Tuesday 29 September 2015

Long Billed Dowitcher at Pennington Marshes

Long Billed Dowitcher.

I walked along the sea wall towards Keyhaven Lagoon where the Dowitcher had been seen most of the previous day , i checked out all the waders as i went and saw several Turnstone , Dunlin , Redshank & Grey Plovers ,a flock of 20+ Lapwing flew over me and then i reached Keyhaven Lagoon.

Mixed flock of waders.

I checked through the waders on the lagoon but could not see the Long Billed Dowitcher , the tide was out so i would probably have to wait for the tide to come in before i could see it , there were at least 10 Spotted Redshanks and several Greenshanks plus a couple of hundred Wigeon out on the lagoon .

4 Greenshank & 1 Spotted Redshank.

I met another birder there who had missed the Dowitcher by 10 mins yesterday and when he came back he missed it again , so sounds as if this bird could give me the run around today , anyhow i decided to go and check out the waders on the saltmarsh again just in case i had overlooked the Dowitcher. , well after a while of checking through the waders without success i decided to head back to the lagoon as the tide was beginning to turn.

I bumped into the birder i saw earlier and we had a little chat , he said he had no luck and i would probably see it now he had to go ...

Sleeping Long Billed Dowitcher

Well i returned to the lagoon and i instantly noticed a small wader in front of one of the muddy islands out in the middle of the lagoon , set me scope up and there it was , a sleeping Long Billed Dowitcher.

Broad supercilium & long billed.

Long Billed Dowitcher.

With Grey Plovers .

Having a stretch.

I watched this bird for quite sometime , this was a welcome year tick for me . Other birds of note were plenty of Siskins overhead plus i heard and saw a single Redpoll on my previous visit.

Lesser Redpoll

Lesser Redpoll with Linnets.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Very showy Grey Phalarope at Cuckmere plus Pec Sand in Ashford

25th September Cuckmere Haven

Grey Phalarope .

I headed off in the  early hours of Friday morning the 25th September and my destination was Keyhaven marshes in Hampshire in the hope of seeing the Long Billed Dowitcher which would be a welcome year tick, however after just over 3 & half hours there was no sign so i decided to cut my loses and try and see the very showy Grey Phalarope  at Cuckmere Haven in Sussex which was more or less on the way back home .

Well approx half an hour from Cuckmere news come in that the Long Billed Dowitcher had returned to Keyhaven , oh well you can't win them all !!!

Swimming towards us.

Needless to say i had terrific views of the Grey Phalarope which are cracking birds to watch , here are just a few of the photo's i took.

Grey Phalarope.

I watched this bird at close quarters for quite sometime , other birds of note were 2 Wheatears , 2 Kingfishers plus plenty of Hirundines.

26th September Conningbrook Country Park Ashford

I paid a visit to Conningbrook Country Park in Ashford yesterday morning to see the Pectoral Sandpiper that had been found the previous day by Neil on his locale patch (Great find Neil) , it was quite distant keeping to the back of the stubble field keeping company with two Ruff & several Lapwings.

Record shot of the Pectoral Sandpiper.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Acadian Flycatcher .... At Dungeness.

Acadian Flycatcher.

News broke yesterday morning of a Empidonax Flycatcher species showing well at Dungeness near the fishing boats .

I wasted no time and was out the door in double quick time , my phone was going mad with calls  but they would have to wait until i was on the move in my car (i have hands free..lol) so i replied to those calls and i was on my way .

Well if i got stuck behind one lorry on the A251 i must of got stuck behind a 100 !!!! very slow going as is often the case that time in the morning , i got through Ashford then on the main drag towards Brenzett more bloody lorries , so what normally takes me just under an hour to get to Dungeness took approx an hour & a half .

I headed along Dungeness road and as i pulled up i could see birders walking away from the fishing boats and other birders just talking looking around , my heart sunk as they were clearly not looking at the bird.

Olive coloured plumage .

I made my way over to the area where the Flycatcher had been seen to be told it was lost to view 10 mins before i got there (those bloody lorries) and to make matters worse the heavens opened with a torrential downpour (summing up my mood at the time).

