Sunday, 14 January 2018

Winter Birding in Kent....

                             DUNGENESS  :  8th  &  11th January
1st winter Caspian Gull

Winter birding is probably my favourite time of year (Autumn a very close second) , winter wildfowl & birds of prey , white winged gulls and scarce Buntings are all on offer if you are lucky enough to see them.

I have had a busy birding week with 2 visits to Dungeness , on the 8th i saw 28 Bewick's Swans on the Arc pits early morning and heard a Firecrest in the Willow trail.

At Lade i managed to finally see the Slavonian Grebe which was keeping company with the Long Tailed Duck both on the North Pit.

Long Tailed Duck with a Pochard.

By the fishing boats 1st winter Caspian Gull & 2 Med Gulls were seen along with hundreds of Guillemots , Razorbills & Red Throated Divers plus several Gannets and a Fulmar were all seen well.

1st winter Caspian Gull.

Back on the Rspb reserve Great White Egret & Tree Sparrow were seen well.

On the 11th i called back into Dungeness and had great views of the Long Eared Owl in the bushes at the back of the dipping pond.

Long Eared Owl.

A brisk walk around to the Christmas Dell hide to see both & ♀ Smew.

Drake Smew.

I also added 5 White Fronted Geese near Denge Marsh hide, the 1st winter Glaucous Gull also showed well from the Firth hide, another look over Lade produced a smart Dartford Warbler in the gorse by the South Pit.

CAPEL FLEET : 12th January


On the 12th i went to Capel Fleet on Isle of Sheppy , i spent a bit of time on the raptor watch point an added lots of Marsh Harrier & Common Buzzard and eventually saw a ' Ringtail' Hen Harrier.

I then popped over to Leysdown and added several wader species to my Year list plus there were at least 6 Red Throated Divers on the sea .

Whooper Swan Photo taken in 2017.

On the way back to Capel i stopped at the top of the hill by the farm and managed to see 2ad & 1 juv Whooper Swans plus 120+ White Fronted Geese & 8 Barnacle Geese.

I then drove around towards the church and on route there were good numbers of Linnets & Chaffinch feeding in the road and luckily enough i managed to see 3 Brambling in with the Chaffinch.

I spent the last hour of my visit back at the Raptor watch point and saw another Hen Harrier plus a distant Barn Owl and the Hooded Crow flew in and disappeared behind the mound.

Hooded Crow.

Friday, 5 January 2018

New Years Birding off to a Great Start...........

1st January  Oare Marshes  

Long Billed Dowitcher Photo taken in 2017.

On the 1st January i headed to a very wet & rained filled session at Oare Marshes, thankfully i managed to park up in the Pull-in and scanned the East flood adding all of the regular species you would expect to see there, i was also very fortunate to see the adult Long Billed Dowitcher which showed very briefly roosting among the Black Tailed Godwits plus i also saw 6 Knot .

Cetti's Warbler.

I also saw a very showy Cetti's Warbler which i even managed to photograph !! , i decided to have a walk around the East flood and got totally soaked in the process but added Stonechat, Bearded Tit & Turnstone to my Year list.

2nd January  Ramsgate Harbour

1st winter Iceland Gull.

On the 2nd January i headed to Ramsgate Harbour with a few target species in mind , my main target bird was the 1st w Iceland Gull which fortunately i managed to see more or less straight away on top of the Museum  near the clock.

I also added Kingfisher & Rock Pipit but alas i once again managed to dip the Snow Buntings .

4th  January  Dungeness

Drake Smew photo taken by Paul Trodd.

I headed down to Dungeness today with plenty of birds on offer , that's the great thing about the new year , pretty much every bird is a year tick, my first port of call was Lade and iwas hoping to see Long Tailed Duck , Goldeneye & Slavonian Grebe.

Well as i walking across the gravel towards the South pit  news came through that there was a ♂ Smew on said pit !!(evidently this is the first Smew of the winter at Dungeness),  i reached the pit and started scanning whilst facing a head on wind which made things quite tricky , i eventually located the ♂ Smew in with a small flock of Goldeneye, unfortunately they all took to flight and i couldn't relocate the Smew anywhere (late it was found again on the North Pit) , many thanks to Paul Trodd for allowing me to use his photo of the ♂ Smew.

♂ & ♀ Goldeneye.

As i was scanning the South pit the Long Tailed Duck flew in and showed well but was always distant , lots of Pochard, Tufted Duck & Gadwall were all added to my year list but i could not find the Slavonian Grebe.

News then came through that the 1st winter Glaucous Gull was on the Rspb reserve so that's where i headed next.

1st winter Glaucous Gull.

I made my way straight to the Makepeace hide and was soon having decent scope views of this superb white winger, i managed a few digi scoped photos , i didn't add much more from here so i then headed off to the Arc pits.

Huge bill on this bird.

It took some time but eventually i managed to see the Black Throated Diver but it never came close enough for a photo , i also saw &  Goosander from here although they were always distant  , however through the scope you could make out the pink flush on the Goosander , however i did manage to see and photograph a  Great White Egret .

 Great White Egret.

My final destination today was at the Fishing boats which proved to be an inspired decision with superb views of  a 1st winter Little Gull , 1st winter Caspian Gull & large numbers of  Kittiwake , Guillemot & Gannets.

1st winter Caspian Gull

1st winter Kittiwake.

Good size comparison .

