Saturday 31 October 2015

Birding in Kent..... For a Change

Wednesday  28th October 

Yellow Browed Warbler taken on 1st October.

On Wednesday lunch time  i headed to Dungeness to try and see the Dusky Warbler that has been seen by Channel View  cottage , i was still quite weary after my twitch to Papa Westray the previous day but went anyway.

I was soon  driving along Dungeness road but missed Channel view cottage and ended up by the Old Lighthouse , after getting some directions i made myr way back along the road and soon found the cottage , as soon as i approached the garden i could hear the Dusky Warbler , then it flew up in front of me giving brief but clear views .

It flew over my head and landed in the brambles on the opposite side of the road constantly calling , i saw it several times but only very brief views , this was  my 2nd Dusky Warbler this autumn although i only heard the previous one.

Yellow Browed Warbler taken on 1st October.

Sadly i never managed any photos of the Dusky Warbler , i headed back to the Lighthouse gardens and once again enjoyed good but brief views of the Yellow Browed Warbler , the one at the beginning of the month showed far better .

Great White Egret.

I then made a brief call into Dungeness Rspb reserve to have a look at the Great White Egrets i saw 3 birds in total .

Great White Egret coming into land.

Saturday 31st October

I called into Sandwich Bay this afternoon to have a look for the long staying Red Flanked Bluetail , i no sooner approached the trapping area when one of the Bay wardens was just about to release the recently re trapped Red Flanked Bluetail , i am not to keen on birds photographed in the hand i much prefer taking them flying free however i took a photo as the Bluetail was to good to resist .

Red Flanked Bluetail.

I was told this is only the 2nd record for Sandwich Bay the previous one being in the 1950's plus it's only the 7th record for Kent i am reliably informed .

Thursday 29 October 2015

Four Firsts in One Day

Papa Westray 

I was invited to go on a chartered flight to Papa Westray in Orkney on Tuesday 27th October to see the 1st winter male Chestnut Bunting .

Now the title of this blog is " Four firsts in one day " , well i have never done a chartered flight before and i have never been to Papa Westray before so they are two of my four firsts in one day , (clear as mud i know

The flight took approx 2 and half hours in a small six seater plane including the pilot !!!!

Coming into land , Colin the pilot looking cool. 

We landed safely and were met at the airport by a local birder who took us down to where the Chestnut Bunting has been residing , we walked down the track from Holland farm to the gate at the bottom and the 1st winter male Chestnut Bunting was feeding in the grass quite happily , this is the 1st one of these birds i have ever seen which makes up my 3rd first of the day !!!

1st winter male Chestnut Bunting.

A really smart looking bird indeed , lovely chestnut coloured rump & undertail coverts , yellowish underparts and bold streaking on flanks , chestnut coverts , superb facial markings , pinkish legs and feet were all seen.

Chestnut crown & ear coverts.

Short tail with chestnut rump & wing coverts.

Superb facial markings.

There have been approx 8 previous sightings of this species in the UK but none have so far made it onto the British list , however this bird has a great chance of making it due to the time of year and age of the bird , there have been at least 9 Western Palearctic records with dates spanning from September 25th to November 12th with 6 October records in this period including one in France in October last year.

Chestnut Bunting.

There are a alot of birders saying it's tame and quite approachable which has caused some to think it's perhaps not wild ,  however i don't see this as a negative in it's origin as i have been just as close to many Bunting species such as Lapland , Rustic and Little Bunting , plus i have also been very close indeed to many Snow Buntings over the years .

Here are a small selection where i have had to take a few steps back as the birds were so tame .

Snow Bunting 

Lapland Bunting in Kent.

Little Bunting on Shetland.

If this bird is accepted as a wild bird (fingers crossed) it would be the first accepted record for Britain (making my four 1st's in one day) , but i will leave that up to the more qualified experts to argue and debate. 

1st winter male Chestnut Bunting.

The flight home.

A really great day out and a wonderful experience .

