Monday, 8 October 2018

3 New Birds ........ on my Oare Marsh Bird List

               Sunday 7th October 2018 : Oare Marshes

Dark Bellied Brent Goose.

On Sunday morning i headed to Oare Marshes in the hope of a good sea watch as the winds were quite favourable NNE.

I soon joined the early birds already by the sea watch hide and was informed that they had already seen several Great Skuas , on my arrival an Arctic Skua was flying towards us and landed on the sea and was a new bird for my OMBL (Oare Marsh Bird List) .

This was followed by a Bar tailed Godwit which flew overhead calling and was remarkably still in summer plumage.

Bar Tailed Godwit.

There were plenty of Dark bellied Brent Geese flying high up the Swale and several Common Terns were also seen.

Then a small flock of 7 Little Gulls flew high towards us but were lost as they past the Sun, a further 4 Little Gulls were seen during the morning.

We were soon treated to quite a sight as 5 juv Gannets flew towards us and then down Faversham creek before  returning past us and down the Swale , we also saw 2 Ravens flying towards the pylons whilst watching the Gannets.

1 of the 5 juv Gannets.

My 2nd new bird for my OMBL was of course Gannet , ( i really should do more sea watching from Oare Marshes !!).

 We had an interesting bird a long long way out which thankfully flew towards us up the Swale and we could see that it was indeed another Arctic Skua.

It was great watching a Peregrine chasing a Redshank over the Swale , luckily for the Redshank it was not a successful hunt this time.

Arctic Skua.

After 3 hours sea watching (longer for MW, NB & RR) we decided to have a walk around the East flood , good numbers of the usual waders were evident as was a single Pintail , we also saw the  Little Owl  in the bushes behind the East flood hide .

On our way past the hide we saw Chris Dyett making haste towards us with the news he had seen & heard a Yellow browed Warbler in the tree by the car park, this was awesome news as there had never been one seen at Oare Marshes before (as far we know !?).

We thanked Chris for the info & his great find and then made our way around to the car park and after only a couple of minutes we heard a Chiffchaff then another bird caught our eyes and a Yellow browed Warbler popped out in front of us giving a fantastic view , and then disappeared again.

I only managed a very poor record shot of this superb bird (poor even by my low standards) but here it is anyway.

Yellow browed Warbler.

Yellow browed Warblers are not rare by any stretch of the imagination but to see the 1st one for this reserve was great and was my 3rd new bird for OMBL this morning.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Beluga Whale in the Thames ..... Plus White Stork in Kent

26th September 2018   Gravesend

Beluga Whale 

Unbelievable news of a Beluga Whale in the river Thames and viewable from Gravesend Kent on the 25th September left me with an anxious wait until the next day the 26th September as i was to busy on the the 25th.

News finally came through the Beluga Whale was still present on the 26th so i headed there and after a 2km walk had some really great views of this remarkable Beluga Whale.

Just about make out the blow hole.

The Beluga Whale just about to break water.

Typically very hard to get a decent photo (for me anyway) but i did manage some record shots , these incredible animals are normally seen in Greenland & Russian waters , so it's a few thousand miles of course , i really hope it finds it's way home safely.

Beluga Whale.

25th September 2018 : Knowlton Kent.

White Stork.

News of a White Stork in a field near Knowlton on the 25th September tempted me to go and have a look , it was quite distant but through the scope the views were pretty good.

White Stork.

It was unringed and the leg & bill colouration looked quite strong (normally faded in captive birds , in my experience anyway!?) the wing feathers did not look damaged , however it will alas go down in my note book as origin unknown.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Some Great Birds seen in Kent in August

                                 Restharrow Scrape Sandwich 
                                     19th August 2018.

Wood Sandpiper.

August has been a busy birdwatching month for me , after my Pelagic trip in early August most of my recent birding has been at local sites , on the 19th August i called into Restharrow Scrape and had some decent views of  Wood Sandpiper.

Very noticeable eye strip.

Wood Sandpiper are one of my favourite waders and i really enjoyed great scope views of this bird , also present were 2 Green Sandpipers & 2 Garganey in eclipse plumage.

2 Garganey in eclipse plumage.

Grove Ferry  22nd  &  30th August 2018


I had a couple of visits to Grove Ferry in August , on the 22nd an early morning visit proved a good choice as i saw the Spotted Crake from the viewing ramp , to distant for a photo but i had good views through the scope.

There was also an immature Spoonbill present plus 2 Garganey were also seen, on the 30th i paid another visit in the hope of seeing a Whinchat , after getting some info from Martyn Wilson (many thanks) i was soon looking at 5 Whinchats .

Digi scoped photos of Whinchat.

I then called into the David Feast hide n the hope of seeing the Kingfisher's that have been putting on a show of late and i was not disappointed.


Dungeness  22nd August 2018

American Black Tern.

An American Black Tern was expertly found on the 21st by Stephen Message on Burrows pit , and news broke that it was still present on the 22nd , so on my way back from Grove Ferry i headed straight there , it took some finding as there were 20+ Black Terns also present and not having any experience with American Black Tern before it took me awhile to find it.

However once i got my eye in i was able to pick it out pretty much every time thankfully.

American Black Tern is a sub species of Black Tern and is the first one ever recorded in Kent.

Black Tern

Black Tern.

