Thursday, 20 July 2017

Little Stints at Oare Marshes

Adult Little Stint.

I made a brief visit to Oare Marshes yesterday morning the 19th July to try and see the Wood Sandpiper & Little Stints that had been reported earlier , i parked up in the pull-in and more or less saw 2 Little Stints straight away quite near the road.

4 adult Little Stints.

Whilst watching these i also saw a Garganey a little bit further out , i then had another look at the Little Stints which had been joined by two more birds , one of the new birds did look bigger and was much darker in plumage than the 3 other Little Stints.

Little Stints.

I was joined by Murray and we had a real close look at the slightly larger bird and we more or less concluded it was just a Little Stint at the extreme end of it's size range plus the slightly darker overall appearance is just a plumage variation. 

Darker bird at the back.

Slightly larger & darker overall.

Little Stint.

The Bonaparte's Gull had flown towards the creek before i got there plus the Wood Sandpiper was seen earlier that morning but had flown west , i did see 2 Turtle Doves plus large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits , Redshank & Avocets.

There was 2 Golden Plovers in summer plumage & several Ruff & 1 Reeve plus 2 Common Terns were briefly on the East flood , the water levels had risen slightly after the overnight storm but hopefully in the coming weeks it will drop and more exposed mud will appear.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Marsh Sandpiper at Cliffe

Marsh Sandpiper.

Yesterday the 13th July i headed to Cliffe Pools in the hope of seeing the recently reported Marsh Sandpiper , a very slow careful drive along the Black barns track and we were soon parking up near the second mound , there were already 2 birders there and they had both seen the bird but it had flown towards the Flamingo Pool having been chased off by the Black Winged Stilts about 30 mins earlier.

Black Winged Stilt.

The Black Winged Stilts are a real success story here at Cliffe with at least 7 chicks so far surviving , great work & dedication by the Rspb and volunteers .

Now back to the Marsh Sandpiper which flew back in to view into the nearest pool in front of the mound and gave superb views through the scope , i managed some Digi scoped photos but even at that range were not that great.

Digi scoped photo of Marsh Sandpiper.

Marsh Sandpiper.

I attempted a photo with my Canon 7d mark2 .

Marsh Sandpiper taken with Canon 7d Mark 2.

I watched the Marsh Sandpiper for about 5 mins in the closest pool before it flew further back into the Black Winged Stilt pool where it settled for a preen before it was once again chased off by the Black Winged Stilts, i left there about 9am as the heat haze wasn't helping viewing at that range .

There were lots of Avocets with young here plus a i saw quite a few Bearded Tits.

Bearded Tit.

In the evening i joined a couple of birding pals and went to Church Wood and heard 1 Nightjar plus saw 2 Tawny Owls , there were a couple of Bats which were quite small presumably Pipistrelle ??

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bonaparte's Gull ..... At Oare Marshes

Bonaparte's Gull.

Yesterday the 8th July i heard news that the adult Bonaparte's Gull had returned to Oare Marshes for it's fifth summer in a row !!!!

When i got there and parked up in the pull-in i quickly scanned the East flood and saw the Bonaparte's Gull quite close in , i took several Digi scoped photos and videos for my records , really pleased to see this cracking bird and it had returned on the exact same date as last year.

Slight moult around base of bill.

Bright red legs.

After a preen the Bonaparte's Gull decided to have a rest and promptly found a comfortable place to roost amongst the numerous Black Headed Gulls .

Bonaparte's Gull.

I had quite an interesting chat with fellow local birders about where the Bonaparte's Gull goes for the rest of the year when it's not here , several theories were suggested including maybe it is one of the wintering birds from elsewhere in the Country or perhaps it has come in from France or Holland , the Black Headed Gull numbers had certainly increased since my last visit here on the 6th July and i would think it has come in with them from a colony somewhere.

I guess that's one of the many magical things about nature it's always throwing up questions and mysteries .

There were several really smart looking Med Gulls on the East Flood plus at least 3 Common Gulls.

2 Adult Med Gulls.

Med Gull.

3 Common Gulls.

There was the usual large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits & Avocets plus 2 Ruff & 1 Reeve and a brief view of a single Little Ringed Plover.

There were plenty of Bearded Tits including 4 birds on the far side of the East Flood on the mud presumably feeding on windswept seeds of the mud.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Brief visit to Luddenham & Oare Marshes

Spotted Flycatcher.

