coldharbour Lagoon

Well the dilemma was do I chase a year tick in Norfolk or try my luck at getting a close connection with the Pectoral Sandpiper in Kent and the yankee sandpiper won. The walk from Reculver towers to Coldharbour lagoon is about a mile I guess but well worth it. Clouded Yellow butterflies showed well with up to six seen on the walk down. On arrival at the lagoon I quickly found the Pectoral Sandpiper walking the muddy edge with a couple of Dunlin, a Green Sandpiper and  a Turnstone. I saw a photographer sitting at the far end of the waters edge (Mike H) so walked down to join him and we waited for a couple of hours in the hope that at some point the Pec Sand would drop in to feed at our end and our wait paid off when a couple of walkers disturbed the birds at the opposite end and they all dropped in front of us. I grabbed some reasonable shots of the Pectoral Sandpiper and the Greenshank.
A very enjoyable three hour session mostly sitting waiting but when the birds dropped in it was well worth it.

Pectoral Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper with Greenshank

Sunday 18 August 2013

Garden full of Bees and Butterflies

My garden is currently alive with Bees and Butterflies.
Peacocks, Whites, Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, Gatekeepers, Comma etc all enjoying the flowers with the Buddleia being the main attraction.

I took the wife's camera out this afternoon to grab a couple of shots.

Buff Tailed Bee
Buff Tailed Bee
Comma butterfly
Common Blue
On the bird front: A Red-billed Tropicbird was reported in Cornwall today 
(apparently photographic evidence exists from the single observer so we'll await that with interest)
If this record is accepted it would be Britain's fifth for this species so quite a find and I wouldn't think the crowd of sea watchers on site will be happy at the thought of missing it fly past them.

The Red-necked Phalarope at Cantley Beet Factory fields today is the only thing really teasing me for a year tick although I would like to see the sandpipers at Reculver too as they appear to be showing well from the sea wall so maybe a day out in that direction is on the cards.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Wood Sandpipers at Dungeness

We were on the beach at Dunge again this morning for 6.30am. The forecast predicted winds of up to 30mph but it was rather calm despite the low grey cloud overhead. Passage was quiet with just 2 Manx Shearwaters, 7 Black Terns, an Arctic Skua, 3 Scoters of any note with all the Gannets, Terns, Gulls and Porpoise. (Roseatte Tern & Balearic Shearwaters seen later after we'd left as the winds finally picked up)

We headed off to the reserve and finally found a Wood Sandpiper for Dad to tick. I've seen several this year but he always seems to miss them so it was nice when two dropped in to feed in front of Firth hide this morning accompanied by a Green Sand, Ruff and Redshank. With the sun shining into the hide it didn't make for great photographs but I managed a couple of acceptable shots.

Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Following this success we drove over to Oare Marsh to get the Jims another tick in the form of the very obliging Temminck's Stint. We watched the tiny wader for about an hour fascinated by it's size as it passed LRP's and Lapwings etc. On East Flood a couple of Curlew Sands were noted with Greenshank and Snipe along with the other regular waders. Clouded Yellow butterflies are still active on the wing at Oare and the Jims were pleased to see a couple for the first time.

Thursday 15 August 2013

More butterfly action today

Following yesterdays day at Dover I wanted more butterfly action so had a short walk along the river Lea where I noted Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Small & Large White and Meadow Browns.
Small Copper
Brown Argus
Common Blue Damselfly
Red Tailed Bumble Bee

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Long Tailed Blue Butterfly at Kingsdown Leas Kent

I drove down to Dover this morning and walked the white cliffs from the monument at Bockhill Farm.
Firstly I walked the Leas to the west of the car park which is a national trust path full of wild flowers and alive with butterflies and then I walked to the the east right down to the golf club. I saw Small, Common and Chalkhill Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Painted Lady, Small, Large and Marbled Whites, Clouded Yellow, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Wall Brown, Small and Large Skipper, White Letter Hairstreak, Small Copper, and eventually the best of the bunch in the form of the Long Tailed Blue which was feeding on some wild everlasting sweet pea.
A Red Kite flew over and Wheatear and Whinchat were seen getting ready for migration. From the cliffs I saw an Arctic Skua and several Fulmars.
On the way home a quick stop at Oare Marsh delivered another look at both the Bonaparte's Gull and the Temminck's Stint (who's legs looked much paler today) Six Bearded Tit also "pinged" along the reeds by the main path and a couple of Ruff, Curlew Sandpipers, plus RP and LRP represented the less obvious waders.

Clouded Yellow (A migrant from North Africa and southern Europe)

Long Tailed Blue (A rare migrant from Europe)
Painted Lady ( another migrant from North Africa)
The Painted Lady is the only butterfly to have ever been recorded in Iceland yet it cannot survive the British winter.
Marbled White

Common Blue
The Leas
Small Red Eyed Damselfly
Bockhill Monument
The walk from the monument to the golf club house is about a mile and the everlasting Sweet Pea that the Long Tailed Blues are feeding on runs from Ship House to the Golf Club House.