Monday, 25 September 2023

New Bird for Kent ........American Cliff Swallow

                                                19th & 20th September 2023

                                                        Joss Bay  Margate 


American Cliff Swallow.

On Tuesday the 19th September i was at home recovering from a bad back which has been plaguing me for a couple of weeks when news of a Red Rumped Swallow at Joss Bay in Thanet appeared on BirdGuides, although i was tempted to head to Thanet  to see it the weather outside was overcast & very windy plus my back was still not 100% better.

Then everything changed !!!!! News then came out that this bird was indeed a possible American Cliff Swallow !!!!!!!!!

Bad back or no bad back i just had to make the effort and go, i loaded my car with Bins & camera , couldn't manage the scope but to be honest i didn't think i would need that anyway.

Eventually i reached Joss Bay car park not knowing if the possible American Cliff Swallow had been confirmed or not plus was it still here or had it buggered off whilst i was on route ???

I could only see one other birder looking over the Cliff edge , he didn't look like he was going to jump off , so that was a good sign i hoped !!

Then i saw 2 or 3 hirundines fly over his head and heading towards me, i checked them out and the first bird i saw was :


American Cliff Swallow.

This was an amazing experience , the views were absolutely superb , quite often very close overhead and even flying between us at times, i went down to the beach a couple of times and enjoyed some lower views as it flew very fast past the cliff face and much to fast to get a photo (for me anyway).

I did manage some however from higher up :

American Cliff Swallow.

The American Cliff Swallow is a first ever record for Kent and many congratulations to the finders and a big thankyou for putting the news out so quickly, this bird was also present on the 20th September.

It was also great to bump into so many familiar Kent birders on site & many thanks to Steve Ashton for giving my camera the once over (hopefully my photos will improve in due course).  

Thursday, 31 August 2023

Red-Footed Booby on Bishop Rock

                                            21st August 2023 :  Bishop Rock

                                            Isle of Scilly plus Scillonian Crossings  


1st summer Pale Morph Red-Footed Booby.

As the title of this blog states, on Monday 21st August i joined my birding pal RR on the Scillonian MV heading towards St. Mary's, Isle of Scilly and then on to the pelagic vessel the Sapphire out towards Bishop Rock.

Our target bird was the quite exceptional Red-Footed Booby which had been remarkably seen on one of the previous weeks Pelagic trips!!

It was refound by the same expert crew from the Sapphire roosting on the Bishop Rock lighthouse a few days later.

We arrived on St. Mary's at approx 12pm and then went straight onto the Sapphire and we then headed off towards the Bishop Rock lighthouse, there had been no news all morning if the Red-Footed Booby was still present or not ??!!

We eventually reached Bishop Rock and the holy grail was sat up high  on the mesh , a huge sigh of relief & joy throughout the boat as we all connected with this remarkable bird.
Here is a small selection of the photos i took of the Red-Footed Booby :

Having a preen

Reddish feet

Pinkish bill

Red-Footed Booby.

The captain of the Sapphire Joe Pender did a great job manoeuvring his boat to get us the best possible views for which i am very grateful.

Other birds seen from the Sapphire were several close Cory's Shearwater, 1 Great Shearwater & a possible Scopoli's Shearwater.

Here are a selection of Cory's Shearwater photo's :

Cory's Shearwater.

Here are a couple of photo's of the possible Scopoli's Shearwater (any opinions on this appreciated)  :

Possible Scopoli's Shearwater.

We had a great crossing both ways on the Scillonian where it was great to bump into Rafael Mitchell & Mark Dawson .

We saw 70+ Cory's Shearwaters, 2 Great Shearwaters, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 100's of Manx Shearwaters, 25+ Storm Petrels, 1 Arctic Skua & 1 Adult Long Tailed Skua.

We also saw a Risso's Dolphin & several Common Dolphins from the Scillonian plus a Sunfish & several Grey Seals  from the Sapphire.

Manx Shearwater.

Manx Shearwater.

Long Tailed Skua photo by Mark Dawson.

Long Tailed Skua Photo by Mark Dawson.

Many thanks to Mark Dawson for allowing me to use his superb photos of the Long Tailed Skua on my blog.



Saturday, 19 August 2023

New Bird for my Kent List...........At Last !!!

                                         14th August 2023 ; Isle of Sheppey

                                              Raptor Watch Point at Capel

1st summer Black Stork.

 A Black Stork  had been seen the previous week in the Sandwich area (which i dipped twice) & also seen again flying over my home town on Sunday 13th when i was elsewhere visiting family made me think i am not destined to see this bird.

However that all changed on Monday morning the 14th August as news came through the Black Stork had been seen again at Capel on the Isle of Sheppey !!!!

When it was established it had settled in a cut field i made the decision to head for there thinking that it will no doubt fly off again before i get there !!

I eventually arrived in the Raptor watch point car park where there was only 5 other cars & no birders to be seen , i finally had chance to read my messages and followed the instructions and joined my fellow birders and set my eyes on this wonderful Black Stork !!!

This Black Stork is a very welcome addition to my Kent Bird List.

