Friday 17 December 2010

Merry Christmas

As i am likely to be working from now until Christmas i would just like to say a BIG THANKYOU to everyone who has followed my blog and to  those of you have also been kind enough to have left comments ,  i would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope the new year brings you all some great birds and plenty of lifers .

very snowy garden shed.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Waxwing invasion ......... in Folkstone

Waxwings in tree.

I headed to Folkestone yesterday in the hope of trying to see some of the Waxwings that have invaded Folkestone , i arrived at approx 10am and parked up in the B&Q car park  and instantly saw a huge gathering of Waxwings in the top of a nearby tree. they eventually flew over my head and started feeding on some berries much lower down and really close , here are a selection of many photos i took.

They were constantly flying around and feeding i counted approx 200 birds but there was probably more.

In flight.

From here i headed to Dungeness and was treated to several good views of Bittern i had 2 perched in trees right out in the open and another bird in flight .

Bittern in flight.

I had some good numbers of winter ducks , 1 male and 6 female Goosanders , 1 male and 5 female Smew , plus plenty of Goldeneye ,  and large numbers of the regular ducks were everywhere , i also saw 3 Egyptian Geese from the viewing ramp , i was also pleased to see 2 Black-Necked Grebes from the denge marsh hide , a total of 3 Marsh Harriers around the reserve plus a very smart Tree Sparrow by the feeders was very good to see , then it was time to head home , a really good days birding.

Hot off the press : I have just checked my records and it turns out the 3 Egyptian Geese seen at Dungeness was a new site tick for me !!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Rustic Delight......... in Whitstable !!!!

Rustic Bunting.

I was just about to head of to meet a good friend of mine for dinner when the pager alerted me that there was a Rustic Bunting less then 10 minutes from my house , wow i chucked all my birding gear in the car and headed off and was on site watching the bird within 15 minutes , the last Rustic Bunting that i saw in Kent was way back in the eighties and this was a very much welcome sight , it was calling on and off and spent most of its time either in the tree in the above photo or on the ground just the other side of the path .

Rustic Bunting , note the peaked crown.

I watched this bird for about 45 minutes then had to reluctantly go , i was already late , but hey you can't not go for a local Rustic Bunting  now can you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dungeness site tick.........Plus Pett levels

Glaucous Gull juv. tailless wonder .

I had a really great days birding  on Saturday 20th at Dungeness  as i tried to  see the tail less juv. Glaucous Gull , as i arrived near the fishing boats news came out on the pager of a Yellow-Browed Warbler in the trapping area near the obs , i decided to head straight there which was no less then 5 mins from where i was , i arrived on site and was told that it had just disappeared into the top of the canopy , then another birder came around from the other side to say it was showing from there , we all went around but it was nowhere to be seen , we all spread around the small clump of trees / bushes and i managed to pick it out quite low down heading into the upper canopy  , it showed really well at times , although it never stayed still long enough to get a photo .

There was also a couple of really smart Firecrests here to , from here i headed back to the fishing boats and put in about an hour without connecting with the Glaucous gull , i did see 6 Red-Throated Divers , 20 Common Scoters & Guillemot on the sea  , lots of Gannets and Kittiwakes moving up and down the beach , i decided to head to the point but had no luck there either on the way back to the reserve i spotted a large amount of large gulls by the fishing boats so i parked up and on the way there i picked out the Glaucous Gull which was a very much wanted year tick   !

The fact it had no tail did not seem to hinder it at all , a really smart bird .

I then made my way to the Rspb reserve to use their facilities and to see what was on the reserve , the bird that caught my eye was a Brambling which was coming to the feeders in the car park , really brightly coloured and a site tick for me .

I did not have much daylight left so i decided to head straight to Pett levels and try and see the Grey Phalarope and Snow Bunting which had been seen there over the last few days , well i was not disappointed , the Grey Phalarope was seen instantly i got out of the car , really amazing birds to see , it was constantly going round and around in a circle stirring up a whirl pool so it could pick of any thing that it fancied to eat , i got some photos :

Grey Phalarope.

I also completed this great days birding with a very showy Snow Bunting .

Snow Bunting.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Reculver plus Devon again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hooded Crow.

