Saturday 29 December 2018

My Top 5 Highlights of 2018

It's that time of the Year again when i look back over the birding trips i made in 2018 with very fond memories.

So here are my Top 5 Highlights of 2018 :

                                  Number one :  GREY CATBIRD

Grey Catbird.

News of a Grey Catbird at Treeve Moor near Lands End in Cornwall in October  was to good to be true , i had not had a sniff of a Lifer all year and it was beginning to look like i would not get one this year.

However when i finally laid my eyes on this stunning American passerine i was in birdwatching heaven , a really cracking bird to see and to see so well made the whole experience of such a rare bird so much more special, hence why it's my number 1 highlight of 2018.

Grey Catbird.

Number two :   LITTLE SWIFT

Little Swift roosting.

A Little Swift seen on the 11th November in Hartlepool got the pulses racing as i had never seen one before in the UK , and when it was seen going to roost that evening my mind was made up to go the very next day.

We arrived in time to see the Little Swift roosting by the window ledge and great scope views were obtained , it left the roost at 7.18am and we saw it really well flying right over are heads at times by the Town Moor , simply breath taking views made this wonderful bird fly into my number two highlight of 2018.

Little Swift

Number Three :  PALLID SWIFT

Pallid Swift.

Pallid Swift has to be my number 3 highlight of 2018 , as i have dipped and been unable to go for so many of these 'hard to get Swifts' over so many years.

I have heard it called 'Tarts Tick' & 'Bogey Bird' but sometimes it just comes down to pure luck if you see them or not (in my book anyway...!!!).

So on my umpteenth time of trying to see one i finally did on the 13th November at Joss Bay in Thanet , in fact i saw 2 Pallid Swifts together , just like buses.........

Pallid Swift.


White Billed Diver

Kent bird ticks are quite hard to come by these days for me but when a White Billed Diver was seen on Friday evening of 2nd November of Ramsgate (Great find by Scott.H.) i was ever hopeful it would still be around the next day.

Thankfully it was relocated off Botany Bay on the 3rd November and it was quite simply in stunning summer plumage and giving some very close views at times.

This is a very rare bird to see in Kent let alone Thanet and in full summer plumage makes this easily my Number four highlight of 2018.

White Billed Diver.


Great Shearwater.

It's incredibly hard to choose just 5 highlights of the year , however i decided to choose my trip to the Isle of Scilly for a Pelagic weekend birding adventure as my Number 5 highlight of 2018

We did not get the huge numbers of birds we hoped for however we did see pretty much all target species with incredible views of Great Shearwater & Wilson's Petrel.

Plus some amazing views of a Blue Shark.

Blue Shark.

Great Shearwater.

Well that concludes my Top 5 highlights of 2018 , i have had a good years birding and my final totals are :

YEAR LIST :  243



Just like to say many thanks for everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog this year and wish you all  Great Birding for 2019.               


Thursday 20 December 2018


Just like to wish everyone who has visited my blog this year a






Monday 17 December 2018

Kent Birding .....& A Royal Dip

                 3rd December : Alpha Pool  Cliffe Marshes

Black necked Grebe with a Tufted Duck.

News of both Red necked & Black necked Grebes on Alpha pool at Cliffe marshes made up my mind to go and try and see them , Cliffe marshes is not somewhere i go to visit to often to be honest and i had never been to Alpha pool.

So after some directions kindly given on twitter and from Frank.C. (many thanks) i made my way around to Alpha pool with RR and got very muddy in the process !!!

We eventually reached Alpha pool and it was great to see so many Little Grebes & Great crested Grebes but we could not locate any Red necked Grebes.

RR soon picked up a Black necked Grebe in fact we saw 2 birds together , we watched these for awhile whilst constantly scanning  over the pool when i was once again watching a single Black necked Grebe and RR was still watching 2 Black necked Grebes at the same time making 3 birds in total.

Red necked Grebe.

We eventually saw 1 of the 2 Red necked Grebes nearer the castle and although distant  good scope views were obtained.

The walk back was just as muddy however we did see good numbers of both Fieldfare & Redwing.

8th December  : Dungeness Area

Great white Egret.

A trip to Dungeness on Saturday 8th was rewarded with some good birds , starting of near Horse bones farm a Great white Egret flew through but no sign of any Bewick's.

Next stop was at Cocklesbridge and this time there was 3 ad & 2 juv Bewick's Swans amongst the herd of Mute Swans.

Red necked Grebe.

Lade was hard going looking for the Humes & Dartford Warbler's as the wind was very strong and not really good for looking for warblers , however some really good views of the Red necked Grebe were obtained.

Red necked Grebe.

A look out to sea produced several Red throated Divers, Guillemot , Razorbill , Gannet & Kittiwakes but was very cold.

Calling into the Rspb reserve was the next destination and from the Firth hide there was 5+ Goldeneye and an adult Yellow legged Gull.

Closer views of the Yellow legged Gull from Makepeace hide plus  a second adult bird was seen, there was also 2 Cattle Egrets along the entrance track .

Adult Yellow legged Gull

Obsessed with this stick.

Yep likes this stick !!!!

Yellow legged Gull.

