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 Burton.


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.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Record Breaking Garganey......... At Reculver

Drake Garganey 

On Saturday the 11th March there were lots of reports of Garganey being seen around Kent bird reserves including a drake bird at Cold harbour lagoon in Reculver and this was the one i chose to go and hopefully see .

Birds normally show quite well (if still present) at Cold harbour lagoon , i decided to walk in from the Towers as it was such glorious weather , as predicted the car park was really busy but fortunately i found a space but had no luck with the Black Redstart that had been seen earlier , perhaps just to busy with cars & people ??

Lovely marked bird.

As i made my way along the sea wall path i heard and saw  2 Chiffchaffs which were very vocal and a sure sign that spring has sprung ,  there were plenty of Bees buzzing along the seawall here & there but the only butterfly i saw was a Small Tortoiseshell .

Just dipping bill into water.

I eventually reached Cold harbour lagoon and instantly saw the drake Garganey which was among several Mallard .

Having a good feed.

Garganey are such exotic looking birds and are definitely one of my favourite ducks , on checking my bird records when i got home this proved to be a 'Record Breaking' Garganey as not only was it the first one i have ever seen at Reculver but it is also the earliest ever Garganey i have seen , beating my previous earliest record by 6 days.


I also added 3 Redshank around the lagoon , there were lots of Meadow Pipits in full display mode along the sea wall plus plenty of vocal Dunnocks , Skylark, Corn Bunting & Stonechats which made the walk there and back very pleasant , on arriving back at the car park (which was still very busy) i had another look for the Black Redstart with no joy however i did get a good view of both Rock Pipit & Pied Wagtail.

Rock Pipit.

Pied Wagtai.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Black Brants & Owls ... At Seasalter

Sleeping Black Brant.

On the 6th of March i called into South Swale NR to have a look at the large Dark Bellied Brent Goose flock that held 1 or possibly 2 Black Brants , they were quite far out on the mud flats on the Swale when i got there but eventually they had a fly around and luckily came closer.

Mike.G. who was also present picked out a Black Brant which was quite near the front of the flock and showed well before going to sleep but even then the distinctive white flank and large white collar were very noticeable and it's overall darker appearance was evident. We thought we located a 2nd bird but inconclusive views were obtained.

Black Brant.

The geese were spooked once again this time by a helicopter and luckily for us they flew behind us and landed on the grazing marsh behind us , another scan through the 1000+ Dark Bellied Brent Geese produced 2 adult Black Brants which were side by side at one point , they are only a subspecies but really smart geese to see all the same.

Short Eared Owl.

Yesterday the 7th March i once again called into South Swale NR at Seasalter however this time i was looking for Owls , whilst sitting in my car i saw a Marsh Harrier mobbing a Short Eared Owl which to my delight land on gate post and distant but decent views were obtained.

Having a look around.

Eventually it flew off west and i didn't see it again whilst i was there , as luck would have it i also had really great views of a Barn Owl which also perched on the fence posts from time to time and flew quite close in as well, i never tire of seeing Owls and left for home very happy.

On fence post.

Barn Owl.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bossenden & Thornden Woods

Nuthatch at Bossenden Woods.

Over the last week i have been doing some woodland birdwatching and my quest was to try and at least hear and hopefully see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker , one day last week i went to Bossenden wood , i have heard them there before but no luck this time , however local bird photographers have set up a feeding station which was busy with at least 3 Nuthatch & several Coal Tits coming into feed.

Coal Tit at feeding station.

I know there is alot of mixed opinions on this form of bird feeding 'just to get the photo' but i have to say i don't really see the harm in it myself (at least they are only being shot with a camera and not a gun !!). As always providing the birds are not being hassled or disturbed by over enthusiastic photographers (birds welfare must come first) then i don't see a problem plus the birds are getting fed at a time of year their main food supply is in low supply.

Male Chaffinch.


I spent quite sometime walking around Bossenden and saw plenty of Blue ,Great, Coal & Long tailed Tits but no Marsh Tits , at least 3 Great spotted Woodpeckers and a single Green Woodpecker, i heard Treecreeper and saw at least 2 Goldcrests.

