Friday 27 January 2017

Pine Bunting at Milton Creek......... 1st for Kent.

 Pine Bunting 1992 at Dagenhem Chase photo by R.Chitenden

News broke on Tuesday 24th January of a Pine Bunting flushed from the sea wall and flew towards the bushes at Milton creek Sittingbourne , it was again relocated on Wednesday afternoon feeding on seed in the field but was elusive and only seen every now and again and was keeping company with several Yellowhammers.

I had a dentist appointment on Wednesday so couldn't get there til Thursday the 26th January, i found a safe place to park and walked along Milton creek (which is about a 25 min walk) towards the sea wall , it was a really great walk with plenty of waders to look at  including 35 Knot .

Mixed wader flock including Knot.

I eventually reached the area where the Pine Bunting has been seen from and joined the already assembled birders looking for it , it had been seen approx 3 times by the time i got there and was told i would have to put in the time to see it , there were plenty of Reed Buntings & Yellowhammers but the Pine Bunting was playing hard to get.

Then someone got onto it briefly before it flew out of sight again and unfortunately i missed it on that occasion , after approx an hour and a half it was once again picked out on top of a bramble bush , i got onto it just as flew off , damn yes i saw it but no way could i tick it on those views !!!!!

Turnstone on the rocks.

Thankfully after another 30 mins it was picked out feeding on a grass bank and i got superb scope views  this time and was adding Pine Bunting to my Kent list  (1st record for Kent).

The Pine Bunting was on view for a good 20 to 30 seconds but unfortunately my phone was playing up so i couldn't get any digi scope photo's .

I did see a ♂ Pine Bunting at Dagenham Chase in 1992 which was alot easier to see and the above photo was taken by R.Chitenden , those were the days when only a handful of birders had cameras and readily sold prints.

If it sticks around i will go back and try and get a photo (hopefully on a warmer day to !!!)

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Hen Harriers & Water Pipits....... At Stodmarsh

19th January 2017

Male Hen Harrier.

On Thursday 19th January i went to Stodmarsh  for the Harrier roost , there was a constant overhead movement of Fieldfares which were great to see & hear , there were plenty of ducks out on the main lake which only had a small amount of water that wasn't frozen .

Female Hen Harrier.

At about 3.45pm i saw a superb 'Ringtail' Hen Harrier which circled around before drifting off and out of sight, i eventually saw 2 male & 3 female Hen Harriers and at least 15 Marsh Harriers , i also saw a superb Barn Owl.

Male Hen Harrier.
A really great birding session with superb views of the Hen Harriers.

23rd January 2017

Cetti's Warbler.

I went to Stodmarsh again on Monday 23rd January to hopefully see the wintering Water Pipits that are often out by the Marsh hide , as i was walking through the wooded area from the car park i had stunning views of a Cetti's Warbler which was probably the closest i have ever been to one.

I also bumped into the Stodmarsh legend that is David Feast , i first met David when i was a schoolboy and he was always very helpful with bird advice and always happy to tell you what birds are around.

Male Marsh Harrier.

I then carried on my walk towards the Marsh hide and had great views of both male & female Marsh Harriers , i reached the muddy area before you get to the hide and saw 2 Water Pipits before they flew off towards the hide .

Water Pipit.

I bumped into the two Steve's in the hide and we had quite a discussion on the Pipits as there is some doubt on there identification , it's been suggested that they could be the Scandinavian race of Rock Pipit, however in my opinion i am sure they are Water Pipits , (i am by no means an expert and it is just my opinion) but having read up on them and studying the photographs i am quite happy or at the very least the birds i saw are Water Pipits.


I decided to head back towards the Alder wood and had great views of a Treecreeper by the bridge plus i also saw a female Great Spotted Woodpecker and i heard but didn't see a single Redpoll, there were plenty of Fieldfares beginning to roost in the tree tops and someone very kindly informed me the Little Owl was showing at Undertree farm.


Little Owl.

Thursday 19 January 2017

White Winged Wonders ..... At Dungeness

Juvenile Iceland Gull.

On the 17th January i headed down to Dungeness in the hope of seeing the 2 juvenile Iceland Gulls that had been seen the previous day at 'The Patch' , i didn't get down there til mid morning and the Iceland Gulls had already been seen , i walked down to the 2nd hide which is quite close to 'The Patch' and there was only one other birder there who informed me he hasn't seen them yet !!!!!

Having a preen.

There were hundreds of gulls over the patch and i started looking through them , i instantly saw a cracking ♂ Eider in the middle of the Gull frenzy which was a new bird for my year list.

I then soon picked out 1 juvenile Iceland Gull which was on the water and flying towards the 'boil' every now & again , i tried to get the other birder onto it but he just could not pick it out , two other birders joined us and i managed to get one of them onto it .

Whilst watching this superb Iceland Gull i also noticed there were a few gulls beginning to roost on the beach and as luck would have it the 2nd juvenile Iceland Gull was with them , wow what  cracking birds to see and fortunately everyone saw this bird.

Iceland Gull.

There was a good selection of gulls on the beach with the Iceland Gull , mainly Herring & Black headed gulls but also a single Kittiwake and a couple of Common Gulls were also present.

Plenty of Guillemots & Razorbills were moving off shore plus Red Throated Diver & Common Scoter were also seen .

I then headed to the fishing boats and saw lots of gulls roosting on the beach and amongst them was a really smart Glaucous Gull.

Having a yawn.

Glaucous Gull.

Looking sleepy. 