Thursday 22 October 2015

Isle of Lewis Adventure

Wilson's Warbler.

News broke on Tuesday the 13th October that a first winter male Wilson's Warbler had been found on the Isle of Lewis at Port Nis , this was only the 2nd record for Britain (3rd record for Britain & Ireland) and a 1st for Scotland ,  plans were put into place to go on the following Friday if the bird was still present , an anxious wait and then Friday arrived and the news was positive , the bird was still there !!!!

Lovely bright yellow underparts.

Blackcap & olive green upper parts.

I arrived at the Uig ferry terminal in the very early hours of Saturday morning the 17th October , i tried to get some sleep in the car , i think i managed about an hour at most , morning soon came around and there was car load of birders both in front and behind  in the queue for the ferry ,  then news broke from the guys in the car behind , one of their mates was on Lewis and phoned to say the Wilson's Warbler was still there !!!! 

The joy on all our faces was unbelievable , one of the things i like about twitching is that you meet and make friends with like minded people , now all we had to do was get there .

The ferry was on time and plenty of birds were seen on route including , Black Guillemot , Great Northern Diver , Great & Arctic Skua , Shag , Kittiwake and Fulmar , however the main highlight was a close Minkie Whale which breached 3 times.

Quite stunning Wilson's Warbler.

There were a couple of distant Eagles as we approached Tarbert ferry terminal , bit to distant to get a positive id however some were suggesting Golden Eagle .

A very fast drive to Port Nis ensued , passing a White Tailed Eagle on route , i was greeted by one of the joint finders Tony Marr (Roy Dennis being the other finder) who took me into the garden which the Wilson's Warbler has been using as part of it's feeding routine , i had missed it by 10 mins so the wait  begun , some 45 minutes later i was getting anxious and then the wait was over as the Wilson's Warbler gave it's self up and performed for it's awe struck audience.

Feeding in the apple tree.

I watched it for approx 15 mins feeding in the apple tree , constantly moving picking off insects from underneath the leafs , i found it hard to get a decent photo as i was torn between being star struck in watching it & trying to get a photo.

I watched this cracking bird on & off for a few hours plus i saw a Yellow Browed Warbler close by to the garden , lot's of Redwings overhead and plenty of Stonechats were nearby.

Eventually i dragged myself away and went  to find some accommodation in Stronoway , a decent meal and a few drinks to celebrate that night were of course taken , and then some much needed sleep soon followed !!!

Hooded Crow.

Sunday morning soon came around and i went back to Porth Nis to have another look at the Wilson's Warbler however sadly the bird had taken the clear previous night sky to carry on it's journey to who knows where , i decided to check out some other areas to see what i could see , lot's of Hooded Crows & Raven's , i also checked out a area where there had been a dead sheep that  eagles had been coming down to feed on but all what was left of the sheep was a bundle of fur , i did see lots of Golden Plover & Lapwing plus a female Merlin flew through scaring 50+ Twite into complete panic .

Very close Hooded Crow.

i headed there and sure enough we saw 15 cracking looking Snow Buntings feeding in the long grass.

Snow Bunting.

Time caught up with me so i headed back to Tarbert ferry terminal , i had some time to look around the area which has fantastic rugged scenery , then i was back on the ferry very happy and plenty of fantastic memories of one of the best birding trips i have ever been on ,   many thanks to Tony Marr for accommodating us all , what a true gentlemen !!


Tuesday 20 October 2015

Two trips to Norfolk in 3 Days ..........Phew !!

                                                            13th October

Red Flanked Bluetail lovely orange flanks.

 On Tuesday the 13th October i went for a days birding on the North Norfolk coast , i started of at Holkham woods and managed to see the Red Flanked Bluetail , cracking looking bird but was a bit camera shy , the photos above & below are of one i saw in Norfolk in 2013.

Red Flanked Bluetail flashing it's blue tail.

There were lot's of Goldcrests all around  , impossible to count but in excess of 100+ i would say, i saw a Brambling high up in a tree plus several Redwings flying overhead , i tried to see the Dusky Warbler but that was very elusive and i only managed to hear it on 3 occasions.

