Saturday, 30 December 2017

Top 5 Highlights of 2017

 Its that time of year again when i look back over the last years birding trips with fond memories , i normally do a Review of the whole of the year but have  decided to just do my Top 5 Highlights of 2017.

So without further ado here are my 5 Top Highlights of 2017.

             Number one :  Kazakhstan Holiday in May 

Pallas's Sandgrouse.

This trip is my number one highlight of 2017 , i saw some magical bird species of which 47 were Lifers including one of my most wanted birds : CASPIAN PLOVER !!

Caspian Plover.

I saw in total 197 bird species on this trip with many highlights (there is a link to my full trip in the archives June 2017), i also saw the superb White Browed Tit Warbler.

White Browed Tit Warbler.

Number Two :  American Redstart on Barra

American Redstart.

This was my UK bird of the Year without doubt , a long journey to Barra in the Outer Hebrides in September proved very successful & rewarding with stunning views of this most wanted bird , my only regret was i didn't have time to explore this wonderful Island.

Number Three : Self Found Red Footed Falcon

Red Footed Falcon.

I had decided this year i would do more local birding and only twitch new birds and i eventually got my reward for staying closer to home when i called into Grove Ferry on the 25th April , i was sitting in the Feast Hide hoping to get a photo of Sand Martin when i noticed a Hobby coming towards the hide , i then noticed a second bird which i also thought was a Hobby.

I took several photos in the hope of one decent one, then i looked closer at the second bird  the profile looked wrong for Hobby ,however i couldn't see any colour due to the height of the bird and i lost it to view when it flew over the hide , i quickly checked my photos and realised it was a female Red Footed Falcon !!!

Sadly i couldn't relocate it and as far as i know  it wasn't seen again.

Number Four :  Eurasian Scops Owl

Eurasian Scops Owl.

My number 4 Highlight this year was the Eurasian Scops Owl seen in Durham , i never thought i would get the chance to see one in the UK and when news broke of one showing well in Durham i couldn't wait to try and see it, so the very next day !!!

It was pretty much negative news all the way up to Durham and we even decided it's not worth carrying on the journey and started heading for other targets when news eventually turned from negative to positive news and our quest was back on to see this delightful Scops Owl.

Number Five :  Photographing Storm Petrels

2  European Storm Petrels.

On the 7th June i headed to Deal Pier and enjoyed  a fantastic birding session photographing European Storm Petrels which were a new species for my Kent List.

I saw 4 of these Storm Petrels from the pier and they were absolutely fantastic to watch and most surprisingly i was on my own , once again it's a bird i have seen many of in other areas of the country but they are extremely scarce/rare in Kent.

European Storm Petrel.

Well that concludes my Top 5 Highlights of 2017 which has been a very good year , i ended the Year with 222 UK bird species and 6 New Species.

Many thanks to all of you who take the time to read my blog  posts , i have a couple of great trips lined up for 2018 but will spend most of my birding in Kent again with the odd twitch for new species if  the opportunity arises  .

Just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and great birding for 2018.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017



Just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who has visited my blog this year a  






Monday, 4 December 2017

Iceland Gull .......Ramsgate Harbour

1st winter Iceland Gull.

Yesterday morning the 3rd December i went to Ramsgate Harbour to hopefully see :  Iceland Gull, Purple Sandpiper & Snow Bunting !!!

I bumped into 3 other birders there and none of them had seen the Iceland Gull but Purple Sandpiper & Snow Bunting had been seen.

I went to the furthest point beyond the cafe on the East Pier and managed to see 2 Purple Sandpipers which were a very welcome addition to my year list .

2 Purple Sandpipers.

Purple Sandpiper.

I was really pleased to see these birds as i keep missing/dipping the Hampton one, i had missed the 3 Snow Buntings on 2 occasions as they kept getting flushed, however Turnstones are much more confiding and present great photo opportunity's.


Later in the morning whilst talking to Mike.G. near the cafe i picked out the 1st winter Iceland Gull near the fishing boats back by the slipway , we made our way around there and enjoyed some very close views of this superb bird.

On checking my records the Iceland Gull is a new bird for my Thanet Bird List, here are a selection of the many photos i took. 

Iceland Gull.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Green-Winged Teal .. 2nd Record for Oare Marshes

Green Winged Teal.

On the 23rd November i called into Oare Marshes in the hope of seeing the ♂ Green Winged Teal , i parked up in the pull-in and scanned across the East flood for about half an hour and although there were plenty of Teal the Green Winged Teal was playing hard to get !!!

I bumped into Murray who informed me he had seen the GWT earlier but it was flushed and he hadn't seen it since , i decided to check from the Faversham creek side as there were more Teal around that side of the flood (Can't remember seeing this amount of Teal here before?!).

Record shot of the GWT

I reached the sea wall and more or less saw the Green Winged Teal straight away as it was having a preen near the reedy Island out in the middle of the flood , surprisingly hard to pick up amongst the Teal , it took me about an hour to locate it but thankfully i had decent scope views in the end and happily added it to my Oare Marsh  & Year lists !!

