Monday, 17 December 2018

Kent Birding .....& A Royal Dip

                 3rd December : Alpha Pool  Cliffe Marshes

Black necked Grebe with a Tufted Duck.

News of both Red necked & Black necked Grebes on Alpha pool at Cliffe marshes made up my mind to go and try and see them , Cliffe marshes is not somewhere i go to visit to often to be honest and i had never been to Alpha pool.

So after some directions kindly given on twitter and from Frank.C. (many thanks) i made my way around to Alpha pool with RR and got very muddy in the process !!!

We eventually reached Alpha pool and it was great to see so many Little Grebes & Great crested Grebes but we could not locate any Red necked Grebes.

RR soon picked up a Black necked Grebe in fact we saw 2 birds together , we watched these for awhile whilst constantly scanning  over the pool when i was once again watching a single Black necked Grebe and RR was still watching 2 Black necked Grebes at the same time making 3 birds in total.

Red necked Grebe.

We eventually saw 1 of the 2 Red necked Grebes nearer the castle and although distant  good scope views were obtained.

The walk back was just as muddy however we did see good numbers of both Fieldfare & Redwing.

8th December  : Dungeness Area

Great white Egret.

A trip to Dungeness on Saturday 8th was rewarded with some good birds , starting of at Horsebridge a Great white Egret flew through but no sign of any Bewick's.

Next stop was at Cocklesbridge and this time there was 3 ad & 2 juv Bewick's Swans amongst the herd of Mute Swans.

Red necked Grebe.

Lade was hard going looking for the Humes & Dartford Warbler's as the wind was very strong and not really good for looking for warblers , however some really good views of the Red necked Grebe were obtained.

Red necked Grebe.

A look out to sea produced several Red throated Divers, Guillemot , Razorbill , Gannet & Kittiwakes but was very cold.

Calling into the Rspb reserve was the next destination and from the Firth hide there was 5+ Goldeneye and an adult Yellow legged Gull.

Closer views of the Yellow legged Gull from Makepeace hide plus  a second adult bird was seen.

Adult Yellow legged Gull

Obsessed with this stick.

Yep likes this stick !!!!

Yellow legged Gull.

12th December :  Anglesey

A very long trip to Traeth Lligwy on Anglesey in the hope of seeing the American Royal Tern quite frankly resulted in a right ROYAL DIP !!!!

That's birding or rather twitching for you , all the old cliche's come to mind , 'you have to be in it to win it' or ' you won't see it by staying at home' etc , etc, all offer very little comfort when you do dip a bird after travelling so far.

However i have dipped on many occasions over the years and it effects me less these days and i just try to make the most of the day out regardless.

That said i spent most of my time in the hope the Royal Tern would make an appearance (it didn't) i did head off to Llyn Llygeirian to see the ♀ Lesser Scaup which was a welcome year tick and a delightful bird to see.

♀ Lesser Scaup.

Other birds seen today were : Great Northern Diver , Red throated Diver, Common Scoter, Guillemot & Black Guillemot.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

2 lifers in 2 days plus a White Billed Diver in Kent

                               12th November 2018 : Cleveland

Roosting Little Swift.

News of a Little Swift in Hartlepool on the 11th got my pulse racing as i have never seen one in the UK before  (i dipped one in New Brighton in 2012), and when it was seen to go to roost on the right hand side of a windowsill at 12 Cliff terrace the decision to go was made alot easier.

Wide awake now.

We got to Hartlepool in good time and joined the other birders present , even in the dark you could clearly see the white rump on the Little Swift and as sun rise approached the bird came into view in its fullness , lots of movement and a couple of wing stretches later it was only a matter of time before the Little Swift would leave the roost.

Little Swift leaving the roost.

And at 7.18am the Little Swift was off and away and thankfully it was re located nearby feeding just of Town moor , the Little Swift gave some excellent views often flying just above our heads , here are some photos i took .

Little Swift.

Many thanks to RR for a great trip.

13th November  :  Joss Bay Kent.

1 of 2 Pallid Swifts.

After the excitement of seeing the Little Swift yesterday the 12th i was hopeful that a Pallid Swift would reappear locally as there has  been plenty of sightings recently.

Pallid Swift

There was an early report of a Pallid Swift near Forness point but that seemed to be a fly through , then around about midday news came through of a Pallid Swift between the Captain Digby and Joss bay car park.

I decided to just go for it with little or no hope as i have dipped quite a few Pallid Swifts over the years , plus i have often been away either on twitches , holiday or just at work when they have been seen locally.

Well i was soon at Joss Bay when i saw a few birders (some i recognised) looking towards the sky , i quickly joined them to be told , 'You have just missed it' !!!!!!!

Some rather choice words were running through my mind ,,,,but it was then seen again flying out to sea .

Pallid Swift.

My initial views were distant and to be honest all i could id was a Swift sp , it had a Swallow for company.

Thankfully the Pallid Swift flew back towards us and i eventually got some great views and could happily add Pallid Swift to both my Kent & British bird lists.

This has been a real bogey bird for me over the years , so i was really pleased to see it , however whilst watching this bird (still with the Swallow in tow) a 2nd Pallid Swift joined them (just like buses ......)


There was also a close flock of Curlew (approx 35 birds) which gave really good close views.


3rd November 2018 :  Botany Bay Kent

Adult White Billed Diver

An adult summer plumage White Billed Diver was seen on Friday the 2nd November of the coast in Ramsgate (great find by Scott Haughie).