Really pleased to see these white winged wonders amongst the regular gulls , i decided to head to the Rspb reserve to try and see the Long Eared Owls but they weren't showing today , however the Ring Necked Duck was still on Cooks pool.

Ring Necked Duck.

There was also several Tree Sparrows around the feeders at the Rspb reserve entrance.

Tree Sparrow.

Saturday 7 January 2017

Good Start to the New Year

                                                              2nd January 2017  

Bewick's Swan at Horse Bones farm.

I started of 2017 in the Dungeness area , my first port of call was Horse bones farm and i saw 27 adult Bewick's Swans plus 3 juvs , also present was a Common Buzzard sat in the field behind them , plenty of  Fieldfares were in the hedge rows which are always great to see.

From here i had a look at the 1st winter Caspian Gull near the fishing hut which showed well , also adding plenty of the regular gulls to my year list .

I decided to call into the reserve and saw the roosting Long Eared Owl which was partially obscured but great to see all the same.

Long Eared Owl.

I called into the Dennis Hide and saw Shoveler,  Gadwall, Pintail, Teal, Wigoen , Goldeneye and a 'Redhead' Smew.

Ring Necked Duck.

On the way out of the reserve i had decent views of the male Ring Necked Duck which seems really settled on Cooks pool , plenty of Lapwings & Golden Plovers were in the adjacent fields , a really enjoyable days birding with most target birds seen .

5th January 2017

Red Necked Grebe.

I started off at Pett Level in East Sussex today hoping to see some wild geese that are in the area , luckily i was able to find them more or less straight away , in total i saw 5 Taiga Beaan Geese , 4 Pink Footed Geese , 10 White Fronted Geese , 5+ Barnacle Geese plus good numbers of both Canada & Greylag Geese.

I then headed to Camber to see the Red Necked Grebe and what a cracking bird it is to , i haven't seen one for a good couple of years so was very pleased to see this one.

Great White Egret.

I decided to head along Denge marsh road and i was pleased i did as i saw a superb Great White Egret standing near a herd of Mute Swans , there was also 4 Egyptain Geese nearby.

1 of 4 Egyptain Geese.

I also added a Slavonian Grebe looking across towards Denge marsh hide from Springfield bridge which was probably out of sight from the hide as it was tucked in close to the reeds , i also added a Little Grebe here to , lot's of Linnets & Chaffinches were added to my year list from here .

6th January 2017

Great Northern Diver.

I called into Tankerton slopes in the morning for an hour or so to look for the Divers that had been seen that morning , i saw the Great Northern Diver which was a fair way out hence the digi scope photo above.

There were several Dark bellied Brent Geese on the foreshore plus a few Curlew made it onto my year list , a distant male Goosander flying west was an added bonus plus 2 Red Throated Divers were also seen.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Final Totals for 2016

My final bird list totals for 2016 are ;




I went on some amazing birding trips in 2016 and saw a total of  9 new species and a further 3 pending new species , here are photos of all new birds seen in 2016 plus the 3 pending acceptance or rejection species.

1. First new bird in 2016 was a Mourning Dove seen on Shetland in January.

Mourning Dove.

2. My 2nd new bird of the year didn't come until April and that was seen on North Uist and is up there as one of the best birds i have ever seen

Gyr Falcon.

3.  My 3rd new species was one bird i never thought i would see as they don't normally survive long once they reach our shores and it was another trip to North Uist in May to see this remarkable bird Black Billed Cuckoo.

Black Billed Cuckoo.

4. My 4th new species of the year was an American White Winged Scoter which i saw in June of the coast of Murcar GC near Aberdeen , sadly i didn't manage any photo's of this bird.

5. My 5th new species of 2016 was a very mixed affair , i once again traveled up to Shetland in October and dipped the Siberian Accentor which was a major disappointment , however i did have some compensation in seeing a Black Faced Bunting , once again sadly i didn't manage any photos.

6. To my absolute delight and surprise my 6th new species in 2016 was the UK's 2nd ever Siberian Accentor at Easington in Yorkshire , after dipping the one on Shetland i couldn't believe my luck.

Siberian Accentor.

7.   My 7th new species was in November at Minsmere Rspb reserve in Suffolk and it was a fantastic Cliff Swallow , having had very poor views of one on Scilly earlier in the year (not satisfactory for a lifer) i was very pleased to see this one, sadly i didn't get a photo.

8.   December produced 2 new species for me the first one and my 8th new bird of 2016 was a quite brilliant Dusky Thrush , having missed the Margate bird i was so very pleased to see this one.

Dusky Thrush.

9.   My 9th and final new bird of 2016 was another long trip up to Shetland to see the Killdeer which had been tempting me since it first appeared .


My 3 pending acceptance or rejection from the Bourc are :

1.   A trip to Cornwall for the 1st of these 3 birds was  in May to see the Dalmatian Pelican, i am not sure if the Bourc will accept this a wild bird or not however it was a magnificent bird to see all the same.

Dalmatian Pelican.

2.   The 2nd of the pending birds was a superb Western Purple Swamphen at Minsmere Rspb reserve in August , i think this has a great chance of acceptance onto the British list.

Western Purple Swamphen.

3.   My final bird pending acceptance was seen in December and is a male Blue Rock Thrush seen in Gloucestershire at Stow-on-the-Wold , yet again this is one i can see being rejected but you never know (i thought the same about the Chinese Pond Heron) .

Blue Rock Thrush.

Well that concludes my look back at 2016 , so many highlights and an awful lot of miles covered , my outlook for 2017 is to stay mainly local and only twitch new species , hope everyone has a bird filled 2017.