Monday, 8 April 2019

Reculver & Dungeness & Godmersham

Black Redstart.

On Saturday the 6th April we started the day at Reculver , and the first bird seen was the immature male Eider which was on the sea near the Towers, we also saw the Black Redstart near the car park.

Immature male Eider.

We only paid a short visit here as the plan was to go to Dungeness to try and see the Common Crane, so that was the destination, the Common Crane had been reported along Denge marsh road and sure enough there it was although distant , reasonable scope views were obtained.

1st winter Common Crane.

We spent sometime watching this bird but it always remained distant , after a while i drove to Springfield bridge to have a look around and more or less straight away the Gulls all took to the sky in a right old panic , the Greylag Geese were also flying around , what was causing all this comotion ??

I soon picked out amongst all the various Gulls the Common Crane !!!!

Common Crane causing a panic.

Common Crane.

A walk around Dungeness Rspb reserve produced  good views of an adult Little Gull which was also new for the year plus 2 Sedge Warblers were heard along the entrance track which was a very pleasant sound indeed, various other highlights in the general Dungeness area included Wheatear, a brief Dartford Warbler & 2 Sandwich Terns.

Male Wheatear.

On the way back we called into Godmersham and had good views of & ♀ Mandarin on the river by the bridge.

A brief Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails were also seen.

♂ & ♀ Mandarin

Stunning male Mandarin.

Grey Wagtail , ♂&♀ Wood Duck plus ♀ Mandarin ?

Of note we also saw a ♂ & ♀ Wood Duck (presumed escaped birds)  plus a 2nd female bird which looked like another female Mandarin ???

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Dover and a visit to Sheppy

Yellow browed Warbler.

On Saturday 9th March i went to Pencester Gardens in Dover in the hope of seeing the over wintering Yellow browed Warbler, it had been seen briefly before i got there and after approx 20 mins it started to call and show well by the green footbridge.

As ever it was constantly moving and calling but gave some really great views.

Yellow browed Warbler.

I watched and listened to this delightful warbler for a good 40 minutes before heading to the Isle of Sheppy for an afternoon of birding.

2 Adult Mediterranean Gull's

Starting off at Leysdown there was 2 adult Mediterranean Gull's on the sea in superb plumage , lot's of waders moving up and down the coast line included Turnstone, Sanderling & Redshank.

A walk out to Shellness also produced many more waders with large numbers of roosting Oystercatcher's , Dunlin & Grey Plover.

Every post in the water held a Turnstone , Redshank, Grey Plover or Knot.


Plenty of Ringed Plovers & Sanderling were seen and 500+ Brent Geese were gathering in the adjacent fields with plenty of Red legged Partridge for company.

A brief look from the 'Raptor watch Point' at Capel produced a distant Ringtail Hen Harrier and half a dozen Marsh Harriers.

News of a Rough legged Buzzard showing well along the track to Elmley NNR had us heading there asap as it was already 4pm and the gate closes at 5pm !!!!

Well we were soon on site and had some superb views of the Rough legged Buzzard as it flew low over the track and landed .

Rough legged Buzzard.

The white terminal tail band was obvious at this range (see 1st photo) and you can just make out the pale head in the 2nd photo.

It eventually gained height and headed further out into the marsh.

Rough legged Buzzard.

Later in the evening we saw the Rough legged Buzzard flying back over the track and heading towards Funton Creek.

Going to Roost.

We also saw plenty of  Common Buzzards & Marsh Harriers along the track plus good numbers of Brown Hare.

Brown Hare.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Tengmalm's Owl on Shetland

Tengmalm's Owl

A Tengmalm's Owl on Shetland proved to good to resist and RR & myself made the long journey to Aberdeen and took the overnight ferry to Lerwick Shetland last Tuesday the 26th February.

We picked up the hire car from the ferry port on Wednesday morning at approx 7.30am and then drove to Tresta arriving about 8am , we made our way around to Lea gardens and started to look for the Tengmalm's Owl, which can be either seen very well , be quite elusive & well hidden or not seen at all !!!

Front view of the Tengmalm's Owl

We heard a Long eared Owl whilst looking for our main target bird , i was quite convinced the Tengmalm's Owl was in a clump of bushes just up from the pond as there was alot of birds alarm calling in that area but despite looking i could not see anything.

It was almost 10 am and we had been on site for nearly 2 hours with no sign of the Tengmalm's Owl and RR & myself were discussing  staying on for an extra day, and then after walking back towards the garden after checking out another area we saw 20+ birders looking at the clump of bushes i thought the Tengmalm's Owl was in earlier.

Wow someone had located it well hidden in the tree , fantastic views through the scope were obtained (although my photos might not show that), a really stunning special bird to be lucky enough to see and made a very long journey worthwhile.

