Monday 31 December 2012

2012 ....... REVIEW

Well its that time of year again when i look back on my last years birding with fond memories , 2012 did not produce lots of lifers for me , i only had 4 Lifers and a year list of 226 . However i did see some amazing birds and had some great trips , here is a review of 2012 and i have added a picture of my bird of the month ( where possible ) .

JANUARY       Year list : 105

Many highlights this month including :  Western Sandpiper , Coues Arctic Redpoll , Ring Necked Duck , Ferruginus Duck and Dark Eyed Junco . However the bird of the month for me came in my first lifer of the year , a quite stunning male Spanish Sparrow .

Male Spanish Sparrow in Hampshire.

FEBRUARY   Year List : 118 .

I added 13 year ticks this month , the main event happened in Wales with quite simply fantastic views of a 1st winter male Common Yellowthroat , this was not a lifer for me but was most definitely bird of the month  , i also saw a male Lesser Scaup nearby .

Male Lesser Scaup.

And bird of the month.
1st Winter Common Yellowthroat

MARCH  Year List : 134

16 year ticks added this month , highlights included Common Crane , Garganey , Dartford Warbler , Richards Pipit and brief views of a Humes Yellow Browed Warbler, However although not the rarest bird i saw this month i have chosen the two Glossy Ibis  that i saw at Radipole Lake in Dorset as my bird of the month .

Two Glossy Ibis .

APRIL   Year List : 167 

I added 33 year ticks this month and i had an amazing trip to Scotland to thank for that, many highlights this month  including all the Scottish speciality's plus King Eider , Hoopoe , Iceland Gull and Greater Yellowlegs ,i had a lot to choose from for my bird of the month and i finally chose this amazing Capercallie .

Male Capercallie .

 MAY       Year List : 191

24 year ticks added this month , May never disappoints and this year was no different , waders were well represented with good views of  Kentish Plover , Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint , i also had superb views of a Nightjar  in broad daylight at Pagham , plus great views of 2 adult summer plumage White Winged Black Terns at Stodmarsh .

White Winged Black Tern at Stodmarsh 

However my bird of the month was an adult summer plumage Squacco Heron at Chew Valley Lake in Somerset.

Squacco Heron in Somerset .

JUNE    Year List : 199

Another 8 year ticks added this month with good views of , Night Heron , Woodlark and Goshawk , however i have chosen two species as my birds of the month , they are both predominately black and white in colouration and both species have long legs and bills , and they are Black Winged Stilt and my second lifer of the year 3 Whites Storks in Sussex .

 Black Winged Stilt .

3 White Storks .

JULY   Year List : 200

Only 1 year tick this month and that was at Oare Marshes in Kent and that was two smart Wood Sandpipers .

Two Wood Sandpiper.

AUGUST    Year List : 203.

Only 3 year ticks this month all at Dungeness in Kent which were Arctic Tern , Arctic Skua and my bird of the month Little Gull . 

Little Gull .

SEPTEMBER   Year List : 218

This was an amazing month with top quality birds seen through out , starting with my third lifer of the year in the form of a Short Billed Dowitcher in Dorset where i also saw a Monarch .

Monarch .

I also had great views of a male Red Footed Falcon in Chichester plus a smart looking Baillons Crake at Rainham Marshes in Essex.

Baillons Crake .

 However the highlight of the month was on my trip to Shetland when i finally connected with a quite stunning Lanceolated Warbler which was my fourth and final lifer of the year , other highlights this month included : Little Bunting , Common Rosefinch and Red Backed Shrike .

Lanceolated Warbler .

OCTOBER  Year List : 225

7 year ticks added this month all of top quality , starting off with an adult Red Breasted Goose at South Swale , then Reculver produced Dusky Warbler , Lapland Bunting and Shorelark , however a trip to Norfolk on the 25 th was amazing with thousands of thrushes everywhere , i also added Arctic Warbler and Ring Ouzel to my year list on this trip but the bird of the month was an amazing view of a very special bird indeed and that was a Red Flanked Bluetail .

Red Flanked Bluetail .