Isabelline Shrike.

I then headed to Beeston near Sherringham to see the very obliging Isabelline Shrike , and indeed it was very obliging , constantly catching Bee's and either eating or impaling them on thorns , such a great bird to observe.

Isabelline Shrike .

I then heard news of a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Well's Wood so headed off there , well after an hour of looking and fading light i had no joy so decided to head home happy with what i did see , Norfolk never disappoints.

15th October 

I headed back up to Norfolk on Thursday 15th October as i wanted to try and see the Blyth's Reed Warbler that i failed to see on the Tuesday , so of i set early and arriving at Well's Wood at approx 8am , only two other birders on site , well it only took a matter of minutes before one of the other birders got onto the Blyth's Reed Warbler , once again only several brief views of the bird but it did show well for a few seconds and even called approx 3 times , sadly no photo's , whilst watching this hard to see bird a fantastic Pallas's Warbler made an appearance , absolutely cracking looking bird , yellow central crown stripe boarded by yellow supercillium, bright yellow rump , even hovering at one point , real star quality bird , once again i never managed a photo but just enjoyed watching it !! 

Isabelline Shrike eating a Bee.

I had a great birding session at Well's wood and decided to have another look at the Isabelline Shrike at Beeston as you don't always get the views as good as this one.

Looking for it's next victim.

Isabelline Shrike.

Then it was time to head home , another cracking trip .

Sunday 11 October 2015

Another New Bird at ........... Dungeness

Adult Common Crane.

News of an adult Common Crane at Dungeness on Friday peaked my interest as i have never seen one at Dungeness before despite them being more or less seen annually , i have either been at work and not had chance to get there or they have just been fly overs , anyhow i couldn't go Friday either as had a doctors appointment , so when news broke yesterday the 10th October that the Common Crane was still present i wasted no time and headed for Dungeness.

Flying away.

On arrival the news was that the Crane had flown from hayfield 3 towards the ranges so i had a look around that area with no joy , i decided to head back towards Denge marsh as there was a chance the Common Crane might return to that area , i met up with Phillip Goacher and we headed of towards the hayfields for a look , as we approached all the Greylag Geese took to the air in a right old panic and then i picked out the cause of the panic , the Common Crane was flying above them heading our way !!!!

Common Crane 

It then circled around and headed back over the fields towards Lydd before dropping down , we managed to find it in the fields but was very distant , i saw it in flight on one more occasion then i  headed off towards the sea for a look around.

Black Redstart.

The sea was fairly quite , only a few Dark Bellied Brent Geese , Common Scoter & Gannets plus 3 Sandwich Terns of note , there was a Black Redstart calling from inside the power station and eventually appeared on the fence before dropping down to forage among the plants.


A Kestrel flew by very close before landing on a nearby fence post giving very nice views.

Very close Kestrel.

It sat there for a little while before flying off towards the old lighthouse.


Friday 9 October 2015

Restharrow Scrape .......... Sandwich Bay

Jack Snipe.

I paid a lunchtime visit to Restharrow Scrape in Sandwich on 6th October in the hope of seeing the Jack Snipe which had been seen from the hide in the last couple of days , it didn't take me long to see it although it was very obscured in the grass , you could pick it out as it often "bobbed" up & down like they do.

Jack Snipe sleeping.

Here's a short video of the Jack Snipe doing it's "bobbing" up & down motion.

"Bobbing" Jack Snipe.

There were plenty of Common Snipe around which were far more obliging than the Jack Snipe.

Common Snipe.

Cracking head pattern.

I had a drive along the Ancient highway in the hope of seeing Wheatears or/and Chat's , however i drew a blank on both but had more than compensation in a very close Short Eared Owl.

Short Eared Owl.


Being mobbed by two Rooks.

I had a walk around the Elm's and added a couple of Goldcrest and a single Coal Tit which was new for my Sandwich Bay bird list.