Wednesday 27 May 2015

Enjoyable Birding Session at Stodmarsh

Great White Egret.

On bank holiday Monday the 25th May i popped over to Stodmarsh early morning to try and see the Great White Egret that has recently been seen on a regular basis from the Reed bed hide , i met Chidders & Martyn Wilson on site , after a short while a Kingfisher flew past the hide giving a brief but good view .

Kingfisher .

We could hear a distant Bittern " Booming " which is always a magical sound , then we saw the Great White Egret flying in from the Grove Ferry end , it circled round and then landed to the left of the hide.

Coming into land.

The Great White Egret had a bit of a walk around and after only a few minutes it was off again flying towards Collards ( we think ?) , it later reappeared in the afternoon.

Great White Egret.

We also saw two adult summer Med Gulls fly high over head , a bit to quick for a photo so here's one from Oare Marshes.

Med Gull . ( Photo taken at Oare )

Plenty of bird song plus a few Common Swifts , House Martins and a couple of Common Terns were seen , there was also several Marsh Harriers drifting around the reserve.

Having checked my bird list for the Stour Valley it turns out that the Great White Egret was a new species for me here which is a very welcome addition.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Cracking Days Birding in ........ Suffolk

Sedge Warbler.

I headed off o Lakenheath in Suffolk for the Little Bittern which had mainly only been heard with the odd brief flight view if you were lucky , well always up for a challenge i set of at 5am Friday morning the 22nd May .

Very vocal Sedge Warbler.

I arrived at Lakenheath at approx 6.30am and made my way to the far end of the reserve which is called the New Fen North Triangle , i could hear the Little Bittern calling deep within the reeds , the call is described as " Barking " , i bumped into Adam F who has recently moved to Suffolk , great to catch up with him , we all then waited patently for the bird to either climb up the reeds or have a fly around , ( always the optimist), having heard that some birders have waited up to 10 hours before seeing this bird you could say i was being a little bit to optimistic , however after about an hour & a half the male Little Bittern flew up from the reeds and then landed further along the reed bed , only a brief view but cracking view it was , the bold wing patches being the obvious stand out feature in flight.

One of three Hobby.

Sadly i never managed a photo of the Little Bittern which was a lifer for Adam and a welcome year tick for yours truly. we all moved around the other side of the reed bed but could not locate the Little Bittern , lots of other birds were around including several Cuckoo's including one with a satellite tag ( could this be " Chris" from Spring watch ?? ), other birds of note were 3 Hobby , Grasshopper Warbler which i briefly saw , Marsh Harrier and a very showy Sedge Warbler (see above photos).

Adam very kindly gave me some info on a site for Stone Curlew and after spending a good couple hours here i decided to try for them , on route to the site i checked the bird news and discovered there has been a Broad Billed Sandpiper found at Tinkers Marsh which was approx an hour & a half from where i was , i did try to find the Stone Curlew site without success so i decided to head off to Tinkers asap.

Broad Billed Sandpiper.

I arrived (after a little detour) in good time and made my way along the river , i eventually joined the already gathered birders on site and was soon enjoying some cracking views of this delightful little wader , smaller than a Dunlin, with a really well marked head , slight kink at the tip of it's bill and lovely " Brace's" on it's mantle. I got a bit carried away with taking photos , however here is a small selection of them.

Dark crown stripe.

Broad supercillium.

Slight kink on bill tip.

Smaller than Dunlin.

Size comparison: Curlew Sandpiper , Dunlin & BBS.

I watched this bird for a good hour and it really was a bonus bird , the first one i have seen since 1985 .

I also saw 3 cracking Curlew Sandpipers which were a very welcome addition to my year list.

One of three Curlew Sandpipers.

A really enjoyable days birding . 

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Titchfield Haven NNR .....Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs near the road.

Plans were put in place Sunday to go to Titchfield Haven in Hampshire on Monday 18th May to try and see the Greater Yellowlegs .

This bird has been very sporadic in it's movements and often goes missing for days , however it had been seen for at least 3 days running now and the time seemed right to make my move for it , i left at approx 6.30am and despite the M25 usual delays i made decent time and got down to Titchfield by 9.30 in time for the reserve to open.

Having a feed.

A quick dash into the visitor centre to get my permit for the reserve passing a couple of birders on route , when i came out i saw the same two birders intently looking at something near the road , as i approached them they informed me they had got the Greater Yellowlegs which was quite near the road amongst Black Tailed Godwits (see top picture).

Wow how lucky was that , the weather was awful , strong wind and raining made viewing quite tricky , but hey who cares i got the bird !! this was a very welcome year tick for me .

