Sunday, 22 February 2015

Elmley NNR Kent

A few more images from Elmley NNR in Kent.

Hare at Elmley NNR
Hare in the grass
Barn Owl 
Barn Owl

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Owling in Kent

We took a drive down to Kent this afternoon, stopping first to see if the Wood Sandpiper at Elmley would reveal itself for us but after a drive down the track and back we failed miserably to locate it amongst the Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Blackwits, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Skylark, Little Egret, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier that were present.

We moved on to Shellness taking the "road" to the far car park. We parked and walked the sea wall where a Short-eared Owl came up from the bank and flew away as we approached. Most birders were returning to their cars having seen the reported Richard's Pipit and Dave B. was on site and had just heard the target as we approached. We waited with Dave a while but he left before the bird revealed itself to us with a brief flight as it moved down the sea wall before returning over our heads to the ditch from which it had come. The bird called to help us establish it's presence. The Hooded Crow was seen by others but with dark rain clouds approaching we returned to the car spotting Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Rock and Meadow Pipit as we marched along the sea wall.

Short-eared Owl Shellness NNR
Our final destination was Hart Ferry Lane where we found two very obliging Barn Owls and large numbers of Marsh Harrier coming in to roost. Corn Buntings were sitting in the usual bushes but the highlight of the day was the views enjoyed of the Barn Owls which even continued to hunt in driving rain.

Barn Owl at Harty Ferry Lane
Barn Owl
Barn Owl
Barn Owl at Harty Ferry

Year list now 149

Monday, 16 February 2015

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Little Bunting Forest Farm Glamorgan

I picked up the Jims at 5am this morning  and headed off around the M25 picking up the M4 and crossing the bridge into Wales arriving at Forest Farm in Glamorgan at around 7.30am. After a short walk around we eventually found the hide next to the centre and as we entered the Little Bunting was showing a few feet in front of the hide feeding on seed supplied thanks to the "friends of forest farm" (a group of 300 members who's donations pay for the feeders to be topped up continuously by the rangers) Over the next few hours the bird came and went and entertained the small gathering in the hide along with four Bullfinch, a couple of Nuthatch, Coal Tits, Reed Bunting etc etc. This is a terrific little site and one I'm sure I'll revisit at some point.
The hide set up is particularly good for photography and Im told gives good views of Woodpecker and Kingfisher in Spring.

Little Bunting
Little Bunting
Little Bunting
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Satisfied with the Little Bunting and the life tick it brought for all three of us we moved on and within a couple of miles we had pulled into the car park at the Wetland Centre in Cardiff Bay. A brisk walk along the footpath and then the boardwalk and we very quickly located the Lesser Scaup in the distance amongst the flock of Tufted. Our next stop was at the other end of the bay parking in Rover Road we walked through the cycle gate and along the side of the bay between the Heliport and Sewage works (very pleasant.....not!)
We scanned the Black Headed Gulls in the company of Geoff ( a fellow Bubo Lister, nice to meet you Geoff) but failed to find the gull. Clock watching we moved on only for the gull to be reported soon after we'd all left.

Cormorant in Cardiff Bay
Our final destination was the Forest of Dean some 40 miles away but edging closer to home.
A Two-barred Crossbill had been reported but we opted instead to visit Parkend Church where we found a single male Common Crossbill before moving on to New Fancy watchpoint. My first visit here and I can see why it's so popular as the views are very impressive....I'll be back in a couple of weeks with any luck in search of Goshawk.
Common Crossbill at Parkend
A very pleasant day and lifer number two for 2015 in the bag.

Year list now 148
Life list now 353

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Garden Tick

Today I set about trying to get a decent Goldfinch shot in the garden.
I filled the feeders (costing me a small fortune now I've introduced sunflower hearts but attracting twenty plus Goldfinch every day along with seven Greenfinch so worth every penny) I have had apples out all winter and the Blue Tits love them but until today they had not attracted any wintering Blackcaps.

Blue Tit
Whilst pointing the camera at the Goldfinch I noticed movement in the Elderberry at the bottom of the garden  and it soon became obvious that a male Blackcap had arrived and was feeding on the berries so not quite on the apples yet but it's promising.


Having had no Blackbirds all summer it's nice to see four now using the garden to feed along with Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Starling, House Sparrow, Collared Dove and Woodpigeon. We also get Magpies visiting each day and a Squirrel also takes advantage of both the apples and sunflower hearts.
Year list now 145

Friday, 13 February 2015

Laughing Gull New Brighton Cheshire Joker in the pack!

Laughing Gull at New Brighton
With yet another work trip "up north" I couldn't resist trying for the Laughing Gull that's made New Brighton home this winter. The American vagrant has decided it likes the pontoon in the Marine Lake. If you've read my blog before you'll know I have a (soft) two hour twitch rule but whenever I'm away with work I look for a detour on the main route should anything of note be around. I've picked up Masked Shrike and Yellow Rumped Warbler in this fashion before. New Brighton was some sixty miles of route for me and on arrival the Gull had just flown off from the lake. I walked the beach for about a mile either side of the lake finding a Purple Sandpiper on the rocks as I scanned for the gull and a couple of Snow Bunting along the tide line too.
There were Sanderling, Turnstone and Oystercatchers in good numbers but no sign of the target bird.

Joker in the pack
I returned to the Marine Lake and had lunch whilst watching for the birds return and joined another birder as he tempted the gulls in with his lunch. The gulls stirred and somebody said he'd spotted the Joker in the pack. Sure enough the bird landed on the pontoon and then gave great close views to the gathered birders and interested locals of which it had attracted a few. Mission accomplished I headed off to my work venue.

Laughing Gull
Having a Laugh!
Laughing Gull                                        My first lifer of 2015!

I had already picked up a Little Owl on the drive up so the year list had now moved to 141 and the life list reached 352 safe in the knowledge that the Baikal Teal at Ouse Wash last year has now been accepted.

During my second day in Yorkshire I picked up a Raven calling overhead in the Penines which had a good covering of snow and was shrouded in mist/ This morning I also found good numbers of Red Grouse before setting off south. The drive home today gave up a single Red Kite as I travelled towards Cambridge on the A1 for my sixth year tick of the trip.

Red Grouse in the mist 

Year list now 144
Life list now 352

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Waxwings at Kesgrave

We took the 70 mile run up the A12 this morning in search of the Waxwings pulling into Wilkinsons Drive Kesgrave at around 8am we quickly found the school where up to ten birds had been feeding all week but after an hour and a lot of searching the local streets we hadn't found the target. As we walked back to the car I noticed the birds leaving a large oak to the side of the school only to fly off over the houses and away.
With thanks to the pager there appearance back on Colchester Road was highlighted and we made the 2 mile journey parking up outside number 250 to view ten birds feeding on Mistletoe. We enjoyed a couple of hours watching them but they rarely came down from the shadows to feed in good light and after two hours departed heading back to the school to feed on the few berries that remain there.

Waxwing on Mistletoe
Waxwing at Kesgrave
On the wing
We headed south with a quick stop at Abberton where a second year tick for the day was found in the form of six White-fronted Geese from the causeway. Two drake and redhead Smew were noted but little else was seen before we headed home for dinner dates that needed keeping.

Year list now at 138