Saturday 25 July 2015

Scillonian Crossing & St.Agnes


News of an adult Least Sandpiper on St.Agnes on the evening of the 16th July had me considering going for it , i was offered a lift on the following Saturday but declined the offer for various reasons , however with the bird still showing well and fairly reliably on the Big Pool over that weekend i was becoming more tempted , so plans were put in place and a trip was arranged for Tuesday 21st July .

I left home at midnight on the Monday evening and of i went  , i arrived in Penzance in very good time and was soon on board the Scillonian and heading towards the Isle's of Scilly.


The crossing takes the best part of 3 hours on the Scillonian but the bonus is there is plenty of time to do some sea watching and this time of year you have a great chance of seeing some rarer sea birds . 

I saw hundreds of Manx Shearwaters , Fulmars & Gannets plus lesser numbers of Kittiwakes & Lesser Black Backed Gulls however the highlight was a close in Great Shearwater .

Manx Shearwater.

Manx Shearwater.

Great Shearwater Photo taken in 1998.

Sadly i never managed a photo of the Great Shearwater , the above photo is one taken on a pelagic in 1998 .

I eventually arrived on St.Mary's at approx half eleven and i more or less was straight onto another boat to take me to St.Agnes , 15 minutes later i wase on St.Agnes and a quickish walk to the Big pool , no sooner had i set up my scope to scan the pool when the bird came into view  !!!

Adult Least Sandpiper.

And sure enough there it was , a cracking Least Sandpiper which was a lifer for me , i was the only birder there and enjoyed prolonged views of this cracking little wader , it never came very close   but great views through the scope were obtained , here is a selection of the many photos i took .

Bright yellow legs.

Cracking patterned upper parts. 

Getting in a flap

Breast band.

Least Sandpiper.

I watched the Least Sandpiper which was busily feeding and often preening for a good couple of hours before i had a short walk around the island and well deserved cup of tea in the cafe .

It was great to see so many House Sparrows here plus Song Thrush are quite plentiful to.

Young Song Thrush.

I eventually dragged myself away and was soon back on board the Scillonian heading back to Penzance and then a long drive home .

Friday 24 July 2015

Not 1 but 2 Temminck's Stint at .........Oare

Two Temminck's Stints.

I paid a brief visit  to Oare marshes on the 20th July in the hope of seeing the  two Temminck's Stints which had first been seen the day before , as i walked up to where the assembled birders were gathered i was told they had been flushed by a Sparrowhawk ! and then right on queue the said Sparrowhawk drifted overhead again.

I thought they must still be on the East flood somewhere so decided to have a thorough scan of the waders , i instantly saw 4 adult Curlew Sandpipers , 100's of Black Tailed Godwits , Redshanks , Avocets plus  lesser numbers of Ruff.

Having a paddle .

I then noticed one of the Temminck's Stints hiding behind a Godwit , not before to long the 2nd bird joined it's mate , good views of these cracking little waders were obtained , they were also joined by the adult Little Stint .

Two Temminck's Stints & Adult Little Stint (R/H bird).

The East flood is really active at the moment with plenty of waders to keep you entertained plus on high tide the adult Bonaparte's Gull can normally be found roosting on the East flood.

Closer view of one of the Temminck's Stints.

Bonaparte's Gull having a preen.

Saturday 18 July 2015

Great Wader Session......... At Oare Marshes

Adult summer Little Stint.

I called into Oare Marshes yesterday afternoon the 17th to try and see the reported Curlew Sandpipers , waders are one of my fave family of birds , i started birding at Pegwell Bay back in the early eighties and waders were very much the first species that got me hooked.

Anyway i digress , getting back to yesterday i parked up in the pull in by the East Flood and i had managed to get the tide right as it was fully in and the Flood was alive with wading birds , checking out the close birds first i straight away picked up a stunning adult summer plumaged Little Stint which was my first of the year.

Little Stint.

I then checked out the large Black Tailed Godwit flock and then started to see the smaller Curlew Sandpipers running around beneath them also several Dunlin were keeping them company , i counted 9 adult summer Curlew Sandpipers in all their finery.

Adult summer Curlew Sandpiper.

They were a bit distant for a photo but great scope views were obtained , as i was scanning through the waders Geoff Burton come over and started to scan through the waders to , good to meet you Geoff.

Bar Tailed Godwit & Whimbrel.

We were picking out waders  right, left and center and i personally totalled 16 different species , the water levels seem ideal at the moment with plenty of exposed mud.

Two Bar Tailed Godwits plus a single Whimbrel were seen , Greenshank , Ruff & 3 Ringed Plover were all added , we walked around past the hide to view the wader flock from a different angle and it didn't take Geoff long to pick out a smart Spotted Redshank and then soon after i added a second bird.

Whimbrel .