As the rain eased off i did a massive search of the area and a group of us formed a line and headed towards the life boat station checking everything that moved , 2 Wheatears were very nice to see but were not the bird we were after , it wasn't looking good , other birders were still checking around the fishing boats whilst others went further inland checking the gardens.

Bold wing bars & long primaries.

We then headed back towards the fishing boats after approx an hour of searching , i then happened to notice a birder running across the shingle towards one of the gardens , then others started doing the same , they had refound the ACADIAN FLYCATCHER by South View cottage . 

I then made my way over there and after a brief few frantic seconds connected with this superb bird , it's not been confirmed as an Acadian Flycatcher yet but most consensus of opinion is it is indeed that species which would make it not only the  first ever record in Kent but for Britain to.

Acadian Flycatcher.

The Flycatcher spent the whole time in the garden and would disappear on occasion only to then fly on to a water butt were it posed nicely , it also appeared on the recycle bins and a bench on occasion.

I was lucky to have some really great views through my scope of this Empidonax Flycatcher and i believe some droppings have been collected to be sent of for DNA analysis  which will hopefully confirm it's true identity.

The crowd was now building very quickly and the rain had started coming down very heavy again , i had fantastic views of this top bird and decided to head home very, very, very happy.
Crowd shot by Owen Leyshon.

Acadian Flycatcher.

Many thanks to Owen Leyshon for the use of his crowd photo and to the owners of South view cottage for allowing us access to view their garden.

Edit :  DNA has confirmed that this is indeed an Acadian Flycatcher and is the first record for Kent & Britain .

Monday 21 September 2015

Wilson's Phalarope in ....... East Sussex

Common Buzzard.

I journeyed down to Pagham Harbour on Saturday 19th September and was hoping to see the Grey Phalarope & Pectoral Sandpiper that had been present most of the previous week however the Phalarope had done a bunk and the Pec Sandpiper was being extremely elusive only being seen briefly on two occasions all day and i missed it both times !!!

Great close views.

I did see plenty of other birds including 2 Green & 1 Common Sandpiper plus huge numbers of Hirundines were moving through all the time i was there , a single Wheatear and few Chiffchaffs were in the bushes at Church Norton plus several Siskin's were noted over head through out the morning , i also had a close view of a Common Buzzard as it flew overhead checking me out.

Common Buzzard 

I then had a drive over to Thorney Island area to hopefully see an Osprey and my luck was in as no sooner had i got out the car when i picked one out in the distance.

Distant Osprey.

In flight.

I then went back to Pagham for a second go at looking for the Pec Sandpiper without success when news broke of a Wilson's Phalarope at Pannel NR which was near Pett level in East Sussex , so i decided to head there and after a little bit of confusion i was soon on the right track heading to Pannel scrape , the news was still positive as i was approaching the site although i was running out of daylight (which was a concern) , however by the time i reached the hide i had enough daylight to enjoy this bird which was the first one in Sussex for 24 years !!!

Wilson's Phalarope.

Wilson's Phalarope.

As you can see from the above photo's the bird showed well and were my best views i have had of this species , the Wilson's Phalarope was busy feeding the whole time and where as both Grey & Red necked phalarope's spin around in quite tight circles to stir up their food to pick of the water the Wilson's Phalarope tended to just keep swimming from side to side to feed.

Here is a short video of the Wilson's Phalarope feeding.

Other birds of note were 2 Barn Owls (including one which flew past in front of the hide) plus 3 Lesser Redpolls , Yellow Wagtail and a Hobby along the track.

Record shot of the Barn Owl.

Thursday 10 September 2015

Barred Warbler at .... Stanwell Moor in Surrey

1st winter Barred Warbler.

 I set off  on Tuesday 8th September and i headed to Stanwell Moor in Surrey which is just off the M25 , i left at approx 5am to try and beat the traffic which proved a wise move as i reached Stanwell Moor at approx 6am .

Big bulky warbler.