12th December :  Anglesey

A very long trip to Traeth Lligwy on Anglesey in the hope of seeing the American Royal Tern quite frankly resulted in a right ROYAL DIP !!!!

That's birding or rather twitching for you , all the old cliche's come to mind , 'you have to be in it to win it' or ' you won't see it by staying at home' etc , etc, all offer very little comfort when you do dip a bird after travelling so far.

However i have dipped on many occasions over the years and it effects me less these days and i just try to make the most of the day out regardless.

That said i spent most of my time in the hope the Royal Tern would make an appearance (it didn't) i did head off to Llyn Llygeirian to see the ♀ Lesser Scaup which was a welcome year tick and a delightful bird to see.

♀ Lesser Scaup.

The pick of the other birds seen today were : Sparrowhawk , Great Northern Diver , Red throated Diver, Common Scoter, Guillemot & Black Guillemot.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

2 lifers in 2 days plus a White Billed Diver in Kent

                               12th November 2018 : Cleveland

Roosting Little Swift.

News of a Little Swift in Hartlepool on the 11th got my pulse racing as i have never seen one in the UK before  (i dipped one in New Brighton in 2012), and when it was seen to go to roost on the right hand side of a windowsill at 12 Cliff terrace the decision to go was made alot easier.

Wide awake now.

We got to Hartlepool in good time and joined the other birders present , even in the dark you could clearly see the white rump on the Little Swift and as sun rise approached the bird came into view in its fullness , lots of movement and a couple of wing stretches later it was only a matter of time before the Little Swift would leave the roost.

Little Swift leaving the roost.

And at 7.18am the Little Swift was off and away and thankfully it was re located nearby feeding just of Town moor , the Little Swift gave some excellent views often flying just above our heads , here are some photos i took .

Little Swift.

Many thanks to RR for a great trip.

13th November  :  Joss Bay Kent.

1 of 2 Pallid Swifts.

After the excitement of seeing the Little Swift yesterday the 12th i was hopeful that a Pallid Swift would reappear locally as there has  been plenty of sightings recently.

Pallid Swift

There was an early report of a Pallid Swift near Forness point but that seemed to be a fly through , then around about midday news came through of a Pallid Swift between the Captain Digby and Joss bay car park.

I decided to just go for it with little or no hope as i have dipped quite a few Pallid Swifts over the years , plus i have often been away either on twitches , holiday or just at work when they have been seen locally.

Well i was soon at Joss Bay when i saw a few birders (some i recognised) looking towards the sky , i quickly joined them to be told , 'You have just missed it' !!!!!!!

Some rather choice words were running through my mind ,,,,but it was then seen again flying out to sea .

Pallid Swift.

My initial views were distant and to be honest all i could id was a Swift sp , it had a Swallow for company.

Thankfully the Pallid Swift flew back towards us and i eventually got some great views and could happily add Pallid Swift to both my Kent & British bird lists.

This has been a real bogey bird for me over the years , so i was really pleased to see it , however whilst watching this bird (still with the Swallow in tow) a 2nd Pallid Swift joined them (just like buses ......)


There was also a close flock of Curlew (approx 35 birds) which gave really good close views.


3rd November 2018 :  Botany Bay Kent

Adult White Billed Diver

An adult summer plumage White Billed Diver was seen on Friday the 2nd November of the coast in Ramsgate (great find by Scott Haughie).

It was relocated off Botany Bay on Saturday 3rd and i headed straight there and joined the already assembled birders and had great views through my scope.

White billed Diver.

This was a new bird for my Kent Bird list (i think it was for many) and in such superb plumage , my photos don't do this bird justice (there are many better) but the views were stunning.

Digi scoped White billed Diver.

Monday 5 November 2018

Local Birding......Including a 1st for Oare Marshes

23rd October 2018 : Oare Marshes

American Golden Plover.

News of a reported American Golden Plover on the East flood at Oare marshes reached me  early afternoon on the 23rd October.

After a quick phone call to MW which confirmed the sighting i soon headed to Oare Marshes.

I was soon onto the AGP which was out in the middle of the East flood among 500+ Golden Plover , the dark crown and broad supercilium was a real stand out feature at that range.

The AGP was smaller than the  Golden Plover and the primaries extended beyond the tail , on a couple of occasions the AGP  stretched it's wings and the greyish under wings were clearly seen.

AGP with Golden Plover.

I also saw the American Golden Plover on the 26th October from the hide on the East flood which afforded better views of this 1st record for Oare Marshes.

American Golden Plover.

31st October :  Restharrow Scrape  Sandwich

Jack Snipe.

I called into Restharrow scrape on the 31st October in the hope of seeing the Jack Snipe and i was not disappointed , in fact i saw 2 birds which were both asleep at first.

Jack Snipe.

They did wake up for a short while and did their 'Bouncy' movements which are superb to witness.

There was plenty of Common Snipe at least 6 birds and 2 in particular took a liking to an abandoned Coots nest.

Common Snipe & Jack Snipe

2 Common Snipe & 1 Jack Snipe.

There were good numbers of Teal present which were all spooked when a 'Ringtail' Hen Harrier flew through.

'Ringtail' Hen Harrier.