Thornden Wood

Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Yesterday the 20th February i also called into Thornden Wood and took of on one of the side trials , i heard a Redpoll overhead but couldn't see it , i then continued along the trail and also heard both Great Spotted & Green Woodpeckers , i decided to wait around in this area just in case and after about 20 mins nothing else was heard or seen so i decided to head off and just as i started to walk i heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker , it got closer and closer and there it was in the tree right by me , Wow what a bird !!!

Lovely red crown on this bird.

After i had watched this bird for quite sometime i carried on my walk adding various different species as i went until i finally caught up with 3 Redpolls feeding in an Alder tree , a really enjoyable walk through the woods however it's abit of a dog walkers heaven and even though they are mean't to be kept on leads most were not and often came running up barking at you which can be a bit daunting at times.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Scotney & Dungeness Rspb Reserve

Black Necked Grebe at Scotney.

Yesterday the 13th February i headed off to Scotney and Dungeness Rspb reserve to take advantage of the forecast of sunshine after the very cold & dull last few days.

I called into Scotney first of all hoping to try and find the Black necked Grebe & Scaup that were reported the day before and although the sun was out it was very windy and the water on Scotney was very choppy indeed , however eventually i found the Black necked Grebe quite close in and sheltering from the wind.

Digi scoped photo of Black necked Grebe.

Despite my best efforts i couldn't locate the Scaup which were probably still there but sheltering out of sight somewhere out of the wind.

I decided then to head to Dungeness Rspb reserve and do the full circuit around the reserve , It was fairly quite looking from the Dennis hide so i continued on past the dipping pond (no sign of the Long eared owls) and went to the Firth hide , i quickly scanned the wildfowl and saw 2 'Redhead' Smew , there were lot's of Tufted Duck, Pochard & Shoveler with a scattering of Gadwall, Mallard & Teal, there was also at least 5 Goldeneyes.

'Redhaed' Smew.

There were plenty of Gulls on the islands and after a scan i saw a superb adult Yellow Legged Gull which was a new addition to my year list.

Adult Yellow legged Gull.

I then had a look from the Makepeace hide and i instantly saw something in the water , a look through my bins confirmed a Peregrine Falcon which was quite a surprise !!!

Peregrine Falcon.

My initial thoughts were it has caught something but it hadn't , it was just having a wash , it proceeded washing then had a fly around shaking it's feathers dry.

Shaking it's feathers.

If you enlarge the above photo you can see the droplets of water falling off the Peregrine ,it then did a bit of a fly around before heading off towards the power station.

Peregrine Falcon.

A really great birdwatching moment to witness , i didn't add anything else from here and a look from both the Scott & Christmas dell hides didn't add anything new either.

I didn't go into the Denge marsh hide as i was told that a drake Smew was showing quite well at Hookers pit.

Drake Smew.

These are such stunning looking birds and it's been a good couple of years since i have seen a drake Smew, there was also a Great White Egret nearby.

Having had my fill of this stunning bird i had a mug of coffee on Hookers mound view point in the hope a Bittern would do a fly by but sadly it didn't , i then started my walk back along the trail to the visitor centre and saw 2 Egyptain Geese as they flew past.

Egyptain Geese.

On the way out of the reserve i had a look over Cooks pool and the ♂ Ring necked Duck was still present and there was also another 'Redhead' Smew present , a quick look over the feeders produced Reed Bunting & Tree Sparrow, another really enjoyable days birding.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Local Waxwings

Male Waxwing.

Waxwings have to be high up on most birders must see birds of any winter  and every now and again we in the UK get whats called an 'Eruption' of Waxwings which means a large influx of Waxwings arriving in the Uk due to their main food supply of berries being in poor supply in Scandinavia and /or Northern Russia.

Feeding on berries.

I was delighted to hear that 2 such Waxwings were being seen along Gordon Road Whitstable last week  (there have been 1000's seen all over the UK this winter) , i saw them on both Monday & Tuesday 30th & 31st January.

Lovely plumage on these birds.

They were staying loyal to one berry laden tree in particular and were allowing quite close views whilst they gauged themselves on the delicious berries.

The red wax marking on the wing is stunning.