Thursday 29 December 2016

Blue Rock Thrush .....At Stow-on-the-Wold

Blue Rock Thrush.

Having never seen Blue Rock Thrush in the UK before i gave into temptation and traveled to Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire this morning arriving at 8am, after parking in the car park i made my way around to Fisher close and had a wander around to look for the Thrush as it had not been seen yet.

I checked out the field behind the houses as there were lot's of Redwing & Fieldfares plus Blackbird ,Song & Mistle Thrush put in an appearance but no sign of the Blue Rock Thrush , however the shout went up that it had been seen in a small tree by the house's and by the time i got there it had flown down into the garden !!!!

Perched on a satellite dish.

I didn't have long to wait as it soon flew onto the tv aerial then over our heads and out of sight again before it flew up again and had a long preen on top of a satellite dish in the sunshine.

Lovely colour.

There's lot's of debate online on the origins of this bird (something i never get involved in to be honest) , is it a genuine vagrant ? or has it escaped from someones collection ? are the main topics of debate .

 I personally never add anything on my bird list until it's been approved and accepted by the BOURC and this bird goes straight onto my Pending acceptance or rejection list.

At the end of the day whether it's accepted as a true wild bird or not it's still a cracking bird to see and the Stow-on-the-Wold residents were very pleasant and many thanks to them for allowing us birders access to see this bird . 

Blue Rock Thrush.

Monday 19 December 2016


Just like to wish everyone who has visited my blog this Year a Merry Christmas and great birding for 2017.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Waxwings........ at Strood


On Sunday morning  the 11th December i headed to Strood in the hope of seeing the 3 Waxwings that had taken up residence opposite The Bounty Pub.

Having already dipped on the Stonelees Waxwings on two separate occasions i was quite keen to see these cracking looking birds.

Lovely bright red undertail coverts .

When i first arrived the Waxwings were keeping high up in a tree having just fed on berries before i got there, however after a few minutes they flew down and had another feed on the scrumptious looking berries !!!!!

Getting ready to fly down for a feed.

They didn't stay down feeding for long before they flew back up high in the tree again , they are such cracking looking birds and always prove popular with birders.


Monday 12 December 2016

Killdeer in Shetland

1st winter Killdeer.

A 1st winter Killdeer turned up on Shetland in early November and had been tempting me ever since , daily reports and some stunning photo's & video footage by Shetland Wildlife certainly fuelled the desire to go and see it.

Long tailed with buff tip.

So last week i travelled up to Aberdeen with a birding friend of mine on the 7th December and took the over night ferry to Shetland , we picked up the hire car and headed to Sandwick , thankfully we soon found the wart junction and thanks to Hugh Harrop's map we searched the fields to where the Killdeer had been favouring , we had no luck in the first field so i left my mate scanning that field whilst i walked further down the road to the next favoured field and to my absolute delight the 1st winter Killdeer was there !!!!!

Cracking looking bird.

I quickly went back to my mate and told him then we both went back and enjoyed some cracking views of this most wanted lifer.

Feeding on worms.

Lovely buff upper tail coverts.

The above photo shows some of the lovely buff/orange upper tail coverts , when it was having abit of a wing stretch the buff colour on this bird was awesome.

1st winter Killdeer.

We also had some cracking views of Purple Sandpiper near the cafe behind Tesco's at Lerwick.

Purple Sandpiper.

A really successful trip , we took the over night ferry back to Aberdeen  and the next morning the 9th December we headed from the quay to the Loch of Skene .

1000's of Pink Footed Geese.

We arrived at Loch of Skene and the sound of 1000's of Pink Footed Geese greeted us as we got out of the car , one of the best birding experiences i have had , an absolute wonderful sound & sight,  worth the trip up north on it's own.

However the main reason we were here was to try and see the 3 Snow Geese (blue morphs) , the light wasn't great as it was still quite early , however we started the search and it took quite sometime before i picked the 3 Snow Geese out right at the back of the flock, a very welcome year tick for me and a lifer for my mate.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Dusky Thrush in Derbyshire

Dusky Thrush at Beeley in Derbyshire.

News broke on twitter on Sunday 4th December of a Dusky Thrush photographed at a private site in Derbyshire by Rachel Jones who was trying to make arrangements with the landowner to get permission to allow access for viewing and details would be confirmed the following morning on the 5th December.

Dusky Thrush in the orchard.

News of the Dusky Thrush both being present & viewing access arranged on the 5th  got my wheels in motion and i was out the door at around 9.30am , i missed the rush hour traffic but encounted the aftermath with traffic hold ups on the M25 and an accident on the M11 making my journey quite horrible and longer than expected , however i arrived at Beeley at 2.15pm and made my way around to the orchard and within minutes i saw the Dusky Thrush in one of the trees.

Cracking bird.

Eventually the Dusky Thrush landed in the grass and was feeding happily but was often spooked by a Blackbird, i also saw it in a tree near the playing fields which showed very well through the scope but the light was awful for photos (that's my excuse anyway) .

Dusky Thrush.

I was so pleased to finally see a Dusky Thrush for the first time , especially after missing the Margate bird in 2014 when i was on Iona looking at Corncrakes.

Many thanks to Rachel Jones for putting the news out and arranging viewing access at the lovely village of Beeley in Derbyshire.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Brett Pit & Dungeness Rspb

Black Throated Diver.

I spent a very pleasant few hours in the Dungeness area last Monday the 28th November and my first port of call was Brett Pit near Scotney in the hope of seeing the Black Throated Diver which was seen over the previous weekend .

I parked near the entrance and scanned over Brett pit and saw the Black Throated Diver in the distance , i decided to walk along the footpath for a closer look noticing plenty of Eurasian Wigeon , Pochard & Tufted Ducks as i went , the Black Throated Diver never really came close and was busy diving alot of the time .

