Tuesday 30 December 2014

Summary of 2014

Well that's another year of birding almost over so it's time for an annual summary of highs and lows.

The life list moved on nicely to 351 with some sixteen new birds seen including......

Hume's Leaf Warbler at Dungeness Kent
Yellow-rumped Warbler in High Shincliffe Co.Durham
American Coot in Loch Flemington Scotland
Baikal Teal on the Ouse Washes Cambridgeshire (pending acceptance)
Red-rumped Swallow Thamesmead London
Blyth's Reed Warbler at Wanstead London
Spectacled Warbler at Burnham Overy Norfolk
Short-toed Eagle in the Ashdown Forest East Sussex
Great Knot at Breydon Water Norfolk
Collared Pratincole at Minsmere Suffolk
Bee-Eaters on the Isle of Wight
Masked Shrike in Kilnsea Yorkshire
Little Crake at Minsmere Suffolk
Southern Grey Shrike at Burnham Norton Norfolk
Surf Scoter at Holkham Bay Norfolk
Isabelline Wheatear at Seaton Snook Yorkshire

So I've included these 16 with the Baikal Teal being just a bit wobbly at this stage but I think it'll be accepted so it's on my pending list.

Best of this bunch has to be the Eagle which I managed to see on a few occasions and at good range.
The Bee-Eaters have long been on my want list so it was nice to finally nail them.
Our short Scotland break gave us the chance to connect with the long staying American Coot and work took me within striking distance of the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the Masked Shrike and the Isabelline Wheatear. We dipped Black Duck whilst in Scotland this year and also failed with Great Reed Warbler and Black-headed Bunting.

I missed some crackers this year with my self imposed two hour rule.
Birds such as Blyth's Pipit, Black Scoter, Pacific Diver, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, The returning Bridled Tern, Ross's Gull, Franklin's Gull, American Herring Gull, Great Spotted & Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-eyed Vireo, Short-toed Lark, Crag Martin, Eastern-crowned Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Siberian Stonechat, Citrine Wagtail, Tawny Pipit, Terek Sandpiper, Radde's Warbler, Isabelline Shrike and Ortolan Bunting. That's 26 lifers right there should time and money not be an obstacle in pursuit of this crazy hobby and there's a good few more if I look past the mainland.

The year list reached a modest 270 my lowest total for three years and I ended up 18th on the Bubo List of British year listers. Let's hope 2015 brings the birds and allows the time to find them.

A few of my favourite images from 2014

Desert Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear
Barred Warbler
Cattle Egret

Purple Sandpiper
Red-backed Shrike
Little Owl
Red Kite
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

And here's to a great 2015 with it all starting again on the 1st Jan.

Dipped the Penduline Tit in Bedford

With news that the Penduline Tit was still around this morning I set off only to spend most the day walking around Priory Park but the bird failed to show or at least failed to be found.

I had a nice Kingfisher and a pair of Stonechat as I walked the lake. Two Snipe were flushed and the lake held good numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Little Grebe. The hedges along Meadow Lane contained a small group of Long-tailed Tit and at least five Chiffchaff. One of these was causing some debate as to it's possible Siberian roots but failed to call at all so I left uncertain with it.

Long-tailed Tit
A shame to end the years birding with a dip but that's how the cookie crumbles.

Monday 29 December 2014

Wallasea Island just keeps on giving

I spent most of today at Wallasea Island and have to say the place just keeps coming up trumps for me.
The Rough-legged Buzzard visited the reserve several times today and at one time flew straight across the car park and over the sea wall allowing a few shots as it did.

Rough-legged Buzzard at Wallasea Island
Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough legged Buzzard
A single Ringtail Hen Harrier hunted throughout the day along with up to four different Marsh Harrier including the splendid Male bird. I counted five Short-eared Owl but there's probably more on site.

Hen Harrier
Short-eared Owl
A pair of Peregrine flushed the Lapwing / Golden Plover flock whilst three Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk hunted the fields. Skylark, Corn Bunting and Linnet flocks are very healthy.
The reserve is thriving and I just hope that with all the work planned the people that count keep to the core success of the place which seems to lie in the seeding grasses they've allowed to grow wild here.

Sunset at Wallasea
This told me it was time to head home

Sunday 28 December 2014

Lesser Yellowlegs at Pett Level East Sussex

I took a drive down to Rye this morning and managed to take the short detour to Pett Level whilst there.
As I parked up in front of Pett Pool news was that the American wader had flown to the far east of the site and nobody had located it since. I moved up the road and a couple said they'd seen it fly back west so I walked along and managed to locate it at the back of Pett Pool working the muddy margin where it was being bullied by a couple of Redshank. Despite the harassment the bird showed well in the scope and gave a flew short flight views too. A small crowd gathered with news that the bird had been relocated.
Pett Levels is a smart place with some good birds and I can't believe I've never visited before.

On the way home I stopped for a little more Cattle Egret action

Cattle Egret at Dunge
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
And watched a Sparrowhawk have lunch too.....

Year list now at 270

Thursday 25 December 2014

Shore Larks at Covehithe Broad Suffolk

Christmas Eve and while the rest of the world was shopping we spent the day sitting on the beach at Covehithe. We parked at the church in Covehithe and took the public footpath past the pig farm towards the beach. From here the broad is visible and the birds were quickly spotted feeding along the waters edge.

I planted myself on the not so dry sand and waited hoping the birds would eventually make their way towards me and sure enough they did. I enjoyed very close views in not so good light and some not so close views in good light. (always the way). Great little birds and one of my favourites and to think I nearly went the whole of 2014 without seeing any. Nice to bump into John R on site and I'm sure he pulled off a few nice shots too.

Year list still moving with a grand total of 269 now. (I think that may be it for 2014!)

Shore Lark
Shore Lark
Shore Lark
Shore Lark

A notable from birdguides

I recieved a "notable" for my Cattle Egret image from last weekends trip to Dunge.
Always pleasing to see other people like the image you've captured.

To get this shot of the Egret I drove for nearly two hours and then spent four hours waiting for the moment when firstly the birds came within range and secondly they did that little extra notably playing with the cows before a two hour drive home so the best part of a days work to get the shot but I think it was worth it.

Monday 22 December 2014

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 Kent....now when can I get out again?