Monday 31 August 2015


NO WORDS NEEDED....Just images of a great little bird we found on a drive down the track at Elmley.


Sunday 30 August 2015

Destination Dunge

Merlin at Elmley NNR
Another trip to Dunge this morning delivered a fabulous days birding with the Jims.
First we bagged a Honey Buzzard at the point followed by a pair of Peregrine Falcons and an Arctic Skua.
Then behind the hide we picked out Wheatear, Spot Fly and Black Redstart. A couple of Yellow Wagtails flew over and another two Arctic Skua came in close to harass the Common Terns. Sandwich Terns flew south and a couple of Black Terns visited the patch briefly which was alive with Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Three Common Scoter flew up and Kittiwakes visited the patch too. Porpoise and Seals revealed themselves and Gannets flew north continuously. Another birder kindly put us on the only Balearic of the morning to wrap up a cracking little sea watch.

Herring Gull
Black Redstart
Back around the moat and things were much quieter with just a couple of Common Whitethroat to show for our efforts. Back on the shingle from the entrance road and we found a group of Wheatears and Whinchats both in double figures. The camera came out but the birds were mobile and never really came within reach of the space I'd plotted up in so I left them to their business.


At ARC pit we spotted a Merlin flying along the back edge and it sat nicely on the fence line to give scope views. We quickly found five Black Terns and then the White-winged Black Tern came in to play and we watched it for a while before moving on o Gallaways in search of more migrants. At first things were slow but then Wheatear and Common Redstart were picked out before a party of around ten Whinchats were spotted with two dropping in to bath in a puddle on the road. 

White-winged Black Tern
White winged Black Tern
On the way home we headed down to Elmley which is now completely dry and devoid of birds. I really don't understand the managment plan here but let's hope smarter people than me are in charge and know what they're doing with the place because it'd be a shame to see what was a great reserve failing in the future. Only three birds seen as first a Marsh Harrier then a Peregrine and finally a cracking little Merlin that sat on the fence allowing close views from the car.

Magical Merlin at Elmley NNR

Another fabulous visit to Kent with migration in full swing and the year list moved to 254 too.

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.