Friday 28 October 2016

Local Birding ........ Swale NNR & Oare

Common Crane at Swale NNR.

On the 25th October i headed to the Swale nnr on the Isle of Sheppy in the hope of seeing the Common Crane which has been around for the last  few days , i braved the rough track down towards the cottages and parked up , there were quite a few Linnets & Reed Buntings in the bushes , these bushes used to hold good numbers of Twite in winters gone by , not sure if thats the case anymore though?

I had a pleasant walk along the sea wall scanning the adjacent fields as i went , no sign of the aforementioned Crane , i decided i would go as far as the hide in my search , so i continued my walk then stopped again to search using my scope and sure enough i located the Common Crane which was quite distant but good to see all the same , i thought i would try and digi scope it so set up my phone and when i checked that i had lined it up i was shocked to see another birder / photographer walking up to the crane and flushing it !!!

Common Crane.

 The Common Crane had a fly around always distant from me , he spooked a load of Dark Bellied Brent Geese in the process , it looked like it was going to settle then a Marsh Harrier came through which in turn unsettled the Crane, eventually it landed again but even more distant and out of sight behind a large mound .

Whilst all this was going on i did see the Great White Egret also in flight on a couple of occasions but yet again that landed out of sight in a a dyke , this was a new species for my Sheppy list .

Great White Egret photo taken at Dungeness.

Sadly i never managed a photo of the Great White Egret however the above photo that i took at Dungeness earlier this year is more or less the same view i got of it on Sheppy.

There were several Grey Herons & Little Egrets on the reserve which was good to see plus good numbers of Marsh Harriers and a couple of Common Buzzards.

Little Egret.

A really enjoyable morning spent here .

27th October

Immature Spoonbill on East Flood.

On the 27th October i called into Oare marshes to see what was around , the imm Spoonbill which has been around for a few days was still present and busy feeding at the back of the East flood , i instantly noticed 2 Little Stints near the pull in and i saw approx 5 birds during my time here.

2 Little Stints.

The Water Rail was still feeding by the bridge and was joined by a 2nd bird which gave very good views.

Water Rail.

Lovely markings on this bird.

Water Rail 

Lots of waders present on the East flood including 500+ Dunlin, 300+ Ringed Plover, 200+ Golden Plover, 300+ Black Tailed Godwits plus singles of  Grey Plover , Turnstone & Avocet.

There was also good numbers of Lapwing & Redshank and at least 10 Ruff , a single Dark Bellied Brent Goose on the flood was a bit of a surprise , at least 10 Pintail and the same amount of Wigeon was good to see.

Bearded Tits & Cetti's Warblers were very vocal on my walk around the East flood with the former showing every so often, i had another look at the Spoonbill which was busy feeding on Marsh Frogs .

Spoonbill eating a Marsh Frog.

Thursday 20 October 2016

New Bird for my Reculver List ........

Lapland Bunting.

 On Saturday the 15th October i popped over to Reculver to hopefully see the Lapland Bunting which was found by Marc.H. earlier that morning , i walked along the sea wall and met a couple of birders who had seen it earlier but hadn't seen it recently , so i carried on regardless in the hope it would re appear .

I spent a good couple of hours walking up and down the sea wall with no joy however i did see a Red Kite flying over the back of the Oyster farm heading away from me , it circled a few times before drifting off towards Herne Bay , this was a new site tick for me , sadly no photos as it was just to far away.

Lot's of little Egrets.

There were lots of Little Egrets roosting near the oyster farm , i counted 14 birds but was probably more.

I eventually heard then saw the Lapland Bunting flying overhead towards the towers when i was chatting with another birder , i headed of in pursuit but had no luck relocating it , i decided to have a walk around the caravan site bushes and made my way back towards the sea wall without adding anything of note , eventually i relocated the Lapland Bunting back at it's earlier favoured spot before the first bend on the sea wall.

19th October 

I paid another visit to Reculver yesterday in the hope of seeing the 2 Shorelarks and wasn't disappointed as they preformed very well on the beach quite close to the sea wall.

