Monday, 14 September 2020

Top Kent Birding ......

                                       September  1st   : Oare Marshes


                      American Golden Plover photo by AE

On the 1st September i joined AE at Oare marshes in the afternoon to check the waders on a rising tide, we had already seen 6 juv Curlew Sandpipers & 1 juv Little Stint amongst 100's of waders , they were all flushed by a Common Buzzard and we noticed  a small flock of  approx 20+ European Golden Plovers flying around the East flood with 100's of other waders .

AE soon went through them and picked out the American Golden Plover which was a really great find , we believe this is a returning bird and was first seen in 2018 , but this date is the earliest it's been recorded at Oare Marshes , (Oct 2018 & 7th Sept 2019).


Grey Underwing seen in flight, Photo by AE.                                    

Broad white supercilium & dark cap obvious at rest. 

Many thanks to AE for the use of his photos and once again congratulations on a great find.

                            September 6th :  Swalecliffe  

So on a  Sunday morning at approx 7am i was stood by the football pitch at Swalecliffe, joined by AE, SA & 2 other birders i don't know , we waited patiently in the hope the Wryneck would appear , anyhow at about 8.05am one of the birders i don't know called us all over and thankfully the Wryneck put on a wonderful show.



Wryneck looking for Ants.  

Many thanks to the guys who birdwatch this area ie : GB , AT  et all, they do a great job watching this site in difficult circumstances (if you been to the site you know what i mean), but they always share there finds with everyone which i for one certainly appreciate . 

           September 6th  :  My Garden     

After the excitement of seeing the Wryneck at Swalecliffe i went home and spent an hour or so in my back garden and was delighted to see & hear  10+ Siskin fly over and they become the 60th bird species seen in or from my garden.

September 10th :  Worth Marshes

On Thursday 10th i paid a visit to Worth marshes in the afternoon and had some really great views of the 2 juv Pectoral Sandpipers which have been visiting a small pool by the Great Wood, here are a small selection of photos i took (all digi scoped).

Both Pectoral Sandpipers together.

Pectoral Sandpiper with a Ruff.

Pectoral Sandpiper.

Many thanks to Andrew.L. who found these superb birds plus gave me some onsite directions, much appreciated.



Monday, 31 August 2020

Seawatching at Oare Marshes

                                     Saturday 29th August  :   8.15am - 11.25am  


Juvenile Long Tailed Skua  Photo by Dominic Mitchell.

On Saturday the 29th i headed to Oare Marshes to do a seawatch as strong NNW winds were forecast , already present in the hide were MW,RR,DM,Y & another birder i can't remember their name (sorry about that) , i joined AE & DS outside of the hide.

Here are my personal totals :

LONG TAILED SKUA        2 Juvs     New bird for my Kent & Oare Marsh bird list.

GREAT SKUA                     65+

ARCTIC SKUA                   90+

FULMAR                              3+          New bird for my Oare Marsh bird list.

GANNET                             200+

BLACK TERN                     4

ARCTIC TERN                    8

COMMON TERN                20+

SANDWICH TERN             8+

LITTLE GULL                     2 Adults

KITTIWAKE                        2+

EIDER                                  1 imm

TEAL                                    4

GUILLEMOT                      1  on Swale

MERLIN                               1  over Swale

COMMON SWIFT              1  over Castle Coote

Really great seawatch in good company, Long tailed Skua being a particular highlight especially the first bird which appeared out of nowhere in front of the hide. 

Dominic Mitchell manged to get a very good photo and allowed me to use it on my blog, many thanks Dominic.

                                        Sunday 30th August  :   7.50am - 10.45am

Great Skua.

After yesterdays sea bird spectacular another visit to Oare marshes beckoned this morning as the NNW-N wind was still strong and high hopes of the continued Skua passage were anticipated .

Needless to say there were quite a few more birders here than Saturday when there was only 8 of us, and the sheer numbers of  Skuas were mind blowing.

Here are my personal totals :


LONG TAILED SKUA              7 juvs

GREAT SKUA                            65+

ARCTIC SKUA                          175+

SABINE'S GULL                       1 Adult       New bird for my Oare Marsh bird list.

KITTIWAKE                             3+

ARCTIC TERN                         1

BLACK TERN                           1

COMMON TERN                     20+

SANDWICH TERN                   5+

EIDER                                         2 imm's    near Castle Coote

PINTAIL                                     11

WIGEON                                    10+

COMMON SANDPIPER          4    in front of hide.

RAVEN                                        2   over Swale.

Once again a truly remarkable sea bird passage , i have never seen so many Skuas, the reported actual total of Arctic Skuas for the entire day was 500 birds !!!!

It was good to see and catch up with so many Kent birders today which makes the whole experience more rewarding.


Arctic & Long Tailed Skua.


Friday, 21 August 2020

Bearded Vulture & Pacific Golden Plover Away Days

                                 8th  August 2020  :  Crowden in Derbyshire  


Bearded Vulture imm ♀

On the 8th August i paid homage to the long staying Bearded Vulture at Crowden in Derbyshire, a long uneventful journey saw RR, AE & myself arrive around 8.30am and the BV was showing distantly on rocks from the layby.

I have seen some amazing photos of this bird but sadly it remained distant all morning so not lucky with the camera this time.

However we had some amazing distant flight views as it was being mobbed first by a Common Buzzard which gave us great size comparisons and later 4 Kestrels joined forces in mobbing the Bearded Vulture and they looked like swallows chasing after a Buzzard for scale of the BV size.

Digi scope photo of the Bearded Vulture.