NOVEMBER   Year List : 225

No birding this month with work and other commitments getting in the way so year list still stands at 225 .

DECEMBER  Year List : 226

Only one year tick this month and that was Waxwing with 35 birds seen near Yorketts on the 2nd and a further 20+ birds seen near my local Tescos on the 24 th increasing to 50 + birds on the 29th  , other than that a trip to Oare Marshes produce excellent views of a Kingfisher , however bird of the month goes to Waxwing.

Waxwing .

Saturday 29 December 2012

Feeding Frenzy.......At Tescos Whitstable

Buy one get one free .

I popped into my local Tescos again today and the recently arrived Waxwings had increased to over 50 birds , they were in a different part of the car park today and were quite flighty , they came down to feed on the berries only for a few seconds before they took off and flew around only to return to more or less the same area .

Hopefully they will stick around to New Years Day and beyond .

Monday 24 December 2012

Tesco Waxwings Return.........

News of some Waxwings on show at my local Tescos called for a short trip to see them , i never tire of seeing these beauties , i did a rough count of 20 birds although there were probably more .

Sunday 16 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Just like to thank everyone who has visited my blog this past year and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and great birding for 2013 .

Sunday 2 December 2012

Waxwing Invasion.....

I finally caught up with some Waxwings this morning  near Yorkletts in Kent , there had been up to 40 birds present this morning , when i arrived behind Youngs lorry park there were no birds to be seen plus no birders about to get any info , i did a bit of a drive around and then located the flock by they bridge that goes over the Thanet Way and had at least 35 birds all to myself , just sat in my car enjoying great views and listening to their " trill " call , i put the news out on the pager , here are some photos i took .

They were disturbed by a van that drove by and flew back towards Youngs lorry park before i left .


Saturday 1 December 2012

New Site Tick at Oare Marsh

New patch tick Kingfisher.

I spent a very enjoyable couple hours at Oare Marshes this morning , i parked up by the slip way and walked along the sea wall towards Faversham Creek , the tide was out and there was a scattering of waders on the exposed mud flats , Redshank , Grey Plover and Dunlin were in good numbers , i reached the sea watching hide and scanned the Swale adding plenty of distant Dark Bellied Brent Geese and a single Great Crested Grebe , there were at least 60 + Avocets roosting on the edge of the tide plus a scattering of Curlew were near by .

Common Seals on Sand Bank.

Out on the exposed sand bank in the middle of the Swale were several Common Seals basking , i carried on my walk along Faversham creek towards the sluice , there were plenty of Wrens and Reed Buntings along here plus 2 Stonechats .

Male and Female Reed Buntings.

I could hear a couple of Cetti's Warblers sounding off in the distance , i was hoping to see Bearded Tits and try and get some photos but alas my luck was not in with these today , on reaching the sluice i came across a new bird for me at this reserve in the form of a quite stunning Kingfisher .

Sorry about this off focus image but just loved the blue flash on its back .

 I have tried catching up with this species here for quite a while so was very pleased to finally see one here , it spent most of its time perched on a post on the creek side of the sluice , every now and again it swooped down fishing and was successful on a couple of occasions , from here i walked past the East Flood hide disturbing several Redwing and Blackbirds from the bushes , out on the East flood there were plenty Lapwing and Common Snipe plus at least 4 Pintail were in and amongst the more regular wildfowl , and i finally returned back to my car very happy .

Sunday 25 November 2012

All quiet on the Birding Front......

Just a quick post , i have not been out birding for two to three weeks now other than dipping the Penduline Tit at Oare Marshes , i have been busy doing other things including a very interesting trip to London and taking in some historical sights and a little bit of shopping , hopefully going to Dungeness next Saturday to see whats around .

Sunday 11 November 2012

Sad Farewell ..........

Scilly Helicopter.

As from the 31st October 2012 the helicopter service from Penzance to Scilly ended , I have used all 3 forms of travel to the wonderful Islands.

 In 1988 my first trip there i went across to the Isles on the Scillion ferry , which can be quite an up and down affair and if the weather is to bad it will not make the journey which will either leave you stranded in Penzance or unable to get back from Scillies on time , which can be crucial if there is a mega on Scillies or if you need to get back due to work commitments .