I called into  Luddenham this afternoon the 6th July in the hope of seeing Spotted Flycatcher , it didn't take long for me to find one as it flew around 'fly-catching' and often perched out in the open.

Looking for prey.

The Spotted Flycatcher often flew back to it's favoured perch affording very good views , i also saw a young Spotted Flycatcher deep inside one of the bushes , i didn't stay here to long as i didn't want to disturb them to much.

Spotted Flycatcher.

From Luddenham i popped into Oare Marshes and had distant views of 2 summer plumage Spotted Redshanks , there was good numbers of  Avocet , Black Tailed Godwit & Redshank plus 20+ Lapwings flew over the East Flood, whilst watching these i bumped into local birder Johnathan who was looking for a Ruff  which he had seen from the hide,
and as we were speaking  the cracking partial summer plumage Ruff near the pull-in on the East Flood came into view.


I also saw a very close Sedge Warbler by the pull-in with a beak full of food disappear into the undergrowth.

Sedge Warbler.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Grove Ferry & Oare Marshes

                                               30th  June  :  Grove Ferry

Young Bearded Tit.

Yesterday the 30th June i headed over to Grove Ferry to try and see the Red Footed Falcon , as i walked along the entrance track i could instantly hear a superb Turtle Dove 'purring' , a Chiffchaff was 'chiff chaffing' from a high perch and a Lesser Whitethroat was 'rattling' from somewhere unseen , a great start .

I made my way around towards Harrisons and spoke to another birder who gave negative news on the RFF , but it was still fairly early so it probably was still roosting (my logic for what it's worth).

Anyhow i decided to wait where i was in the hope the RFF would appear , whilst i was waiting i had superb views of a young Bearded Tit.

Bearded Tit.

Whilst i was talking to a good birding mate of mine he noticed the Red Footed Falcon flying low and then out sight (it had woke up) , we walked further along towards the Marsh hide and then relocated the RFF on a bush.

1st summer male Red Footed Falcon.

We got some other birders onto it before it flew further away and then landed on a different bush , this was pretty much the pattern of this bird , it often spent ages perched and every now and again would have a fly around catching dragonflies.

Record flight shot of RFF.

Red Footed Falcon.

This is a superb looking bird and in the right light the colours were amazing, i watched the RFF for well over an hour however sadly the light was not very good for photos (that's my excuse anyway) .

Of note i did see at least 5 Norfolk Hawkers which were a new dragonfly species for me.

                                            23rd June  :  Oare Marshes


On the 23rd June i spent a couple of hours at Oare Marshes and was pleased to see an immature Spoonbill  roosting on the East flood , the high tide wader roost wasn't that impressive to be honest with only the usual Black Tailed Godwit , Avocet & Redshank in good numbers , i did see a single Knot .

Spoonbill near the sluice.

I walked around to the South east corner of the flood hearing a 'Purring' Turtle Dove as i went past the paddocks , the Spoonbill seemed to have followed me as it went onto the small island near the sluice and went to sleep.

I checked out some more waders from this view point and was pleased to see 3 Spotted Redshanks in summer plumage.

1 of 3 Spotted Redshanks.

I was also very pleased to see fairly well grown Avocet chicks.

2 Avocet chicks.

There very good numbers of Common Swifts flying over the East flood and i once again tried to get some photos.

Common Swift.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Kazakhstan 19th to 31st May Final Part : Korgalzhyn State NP

                               Kazakhstan   Day  Eleven  :  29th  May

                                    Korgalzhyn State National Park

Male Pine Bunting.

So after an incredible trip so far to Kazakhstan the last leg of the holiday was now upon us, we had travelled up north to the famous Korgalzhyn State national park with a whole range of different species on offer including some very special birds.

We started of at a site for Pine Bunting and as soon as we got out of the mini bus we could hear at least one bird calling , we soon located it as it sung high up giving great views.

Superb colours on this bird.

Pine Bunting.

We also had brief views of a male Common Rosefinch & a Siberian Chiffchaff was also great to see , a male Pallid Harrier flew across the road Caspian Gull , Hobby & Lesser Whitethroat were all added to the trip list.

The weather was really awful today , heavy rain and wind made birding very difficult plus the dirt tracks were quite hard to navigate along with the mini bus sliding here & there , however we carried on and eventually there was a break in the weather and we did some more birding.

We stopped near a ditch and heard than saw 2 Booted Warblers , i have only ever seen one before in the UK so was very pleased to see these birds.

Sulking in a bush

Booted Warbler.