The flock of waders took to the air including the Greater Yellowlegs , some of the flock appeared to land further down on the scrapes and the rest of the flock flew further away out of sight , we all headed off to check out the scrapes ,  i eventually reached the Pumfrett hide where the other two birders had already reached but had not re located the target bird , 

Cracking looking bird.

After a short while and a welcome mug of coffee , Kevin Clements one of the two birders picked out the Great Yellowlegs ,awesome and what a cracking bird , we watched it for awhile when the decision was made to walk back to the Meon shore hide as the bird seemed to be quite close to it plus the wind and rain which was blowing into our hide would be behind us in that one , so we all set off reaching the Meon shore hide in less than 10 mins , and the Greater Yellowlegs had gone , there was another birder in the hide who hadn't seen it go .

We decided to wait it out and hope it comes back ,there was plenty of other birds to look at including several close Avocets ,Black Tailed Godwits plus a single Bar Tailed Godwit which was a welcome year tick for me.

Avocet with lots of bling.

Kevin Clements and BirderGaz decided to check out the other hides again whilst  i decided to stay put just in case , i stayed here for about an hour checking out everything that moved , Redshank , Little Ringed Plover, Common & Sandwich Tern were all seen as was plenty of Common Swifts & Swallows ,a 1st summer Med Gull was added to the days list , then BirdingGaz reappeared in the hide to tells me they had refound the Greater Yellowlegs at the Spurgin hide , wow of i went asap , and soon was at the hide having great views of this stunning wader , i have been lucky enough to have now seen 3 Greater Yellowlegs including my first one in 1985 at Minsmere , but this was the best views i have had of one.

Having a scratch.

                                                                Greater Yellowlegs.

I watched this bird for at least another 30 mins , showing fantastically well although reeds and other foliage got in the way for most of the photos , many thanks to Kevin & BirdingGaz for letting ME know it was showing from this hide , a real pleasure to meet you guys today .

Two Med Gulls.

Saturday 16 May 2015

New site tick at Dungeness....White Winged Black Tern

One of two White Winged Black Terns.

Yesterday 15th May i went down to Dungeness in the hope of seeing the two White Winged Black Terns which first turned up on the Thursday and were present all day , however due to other things and the weather being awful i decided to leave it until yesterday before i went for them.

White Winged Black Tern.

Thankfully news came out early that they were still present and viewed from the Dennis hide overlooking Burrows Pit , so of i set making slow progress through Ashford and almost all the way to Dungeness , i arrived approx 9am and they were still here thankfully , mostly distant but their striking plumage was really great to see.

Really small compared to the Black Headed Gulls.

One of the WWBT'S kept trying to settle on the posts but as soon as it landed the much bigger Black Headed Gulls would chase it off , the second WWBT however gave up on doing this and decided to rest up on one of the small islands which made much more sense to me .

Dainty looking WWB Tern.

Really pleased to see these cracking birds and they were a new site tick for me , there were lots of Common Swifts and Hirundines everywhere , plus a small selection of waders notably Knot and Little Ringed Plover which was a welcome year tick.

Two Swallows.

I called over to the Arc pits and viewed from the viewing screen but didn't really add anything out of the ordinary , on my way back to the car i saw loads of Swallows landing on the overhead wires plus Common Swifts " screaming " all around me , fantastic sound and experience , then i caught sight of a Hobby then a 2nd & 3rd bird , cracking views through the scope of these awesome Falcon's .

Back at the car just putting my scope away i hear and then see a very close Common Whitethroat which posed for a photo or two.

Common Whitethroat.

Lot's of bird calls heard including Lesser Whitethroat , Chiffchaff & Cetti's Warbler , a really enjoyable birding session in what is fast becoming my best Spring birding ever.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

No BW Stilt but plenty of Hobby at Stodmarsh & Grove Ferry

Male Marsh Harrier.

I called over to Grove Ferry & Stodmarsh yesterday lunch time the 12th May and i was hoping to see the Black Winged Stilt that has been seen recently , i checked out the viewing ramp and there was no sign of it from here , whilst here another birder picked out a distant Osprey which looked like it was over the main lake at Stodmarsh , distant views was all i got but a welcome bonus and year tick indeed.

Osprey taken in 2012 also at Stodmarsh.

There was a pair of Garganey out on the pool in front of the ramp plus several Mallard & a single Shoveler.

Record shot of the male Garganey.

I decided to head to Stodmarsh and on my way back to the car a Nightingale burst into song right near the path accompanied by a "Purring " Turtle Dove both birds remained unseen but were a joy to hear.