Just one of many views .

I took the light air craft on a couple of occasions , these fly from near Lands End and i have to say is my least favourite way of getting to the Isles of Scilly , i don't know , its just a little bit of putting sitting behind the pilot in these small air craft , and of course they are also affected by the weather and i have been delayed and missed one or two goodies because of this .

Great view from St Marys.

The first time i used the helicopter service was in 1998 , i was supposed to be on a light aircraft but because of bad weather the flight was cancelled and i was lucky enough to get transferred to the helicopter .

 Wow what an experience that was , i remember sitting in my seat and the crew went through their safety procedure , and then we were off , well in a space of about 20 seconds the helicopter was about 300 feet in the air and my stomach was still at ground

 The helicopter service was quite expensive but it flew in almost all weathers and was by far the quickest way of getting to the Scillies , so i guess it will be  the Scillion for me next time i go which is not all bad as you can do some sea watching on your journey .

Thursday 25 October 2012

Day trip to North Norfolk

Red Flanked Bluetail.

With so many good birds around this last few days i thought a day trip yesterday to North Norfolk was in order , i set of  early this morning and headed towards towards Stiffkey and hopefully see the quite stunning Red Flanked Bluetail that has been there for the last couple of days and i was not disappointed , this stunning bird showed really well coming down to feed on some meal worms that had been put out for it .

This stump was less than 2 feet away .

Lovely buff flanks.

Really bright white throat patch.

Bright blue tail and rump.

White eye ring and pale based bill.

What a beauty this bird is , it favoured a small log pile and was very obliging , there were lots and i mean lots of Robins around and one in particular took a bit of a disliking to the Bluetail , almost every time it came in to feed the Robin would harass and try to chase it off , i enjoyed this bird for over an hour and left very happy indeed , other birds of note here were 2 Black Redstarts , lots of Goldcrest , and hundreds of Thrushes everywhere , the majority of these were Redwing which seemed to be in every hedge row and tree , Blackbirds and Fieldfare were well represented .

I heard news via the pager of an Arctic Warbler in willow trees at Brancaster Staithe so thats where i headed , on route i drove through Burnham Deepdale and  noticed a female Ring Ouzel amongst 30 Blackbirds on a small green , so i stopped and had a look. 

On arrival at Brancaster i was not sure of where to go and luckily i met 2 birders who were on route so i followed them along the coastal path and joined the finder of this smart warbler Graham Etherington , so there were just a handful of us trying to re locate it  and i was 
the last to get onto it , i seem to have trouble picking birds out high up in canopys !!!!

This was  a great year tick for me , the Arctic Warbler showed a really strong supercillum and smallish single wing bar , it stayed mainly high up in the canopy but at times it did show lower down , other birds of note here were Common Redstart , Chiffchaff and several Goldcrest .

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Lapland comes to Reculver

Very wet looking Lapland Bunting.

I returned to Reculver this morning in the hope of connecting with the Lapland Bunting which i missed yesterday , it was still very foggy as i walked along the sea wall to Cold Harbour Lagoon , i met 3 birders half way along who had just seen it , so i carried on with fingers crossed , i briefly saw the Shorelark as it flew up from the shingle beach and further down the coast and out of sight , there were Robins , Chaffinch and Meadow Pipits everywhere and despite constant scanning i could not find anything else with them , i did see a Chiffchaff in amongst a small bush the land side of the sea wall as i continued my journey , as i reached the area the Lapland Bunting was last seen there was not a bird to be seen , i walked down the slope and flushed several Meadow Pipits and a single Reed Bunting .

Reed Bunting .

I walked a bit further down the slope and almost stood on the Lapland Bunting , it flew into the grass then flew over my head onto the shingle beach , i managed a few photos.

Lapland Bunting

 This is the first Lapland Bunting i have seen in the Reculver area and it was a very confiding bird , it flew on the path a couple of times but sadly was flushed each time by either bike riders or joggers , i really enjoyed this bird and headed off back towards my car adding 3 Wheatears and the Shorelark once again in flight .