I spent the morning on Saturday 13th November at Reculver and enjoyed good views of the Hooded Crow which has taken up residence there , it was mainly seen near the oyster farm and was keeping company with about 20 Carrion Crows , this was a welcome year tick and a new bird for me at this site . Here are some more photos :

Hooded Crow with 2 Carrion Crows for company.

I also saw a Peregrine having a tussle with a Marsh Harrier and approx 400 Dark-Bellied Brent Geese flew into a nearby field .

14th November 2010

On Sunday 14th November i headed to Exminster Marshes in the hope of seeing the American Robin ,  i arrived at approx 9.45 am and the weather was awful , steady rain with no sign of letting up , i made my way around towards the Turf hotel , there was negative news no sign all morning , this looked very much like another west country dip , the news was that the American Robin had flown off towards a slightly further away hedge row and possibly beyond on the Saturday , i had a look over the estuary and added 3 Red-Breasted Mergansers , and a close view of a Kingfisher barely lifted my spirits , i then headed back to where the bird was last seen on the Saturday and joined several other hopeful birders , the rain was becoming heavier and i was soon like a drowned rat with moods to match , i had been standing there for nearly 2 hours when some thrushes started to appear along the hedge row , plenty of Redwings , Song Thrush and Blackbird but alas now American Robin, in some ways i though that the Thrushes are now feeding but i also thought if the main attraction was still present i would have seen it by now.

 I really thought i had dipped when the chap standing to my left put the very much welcome " I'VE GOT IT !!! "  shout out , it had appeared on the ground below the hedge row , great scope views but to distant for a photo even though i tried , it flew up into the bush then back down again , it eventually flew alot closer and at times great views were obtained , this was  a really great year tick for me , i did get some quite terrible record shots and i apologize for how awful they are , but what a stunning mind numbing bird to see .

Record shots of American Robin.

Dip... and Green Heron Revisited

Green Heron.

I headed to Cornwall  on Sunday 7th November and my target was the American Bittern  , well to cut a long rather painful story short , i dipped it !!! it was bad enough for me even though i saw the one at Martin Mere back in the late eighties but that's birding sometimes , I was approx 15 mins from the site when the news came on the pager that despite extensive searching since first light there was no sign of it , damn and blast were just a couple of thoughts that came to mind !!!!! 

I decided to head straight for the Green Heron   , i got to Pentewan and there was no sign of it in the top ponds  , i made my way down to the lower ponds better know as the lost gardens where i came across a couple of birders who had re-located the Heron ,   after a while i was enjoying crippling views of this stunning bird .

Green Heron.

I called into Exminster rspb reserve on the way back but the American golden plover was not present it had relocated to Dawlish Warren and sadly i did not have enough day light left to get there in time , i did add Kingfisher which was a year tick for yours truly plus various waders and wildfowl .

Monday 15 November 2010

Scilly Season...Final Part.... Last 2 days and Journey home .


Thursday 28th was a fairly quite day after the excitement of yesterdays top birds , i heard in total 3 Yellow-Browed Warblers in various locations and saw a possible Siberian Chiffchaff in the Green farm area but sadly although it looked good i did not hear it call , my main event today was at Lower moors , i headed there in the hope of getting a photo of a Jack snipe , when i entered the ISBG hide it was completely empty , so i opened the flap very slowly and quietly so as not to disturb any potential bird that might be close by , as i opened the flap i instantly saw this very close Greenshank and i know its not a rare bird but it was a great opportunity to get some close photos .


I was so pleased to get these photos and they are my favourite pictures to date . well from here i was just about to leave Lower moors and head off back to my b & b when i encountered a stunning Firecrest keeping company with 3 Goldcrest , really fantastic birds to see.  Well my last days birding on Scilly was Friday 29th and i added 2 " Scilly  ticks " the first one was a female Red-Breasted Merganser which was seen near a juv Common Scoter at Porthcressa beach , and later in the day i was at the Dump clump when news came over the CB that 2 Spoonbills were flying towards this direction and sure enough they flew over head and circled round then headed back to were they came from , very windy today and i did a brief sea watch and really only added Gannet, Kittiwake and several Shags to the days total , i also went up to the Garrison and saw this very showy Stonechat .


The trip home was a quick drive to Pentewan to try for the second time to see the Green Heron , and this time i was successful .

Green Heron.