We then headed back to the road were Geoff picked out two Garganey and then went off to check the pool on the West flood. 

Two Garganey.

I had another scan through the waders plus checked out the Gulls for the Bonaparte's without success , i bumped into Frank Cackett by the pull in who also was looking for the Bonaparte's , luckily i walked a bit further down and looked from  a different angle and eventually picked out the Bonaparte's Gull sleeping , a quick shout and Frank was soon on the bird.

 Bonaparte's Gull in the company of Black Tailed Godwits. .

Bonaparte's Gull.

I also saw a distant Common Sandpiper at the back of the pool which was a welcome year tick , by this time Geoff had re-joined us by the road and told us he had seen six Green Sandpipers on the road side pool on the West Flood, time was getting on and i had a quick look over the West flood and managed to connect with one of the Green Sandpipers .

Green Sandpiper.

The above photo was taken on the East Flood last week , a really enjoyable birding session .

Of note on Wednesday 15th July on my way to Margate  i saw a Quail fly up from a field near the Roman Galley and then fly low across the Thanet Way towards Marshside . 

Friday 10 July 2015

Theberton & Minsmere .......Cracking Day Out !!

3 of 10 European Bee-eaters.

I left home in the early hours of this morning the 10th July and my destination was Theberton in Suffolk and my target was to see the 10 Bee-eaters that had roosted there the night before , i wanted to be on site by 6am as they had left the roost before 7am on the previous two mornings , well i got there by 5.55am and was greeted with the news they had already left the roost !!!!

Record shot of  one of the Bee-eaters.

I could see another group of birders further round from where i was standing and one of them started walking back towards us , when he reached our little group someone asked about the Bee-eaters and the birder said , " oh yeah they are over there but distant" which was a bit of a surprise considering we were told they had already left the roost ??

  Well i soon joined the other group and sure enough i could see 6 Bee-eaters roosting in another tree but they were quite distant.

Digi scoped record shot of two  Bee-eaters.

After a short while all 10 Bee-eaters took to the air and flew towards us , as they got closer you could hear their very distinctive calls , then they were right overhead giving great but brief views and then they were gone . 

I decided to have a couple of hours at Minsmere and headed there , a walk around to the East hide in the company of several Sand Martins was a pleasure.

Young Sand Martin.

I eventually went into the East hide and enjoyed a really great birding session , i had some close views of Avocet including some young birds.

Young Avocet having a stretch.

There were Gulls & waders all over the place , i counted 3 adult Med Gulls among the many Black Headed Gulls , plus i picked out Dunlin & Ringed Plover and i also saw o a cracking Spotted Redshank  !!

Two Spotted Redshank.

I counted 22 Spotted Redshanks in total plus a scattering of Black Tailed Godwits , Oystercatchers , Redshank & Lapwings.

Digi scoped Spotted Redshank.

Whilst scanning through the gull i noticed a cracking adult summer Little Gull which was partially hidden .

Adult summer Little Gull.

Breeding seems to have been very successful for Common Terns on the scrape as there seemed to be young birds everywhere plus plenty of adult birds coming and going with food offerings for there youngsters.

Common Tern.


Adult Common Tern.

Every time I did a scan i seemed to find new birds for my days total , a Ruff appeared from nowhere quickly followed by a young Little Egret.


Young Little Egret.

I decided to head back and have look in the woods and pop into Island mere , on the walk back i first uncounted a female Red Deer.

Female Red Deer.

A bit further along the track a Bittern flew right in front of me before landing distantly in the reed bed . It was fairly quite in the woods other than a single Goldcrest plus a couple of Blackcaps being very vocal , i did see a Treecreeper quite close to the path.


I walked past where BBC Springwatch recorded Spineless Simon but i didn't see him , it was quite windy round by the Island mere hide however i did see a couple of Marsh Harriers and  a distant Bittern flying along the back of the reeds , i decided after such an early start to my day to head home , a cracking days birding , hopefully  another trip to Minsmere next spring is very much on the cards .                         

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Singing Icterine ......... At Bishopstone

Singing Icterine Warbler.

News of a singing Icterine Warbler  at Bishopstone Lane near Reculver on Sunday afternoon filtered though to me via a txt from Chidders (thanks mate) and bird news services,  however i could not get over there til Monday morning at the earliest .

Having a look around.

So early Monday morning just before 6am i was on site at Bishopstone Lane and as soon as i got out of my car i could hear this superb songster , i quickly joined the only other birder on site , Derek Smith ( good to meet you ). We watched and listened to this cracking bird for a good hour , it was constantly singing and put on a superb show for us.

Yellowish underparts.

Note pale wing panels.

In full song.

The Icterine Warbler was quite territorial , every time a Willow Warbler came into the area it was singing from the Icterine would chase it off , giving a great size comparison , the Icterine being much bigger.