Saturday, 20 August 2016

Stone Curlew at Dungeness Rspb

Stone Curlew in Hayfield.3

On Thursday the 18th August i checked the bird news  and was surprised to see news of a Stone Curlew was being seen in Hayfield 3 at Dungeness , i have never seen Stone Curlew in Kent so i was very keen to try and see this one , i quickly got my birding gear together and was out the door and on my way .

As usual the traffic was quite slow going this time of day along the A251 , but i just kept on going in the hope the Stone Curlew would still be there , i eventually arrived along Denge marsh road at approx 2.30pm , i met another birder who was just returning to his car who kindly informed me it was still present !!!!

I made my way across Springfield bridge and along the track to Hayfield 3 , there was only one other birder there who gave me directions to where the Stone Curlew was , it took some finding as it was down in a dip and you could only just see it's head.

Eventually it started to move around and feed , a fantastic addition to my Kent & Dungeness bird list , here are a few photos i took.

Stone Curlew.

I watched this bird for approx an hour before i headed back home very happy , i also heard several Bearded Tits and saw a couple of fly over Yellow Wagtails , when i got back to my car i heard then saw 2 Ravens plus a single Marsh Harrier drifted over the reserve.

1 of the 2 Ravens.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Water Levels just right at Oare Marshes

Adult Curlew Sandpiper.

The water levels have dropped at Oare Marshes exposing lots of mud around the East Flood which in turn has started to attract lots of waders and i have been going there a couple of times a week to check them out.

My last visit was on Monday 8th August and i really enjoyed checking through the masses of waders on the East flood , the highlights being 2 adult Curlew Sandpipers & 2 juv Little Stints which were in fine plumage.

Juvenile Little Stint.

There were good numbers of both Golden Plover & Dunlin many of which were adults although a good number of juvenile birds were present to.

Golden Plover


There was approx a 1000+ Black Tailed Godwits and 150+ Avocets on the flood plus a single Spotted Redshank .

Spotted Redshank.

There was really good numbers of Redshanks and at least 3 Ringed Plovers , Lapwings & Ruff were well represented to , 4 Whimbrel flew over the reserve with 3 dropping onto the East Flood.

1 of 4 Whimbrel.

Roosting on East Flood.

A single Greenshank & 3 Green Sandpipers made up the numbers for a great wader watching session  , a Sparrowhawk had a low fly through putting all the waders up at one point plus 7 Yellow Wagtails were feeding along the sea wall and the adult Bonapartes Gull was still around.


Yellow Wagtail.

Bonaparte's Gull.

I also saw my first Clouded Yellow of the year plus a Painted Lady along Faversham Creek.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Western Purple Swamphen ..... At Minsmere

Western Purple Swamphen.

News broke yesterday afternoon of a Western Purple Swamphen showing well on & off behind the South hide at Minsmere rspb reserve , i made plans with Richard to go early the next morning leaving his house at 4.30am.

We arrived in good time and made our way around to the famous pool where the Swamphen has set up home , we joined the already assembled birders who informed us it had just flown out of sight 5 mins ago (Don't you just love being told that.....)

Red bill .

White undertail coverts.

Long red legs & feet.

Western Purple Swamphen.

Luckily we didn't have to wait long as the Swamphen reappeared at the back of the pool and showed really well off & on  for the 2 & half hours we were there , we also saw a Juv Water Rail partially hidden in the reeds. 

Juv. Water Rail.

We then had a walk around to the hides to check out the scrape which was a hive of activity with lots of waders including Bar & Black Tailed Godwits , Avocets, Green Sandpiper (3), Ruff (2),Lapwing , Dunlin, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover (2) & Spotted Redshank (18).


We then had a walk back along the North Wall and saw some interesting Bees , Bee-Wolf & Pantaloon bee i am reliably informed.

I really enjoyed watching the Sand Martins at the sand bank near the visitor centre .

3 Young Sand Martins waiting to be fed.

There were lots of butterflies around the buddleia bushes including lots of Red Admirals, Peacocks & Painted Lady's.

Painted Lady.


A really enjoyable mornings birding & nature watching at a top reserve, as for the Swamphen it goes onto my list pending alongside Dalmation Pelican & Chestnut Bunting .

Monday, 18 July 2016

4th Year Running...... Bonaparte's Gull at Oare Marshes

Bonaparte's Gull on East Flood.

On the 15th and again today the 18th July i saw the now 4th year in a row returning Bonaparte's Gull at Oare Marshes , this cracking looking bird was on the East Flood and showing very well  in the south eastern corner.

Really bright coloured legs .

It was preening and i could see the bright orange/reddish legs which are normally pinkish in colour in winter plumage.

Bonaparte's Gull.

The Bonaparte's Gull was showing signs of moult around the base of its all black bill.

1st summer / 2nd winter plumage in 2013.

The Bonapartes Gull first appeared in 2013 in 1st summer / 2nd winter plumage and who would have thought it would become an annual visitor to Oare marshes.

In partial moult in 2014.

In full adult plumage in 2015.

In flight in 2015.