Having a preen.

I also saw the long staying Long Billed Dowitcher and 1 Little Stint.

I saw the Green Winged Teal again early on the 24th as well more or less in the same area as on the 23rd out in the middle of the East Flood, I also heard a Chiffchaff in the bushes by the car park.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Black Throated Diver in Ramsgate Harbour

Black Throated Diver.

Yesterday the 20th November i went to Ramsgate Harbour to hopefully see the Juv Black Throated Diver , it didn't take me long to see the Diver out in the middle of the harbour.

I bumped into Jonathan and Don and we eventually got some really close views of the Black Throated Diver, here are a few photos that i took.

Having a wing stretch.

Notice the thigh patches.

Black Throated Diver.

I also saw a Kingfisher on 3 separate occasions  plus a single Rock Pipit and plenty of  Turnstones.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Snow Buntings at Reculver

Snow Bunting.

Yesterday the 13th November i went to Reculver in the hope of seeing the Snow Buntings that have been seen recently there .

 I was a bit surprised with how much it now costs to use the car park by the Towers , 80p per hour , last time i went it was only approx £1.00 for 24 hours !!!!

I walked along the sea wall towards Cold Harbour Lagoon keeping my eye out for the Snow Buntings , i met 2 other birders on their way back and they kindly informed me they were near groyne 6 , so of i headed , i couldn't locate them and then i saw a familiar face further along the sea wall near groyne 8 .

I eventually joined Johnathan who was busy photographing the 3 Snow Buntings which were very tame indeed , they came to close to photograph at one point, i love the colour's on these birds , they blend in so well with all the shingle and foliage.

Great Camouflage. 

After spending some quality time with these birds i headed back towards the towers when i met another birder busy looking at a ..... Snow Bunting !?!? i thought the ones i had been watching further back must of flown past me without me noticing or at least one of them had.

But then the 3 Snow Buntings joined this bird making 4 Snow Buntings in total .

Fantastic markings on this male bird.

Snow Bunting.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Long Billed Dowitcher at Oare Marshes

Long Billed Dowitcher.

I called into Oare Marshes on Monday the 6th November in time for the high tide , i saw the long staying Long Billed Dowitcher (first seen in August) on the East flood showing quite well from the road.

Showing well.

Eventually the Long Billed Dowitcher made its way over to one of the island's where it had a snooze, i also saw 2 Little Stints out in the middle of the flood near the reedy island.

Landing on one of the islands.

There was at least  1000 Golden Plover on the flood and despite several scans through i couldn't find anything unusual amongst them .

Golden Plover.

There was large numbers of  Black Tailed Godwits , Dunlin & Avocets with approx 15 Bar Tailed Godwits, 10 Grey Plover & 10 Knot.

Black Tailed Godwit.

I also saw 20+ Ruff and several Lapwing.


There was a distant Peregrine Falcon on one of the pylons plus i saw an Apache Helicopter fly over the reserve flushing thousands of birds.

Apache helicopter.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Two Barred Greenish Warbler in Dorset

Two Barred Greenish Warbler Photo by Chris Craig.

Yesterday the 18th October i teamed up with RR and headed to St. Aldhelm's Head in Dorset and the target bird was a 1st w Two Barred Greenish Warbler which had been present for 3 days & counting , it was first thought to have been an Arctic Warbler until Dorset birder  Brett Spencer expertly re-identified it as a Two Barred Greenish Warbler  on the 17th. 

A straight forward journey got us on site at approx 9am and the news was positive the TBGW was still present , we made our way down to the quarry and joined the mass of birders already present , we more or less saw the TBGW straight away but the view was very brief and certainly not good enough to be certain of id , then the shout went up it was showing on the other side of the trees, we dashed round there but had no luck.

I decided the best course of action was to stay in one place which paid of as i had several brief views and a couple of really good views seeing all the id features that make this a Two Barred Greenish Warbler.

Sadly i never managed a photo , i was just not quick enough with my camera plus i was really trying to see all the key id features and of course just enjoying watching the bird.

Many thanks to Chris Craig who did manage a photo and very kindly has allowed me to use his photo on my blog.

There were several Firecrest amongst the trees which showed really well.


Two Barred Greenish Warbler is currently a sub species of Greenish Warbler but will soon be made a full species in it's own right when the BOU adopt the IOC listing system in January.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Wilson's Phalarope Re-visited at Oare Marshes

                                                     6th October 2017

Wilson's Phalarope

I paid another visit to Oare Marshes last Friday the 6th October to try and get better views of the Wilson's Phalarope and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite close to the road.

Here are a selection of photos i took:

Following a Teal.

The Wilson's Phalarope spent alot of time following various different Teal picking off small insects in their wake , a really clever feeding behaviour.

Often flushed.

Having a real good poke around.

Coming into land.

Having a preen.

In flight alongside a Golden Plover.

Wilson's Phalarope & Long Billed Dowitcher.

I tried to get an in focus photo of the Wilson's Phalarope & Long Billed Dowitcher together but one or the over was always just out of focus.

Wilson's Phalarope.