2 Shorelarks.


I never tire of seeing these cracking birds and Reculver seems to be one of the best areas in Kent to see them , both birds seemed unperturbed by their admiring public and thankfully no one got to close and let the birds come to them.

The Lapland Bunting also put in another appearance and showed well to although it was keeping company with 2 Meadow Pipits which were very flighty which in turn spooked the Bunting but yet again with abit of patience the  Lapland Bunting did show well at times.

Lapland Bunting.

I then headed back to my car via the bottom path which takes you around back past the pub and added a Common Redstart to my days total plus a single Dunnock put in an appearance and as much as i tried to turn it into a Siberian Accentor i went home happy all the same.


Monday 17 October 2016

Siberian Accentor ..... At Easington Plus a Bonus Bird at Flamborough Head

Siberian Accentor.

After dipping the Siberian Accentor on Shetland last Tuesday i couldn't believe my eyes when i read one had been found at Easington in Yorkshire on Thursday , plans were put into place and an early start had me heading there on Friday the 14th October.

Digi scoped photo of the Siberian Accentor.

I joined the large number of birders already present and waited with baited breath that it would still be present as the morning light made the area viewable , the shout went up as the bird was soon located , however i didn't join in the rush  and waited for my chance to see it once the crowd had settled down .

I had fantastic views of this much sought after bird , this was the 2nd record for the UK and has now increased to 4 records in a week in the UK which is amazing.  

Siberian Accentor.

A massive thanks to Spurn Bird Observatory volunteers who organised the event fantastically well and made sure everyone had great views of the bird (i queued up 4

 I then drove into Spurn but decided it was far to busy there so i decided to head off to Flamborough Head which proved to be an inspired decision !!!

Pied Wheatear 

I arrived at Flamborough head and headed of down the Permissive path to look for migrants , i reached the stubble field near the bottom of the path and checked it out , lots & lots of Thrushes mainly Redwing & Blackbirds a single Northern Wheatear plus lots of Linnets & Goldfinches , i then saw 5 Shorelarks fly in from further up the field.


As i was watching the Shorelarks with other birders one of them said , ' There's a Pied Wheatear at the back of the field ',  OMG he was right !!!

The Pied Wheatear headed straight for us and gave some great views , what a bonus and a very welcome year tick for me.

Pied Wheatear.

Tail pattern.

Cracking bird to see.

The Pied Wheatear didn't stay still for long as it made it's way across the field , eventually it reached the path near the cliff but was flushed into the next field by 2 dogs , i relocated it in the next field as it walked / flew along the muddy path before it again flew further along the cliff and out of sight.

Pied Wheatear.

Another really great day out  , Yorkshire what a birding Mecca !!!

Sunday 16 October 2016

Dip & Tick on Shetland

Black Guillemot.

News broke last Sunday the 9th October of a Siberian Accentor on mainland Shetland which was the first record ever of this species in the Uk , i was very tempted by this as the first photos of this bird were very gripping to say the least , then news soon followed that there was also a Black Faced Bunting  at Gunnister on Bressay which would also be a new species for me and that made up my mind to go.

Black Guillemot.

I put plans into place to get there asap but the earliest time i could be on Shetland was not til Tuesday morning the 11th October , which i thought was really pushing my luck that either of the birds would still be present.

I picked up the hire car from Sumborough airport and made my way to the quarries where the Siberian Accentor had been delighting the crowds the two previous days and my worst fears were realized as the bird had done an over night bunk !!!!

Thats the life of a twitcher sadly , you win some and you lose some but all was not lost as positive news come from Bressay , the Black Faced Bunting was still present but elusive , so after waiting around in the slim hope that the Accentor might reappear  i decided to try my luck and hopefully at least get 1 new species from this trip.


I joined the queue for the car ferry and was soon on Bressay and heading to Gunnister , i joined the assembled birders and it then became a waiting game , i eventually saw the Black Faced Bunting in flight on 3 occasions with one good view plus a brief view as it perched on a fence , sadly i never managed a photo but at least my long journey was rewarded with a new species.