Anyone planning  to see the Bonapartes Gull i would say high tide is best , as it often roosts on the islands on the East Flood near the pull in along the road or in the bottom south east corner near the sluice , otherwise on low tide it can almost be anywhere , i have seen it along Faversham creek and along the Swale but is alot harder to locate in my experience at Low tide.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Aberdeen to Allhallows

Aberdeen  27th June 2016 

Eider & Ducklings at Ythan Estuary.

 I met up with Richard at 9pm on Sunday night the 26th June and our destination was Aberdeenshire and our target birds were American White Winged Scoter & King Eider as these were both new species for Richard and the AWW Scoter would be a new species for me.

We arrived in great time on Monday morning and followed the instructions to Blackdog just north of Aberdeen however we could not find a decent path to get to the beach , we could see some birders in the distance but could find no way of getting to where they were from our currant position.

We decided to try our luck from Murcar links golf course , we parked up and Richard went to see one of the greenskeepers to get permission to walk across the course , he came back smiling saying he has sorted it no problem and then along came two greenkeepers on their golf buggies and they very kindly gave us a lift to the other birders , wow never been in a golf cart before

We eventually reached our destination and joined 3 other birders who had already seen the AWW Scoter but the scoter flock was quite distant , this is going to be a real challenge at the range these birds were at , one chap was very good at picking it out however the rest of us were struggling , eventually the other birder got onto the bird again and this time so did i , thankfully it was quite obvious once you managed to get onto it but boy was hard to find , Richard looked through the other birders scope and saw it to which was great , even at that range you could see all the features but sadly i never managed a photo .

King Eider.

We worked really hard scanning and re scanning the scoter flock for quite sometime but the flock was drifting further out with the tide , i saw the American White Winged Scoter twice quite well and was pleased with my views but would have of course liked to have seen it closer .

We decided to head off to the Ythan estuary for the King Eider thankfully this was much easier to find , i picked it out amongst lots of Eider on the opposite river bank , eventually it had a swim around and came quite close at times.

Having a feed.

King Eider.

A really enjoyable birding session here and a great days birding , many thanks to the Murcar links course greenkeepers for their help and to Richard for his company & doing most of the driving .

Allhallows 28th June 2016

Male Red Backed Shrike.

There had been a male Red Backed Shrike seen at Allhallows since last Sunday 26th June and i was hoping it would stick around until i had chance to have a look , thankfully it was still present on Tuesday 28th June and i headed over there to see it , what a cracking bird to see in this plumage , first one i have seen in adult plumage for a number of years.

Grey head & black mask.

Pink flush on breast & flanks.

Red Backed Shrike.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Great Knot & Caspian Terns ......... Norfolk & Lincolnshire

Record shot of the Great Knot.

On Thursday the 16th June i met up with Richard at 5am and headed to Norfolk in the hope of seeing the Great Knot that had been seen the day before at Titchwell rspb reserve , we arrived at approx 8am with both positive & negative news , the positive news was the Great Knot had been seen on the freshmarsh up until half 7 , the negative news was it has now flown towards the beach.

We headed off along the public foot path towards the beach and the general info we received from other birders who were heading back that it has not been relocated yet on the beach , hmmm not good at all , still we carried on and joined approx 10 other birders who were looking for it (i expected more birders to be there??) .

Anyhow there was a huge flock of Red Knot on the beach, approx 2000 birds in various state of plumage , mainly grey with a few full summer birds here & there , but more importantly no sign of the Great Knot.

Another record shot of the Great Knot.

After nearly 2 hours scanning and re scanning plus one or two false claims the Great Knot was picked out by another birder who was about 3 foot taller the rest of us and this height advantage paid dividends for him as unless you were that tall you couldn't see the complete flock over the sand ridge , he did his up most best to try and get people onto the bird but even standing on tip toe i had no luck !!!!

Luckily a few Red Knot and the Great Knot which was with them flew to the exposed muscle beds on the rocks to feed and we were all soon enjoying some really great scope views of this very rare wader , phew !!! this was a new species for Richard and a welcome year tick for me as i saw the Breydon water bird in 2014 however that one was much more distant then this one , sadly i never got any decent photos of this bird as it was constantly moving on the rocks.

We watched this bird for quite some time then decided to head to one of the hides for a celebratory coffee and bite to eat , plenty of birds were seen from the hide including 3 Little Ringed Plovers & 2 Red Crested Pochards which were both new birds for my year list.

Male Red Crested Pochard.

There were lot's of Bar & Black Tailed Godwits plus good numbers of Avocets , there was positive news from Gibraltar point regarding the 2 Caspian Terns which would be another lifer for Richard so we decided to head there , 2 hours 20 mins later we were parked up at Gibralter and made our way around to the hides and straight away saw the 2 Caspian Terns , here are a selection of pics i took.

2 Caspian Terns.

These huge terns were magnificent to see and a very rare sight seeing two birds together , they looked massive compared to the nearby Black Headed Gulls , there was also a Sandwich Tern which also looked small compared to these two !!!

It was great also to see a family of Avocets with 3 chicks (hope they survive).

Avocet family.