Swalecliffe 31st August 2018

Purple Heron Photo by Alex Perry.

On the 31st August i received a phone call from Chidders informing me that Geoff Burton had just found a Purple Heron at Swalecliffe , so i dropped everything and headed straight there, on arrival i could Geoff & Ted looking out towards the Brook.

 I was soon informed that the Purple Heron had dropped down into the Brook and had not been seen since , then Julian & Alex Perry arrived , we were all chatting when Geoff picked up the Purple Heron flying towards us , it then headed of west and sadly not seen again.

Great find by Geoff Burton who informed me  it's a 1st record for Swalecliffe, many thanks to Chidders for the tip off and to Alex Perry for the use of his great photo.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Scilly Pelagic ..........3rd to 5th August 2018

                   Isle of Scilly Pelagic :  3rd August 2018

                                                               Scillion Crossing

European Storm Petrel.

The crossing over to the Isle of Scilly on the Scillion  can sometimes award you with some good views of seabirds and on the 3rd August i was lucky enough to see 7 European Storm Petrels , 500+ Manx Shearwaters, 100+ Shag & 1 Great Skua , Fulmar & Gannet were also seen in good numbers plus we saw 20+ Common Dolphin which is always a magical sight.

SAPPHIRE PELAGIC  3rd August 2018

5pm  to  9.45pm

After booking into the Bell Rock Hotel it was not long before we headed down to the quay for our 1st pelagic on the Sapphire with expert skipper Joe Pender & expert guides Bob Flood & Jason Moss.

The journey out of St.Mary's harbour was pretty non eventful but it was not long before we had a good selection of Gulls following the boat , these included Herring Gull , Lesser black backed Gull & Great black backed Gull , however we soon got superb views of two Juv Yellow legged Gulls.

Juvenile Yellow Legged Gull.

We had good numbers of European Storm Petrel (40+) and Manx Shearwater (20+), there was also a constant stream of both Gannet & Fulmar (often following the boat).

Then the shout went up from Jason , ' get on this Petrel' , we did and although distant you could clearly see it was a Wilson's Storm Petrel which was soon joined by a European Storm Petrel and size & flight comparisons could be made.

I have seen 4 Wilson's Storm Petrels before but many years ago and the views of this bird were of similar distance , there was a buzz on the boat as this was a new bird for many including RR, however a bit later in the pelagic we once again saw a 2nd Wilson's Storm Petrel but this time it was flying towards the boat and just kept on coming !!!!

Wilson's Storm Petrel. Photos by Joe Pender

At one point it was so close i could see it's eyes , my photos were hopeless but skipper Joe Pender managed to get some fantastic photos (see above) many thanks for the use of your photo's.

This was my 6th Wilson's Storm Petrel (2 on this trip) but by far the best views i have ever had of this rare seabird, wow what an experience.

We also saw 100+ Common Dolphin and a Blue Shark which was a new species for me.

SAPPHIRE PELAGIC  4th August 2018

8.30am  to  3pm


Today was an all day Pelagic however with dead calm seas i thought we would be very lucky to see anything , however we did our best and had absolutely fantastic views of Gannet & Fulmar.

Close views of Gannet.

We did see 3+ European Storm Petrels and 100+ Manx Shearwaters , a single Sooty Shearwater was great to see and then the shout went up ' Great Shearwater ' we all got onto the bird but sadly it didn't come in to check us out despite the chumming that had been going on all morning.

We saw a 2nd Great Shearwater a bit later on in the day but that just kept going , however we kept at it and enjoyed watching 50+ Common Dolphin , 10+ Porpoise, 50+ Grey Seals and a real bonus a Minkie Whale.

Close views of Fulmar

SAPPHIRE PELAGIC  5th August 2018

11am  to  5pm


This was our last day and we had high hopes for abit more action compared to yesterday , the sea was still calm but there was more of a breeze than yesterday.

We were not long out of St.Mary's harbour when we had great views of a Kittiwake.


We then saw a large raft of Manx Shearwaters and had some superb views of these cracking Shearwaters.

Manx Shearwater.

Once again we had the constant company of  Gulls , Gannets & Fulmars following the boat which afforded some great photo opportunity's.

Common & Sandwich Terns were seen and a trickle of Kittiwakes appeared here & there , European Storm Petrel (20+) were seen but never came really close enough to get a photo.

A real surprise was a Porbeagle  Shark which was new for me , another Blue Shark was seen , plenty of Sunfish (5+) and lot's of Compass Jellyfish.

Then we struck really lucky when a Great Shearwater came in to investigate all the action in the wake of the boat and we had some fantastic stunning views of this wonderful bird.

Great Shearwater.

I have seen many Great Shearwaters in the past and had good views of them , however these views are  the best i have ever had , you could see every detail and listening to Bob Flood describe how to age the bird (this bird is a juvenile)  and where it was born was a real  education. 

We had distant views of 2 Sooty Shearwaters and another Great Skua showed really well, our last bird of the trip was a critically endangered Balearic Shearwater which was to quick for me to get a photo. 

Great Skua.

Here is a selection of photo's of some of the other wildlife i saw on these superb Sapphire Pelagic's.

2 Common Dolphin

Blue Shark

Common Dolphin


Grey Seal

Blue Shark

Compass Jellyfish

Grey Seal

Blue Shark

Common Dolphin