There has been alot of debate about this birds origin and is it countable as a wild bird or not as it is presumed wild bred from reintroduced but not self-sustaining population in the Alps, which i think makes this a 2nd generation bird ???

Either way it's an amazing bird to see in all it's undeniable glory and worth a trip as who knows how long it will stick around for or when we will see one again in this country.

17th August 2020  :   Boulmer in Northumberland

Pacific Golden Plover 

Once again i teamed up with RR & AE and this time we headed for Boulmer in Northumberland, another long uneventful journey and as we got closer to the site the weather got worse , rain turned into heavy rain plus there had been no news (unsurprisingly) of the PGP !!

We started our quest to find the PGP, with rough directions we took from RBA & BG from the  previous days sightings and without any local knowledge , we checked every bit of beach until eventually RR picked out the Pacific Golden Plover some way off near  Longhoughton Steel.

By this time the rain water was running of us , however the views of this superb wader were amazing as it just kept coming  closer & closer, we saw it wing stretch a couple of times where you could easily see the grey underwings, the long legs seemed very long almost Stilt like.

Black undertail coverts.

PGP note the very long legs.

This was a new bird for both RR & AE and a very much welcome year tick for me , we also saw 2 Adult & 3 juv Roseate Terns (1st juv Roseate Terns i have seen) plus Fulmar, Kittiwake,Gannet & Eider were all seen close in.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Bit of a Catch up........Oare Marshes & Scotland !!!

                            July 2020 : Oare Marshes

                                            Bonaparte's Gull on mud by slipway.                                                    

I finally caught up with the returning Bonaparte's Gull on the 4th July , it was first seen in early June and is back now for it's 8th consecutive year.

I have seen the Bonaparte's Gull on several dates throughout July  , on low tide it is normally found out feeding on the mud near the slipway , high tide can find it normally roosting on the East flood.


Bonaparte's Gull.

The Bonaparte's Gull is still present as i write this blog post (22nd July) and is still in superb plumage.

Another  North American bird was first seen on the 10th July 2019 on the East flood and on the 12th July 2020 the cracking Lesser Yellowlegs was seen again near the pull-in.

I haven't managed any decent photo's this time round yet so here are a selection of the 2019 bird.

Lesser Yellowlegs.

Once again this bird is still present as i write this blog post (22nd July 2020) and favours the right hand side of the East flood nearest the pull-in, it doe's on occasion fly out to Faversham creek on low tide.

The East flood water levels are very good at the moment with plenty of waders to be seen, hopefully in the next few weeks we will get treated to some more special birds and maybe another returning American wader !!!!

5th July :  Dunbar  Scotland

Greater Sand Plover.

On the 5th July i joined RR&  AE on a trip up to Tyninghame Bay , Dunbar Scotland in the hope of seeing the 1st summer Greater Sand Plover.

We arrived in good time and was greeted with positive news of the bird still being present, however the wind was very strong and you had to hang on tight to your scope in fear of it blowing over !!!!

We reached the area the GSP had been seen along with two other birders and started scanning  without success, we all sort of split up checking different areas and i fortunately located the Greater Sand Plover hunkered down behind a small clump of grass.

I informed the others and we all enjoyed some very good scope views of this superb wader , this was a new species for both RR & AE and a very welcome year tick for myself.

Greater Sand Plover.

We had a good walk around the area after prolonged views of the GSP, and had a few birds passing by on the sea , plus the remarkable Bass Rock was amazing to see.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Overdue Kent tick............At Dungeness Arc

                    24th  June 2020 :  Dungeness ARC & NNR

Gull Billed Tern.

A successful mid week dash to Dungeness on the 24th June for a long overdue Kent tick in the shape of a superb Gull Billed Tern, viewing from the causeway was abit precarious to say the least and i am pretty sure if one birder was smoking a pipe he would have lost it to a very close wing mirror !!!!

As you can see from the photos some close views were obtained of this smart looking bird.
Here are a small selection of photos :

Gull Billed Tern.

After watching the superb Gull billed Tern and seeing a distant Black winged Stilt we decided to head to the power station to try and see Black Redstart.

On arrival we bumped into some other birders with the same idea however they had been unsuccessful but did very kindly point out a Peregrine on the power station.

Peregrine on the power station.

Having a fly around.


Whilst enjoying some great views of the Peregrine i saw a Black Redstart on the fence which then flew towards the 'Desert'.

I was chatting with Chris @lewishambirder   (Good to meet you) , and another Black Redstart flew from the power station and landed on one of the telegraph wires , we were all watching this when Chris found a large raptor flying past, after getting it in the scopes we could all see a superb Honey Buzzard, although distant the views through the scope were excellent, good find Chris.
 Here are some record shots of the Honey Buzzard :

Honey Buzzard.

This was a new bird for my Dungeness bird list, a really great day out in good company.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Long eared Owl .......At Oare Marshes

                                         20th June 2020 :  Oare Marshes

Long eared Owl.

After spending a very pleasant day in East Sussex watching Common Redstart, Tree Pipit, Siskin & Crossbill among many other birds , i received a txt message  from MW (many thanks) informing me of a Long eared Owl showing near the car park at Oare marshes.

I was soon heading there and joining the already assembled local birders , the LEO had dropped down into the reed bed and only the head was visible , i had seen it and was thinking that this is a typical view of a LEO .

As you can see by the assorted photos the Long eared Owl eventually showed fantastically well out in the open , mostly snoozing but keep it's eyes & ears on it's admiring audience.

This superb bird was a new addition to my Oare Marsh bird list.

Long eared Owl