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.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

My Top 5 Highlights of 2018

It's that time of the Year again when i look back over the birding trips i made in 2018 with very fond memories.

So here are my Top 5 Highlights of 2018 :

                                  Number one :  GREY CATBIRD

Grey Catbird.

News of a Grey Catbird at Treeve Moor near Lands End in Cornwall in October  was to good to be true , i had not had a sniff of a Lifer all year and it was beginning to look like i would not get one this year.

However when i finally laid my eyes on this stunning American passerine i was in birdwatching heaven , a really cracking bird to see and to see so well made the whole experience of such a rare bird so much more special, hence why it's my number 1 highlight of 2018.

Grey Catbird.

Number two :   LITTLE SWIFT

Little Swift roosting.

A Little Swift seen on the 11th November in Hartlepool got the pulses racing as i had never seen one before in the UK , and when it was seen going to roost that evening my mind was made up to go the very next day.

We arrived in time to see the Little Swift roosting by the window ledge and great scope views were obtained , it left the roost at 7.18am and we saw it really well flying right over are heads at times by the Town Moor , simply breath taking views made this wonderful bird fly into my number two highlight of 2018.

Little Swift

Number Three :  PALLID SWIFT

Pallid Swift.

Pallid Swift has to be my number 3 highlight of 2018 , as i have dipped and been unable to go for so many of these 'hard to get Swifts' over so many years.

I have heard it called 'Tarts Tick' & 'Bogey Bird' but sometimes it just comes down to pure luck if you see them or not (in my book anyway...!!!).

So on my umpteenth time of trying to see one i finally did on the 13th November at Joss Bay in Thanet , in fact i saw 2 Pallid Swifts together , just like buses.........

Pallid Swift.


White Billed Diver

Kent bird ticks are quite hard to come by these days for me but when a White Billed Diver was seen on Friday evening of 2nd November of Ramsgate (Great find by Scott.H.) i was ever hopeful it would still be around the next day.

Thankfully it was relocated off Botany Bay on the 3rd November and it was quite simply in stunning summer plumage and giving some very close views at times.

This is a very rare bird to see in Kent let alone Thanet and in full summer plumage makes this easily my Number four highlight of 2018.

White Billed Diver.


Great Shearwater.

It's incredibly hard to choose just 5 highlights of the year , however i decided to choose my trip to the Isle of Scilly for a Pelagic weekend birding adventure as my Number 5 highlight of 2018

We did not get the huge numbers of birds we hoped for however we did see pretty much all target species with incredible views of Great Shearwater & Wilson's Petrel.

Plus some amazing views of a Blue Shark.

Blue Shark.

Great Shearwater.

Well that concludes my Top 5 highlights of 2018 , i have had a good years birding and my final totals are :

YEAR LIST :  243



Just like to say many thanks for everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog this year and wish you all  Great Birding for 2019.               


Thursday, 20 December 2018


Just like to wish everyone who has visited my blog this year a






Monday, 17 December 2018

Kent Birding .....& A Royal Dip

                 3rd December : Alpha Pool  Cliffe Marshes

Black necked Grebe with a Tufted Duck.

News of both Red necked & Black necked Grebes on Alpha pool at Cliffe marshes made up my mind to go and try and see them , Cliffe marshes is not somewhere i go to visit to often to be honest and i had never been to Alpha pool.

So after some directions kindly given on twitter and from Frank.C. (many thanks) i made my way around to Alpha pool with RR and got very muddy in the process !!!

We eventually reached Alpha pool and it was great to see so many Little Grebes & Great crested Grebes but we could not locate any Red necked Grebes.

RR soon picked up a Black necked Grebe in fact we saw 2 birds together , we watched these for awhile whilst constantly scanning  over the pool when i was once again watching a single Black necked Grebe and RR was still watching 2 Black necked Grebes at the same time making 3 birds in total.

Red necked Grebe.

We eventually saw 1 of the 2 Red necked Grebes nearer the castle and although distant  good scope views were obtained.

The walk back was just as muddy however we did see good numbers of both Fieldfare & Redwing.

8th December  : Dungeness Area

Great white Egret.

A trip to Dungeness on Saturday 8th was rewarded with some good birds , starting of near Horse bones farm a Great white Egret flew through but no sign of any Bewick's.

Next stop was at Cocklesbridge and this time there was 3 ad & 2 juv Bewick's Swans amongst the herd of Mute Swans.

Red necked Grebe.

Lade was hard going looking for the Humes & Dartford Warbler's as the wind was very strong and not really good for looking for warblers , however some really good views of the Red necked Grebe were obtained.

Red necked Grebe.

A look out to sea produced several Red throated Divers, Guillemot , Razorbill , Gannet & Kittiwakes but was very cold.

Calling into the Rspb reserve was the next destination and from the Firth hide there was 5+ Goldeneye and an adult Yellow legged Gull.

Closer views of the Yellow legged Gull from Makepeace hide plus  a second adult bird was seen, there was also 2 Cattle Egrets along the entrance track .

Adult Yellow legged Gull

Obsessed with this stick.

Yep likes this stick !!!!

Yellow legged Gull.

12th December :  Anglesey

A very long trip to Traeth Lligwy on Anglesey in the hope of seeing the American Royal Tern quite frankly resulted in a right ROYAL DIP !!!!

That's birding or rather twitching for you , all the old cliche's come to mind , 'you have to be in it to win it' or ' you won't see it by staying at home' etc , etc, all offer very little comfort when you do dip a bird after travelling so far.

However i have dipped on many occasions over the years and it effects me less these days and i just try to make the most of the day out regardless.

That said i spent most of my time in the hope the Royal Tern would make an appearance (it didn't) i did head off to Llyn Llygeirian to see the ♀ Lesser Scaup which was a welcome year tick and a delightful bird to see.

♀ Lesser Scaup.

The pick of the other birds seen today were : Sparrowhawk , Great Northern Diver , Red throated Diver, Common Scoter, Guillemot & Black Guillemot.