Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Red Footed Falcon at Grove Ferry

Red-Footed Falcon .

I called into Grove Ferry this afternoon and after checking 'The Ramp' i walked back past the paddocks along the river and back towards the Feast hide , i didn't really see much other than lot's of Sand Martins with a couple of Swallows , there were plenty of warblers of various species in fine song .

I decided to spend sometime inside Feast hide to try and practice some flight shots of Sand Martins flying low over the pool but their speed and my slowness resulted in failure on my part , i did enjoy watching them and a Green Sandpiper flew in adding a bit of variety , i then noticed all the Sand Martin's disappear  , then i saw a Hobby and then a second bird which i also thought was another Hobby , i fired off several shots with my camera before really looking at them (bad habit) .

Female Red-Footed Falcon.

I then looked at the first bird and although no real plumage detail could be made out i could clearly see it was a Hobby , however the 2nd bird was different in profile and made me wonder ?? , i looked at my camera to see if it captured any plumage detail and it looked like their was orange on the head which would make this 2nd bird a female Red-Footed Falcon.

Red-Footed Falcon.

I wanted to be 100% sure on id before i put the news out and as soon as i uploaded the pics on my computer i could clearly see a female Red-Footed Falcon looking back at me , hopefully it will stick around for a few days so others can enjoy seeing it to.

Here are a few photo's of the not to be forgotten Hobby. 


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Cattle Egret at Stodmarsh

Cattle Egret opposite Stodmarsh Court Farm.

Yesterday the 19th April i called over to Stodmarsh to try and see the Cattle Egret that has been seen near to Stodmarsh Court Farm , my initial search failed with no sign of it , i decided to have a walk around the reserve and i bumped into another birder (many thanks) who gave me the heads up on the right place to look for the Cattle Egret.

So i headed back to the area and sure enough there it was standing in the field with cattle , the Cattle Egret flew around the field on occasion and flew back to feed among the Cattle , it then flew up into a nearby tree for awhile.

Cattle Egret.

Whilst looking at the Cattle Egret a male Marsh Harrier flew overhead .

Marsh Harrier.

I then went back to the Reed bed hide on the reserve and had very close views of 2 Common Snipe and out on the rafts were 3 Common Terns which were new birds for my year list.

Common Snipe.

Common Tern (Photo taken in 2016).

I decided to head to Grove Ferry and did my usual circuit of checking 'The Ramp' (where it was pretty quite), then popping into the Feast hide which also was quite other than a couple of Bearded Tits and a very vocal Cetti's Warbler.

From here i walked around to Harrison's hide , hearing & seeing plenty of Sedge Warblers .

Sedge Warbler.

From the hide i saw a Little Egret & a Green Sandpiper was busy feeding along the muddy fringes plus 2 Lapwings were in the distance , lots of Sand Martins with smaller numbers of Swallows were hawking over the back of the pool.

Sand Martin.

I walked back along the river and another quick look from 'The Ramp' produced very little but it was great to hear the many Sedge Warblers & Chiffchaff setting up territory's. 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Grove Ferry

Sand Martin.

Yesterday the 10th April i called into Grove Ferry via Collards Lake (i didn't see the Cattle Egret) , however i had a few decent bird walking around Grove , i added 6 Sand Martins to my year list from Harrisons hide plus a distant Little Ringed Plover was great to see.

Little Ringed Plover.

There was several vocal Marsh frogs in front of the hide and i could also hear a distant Sedge Warbler.

Marsh Frog.

I then headed back to the Feast hide and very briefly saw the Kingfisher frustratingly land on it's favoured perch for a few seconds before flying off again (i will get a photo one day...).

There were a half dozen Gadwall and an equal amount of Teal present plus a single Cormorant.


I heard both Cetti's & Sedge Warblers but both remained unseen plus a few Bearded Tits were 'pinging away' also unseen, a Water Rail briefly flew across from one set of reeds to another and was screeching quite loudly.

I walked back to the ramp where i was pleasantly surprised when 3 Little Ringed Plovers dropped in before being hassled by the local Lapwings who sent them packing towards the Water meadows area.

2 of the 3 Little Ringed Plovers.

Flying off.

Whilst i was watching these a Grey Heron flew over and a Yellow Wagtail dropped in near the back of the pool.

Grey Heron.

Digi scoped Yellow Wagtail.

There were at least 50+ Sand Martins over the pool with at least 2 Swallows with them , i also saw 2 Marsh Harriers , another good birding session.

Swallow photo taken in 2016.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Iberian Chiffchaff at Seaton

Iberian Chiffchaff at Seaton.