Common Redstart.

A very long tiresome journey spread over 3 days but although i was disappointed not to see the Siberian Accentor i still enjoyed the trip and little did i know what would be in store by the end of the week !!!!

Saturday 15 October 2016

My Kent Birding Highlights from Last Week

7th October   Restharrow Scrape

Jack Snipe at Restharrow Scrape.

Birding has been hectic this last couple of weeks and i have been here , there & everywhere which future blog posts will reveal once i get chance to sort through photos (and there are many).

However back to this blog post and on the 7th October i heard news of 3 Jack Snipe showing well at Restharrow scrape in Sandwich , i think these small waders are really cracking looking birds and i just couldn't resist a visit to see them , i arrived at the hide looking over the scrape in good time , there was approx half a dozen birders already present with some faces i recognized but as always i struggle with names .

Two Jack Snipe.

I was quickly told there was at least 6 Jack Snipe present !!!! , i eventually over the couple of hours i spent there saw all six birds and i am pretty sure that's the most i have seen at one time.

Having a feed.

Lovely markings.

Jack Snipe.

There was also several Common Snipe present and the size difference is huge.

Jack Snipe & Common Snipe.

I finished my birding session here with a walk around the Elms and added several Goldcrest and a single Firecrest to my days totals.

10th October  Oare Marshes

Juvenile Long Billed Dowitcher.

News of a Long Billed Dowitcher at Oare Marshes broke on Sunday the 9th October but i couldn't get there til the next morning , when i arrived  i did a scan across the East flood and sure enough right in front of the pull in was this cracking juvenile Long Billed Dowitcher showing very well indeed .

Broad supercillium.

Having a snooze.

Curlew Sandpiper & Long Billed Dowitcher.

Really smart birds.

The Long Billed Dowitcher was joined by a Curlew Sandpiper for some of the time which was a real bonus.

Saturday 8 October 2016

Eastern Crowned Warbler ........ At Bempton Cliffs

Yellow Browed Warbler.

Last Thursday the 6th October my destination was Holy Island in Northumberland and then Bempton Cliffs on the way back , my target birds were White's Thrush on Holy Island and Eastern Crowned Warbler at Bempton Cliffs , these would have both been very much welcome year ticks for myself.

I was just heading through Newcastle when negative news came through regarding the White's Thrush on Holy Island , i was still over an hour away from that location so made the decision to cut my loses and head back towards Bempton Cliffs , this proved the right decision as the White's Thrush wasn't seen again .

I eventually arrived at Bempton Cliffs at about 11.30am and made my way around to join the already gathered birders , first bird i saw was a delightful Yellow Browed Warbler , which was quickly joined by a Greenish Warbler and both species dropped down to drink from water below the trees , wow what a start and within seconds the Eastern Crowned Warbler made an appearance with all three species seen in the same area .

Eastern Crowned Warbler.

Broad supercillium.

Yellow undertail coverts

Central crown stripe.

Eastern Crowned Warbler.

A really fantastic birding session here , the trees were alive with birds , i saw at least 2 Yellow Browed Warblers plus several Chiffchaffs and a single Blackcap .

Other birds of note were 2 Brambling & several Goldcrests , i decided after nearly 2 hours of warbler watching to try and see the Bluethroat which had been showing on & off along the coastal footpath however by the time i got there it had been flushed by a dog and flown into cover , i gave it half an hour without success but had some fantastic views of Gannets whilst i waited , i then decided to have one more look at the Eastern Crowned Warbler before i headed back home .

Gannet with a beak full of seaweed.

I arrived back at the warbler bushes and heard that there was an Arctic warbler being seen around the other side so i headed of there but had no luck with this but i did get decent views of the Greenish Warbler again. 

Greenish Warbler.

Greenish Warbler.

A last look at the Eastern Crowned Warbler before i headed home after a very long day indeed , many thanks to Jonathan.F. & Joe.D. for some local information.

Eastern Crowned Warbler.