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.

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 Redshanks 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 Wagtail.

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.