It was relocated off Botany Bay on Saturday 3rd and i headed straight there and joined the already assembled birders and had great views through my scope.

White billed Diver.

This was a new bird for my Kent Bird list (i think it was for many) and in such superb plumage , my photos don't do this bird justice (there are many better) but the views were stunning.

Digi scoped White billed Diver.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Local Birding......Including a 1st for Oare Marshes

23rd October 2018 : Oare Marshes

American Golden Plover.

News of a reported American Golden Plover on the East flood at Oare marshes reached me  early afternoon on the 23rd October.

After a quick phone call to MW which confirmed the sighting i soon headed to Oare Marshes.

I was soon onto the AGP which was out in the middle of the East flood among 500+ Golden Plover , the dark crown and broad supercilium was a real stand out feature at that range.

The AGP was smaller than the  Golden Plover and the primaries extended beyond the tail , on a couple of occasions the AGP  stretched it's wings and the greyish under wings were clearly seen.

AGP with Golden Plover.

I also saw the American Golden Plover on the 26th October from the hide on the East flood which afforded better views of this 1st record for Oare Marshes.

American Golden Plover.

31st October :  Restharrow Scrape  Sandwich

Jack Snipe.

I called into Restharrow scrape on the 31st October in the hope of seeing the Jack Snipe and i was not disappointed , in fact i saw 2 birds which were both asleep at first.

Jack Snipe.

They did wake up for a short while and did their 'Bouncy' movements which are superb to witness.

There was plenty of Common Snipe at least 6 birds and 2 in particular took a liking to an abandoned Coots nest.

Common Snipe & Jack Snipe

2 Common Snipe & 1 Jack Snipe.

There were good numbers of Teal present which were all spooked when a 'Ringtail' Hen Harrier flew through.

'Ringtail' Hen Harrier.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

GREY CATBIRD .... in Cornwall

Grey Catbird

Yesterday the 19th October 2018 i headed down to Treeve moor near Land's End in Cornwall with RR in the hope of seeing the GREY CATBIRD.

We arrived on site just before 7am and walked around the right hand side of the farm and waited with baited breath for day light and the Grey Catbird to hopefully appear .

There were lot's of Redwing & Skylark overhead plus several Meadow Pipits & a Brambling called but i could not see it.

We also saw 2 Chough which were a very welcome year tick.

However at approx 7.45am someone further down from us heard the Grey Catbird call and not long after we were greeted with  a great view of this only 2nd ever record of  Grey Catbird in the UK.

Dark grey plumage with black cap.

We watched the Grey Catbird on & off for over an hour with some truly great views , it was calling quite abit ,overall dark grey plumage with paler grey face .

Red undertail coverts (honest).

Red undertail coverts and broad dark grey tail were easily seen , it flew further up the hill and begun to feed under the berry bushes giving some more great views

Feeding underneath brambles.

Grey Catbird.

Grey Catbird  (shaky video)

On the way back we called into Drift reservoir and saw the 3 Ring necked Ducks which were a bit distant but a welcome addition to my year list , many thanks to Richard for a great day out.

Monday, 8 October 2018

3 New Birds ........ on my Oare Marsh Bird List

               Sunday 7th October 2018 : Oare Marshes

Dark Bellied Brent Goose.

On Sunday morning i headed to Oare Marshes in the hope of a good sea watch as the winds were quite favourable NNE.

I soon joined the early birds already by the sea watch hide and was informed that they had already seen several Great Skuas , on my arrival an Arctic Skua was flying towards us and landed on the sea and was a new bird for my OMBL (Oare Marsh Bird List) .

This was followed by a Bar tailed Godwit which flew overhead calling and was remarkably still in summer plumage.

Bar Tailed Godwit.

There were plenty of Dark bellied Brent Geese flying high up the Swale and several Common Terns were also seen.

Then a small flock of 7 Little Gulls flew high towards us but were lost as they past the Sun, a further 4 Little Gulls were seen during the morning.

We were soon treated to quite a sight as 5 juv Gannets flew towards us and then down Faversham creek before  returning past us and down the Swale , we also saw 2 Ravens flying towards the pylons whilst watching the Gannets.

1 of the 5 juv Gannets.

My 2nd new bird for my OMBL was of course Gannet , ( i really should do more sea watching from Oare Marshes !!).

 We had an interesting bird a long long way out which thankfully flew towards us up the Swale and we could see that it was indeed another Arctic Skua.

It was great watching a Peregrine chasing a Redshank over the Swale , luckily for the Redshank it was not a successful hunt this time.

Arctic Skua.

After 3 hours sea watching (longer for MW, NB & RR) we decided to have a walk around the East flood , good numbers of the usual waders were evident as was a single Pintail , we also saw the  Little Owl  in the bushes behind the East flood hide .

On our way past the hide we saw Chris Dyett making haste towards us with the news he had seen & heard a Yellow browed Warbler in the tree by the car park, this was awesome news as there had never been one seen at Oare Marshes before (as far we know !?).

We thanked Chris for the info & his great find and then made our way around to the car park and after only a couple of minutes we heard a Chiffchaff then another bird caught our eyes and a Yellow browed Warbler popped out in front of us giving a fantastic view , and then disappeared again.

I only managed a very poor record shot of this superb bird (poor even by my low standards) but here it is anyway.

Yellow browed Warbler.

Yellow browed Warblers are not rare by any stretch of the imagination but to see the 1st one for this reserve was great and was my 3rd new bird for OMBL this morning.