Sunday 28 February 2010

Dungeness RSPB & ARC pits

A trip to Dungeness was the order of the day , my instincts were telling me to head straight down for a sea watch but the weather was awful , standing in heavy rain was not a good idea as i am still getting over an illness , however i wish i had now as some really good sea birds were seen .

Still i had a good day on the reserve and arc pits , started of with a Smew from the Makepeace hide , plenty of gulls and Cormorants but not alot else to be honest , so i headed of to the Denge marsh hide in the hope of catching up with Slavonian Grebe which i missed earlier this year, and within a couple of minutes of scanning there right in front of the hide was a Slavonian Grebe. 

Slavonian Grebe.

Really pleased with my view of this wintering grebe i continued to look through the rest of the wildfowl on offer , lots of the more regular ducks you would expect to see plus 11 Ruddy Ducks  and i noticed alot of " grey geese " in the fields behind the pool , scanning through these produced my 2nd year tick of the day , a superb 5 White-Fronted Geese (year tick 109) , whilst watching these everything took to the air , there was a raptor about and then a really close view of a Peregrine ( year tick 110 ) darting across the pool right in front of the hide was brilliant , unfortunately i was to slow with my camera to get a picture , i added another Slavonian Grebe and Curlew, Oystercatcher and Lapwing were also added from this hide before i decided to dodge the showers and head back to the visitor center.

 On my way back i was keeping an eye out for Tree Sparrow but i had no luck with those today, however i did get a prolonged view of a Bittern flying over the reed bed , that's 3 Bitterns i have seen this year, quite remarkable considering i normally struggle to see one a year , once back at the car park a quick scan of the feeders produced 4 Great Tits, 2 Blue Tits, 2 Reed Buntings and  Chaffinch, oh i also heard Green Woodpecker .

I then made my way over to the Hanson Hide which overlooks the Arc pits , never been to this hide before and it does give you a good view over this extensive gravel pit , on entering the hide i heard a Cettis Warbler ( year tick 111 ) and shortly after setting up the scope i was on yet another Smew and managed a photo also i took this pic of some Shoveler in flight .


Shoveler in flight .

I added my third Slavonian Grebe of the day here, plus 5 male Goldeneyes and 10 females, a total of 3 redhead Smew , 100 + Gadwall and a very showy wintering  Chiffchaff (year tick 112) , of interest i was told there was 2 female Scaup seen here earlier and after spending quite abit of time looking and checking everything there was no sign of them, however there were at least 2 female Tufted ducks with an awful lot of white around the base of there bills but they clearly had tufts on there heads, i am not saying the birder who told me about the Scaup was mistaken but it had me wondering ?? well that was about it for Dungeness today although i still had time to add one more year tick to my list on the way home in the form of a Grey Partridge (year tick 113) .

Sunday 21 February 2010

Successful trip to Oare Marshes

Two site ticks and two year ticks were gained in a very successful couple of hours spent at Oare Marshes this afternoon, i have not been out birding for most of the month due to illness and other commitments , my year list had come to almost full stop and of course i have missed getting out and about , so with a couple hours spare i headed off to Oare on the hope of adding Smew to my site list and with abit of luck connecting with the Spotted Redshank that i need for my year list.

On arrival i stopped in the pull in and scanned over the East flood and despite good views of Pintail and various other duck species there was no sign of the Smew and also there were very few waders to be seen either, not a great start , but hey at least i am out !

I parked up the old banger and then headed off towards the hide over looking the East flood adding Snipe , Grey Heron and Kestrel to my days tally , i know exciting stuff , anyhow on reaching the hide i bumped into another birder who had seen the Smew earlier but had lost sight of it, oh joy looks like i will miss out again on this elusive sawbill at this site . 

Still after several scans and adding Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and loads of Teal i still had not seen the Smew , then something caught my eye on one of the islands behind a small mound , i saw the top of a birds head , reddish in colour , what could it be...  and then the " Redhead Smew " stood up giving me great joy and delight in adding this to my sight list .

Waders were coming in to roost , 100 + Redshank , Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and then my first year tick of the afternoon in the shape of a Black-Tailed Godwit , scanning through the Redshank produced my second year tick in the form of a very fine Spotted Redshank , i think these are truly smart waders and never tire at looking at them .

Time was running out and one last scan over towards Sheppy where i could see a large flock of distant geese  which were to far away to id or though if i was a betting man i would have said " Brents " , anyhow whilst checking over these geese my second site tick flew across my vision and landed on a post, wow it was a Barn Owl , i didn't need it for my year list but it was a real surprise to get it just fly in front of my field of view , so really pleased i set of back to the old banger and had time to add a fly over Little Egret to a very good couple of hours birding, roll on next week !!!!

Mute Swan

Tufted Duck

Teal & Dunlin

I am still getting used to my camera and these are my latest efforts taken at Grove ferry  , top pic is two Mute Swans about to do some ice breaking, middle pic is a female Tufted Duck and the bottom pic is of  some Teal , can anyone spot the Dunlin  ???