Well that was the end of my holiday , i never got any lifers but plenty of year ticks 16 in total , the experience of Scilly is one not to be missed , the social aspect is very good to , meeting new and old friends exchanging news on whats around and general discussions is amazing , if you have never been then i would recommend you try and go and experience these wonderful islands . Here are some scenes from the Islands plus the Helicopter that i went on to get there and back .

Saturday 13 November 2010

Scilly Season Part 2..... Mid - week Bonanza !!!!!!!!!!

Water Pipit.

This is the second part of my birding holiday to the Isles of Scilly , i spent Tuesday the 26th Oct. on St Marys and did my usual walk through the " dump clump " and  saw a Swallow fly overhead plus a couple of Chiffchaffs moving through the bushes , i reached the end of the trail and joined a small gathering of birders straining to get a view of a very vocal Yellow-Browed Warbler and after a few minutes it appeared out in the open , quite fantastic to see two wing bars a very obvious supercillium and quite a bright looking individual , quite brilliant to be honest and although i do year tick birds on call as well as on sight this was the first i had seen really well on this trip .

From here i continued to the Old town Church Yard but only added 3 Blackcaps 2 fly over Lesser Redpolls and 2 Goldcrests, i then choose to head off to Lower moors where there had been a Water Pipit reported the day before and these are quite scarce on Scilly plus i needed it for my ever growing year list , on entering the ISBG hide the news was negative , it had flown off half an hour earlier and not been seen since , bother , well i thought i would sit it out for an hour birders came and went and i added Reed Bunting, a male Siskin flew in for a quick drink , a Water Rail put in a brief but good appearance , there were 4 Chiffchaffs showing over the back of the reed bed , and then 3 more birders came into the hide and would you believe the Water Pipit within seconds turned up , here are just some pictures i took of it .

Water Pipit .

Well moving onto Wednesday the 27th , this was by far the best days birding of the trip , news broke the previous evening of a Red-Breasted Flycatcher at the Garrison and even though i tried for it late yesterday evening it had gone to roost , i was back up at the Garrison at around about 9.15 am and it was still there but had just flown out of view , whilst waiting for its re-appearance news broke of a Dusky Warbler at the bottom of Holy Vale , quite a few birders who had already connected with the Flycatcher rushed off which left only a handful of birders me included and after about another 15 minutes the Flycatcher re-appeared , showing its self off in all its glory .

                                                 Red-Breasted Flycatcher.

At one point it hovered in mid air , it was typical flycatcher in behaviour , returning to the same perch each time it went fly catching.

Red-Breasted Flycatcher.

I watched the Flycatcher for another 30 minutes and then headed off towards Porth Loo beach in the hope of connecting with the 3 Pale-Bellied Brent Geese that had been residing there all week and within seconds of arriving their i was soon watching them.

1 of the 3 Pale-Bellied Brent Geese.

I also saw a Black Redstart from this site . From here i got a lift from one of the local birders to Holy vale where the Dusky Warbler had re-appeared when we arrived on site the mass of birders were standing along the trail looking up into the canopy which rather surprised me as i have seen 4 Dusky's before and they have all kept low down in the scrub  and quite skulking , as luck would have it the damn bird flew of out of sight across the field into " Low Scrub " before i got onto it ,  a couple of birders for some reason only known to themselves thought it would be a good idea to go into said field , much to the disdain of everyone else gathered , well after approx 30 minutes the Dusky Warbler re-appeared at the entrance of the trail and proceeded to show well on and off in the top of the canopy , good views were obtained and it also called on and off , sorry no photos , although there are some on various blogs and surf birds .

Well what a start to the day , i decided i would try and go off island to St Agnes to see the Spotted Sandpiper i got to the quay for 2 o'clock and bumped into    Viv Stratton on the boat to St Agnes and we joined forces in the pursuit of the Spotted Sandpiper , on arriving at St Agnes there were quite a few birders waiting to catch the boat back and they informed us that the Sandpiper was showing well and roughly the area it was seen. 

We headed off there and when we reached the area it had been seen we could not locate it so we walked abit further round and almost stood on it as we flushed it by accident , it flew down the beach and called once a single " peet " where as Common sandpipers have a series of short " peets " , and the wing bars on the Spotted were not full length as on Common , we tried to get closer but lost sight of it , we thought it would be a good idea to go for a walk and then return to see if it would re-appear so of we went and on are return we had stunning views of this bird , i will let the photo's tell the story from here .