1st winter Little Gull.

A really great birding session at Dungeness and a good start to my birding adventures in 2018.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Top 5 Highlights of 2017

 Its that time of year again when i look back over the last years birding trips with fond memories , i normally do a Review of the whole of the year but have  decided to just do my Top 5 Highlights of 2017.

So without further ado here are my 5 Top Highlights of 2017.

             Number one :  Kazakhstan Holiday in May 

Pallas's Sandgrouse.

This trip is my number one highlight of 2017 , i saw some magical bird species of which 47 were Lifers including one of my most wanted birds : CASPIAN PLOVER !!

Caspian Plover.

I saw in total 197 bird species on this trip with many highlights (there is a link to my full trip in the archives June 2017), i also saw the superb White Browed Tit Warbler.

White Browed Tit Warbler.

Number Two :  American Redstart on Barra

American Redstart.

This was my UK bird of the Year without doubt , a long journey to Barra in the Outer Hebrides in September proved very successful & rewarding with stunning views of this most wanted bird , my only regret was i didn't have time to explore this wonderful Island.

Number Three : Self Found Red Footed Falcon

Red Footed Falcon.

I had decided this year i would do more local birding and only twitch new birds and i eventually got my reward for staying closer to home when i called into Grove Ferry on the 25th April , i was sitting in the Feast Hide hoping to get a photo of Sand Martin when i noticed a Hobby coming towards the hide , i then noticed a second bird which i also thought was a Hobby.

I took several photos in the hope of one decent one, then i looked closer at the second bird  the profile looked wrong for Hobby ,however i couldn't see any colour due to the height of the bird and i lost it to view when it flew over the hide , i quickly checked my photos and realised it was a female Red Footed Falcon !!!

Sadly i couldn't relocate it and as far as i know  it wasn't seen again.

Number Four :  Eurasian Scops Owl

Eurasian Scops Owl.

My number 4 Highlight this year was the Eurasian Scops Owl seen in Durham , i never thought i would get the chance to see one in the UK and when news broke of one showing well in Durham i couldn't wait to try and see it, so the very next day !!!

It was pretty much negative news all the way up to Durham and we even decided it's not worth carrying on the journey and started heading for other targets when news eventually turned from negative to positive news and our quest was back on to see this delightful Scops Owl.

Number Five :  Photographing Storm Petrels

2  European Storm Petrels.

On the 7th June i headed to Deal Pier and enjoyed  a fantastic birding session photographing European Storm Petrels which were a new species for my Kent List.

I saw 4 of these Storm Petrels from the pier and they were absolutely fantastic to watch and most surprisingly i was on my own , once again it's a bird i have seen many of in other areas of the country but they are extremely scarce/rare in Kent.

European Storm Petrel.

Well that concludes my Top 5 Highlights of 2017 which has been a very good year , i ended the Year with 222 UK bird species and 6 New Species.

Many thanks to all of you who take the time to read my blog  posts , i have a couple of great trips lined up for 2018 but will spend most of my birding in Kent again with the odd twitch for new species if  the opportunity arises  .

Just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and great birding for 2018.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017



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






Monday, 4 December 2017

Iceland Gull .......Ramsgate Harbour

1st winter Iceland Gull.

Yesterday morning the 3rd December i went to Ramsgate Harbour to hopefully see :  Iceland Gull, Purple Sandpiper & Snow Bunting !!!

I bumped into 3 other birders there and none of them had seen the Iceland Gull but Purple Sandpiper & Snow Bunting had been seen.

I went to the furthest point beyond the cafe on the East Pier and managed to see 2 Purple Sandpipers which were a very welcome addition to my year list .

2 Purple Sandpipers.

Purple Sandpiper.

I was really pleased to see these birds as i keep missing/dipping the Hampton one, i had missed the 3 Snow Buntings on 2 occasions as they kept getting flushed, however Turnstones are much more confiding and present great photo opportunity's.


Later in the morning whilst talking to Mike.G. near the cafe i picked out the 1st winter Iceland Gull near the fishing boats back by the slipway , we made our way around there and enjoyed some very close views of this superb bird.

On checking my records the Iceland Gull is a new bird for my Thanet Bird List, here are a selection of the many photos i took. 

Iceland Gull.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Green-Winged Teal .. 2nd Record for Oare Marshes

Green Winged Teal.

On the 23rd November i called into Oare Marshes in the hope of seeing the ♂ Green Winged Teal , i parked up in the pull-in and scanned across the East flood for about half an hour and although there were plenty of Teal the Green Winged Teal was playing hard to get !!!

I bumped into Murray who informed me he had seen the GWT earlier but it was flushed and he hadn't seen it since , i decided to check from the Faversham creek side as there were more Teal around that side of the flood (Can't remember seeing this amount of Teal here before?!).

Record shot of the GWT

I reached the sea wall and more or less saw the Green Winged Teal straight away as it was having a preen near the reedy Island out in the middle of the flood , surprisingly hard to pick up amongst the Teal , it took me about an hour to locate it but thankfully i had decent scope views in the end and happily added it to my Oare Marsh  & Year lists !!

Having a preen.

I also saw the long staying Long Billed Dowitcher and 1 Little Stint.

I saw the Green Winged Teal again early on the 24th as well more or less in the same area as on the 23rd out in the middle of the East Flood, I also heard a Chiffchaff in the bushes by the car park.