There was also a very showy Siberian Stonechat in full song on the overhead wires .

Siberian Stonechat.

We carried on along the tracks making very slow progress and we added several Black Winged Stilts  & Shovelers to the days totals, we eventually decided to call it a day as the weather wasn't improving however we did have some great views of  Yellow Wagtail (race 'Beema').

Yellow 'Syke's' Wagtail.

Kazakhstan  Day Twelve  : 30th May

Korgalzhyn State National Park

Dalmatian Pelicans

My last full days birding in Kazakhstan proved to be very good as once again we headed to the Korgalzhyn State national park , the first pool we came to had 100's of Red Necked Phalaropes , Little Stints , Dunlin plus Knot, Avocet & Curlew Sandpiper were all seen.

There were approx 15 Dalmatian Pelicans that flew right towards us which was quite a sight , i picked out a single Pallas's Gull that flew straight over the pool and out of sight.

We drove abit further into the park and had fantastic views of BLACK LARK !!!

Black Lark in flight.

2 Black Lark's by the track.

These were a new species for me and over the course of the day we saw at least 300 Black Larks , we also saw 3 White Winged Larks , (i forgot to mention in an earlier blog post in the  Taukum Desert that i saw 2 White Winged Larks plus the guide found a 3rd bird later on), however i never got a photo but had great views through the scope.

Black Lark.

Further along the track we had great views of both male & female Red Footed Falcons , the female was tucking into a small vole / mouse species.

Male Red Footed Falcon.

Female feeding on a small mammal.

Female Red Footed Falcon.

We also had distant views of at least 5 Black Winged Pratincoles , 4 White Winged Black Terns & 5 Demoiselle Cranes here.

There was also an Oriental Turtle Dove (form Meena) showing well from this vantage point.

Oriental Turtle Dove.

The birds were coming thick and fast today however one of the main target birds was still evading us , our guide phoned a contact of his to get some up to date gen only to be told they are not at their usual breeding site this year !!!!

So basically if we wanted to see them we had to find them ourselves , well i like a challenge so of we set , we stopped at various locations checking the fields with no luck until after the 3rd stop we all got out of the mini bus and the shout went up .......


Sociable Lapwing.

Not everyone got onto the bird before it flew out of sight however i luckily picked out a 2nd bird which actually landed on the track then flew across the field and landed , we all saw that one thankfully.

Coming into land.

Sociable Lapwing.

I have been luckily enough to have seen 4 Sociable Lapwings in the UK including 2 in Kent but was still very pleased to see these now critically endangered birds .

We spent quite sometime watching this superb wader and felt very lucky indeed to have seen them , we dragged ourselves away to try our luck with a huge Pallas's Gull breeding colony and we  were not disappointed.

Flying straight towards us.

Pallas's Gull.

There were at least 200 Pallas's Gull's here plus approx 50 Steppe Gulls.

Steppe Gulls.

The weather had turned nasty again and the wind was much stronger today , there were plenty of Red Necked Phalaropes  on the pool and quite a few flew past the mini bus.

Red Necked Phalarope.

We retraced our steps heading back to our accommodation pretty much seeing most of what we had already seen and not venturing far from the bus and thus ended my last full days birding in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan   Day Thirteen  :  31st May

Korgalzhyn  &  Astana  Pools

Male Pallid Harrier.

We had time this morning to check a couple of pools before we begun our long journey home , we started of just in Korgalzhyn and saw Black Tern , Black Winged Stilt, Redshank & Northern Wheatear.

We then headed to a large pool near Astana and saw 4 Black Winged Pratincole , male & female Pallid Harrier , Mute Swan, Black Necked Grebe & 2 Bearded Reedlings.

White Headed Duck.

There was a pair of White Headed Ducks and we had glimpses of at least 3 Paddyfield Warblers in the reeds in front of us.

 I also saw a male Citrine Wagtail , Cuckoo & 1 Dalmatian Pelican.


Citrine Wagtail   (photo taken earlier in trip)

There were plenty of Swallows & Common Swifts and more or less the last bird we saw was a superb Red Necked Grebe.

Well that concludes my trip to the wonderful country Kazakhstan , i ended the trip with a personal total of 197 bird species and 47 Lifers  plus several new Sub Species , i have 7 videos from the trip which can be viewed on my Youtube Channel  (the link is on the top right of my blog).

Many thanks for taking the time for reading my posts and if your thinking of going to Kazakhstan ...... do it !!!