                                                      Spotted Sandpiper.

If you enlarge the photos you can just see some spotting on the flanks , other birds of note were a Willow Warbler,  6 Swallows and a really smart Ringtail Hen Harrier , well that ends part 2 of my trip to the Scilly , part 3 will cover the last 2 days and my trip home .

Sunday 31 October 2010

Scilly Season Part 1 .... The Journey and first 3 Days !!!!

Great Grey Shrike.

Having not been to the Scilly since 2000 i was very much looking forward to this trip , i left home on Friday the 22nd to stay over night in Okehampton then continue my journey to Penzance on Saturday 23rd and eventually fly to St Mary's in the afternoon . Well i had time to do some birding on the Friday and my target was a Great Grey Shrike that had taken up residence at rspb reserve Aylesbeare in Devon , i arrived on site and bumped into 2 other birders who had been looking for the Shrike but had no luck , we walked around the site together adding Grey wagtail, Stonechat and 2 Dartford Warblers which were a year tick , then news came on the pager that there was a showy Great Grey Shrike at nearby Woodbury Common so we shot over there and within a couple of minutes we were enjoying distant but good views of the Shrike which was a welcome 2nd year tick of the day.

From here i headed to wards Berry head where i had been tipped of that it is quite a good site for Cirl Bunting which proved to be far more difficult than i thought , i did hear one bird but never saw any , maybe i had gone to the wrong area ( not for the first time ) i could have gone to more traditional sites but i like to go to new areas but i guess that's the chance you take !!

On the Saturday i tried for the Green Heron in Cornwall but would you believe that was the day it was not seen , more to come on that one later !!!

Whooper Swan.

I arrived on the Isles of Scilly at approx 3 pm and once i dropped my gear off at the B+B i headed off towards Lower Moors where there earlier reports on the pager said there were Whooper Swan , Yellow Browed Warbler and Siberian Chiffchaff , on my through the gate i heard Water Rail and when i entered the Hilda quick hide i was soon looking at a lonely looking Whooper swan juv.  

On the way back i heard over the cb radio that there was a Cattle Egret flying over Holy vale towards Telegraph which from where i was standing i wouldn't see it, so i made my way towards the road and higher ground , and eventually the Cattle Egret flew over the road over Lower moors giving brief but good views.

 The 24th was a goodish day i had an excellent view of a Serin  through a telescope but could not manage a photo like some , it was feeding in a weed covered field in the company of Chaffinch and House Sparrows and every now and again they would all fly up onto the hedge row which was the only time you could see it , as i was about to leave a Sparrowhawk swooped down and scattered all the small birds in all directions which was quite dramatic to see .

  I heard a Yellow-Browed Warbler in Holy Vale which was my 2nd year tick of the day , i ended up at Porth Hellick looking out of the seaward hide and saw 4 Greenshank and a superb Jack Snipe bobbing up and down , love these birds , short bill yellow braces on the mantle really great to see and my 3rd year tick of the day !!!

Top Male Siskin . Bottom Female / juv Siskin

Scilly as good as it is can be very hard work when its quite , lots of walking and constant scanning and checking out areas that others have checked several times before you and no doubt after you , Sunday 25th proved one of those days , my routine was to walk through an area called the dump clump then onto the Old town church cemetery then onto where any other birds may have been reported  , i did this most days , and although birding was quite i saw Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Blackcaps at the Dump clump , and year ticked a very smart Firecrest in the cemetery.

 I heard my 2nd Yellow-Browed warbler of the trip in Holy vale also i saw 2 Ravens over head there , there was also another Lesser whitethroat and a Reed Warbler at the entrance to Holy vale which is a wooded trail leading up to the north of the island , i was hoping to see a Lapland Bunting at the riding stables but it had gone by the time  i got there.

 I was compensated by 15 bright coloured Siskins feeding in the nearby pine trees, from here i headed and ended up at Mount Todden farm in the hope of seeing the invisible Subalpine warbler which remained invisible for most of the week apart from the lucky few who had 5 second glimpses , however i did see and hear a fly over Lapland Bunting , i also year ticked Merlin from this site .

Well that's it for the first part of my holiday , stay tuned for the second part which includes my best days birding on Scilly of the holiday and some red hot photos to match .