As the headline of this blog post indicates the returning Bonaparte's Gull has now appeared for it's 9th year .
The Bonaparte's Gull is in superb plumage when it first turns up , dark black head (which extends down the nape a bit further then BHG) with white eye crescents which really stand out plus a small black bill and really bright red legs are all good features to look for when trying to locate the Bonaparte's Gull.
We actually heard the Bonaparte's Gull Call on 3 separate occasion's on Saturday, a much higher pitched call compared to BHG.
According to Wikipedia Bonaparte's Gulls can live up to 18 years of age so hopefully we will be lucky enough to enjoy this bird for a few more years yet.
On the 30th June i travelled up overnight to Bempton Cliffs with RR & PG in the hope of seeing one of my most wanted birds, we arrived on site at 4.45am and joined the already gathered birders which were all viewing from the first platform overlooking the previous night's roosting site, however the Black browed Albatross had obviously moved overnight and depressingly could not be seen.
Close flight views.
I decided to move further down the cliff to the Staple Newk viewing platform as there was only about 20 other birders there, still no BBA but great views of Gannet, Razorbill,Guillemot, Kittiwake & Fulmar plus i was really pleased to add Puffin to my year list.
After approx 2 & half hours of standing & hoping & praying all in a cold NNW wind & squally rain showers there was probably only a handful of us left at Staple Newk, the rest had returned further up the cliff to view from there, i was just about to have a sip of coffee when the birder next to me shouted '' I'VE F*@KING GOT IT !!!!!! ''
I was straight onto it and could not believe my eyes , never thought i would be lucky enough to see such a magnificent bird in the UK , needless to say our small group soon grew to 100 +, i glanced up the cliff and could see birders running towards us.
The Black-browed Albatross did several close fly-bys affording amazing views, eventually it landed on the sea and started to drift doing a bit of wing stretching and preening.
I let half a dozen birders look through my scope as they hadn't seen it and could not pick it out on the sea, then the BBA took flight then came back round very close to the cliff.
A truly memorable exciting experience and certainly one of the best birds i have ever seen.
26th June : Icklingham Suffolk
It's been a long time since i have seen a Roller in the UK so with news of one showing well near Icklingham Suffolk i headed there with AE.
Distant views at first as it sat on a fence post drying out after the early morning drizzle but after a short while the Roller became more active.
It was constantly flying down to the ground catching beetles and then would fly up to the overhead wires, the Roller also caught several Bee's & Dragonflies.
12th June : Ham Wall Rspb Somerset.
A River Warbler had set up territory at the superb Rspb reserve Ham Wall in Somerset, constantly 'Reeling' and showing well on occasions for several days, it's been several years since i have seen one in the UK and that one did not show as well as this bird.
The decision was made to go on the 12th June, we made our way around to the area the River Warbler had been seen and we could hear it 'Reeling' before we even reached the area, the River Warbler showed really well , here are a selection of photos.
7th June : Blyth Estuary Northumberland
Red necked Stint with Ringed Plovers.
A long trip up to the Blyth Estuary on the 7th June with RR was very successful with great scope views of the summer plumage adult Red necked Stint.
My digi scope photo's don't do this bird justice at all , it was keeping company with Ringed Plovers & a Little Stint.
So after nearly 4 weeks after my operation i was out and about again thankfully and my first trip was an afternoon dash to see the adult Rose Coloured Starling along Denge marsh road.
The weather was awful , torrential rain and very overcast , all the Common Starlings were quite distant and keeping down out of the rain.
I was lucky enough to get onto the RCS after about 15 mins but poor views were obtained as it was to distant.
Pink bill can also be seen in this photo.
We decided to look from the road that leads you to Galloways and this proved to be a good idea as although still distant the RCS was seen on a pylon having a look around for a few minutes.
Rose coloured Starling.
5th June : Oare Marshes & Godmersham
An early phone call from RR informed me he had just found a Montagu's Harrier at Oare Marshes (Great find mate), so without haste we headed straight there.
The Montagu's Harrier was not on view when we arrived , it had gone to ground on the marsh near the blockhouse on Sheppy, after a approx 30 mins it took to flight again and eventually headed towards Castle Coote and then flew towards us along The Swale.
Small white rump visible.
Although it was always on the Sheppy side of the Swale we all had great scope views of this new bird for my Oare Marsh bird list.
Other birds of note were 2Turtle Doves in the paddock area which were great to see & hear plus a superb drake Garganey still in all it's glory on the West Flood.
After the excitement of all the superb birds at Oare Marshes we decided to head to Godmersham via a brief stop at Chilham where AE heard a singing Firecrest.
A look over the bridge at Godmersham produced 2 Grey Wagtails busy with beaks full of food for their unseen young, no sign of any Mandarins today though.
I decided to drive around to the church in the hope of seeing Little Owl & Spotted Flycatcher , AE walked from the bridge and phoned me to say he had found a Spotted Flycatcher, so i headed back and had decent views of the Spotted Flycatcher on top of a roof and then on top of a nearby tree.
On Saturday the 8th May we headed to Old Ferry Road on the Isle of Sheppy in the hope of seeing the Cattle Egrets that had taken up residence there over the last few weeks.
As we came over the old bridge we could see in the distance at least 3 Cattle Egrets and as we eventually pulled up along the road a further 2 birds flew in making a total of 5 Cattle Egrets !!
3 of the 5 Cattle Egrets.
These birds were in superb breeding plumage and one bird in particular was much further advanced in it's plumage, they came very close at times (we stayed in the car) and on occasion they would get flushed by a Marsh Harrier , they would then fly around and eventually would return to their favoured field.
Having a fly around.
Here are a small selection of photos :
On checking my bird notes these Cattle Egrets are surprisingly the first ones i have ever seen on the Isle of Sheppy.
A day trip was planned in Surrey on the 1st May, starting off at Puttenham Common, i had never been to this site before and we were really trying to get lucky with the Wood Warbler that had set up a territory within the Common.
Silvery white underparts .
I have not seen a Wood Warbler since 2019 and the views were not that great even then , we made our way around to the area it had set up territory and we could hear it singing as we approached.
Wood Warbler in full voice.
We spent nearly 3 hours here watching this delightful Warbler , listening to it singing & calling was as enjoyable as watching it flit about the branches.
From here we headed to Thursley Common.
I really enjoyed birding here, we just don't have this type of habitat in Kent , Dartford Warblers were very vocal from the gorse bushes and even dared to show themselves on occasion.
A couple of Stonechats were seen, a single Wheatear appeared briefly, several Lesser Redpoll flew overhead , then we heard the unmistakable song of a Tree Pipit.
They have such an amazing display flight & song, cracking birds to see.
We decided to have a look to see if 'Colin' the Cuckoo was preforming today as i have never made the trip to see him before, i believe it's his 7th or 8th year returning to Thursley Common which is remarkable considering what he has to go through on each migration route !!!
We were not disappointed as 'Colin' did put in an appearance.
'Colin' the Cuckoo
I also took several digi scoped photos :
'Colin' the Cuckoo.
I have to say i am not a fan of having staging put up for wild birds to pose on however the local resident birds were certainly making use of the meal worms that some had left to attract the Cuckoo.
There were plenty of Chaffinch & Goldfinch coming down to feed plus Blackbird & Mistle Thrush didn't turn their noses up to some free grub.
A Woodlark came down for a feed and a male Common Redstart posed for the camera to.
A really great days birding in Surrey with pretty much all target birds seen and seen well to, i am looking forward to next years visit already.