Here are a selection of photos i took :

Being mobbed

Black Stork.

Many thanks to the farmer who allowed us all unlimited access to view the Black Stork.

Wednesday, 9 August 2023

New Bird for my Oare Marsh Bird List

                                                 2nd August 2023 ;  Oare Marshes.


Pectoral Sandpiper.

I received a phone call from my birding pal Richard informing me that Murray had just found a Pectoral Sandpiper roosting with Redshanks on one of the Islands near the road , so without haste i grabbed my birding gear and headed to Oare Marshes.

I followed Geoff Burton along the entrance road and we duly arrived together to hear the news ,'' It's just flown out of sight'', don't you just love that phrase !!!!

We were assured it hadn't flown off completely and therefore the search to relocate it had begun , some 45 minutes later still no sign !!!

Pectoral Sandpiper with Redshank.

A dustbin lorry went past the pull-in disturbing everything & did the same on it's return journey, hopefully this would help us re find the Pec !!

We continued to search the area and then thankfully Murray refound the Pectoral Sandpiper in front of the Cormorant Island .

What a relief , some really great views through the scope and i happily added this smart wader to my OMLL , great find Murray !!

Pectoral Sandpiper.

The Bonaparte's Gull is now starting to moult and as of last Saturday (5th) it look like this.

Moulting around the face

Grey nape.

Bonaparte's Gull.

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

2nd Time Lucky ..................

                             18th July 2023 : Trimingham 


2 of the 3 European Bee-eaters.

News of a Black-winged Kite seen late evening at Horsey in Norfolk on Monday 17th July had us make plans to go the following morning !!!

We made a huge error in judgment and didn't go until positive news the following morning and it proved very costly as by the time we were still about an hour away from Horsey the news came out the BWK had flown of high north and out of sight .

It was then seen flying over the Bee-eater site at Trimingham still heading north , so we parked up to decide what to do, we decided to head to Trimingham and at least hopefully see the European Bee-eaters and we would be in a good position if the BWK reappeared which unfortunately it didn't !!!

Here are a selection of photos of the superb Bee-eaters :

In flight

Lovely colours

At the burrow

Catching a Bee

3 European Bee-eaters.

20th July 2023 ;  Horsey
2nd Time Lucky

We headed back to Norfolk on 20th July, this time very early and after a frantic 20 min walk we eventually laid eyes on the fantastic ;

Black-winged Kite !!!!!

The BWK was still roosting and was constantly wing stretching and preening , although it was a little bit distant the scope views were amazing, bright red eyes, overall grey upperparts with white underparts, pale grey crown, dark black shoulder patches & primaries plus yellowish talons were all seen very well.

Black-winged Kite.

I managed a few Digi-scoped photos of no real quality as i was just to keen to watch the bird (thats my excuse anyway....).

The Black-winged Kite eventually left the roost at approx 8.05am and flew straight towards us and headed of north then turned and went south giving superb flight views.
I was once again to slow with the camera but had some great views .

I bumped into Noah, David & Tasmin (great to meet you all) and Noah managed a flight shot of the BWK which he has kindly let me use, thank you Noah. I also saw Brian Anderson , great to see you.

Black-winged Kite Photo by Noah.

On the way back to the car park a Common Crane was seen plus several more were heard.

Record shot of the Black-winged Kite.

Back at the car park we waited and checked the nearby area in case the BWK reappeared which unfortunately it didn't , i did enjoy watching an adult & juv Swallow nearby though.


The drive home was much more pleasant then on the 18th that's for sure !!!

Saturday, 22 July 2023

Returning Bonaparte's Gull......... Oare Marshes

                                                     8th July 2023 : Oare Marshes 

Bonaparte's Gull.

News came through on the 6th July that the superb Bonaparte's Gull had returned to Oare Marshes for it's 11th successive year !!

I couldn't get to Oare Marshes until the following Saturday the 8th and thankfully i enjoyed prolonged views of this stunning bird in all it's superb summer plumage.

Eating a nice juicy worm.

In flight.

Bonaparte's Gull

Roosting on East Flood at High tide.

It was an enjoyable session this morning, great to bump into Rob & Thomas who put me onto a flyby Black Tern (well picked out by Thomas).

Black Tern photo by Thomas.

There wasn't many waders on the East Flood as water levels are to high at the moment, hopefully KWT will release some water soon !!!!

But i did see a superb Ruff , thanks for the info MW & RR.

Ruff on East Flood.

16th July  : Oare Marshes

Best foot forward.

Another visit to Oare Marshes on the 16th July produced more cracking views of the Bonaparte's Gull on the mud east of the slipway , great to bump into David & Noah today.

Bonaparte's Gull.

It was better weather wise today and a walk up to Dan's Dock was productive with several Dainty Damselfly's seen.

Dainty Damselfly.

The Marsh Frogs were in good voice as usual plus a couple of Grass Snakes were seen.

Marsh Frog.

Grass Snake.

Back at the East Flood we saw a rare plant and i was reliably informed it's a type of bindweed called Stonestreetii