By the time i got to Stodmarsh the Osprey had moved on , however there were lots of Hobby on the wing , very hard to count as they seemed to be everywhere , so a very conservative count of 30+ birds was made.


I continued my walk  around to the Water meadows but alas there was no sign of the Black Winged Stilt here either , i did hear and then see Lesser Whitethroat which was a new bird for the year for me , i saw 2 male Blackcaps plus several glimpses of Cetti's Warblers , Marsh Harriers were busy going to and throw with food in their talons , good supply of Marsh Frogs here.

Male Marsh Harrier with a Marsh Frog in his talons.

Really enjoyable birding session here today with lots of migrants to keep you on your toes including " screaming " Common Swifts overhead.

"Screaming" Common Swifts.

Monday 11 May 2015

From " Purring " Turtle Doves to Citril Finch & Dotterel in Norfolk

Male Citril Finch.

I popped over to Grove Ferry yesterday morning 10th May in the hope of hearing / seeing Grasshopper Warbler & Turtle Dove , i was checking out the paddocks and heard at least two Turtle Doves doing their characteristic " Purring " call however despite my best efforts i could not see any and i also drew a blank on the Grasshopper Warbler , whilst waiting for a Turtle Dove to give me at least a glimpse my phone peeped with the MEGA alert !!!

Wow what has been found  ?  and i see : CITRIL FINCH at Holkham pines Norfolk ,  so after my headless chicken display , i am going on my own as my  birding mate Richard who i go twitching with was in France .

Citril Finch.

A quick drive home to sort one or to things out and check RBA just to get exact directions and up to date news on the bird and i was off , sat nav telling me 3 hours 20 mins to site , i saw a lovely adult Med Gull flying over the M2 near Medway services , and i was soon on my way , i arrived at Lady Anns Drive in good time  , i had my usual trouble working out how to use the Parking machine ( Why are they so complicated ???? ........or is it just me  ).

Grey nape & lovely lime green face.

The news services were saying it is a 1.5 mile walk to the hallowed ground , felt like more than that to me , anyhow i arrived approx 15 mins after leaving my car , other birders had been watching  it for about 10 mins feeding on the ground before i got there , just as i arrive it flies over me , i see the  wing pattern but can i really count it on a 20 second flight view ??

Feeding on the ground.

Fortunately after approx 40 mins the Citril Finch flies back in and around us all calling and then lands in a tree and i get a full scope view of this delightful bird , pressure is off and my conscience is clear ...Phew !! the Citril Finch then flew to the ground and some really great views were obtained as this 2nd for Britain was unblocked.

Bright yellow rump.

After watching this cracking bird  i went to Choseley to see the Dotterel , although they were distant and with a horrendous heat haze they were still great to see , i had 9 birds in flight plus a further 13 birds on the ground , here is a  digi scope photo of two of them. 

Record shot of two Dotterel.

Really enjoyable birding adventure , returning home at 9pm absolutely tired out.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Booming Bitterns & Hudsonian Godwit revisited

Booming Bittern.

On Saturday the 2nd May i fancied another look at  the Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath in Somerset , i had seen it on the previous Thursday but was keen to have another look and try and get some flight shots of it's underwing.

An early start and an uneventful journey saw me arrive on site at 8am with positive news , the bird was still here !!!!  on the footpath i first en counted a group of birders watching a Bittern out in the open "Booming" , i have often heard them Booming but never actually seen one do it , an incredible sight and experience .

Hudsonian Godwit.

I eventually dragged myself away from the Bittern and joined the assembled birders looking for the Godwit ,it had walked out of sight below the nearby bank , eventually the Hudsonian Godwit flew from under the bank out into the open and gave some cracking views , and made alot of birders very happy.

Having a preen.

Reddish flanks.

Eventually the flock of Black Tailed Godwit's got flushed by a Peregrine and they all took to the air including the Hudsonian Godwit and i achieved the flight views i so much wanted to capture on film.

Hudsonian Godwit in flight.

Top view of the Hudsonian Godwit.

Black auxiliaries .

I watched this bird for a good couple of hours plus i had some fantastic views of Great White Egret including a pair displaying , which was another first for me.

Grey Heron spooking a Great White Egret.

Great White Egret.

I also saw the male Garganey which was keeping mostly to the back of the pool , also there were large numbers of Common Swift , Swallow , Sand & House Martins overhead , I also saw at least 3 Hobby and along with the Booming Bittern i saw at least two more Bitterns in flight , Warblers were well represented with numerous birds heard including , Cetti's , Sedge , Reed, Chiffchaff, Blackcap , Willow  & Garden Warbler.

This is a wonderful very well managed site which is full of bird life and one that i will no doubt visit again in the future.