On the 3rd April i called into Seaton gravel pits to try and see the recently reported Iberian Chiffchaff , i haven't been to this area for a good couple of years and normally when i do visit it's in the winter months as it has held many wintering ducks over the years.

Loyal to one area.

I parked up and walked across the field hearing and seeing a Blackcap near the style.

Male Blackcap.

I eventually reached the area where the Iberian Chiffchaff had been seen and instantly heard it and then i saw it quite high up in it's favoured tree , plumage wise there are only very subtle differences between  Iberian and Common Chiffchaff , slightly pointer thinner bill & longer primary projection plus the face has a more primrose wash to the supercilium, however the main identification feature is the call which is quite different to Common Chiffchaff.

Iberian Chiffchaff.

I have heard & seen two Iberian Chiffchaffs before (Walderslade 2010 & Margate 2016) and this bird although very similar in appearance the call it made was not the full call like those ones , it seemed to have more Common Chiffchaff call in the mix , which i believe is in the correct range for Iberian Chiffchaff so all is good with this bird !!!


I decided to have a walk along the river and was pleased to see a Kingfisher plus a female Bullfinch flew across the path , both were new birds for my year list.

Collard's  & Grove Ferry

I received news that there was some Little Gulls over Collard's lake so i headed there and although very distant i managed to see at least 3 Little Gulls which were also new for my Stour valley list.

On my way home i called into Grove Ferry and saw an Oystercatcher from the viewing ramp.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Restharrow & Reculver

28th March  Restharrow Scrape at Sandwich 

Little Egret.

On the 28th March i took advantage of the glorious weather and headed to Restharrow scrape at Sandwich Bay, this is a great site for bird photography as you can get quite close to the birds without disturbing them .

Striking a pose.

One of the first birds i saw was the above superb looking Little Egret , these are such graceful looking birds and were once a rare sight in the UK ,with the decline of so many bird species in the UK it's  great that at least some birds have increased their range.

Little Grebe.

One bird that never fails to show well at Restharrow is Little Grebe and at this time of year they are in their splendid  summer plumage.

Diving for food.

There were a few wader species around the scrape including 3 Oystercatchers busy displaying & mating.

1 of 3 Oystercatchers.

There were plenty of Lapwings also mating plus a single Dunlin flew around the scrape before being chased off by a Lapwing.

7 Curlew dropped into the scrape for a wash & rest before flying back off into the adjacent fields. 

Curlew's having a wash.

Flying off towards the fields.

A Cormorant flew into the scrape and soon disappeared under the water in the hunt for food.

Incoming Cormorant.

Standing tall.

There were plenty of ducks around Restharrow including this quite superb looking drake Shoveler.

Drake Shoveler.

Reculver car park.

On my way home from Sandwich after a successful birding session i decided to have a quick look for the Black Redstart at Reculver car park which has eluded me on my two previous attempts , however this time it was 3rd time lucky as it posed on the rocks.

Black Redstart.

There was also a single Rock Pipit which was camera shy and 2 Pied Wagtails which did pose for the camera.

Pied Wagtail.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Unexpected Bonus Bird at ...... Stodmarsh

Record shot of Black Necked Grebe.

Yesterday the 21st March i headed over to Stodmarsh and walked out to the Marsh hide where i had distant views of a single Water Pipit plus a possible Jack Snipe which was just abit to quick for me to get a 100% positive id on as it flew into the iris beds.

As i was checking out the Marsh Harriers i noticed on my phone that a Black Necked Grebe had been seen from the Reed bed hide so without haste i headed there .

The hide only had one occupant in it by the time i got there and they hadn't see it ,another birder had informed him it had drifted out of sight further back on the lake , i decided to head off along the Lampen wall to view from there and sure enough right at the very back of the main lake by the 'Cormorant trees' the quite stunning summer plumage Black Necked Grebe was showing , i only got a record shot as i had left my digi scope adaptor in the car !!!

On checking my bird records when i got home it appears this Black Necked Grebe is the first one i have ever seen in the Stour valley , a great find by  Geoff .B.


I had a walk through the Alder wood which was alive with bird song especially Chiffchaff , there was also a splendid Treecreeper near the bridge.


I then drove around to Grove Ferry and from the ramp i saw 2 ♂ & 1 ♀ Pintail plus approx 100 Teal & 2 Shelduck i scanned through all the ducks but couldn't locate the Garganey which was seen the day before however it could still be around.

I had a look in the Feast Hide and there were plenty of Teal , Gadwall & Tufted Ducks but not alot else, i did see 6 Marsh Harriers &1 Common Buzzard during my walk around towards Harrisons Hide and back along the river towards the entrance.


Tufted Duck.