I made my way around to the Moor and instantly heard then saw 6 Ring Necked Parakeets as they flew quite high over head , not entirely sure of the area to look for the Barred Warbler so i ventured off just checking all the hawthorn bushes (and there were plenty ..lol) , however apparently this particular warbler did have a favoured group of hawthorns where it spent all it's time ,

These Blackberries look good enough to eat.

I then made my way over to roughly the area  when i spotted another birder , who said that this was the favoured area , now i just need the bird to play ball , there were other birds to keep me interested , and a small party of warblers were busy feeding on another hawthorn and they included 5 Blackcaps ( 3 males & 2 females) , 2 Lesser Whitethroats , 2 Common Whitethroats , 3 Willow Warblers & 1 Sedge Warbler .

There were good numbers of Goldfinches at least 50 birds , plus a Kestrel was quite close to me even landing on the favoured hawthorn bush , then after nearly 3 hours i connected with the 1st winter Barred Warbler , this was  a very welcome year tick for me.

Barring on undertail coverts.

Barred Warbler.

Really enjoyed watching this bird , it was well worth the wait as when it did show it showed really well , even having a snooze in the sunshine , here is a short video of the Barred Warbler.

The Kestrel actually landed on the hawthorn bush again whilst the Barred Warbler was in it and i could hear the alarm call , pretty sure that's the first one i have heard !?

Other birds of note were Hobby , Whinchat and Little Egret , another really enjoyable birding session .

Saturday 5 September 2015

Top Birding Session at..................Dungeness

Red Backed Shrike.

On Thursday 3rd September i headed of to Dungeness for a few hours birding in the hope of seeing the 1st winter Red Backed Shrike that had been seen the previous day along the access track to the Rspb reserve , i had a later start than expected but eventually arrived on site at approx 10.30 , there were a few cars parked up on the access track and i joined the already assembled birders , and i quickly got onto the Red Backed Shrike which was fairly low down in a bush , only brief  views but at least i had seen it.

It was fairly elusive at first but i did manage a photo of it partially hidden , however as time went on the Red Backed Shrike did what Shrikes like doing , it found a perch higher up out in the open and gave us all tremendous views. Here are a small selection of the photos i took.

Red Backed Shrike.

There were at least 3 Whinchats in and around the area which were great to see .


After watching these superb birds for quite some time i headed back out of the reserve to go a check over the Arc pit to see if i could see the White Winged Black Tern that has been there all week , however i had one final look over the fields where i saw the Cattle Egret walking amongst the cows.

Cattle Egret amongst the Cows.

Closer view from earlier in the Year.

There were good numbers of Golden Plover & Lapwings from the Hanson hide overlooking the Arc pit plus a single Dunlin was on Cormorant island , Ruff and a small flock of about 10 Knot put in a brief appearance , there were 100's of Hirundine's hawking over the water and the White Winged Black Tern was distantly doing the same thing , i drove down to the far end to try and get a closer look but it's always abit dodgy parking along the causeway so i only had a quick look which resulted in better views and 1 or 2 photos.

White Winged Black Tern with a Sand Martin

White Winged Black Tern.

A really enjoyable birding session with some top birds seen.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Long Eared Owl ...........Sandwich Bay

Long Eared Owl.

Whilst checking bird news services yesterday morning i noticed a message saying there was a Long eared owl showing well at Sandwich bay , i hadn't seen one yet this year and they are a bird that i always enjoy seeing anyway , so i decided to head over there to try and see it , now when i saw the message " showing well " the best i hoped for is that it would be partially visible in it's daytime roost (like most sightings of this species).

How wrong could i have been , i parked up at the observatory and got on site instructions and made my way across to where the bird was showing , my first reaction was " Wow " , the Long eared owl was perched right out in the open for the whole world to see , certainly by far the best views i have ever had of this species.

Photos don't really do this magnificent bird justice (and i took quite a few) but here are a couple of them. To really appreciate this bird it's worth clicking on the image to get the full size view.

Eyes slightly open.

Having a snooze.