Note the white thigh patches.

After having decent views of the diver i called into Dungeness Rspb reserve and had some great views of the drake Ring Necked Duck which was showing much closer to the track then my last visit here.

Ring Necked Duck.

Really smart bill pattern.

There were plenty of Lapwings & Golden Plover in the adjacent fields however i didn't see the Cattle Egret this time although it was seen later in the day. I carried on along the track to the visitor center and had superb views of a Kestrel hovering .

Kestrel near the visitor center.

I checked out the trees behind the dipping pond but the Long Eared Owl was not on show , probably keeping out of the cold wind .

From the Firth hide i saw a distant adult Yellow Legged Gull roosting on one of the islands and a 1st winter Caspian Gull which i tried to relocate from the Makepeice hide without success , there were good numbers of ducks including two female Goosanders and several Goldeneye including one really smart male bird , sadly all were to distant for a photo.

I then called into the Dennis hide and saw a smart Great White Egret plus several Grey Herons dotted around Burrows pit.

Great White Egret.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Two Good Terns....... Deserve a Blog Post

Forster's Tern on the Beach.

I was deciding where to go today when news broke from Folkestone of a 1st winter Forster's Tern showing well along the parade , so without any hesitation i grabbed my birding gear and headed straight there.

When i arrived i joined the already assembled birders and saw the Forster's Tern straight away roosting on the pebble beach amongst the  Black Headed Gulls.

Roosting on the beach.

I really enjoyed watching this cracking looking tern , i have seen one before many years ago in North Wales  on Anglesey however this is the first one i have seen in Kent and i believe it's only the 2nd ever one recorded in Kent.

Forster's Tern in flight.

The Forster's Tern soon had a fly around going far west and then returning east along the parade constantly diving for food .

Cracking looking bird.

I watched the Forster's Tern for a good hour before heading of home , the Tern was roosting on the beach when i left , hopefully it will stick around for a few days so everyone can enjoy this bird.

It's been travelling around the east coast over the last week or so first being seen in Essex and then moving north to Suffolk but had gone missing for a few days and luckily headed to Kent.

24th November 2016

Common Tern.

There has been a Common Tern hanging around Ramsgate Harbour for awhile now so i decided to have a look as i had not seen one this late in the year before. 

Quite long legged.

There has been some discussion on the identification of this bird but i am quite happy it's a Common Tern .

Common Tern.

There is a good chance it will over winter at the harbour so my latest record could still be beaten yet !!!!

Sunday 13 November 2016

Brief Visit to Oare Marshes ...Plus New Lens workout at Dungeness

                                                Brief visit to Oare Marshes

7 Velvet Scoters.

After hearing news of 7 Velvet Scoters showing well near the sea watch hide at Oare Marshes yesterday the 12th November i decided to have a look myself as i had never seen Velvet Scoter there before , as pulled into the car park near the slip way the heavens opened and it was also quite windy walking along the sea wall.

Velvet Scoters.

I eventually reached the hide and joined fellows birders sheltering from the elements and was soon looking at the 7 Velvet Scoters , which were just bobbing about on the Swale and after awhile they flew off down the Swale towards Uplees , then i was put onto a Black Necked Grebe which was a bit further out.

Digi scoped Black necked Grebe.

I also saw 3 Common Scoters which was an unexpected bonus and having checked my records all 3 species are new additions to my Oare marsh bird list.

Digi scoped Common Scoter.

Other birds of note were good numbers of Avocet , Black Tailed Godwit , Curlew & Dunlin with smaller numbers of Redshank , Grey Plover & Lapwing.

A Peregrine flew along Faversham creek spooking everything plus a distant Marsh Harrier was seen over Nagden marshes , a close fly by Sparrowhawk and a single Kestrel over the East flood completed the birds of prey seen.

11th November New Lens workout at Dungeness.

Great White Egret.

I have been thinking about upgrading my camera lens for a few months and decided to get the Canon EF  100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM and i took it out for a field test at Dungeneess on Friday , i wanted a lens with image stabilization and also one that would allow close focusing ,  and so far so good with this lens , i did read alot of reviews and spoke to a few birders who have this lens and all gave positive feed back (only one person i spoke to thinks this lens is no good) .

Pied Wagtail.

Marsh Harrier.

I guess only time will tell if i made the right decision with this lens but so far i am very pleased with it .

Female Goosander.

Digi scoped Cattle Egret.

Monday 7 November 2016

Cliff Swallow ......... At Minsmere

Sand Martin photo taken in August 2016.

I travelled up to Minsmere Rspb reserve on Saturday afternoon the 5th November and had fantastic views of the Cliff Swallow which was flying around the Stone Curlew field behind the Sand martin sand pits.

Having had very poor views of the Cliff Swallow on St.Mary's earlier this autumn (really unsatisfactory for a life tick) i was very relieved to see this stunning bird at Minsmere.

The Cliff Swallow flew right in front of it's admiring crowd several times and all features were superbly seen at close quarters.

It also perched on a small bush at one point and i had good views through the scope but unfortunately it took to the wing again before i could get a digi scope photo of it.

Unfortunately i couldn't take any photo's as i am waiting for my new lens to be  delivered next week however there are some fantastic photos online of this cracking bird.

I also saw a very late Sand Martin which beat my previous late record of this species , also there were several Swallows plus a Ringtail Hen Harrier was being mobbed by a Marsh Harrier , a Peregrine was also seen whilst watching the Cliff Swallow .

Many thanks to the staff at Minsmere for a very well organised birding session,  a really top quality birding session and meeting many old & new friends was a real bonus , i went home very , very happy with Cliff Swallow flying onto my life list.