Many thanks to the garden owners for allowing access to see this fantastic bird.

Tengmalm's Owl

From here we headed to Cunningsburgh to try and see the Common Rosefinch which had been associating with House Sparrows.

House Sparrow & Common Rosefinch

It was so great to see so many House Sparrows feeding well in this garden and of course the Common Rosefinch was a real bonus bird to see , many thanks to Jim .N. for allowing access to his garden.

Common Rosefinch.

Time had really flew by so we decided to head to Shetland Catch in the hope of seeing some 'white wingers' , before we headed back to catch the overnight ferry back to Aberdeen.

Iceland Gull

More or less the first bird we saw was an Iceland Gull which was very close in amongst Herring Gull, Great black backed Gull & Fulmar.

Iceland Gull.

I then scanned through some large Gulls further out and picked out an adult Glaucous Gull which never came very close .

Adult Glaucous Gull

However there was some really great birds in this area that did come close enough for some photo's , such as good numbers of Black Guillemot & Long tailed Duck.

Plenty of  Kittiwakes , Eider & Shag  were seen to.

Black Guillemot

Long tailed Duck.

♂ & ♀ Long tailed Duck.

So that ends a 3 day adventure to Shetland , many thanks to the locals for allowing access to their gardens and many thanks to RR for arranging a fantastic trip.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Reculver and Leysdown

Snow Bunting

Last Saturday the 23rd February a trip to Reculver produced superb views of the 2 wintering Snow Buntings near Cold harbour lagoon.

Metal ring on left leg.

The male bird has a metal ring on it's left leg and the best i could make out was : V6, i have many more photos and will go through them when time allows to see if i can make out more of the number.

Snow Bunting.

I also heard and saw a Chiffchaff near the caravan park on my way back.


Finishing the day on the Isle of Sheppy and a walk along Leysdown produced good numbers of waders , a mixed flock of Knot, Grey Plover & Sanderling was great to see plus plenty of waders taking refuge on the posts.

Grey Plover & Turnstone.

There were plenty of Dunlin & Oystercatchers at Shellness with good numbers of  Brent Geese in the adjacent fields.


Brent Geese.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Brambling & Waxwings ..... Local Birding

                                          28th January :  Chilham 


On the 28th January i popped over to Chilham in the hope of seeing some Brambling (many thanks Neil.B. for the info).

I parked up at the end of Mountain Street and instantly heard Coal Tit & Chaffinch, not a 100% sure where to go so i looked from the car park but no sign of any Brambling , i then took the narrow footpath through some trees and was delighted to see a Marsh Tit giving some great views but to fast for my camera.

I heard Nuthatch and saw plenty of Coal , Great & Blue Tits and then something caught my eye high up in the canopy : Brambling !!! in fact 2 birds were present feeding.

I followed these back towards the car and saw between 10 & 15 birds.

Brambling near the car park.

3rd February  :  My Garden

♀ Blackcap.

Checking the garden feeders on the 3rd February i was really pleased to see a female Blackcap , last year i saw both  & ♀ Blackcap on the feeders but since building work has been taking place out the back i have not seen them.

Having a good feed.

Hopefully the male in still around to.

5th February ;  Strood

Waxwing photo taken in 2017.

Oh the 5th February i went to Strood in Kent to try and see the Waxwings which have been present for quite sometime.

However the garden where the Waxwings favoured to feed in was having alot of work done with chainsaws & workmen everywhere.

I did see the 6 Waxwings but they were quite mobile and couldn't settle to feed, the above photo was taken in Strood in 2017.

Hampton Pier

Great northern Diver.

On the way back from Strood i headed to Hampton Pier  near Herne Bay to try and see the recently reported Great northern Diver and sure enough i saw it straight away.

Although distant you can see the steep forehead , large bill and overall large size of this Diver.

Great northern Diver.

There were several Red throated Divers on the sea but they were further out. I took this opportunity to try and see the local Purple Sandpipers and thankfully the 2 birds were both present on the steps.

2 Purple Sandpipers.

Purple Sandpiper.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Great Start to 2019 ......... With 1 or 2 Bonus Birds in Kent.

 My 2019 Bird Year List has been up and running since the 1st January and there has been 1 or 2 pleasant bonus birds already.

 I have decided to try and do one Blog Post a Month from now on giving a brief  review of what birds i have seen that Month. The blog post will be quite long because of this.

                                        1st January 2019.

       Abbeymead Lake , Funton Creek & Capel Fleet

♂ Ring Necked Duck.

On the 1st January i started of at Abbeymead lake without seeing the ♂ Ring Necked Duck , however i did see Pochard & Tufted Duck plus 5+ Siskin's flew over the lake, thankfully the Ring Necked Duck was relocated nearby at Johnson's Lake and decent views of my main target bird were obtained.

From here i headed to Funton Creek (somewhere i used to birdwatch many years ago) and had distant views of the wintering Rough Legged Buzzard on the otherside of the creek.

Rough Legged Buzzard 

I never saw a RLB in 2018 and i really enjoyed this bonus bird very much , i first saw it perched on a bush then it flew to the nearby bank and was mobbed constantly by Carrion Crows.

There were large numbers of waders mostly consisting of  Avocet, Black tailed Godwit, Knot & Dunlin.

I spent the afternoon on the Isle of Sheppy visiting Leysdown , Elmley, Swale NR & Capel Fleet.

Ringtail Hen Harrier 

I saw 100+ White fronted Geese at Swale NR but didn't really add much elsewhere at Elmley or Leysdown, however Capel Fleet was much more productive with 4 Pink footed Geese, Peregrine Falcon & 2 more Ringtail Hen Harriers being the main highlights not to mention the Marsh Harrier roost of 30+ birds.

7th January

Dungeness Rspb , Fishing Boats & Horse Bones Farm

Bewick's Swans.

I started my day near Horse Bones Farm and was pleased to see 32 Ad & 3 juv Bewick Swans in their normal field by the farm.

I then went to the Rspb reserve and was amazed to see so many Lapwings on the islands plus there must of been 2 to 3000 Cormorants present. 

Great white Egret was added to my year list as was Goldeneye.

Great white Egret.

I was having trouble finding Cattle Egret but RR & PG pointed me in the right direction (many thanks).

Cattle Egret.

I then went to have a look from the Fishing boats and there were very good numbers of Gannet & Guillemot both on the sea and flying past , once again there were Cormorants everywhere.


18th January

Hemsted Forest  & Oare Marshes

♂ Common Crossbill.

A superb visit to Hemsted Forest on the 18th produced 50+ Siskin's , 3 Lesser Redpoll , several Coal Tits & 2 Marsh Tits.

However the main target bird here was Common Crossbill and i was not disappointed , in total we had approx 25 birds.

♂ &♀ Common Crossbill

♀ Common Crossbill coming in for a drink.

On my way home from Hemsted Forest i called into Oare Marshes to try and see the Bewick's Swan on the East Flood which Geoff.B. had found that morning.

Bewick's Swan

Thankfully it was still present and i happily added it to my Oare Marsh Bird List.

19th January

Sandwich Bay

Grey Partridge

A trip to Sandwich Bay was hard going on the 19th , it was quite windy and very cold , the only highlight was a covey of 16 Grey Partridge , which are much harder to see in Kent these days sadly.

21st January

Grove Ferry Feast Hide.

Penduline Tit.

An early phone call from Chidders (thanks mate) informing me of a possible Penduline Tit from the Feast hide at Grove Ferry got me very interested , he later confirmed the sighting and an hour later Chidders confirmed  it was still present from the Feast hide.

I made my way over to the Feast hide and duly met Chidders there and after 1 & half hours later the Penduline Tit reappeared in front of the hide giving some fantastic views.

Feeding from reed mace.

Penduline Tit.

Fairly sure this is a female Penduline Tit , it has a narrow face mask and the mantle is not that bright in colour , the upper breast appears plain in colour , however i am no expert and sure someone will put me right one way or another.

22nd January

Reculver Marshes

Short eared Owl.

An afternoon visit to Reculver Marshes was rewarded with 2 Short eared Owls showing really well at times, We first saw one perched on a post and  soon quickly saw a second bird.

Short eared Owl .

They never came really close however through the scope great views were obtained.

On the way back to the car we could hear the alarm call of several small birds and then a Little Owl swopped down in front of us and landed back on top of a telegraph pole.

Little Owl 

Love the markings on the rear of it's head.

23rd January

Cliffe Marshes : Alpha Pool

Red necked Grebe eating a fish.

Our target was 5 species of Grebe on one pool , we instantly saw Little Grebe , then MW picked out both Red necked Grebes , great start and Great crested Grebe was soon added to the total.

Red necked Grebe with Pochard.

We walked further along Alpha Pool when RR was on to another small grebe and through my scope i could id it as a Slavonian Grebe , so thats 4 down 1 to go , RR was on a roll as he then found the Black necked Grebes , in fact he found 2 birds together , MW found a 3rd bird and i finally found a 4th Black necked Grebe right at the back asleep.

Red necked Grebe.

It was very cold here with a biting wind which made it hard going but we enjoyed some good but distant views of all these Grebes which were a bit to distant for photos.

MW then heard & picked out a Raven flying past, which was a new bird for my year list.


On the way back we saw a Greenshank briefly in the creek and again later on Flamingo Pool , where MW noticed it was colour ringed.

Colour ringed Greenshank.

Well that concludes this month's birding review , many thanks for taking the time to read it.