Friday 26 January 2018

Trip to Surrey ...Plus more Kent Birding

                         25th January   :  Staines Reservoir 
American Horned Lark.

An American Horned Lark had been first seen last year at Staines Reservoir and i attempted to see it only to miss it by a day and it was not seen again , however a keen eyed local birder re-located the American Horned Lark last week at the same site (where has it been for the last couple of months ??).

Lovely yellow throat patch.

So yesterday the 25th January i teamed up with RR and we headed to Staines reservoir and this time we had wonderful views of this cracking American passerine which is quite different in appearance to the regular Shorelark we get in this country.

Bold white supercillium.

The American Horned Lark is classed as a sub species but hopefully in time it will be credited with full species status , either way it was great to see and a cracking looking bird.

American Horned Lark.

22nd January :  New Hythe &  Sheppy

Female Scaup.

On the 22nd January i called into New Hythe hoping to see the wintering female Scaup , last week when i dipped it there was only 10 Tufted Duck on Abbey mead but on the 22nd there was over 200 and the Scaup was happily amongst them.

Digi scoped Scaup.

A walk along the river and back past Brooklands didn't produce much more although a male Siskin in with the Goldfinch flock was great to see plus i also heard a Cetti's Warbler.

Male Siskin.

From here i headed to Sheppy to look through the large Skylark flock at Shellness in the hope of catching up with some Buntings which have been seen with them.

I had a very brief view of a possible Lapland Bunting but it was far to brief to be 100% sure but i did clearly see 2 Snow Buntings which really stood out in flight.


There were huge numbers of Sanderling, Turnstone & Redshank on the tide line with smaller numbers of Grey Plover & Knot.


Dark Bellied Brent Geese were gathering in large numbers plus there were at least 14 Red Throated Divers on the sea , i also saw a Short eared Owl perched on a post.

Short eared Owl.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Close View of a GND.... In Chatham

Great Northern Diver.

Yesterday the 19th January i went to Chatham to try and see the Great Northern Diver that has taken up winter residence in Basin 2 , i had a walk around the basin and eventually saw the GND on the far side of the basin , eventually it came closer and i had some really great views.

Note the really steep forehead.

Normally with GND they are only seen whizzing past a headland on a sea watch but every so often they take up residence on inland reservoirs or harbours and in this case Basin 2, it's well worth a look if you get the chance.

Great Northern Diver.

Local  Woodland :   13th January


On the 13th January i finally caught up with the Hawfinch eruption at a local woodland , i saw 40+ birds in a couple of tight flocks.

In Flight.

I mostly saw them in flight and every so often they would be seen in the top of trees , quite an impressive sight.

Digi scoped record shot.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Winter Birding in Kent....

                             DUNGENESS  :  8th  &  11th January
1st winter Caspian Gull

Winter birding is probably my favourite time of year (Autumn a very close second) , winter wildfowl & birds of prey , white winged gulls and scarce Buntings are all on offer if you are lucky enough to see them.

I have had a busy birding week with 2 visits to Dungeness , on the 8th i saw 28 Bewick's Swans on the Arc pits early morning and heard a Firecrest in the Willow trail.

At Lade i managed to finally see the Slavonian Grebe which was keeping company with the Long Tailed Duck both on the North Pit.

Long Tailed Duck with a Pochard.

By the fishing boats 1st winter Caspian Gull & 2 Med Gulls were seen along with hundreds of Guillemots , Razorbills & Red Throated Divers plus several Gannets and a Fulmar were all seen well.

1st winter Caspian Gull.

Back on the Rspb reserve Great White Egret & Tree Sparrow were seen well.

On the 11th i called back into Dungeness and had great views of the Long Eared Owl in the bushes at the back of the dipping pond.

Long Eared Owl.

A brisk walk around to the Christmas Dell hide to see both & ♀ Smew.

Drake Smew.

I also added 5 White Fronted Geese near Denge Marsh hide, the 1st winter Glaucous Gull also showed well from the Firth hide, another look over Lade produced a smart Dartford Warbler in the gorse by the South Pit.

CAPEL FLEET : 12th January


On the 12th i went to Capel Fleet on Isle of Sheppy , i spent a bit of time on the raptor watch point an added lots of Marsh Harrier & Common Buzzard and eventually saw a ' Ringtail' Hen Harrier.

I then popped over to Leysdown and added several wader species to my Year list plus there were at least 6 Red Throated Divers on the sea .

Whooper Swan Photo taken in 2017.

On the way back to Capel i stopped at the top of the hill by the farm and managed to see 2ad & 1 juv Whooper Swans plus 120+ White Fronted Geese & 8 Barnacle Geese.

I then drove around towards the church and on route there were good numbers of Linnets & Chaffinch feeding in the road and luckily enough i managed to see 3 Brambling in with the Chaffinch.

I spent the last hour of my visit back at the Raptor watch point and saw another Hen Harrier plus a distant Barn Owl and the Hooded Crow flew in and disappeared behind the mound.

Hooded Crow.

Friday 5 January 2018

New Years Birding off to a Great Start...........

1st January  Oare Marshes  

Long Billed Dowitcher Photo taken in 2017.

On the 1st January i headed to a very wet & rained filled session at Oare Marshes, thankfully i managed to park up in the Pull-in and scanned the East flood adding all of the regular species you would expect to see there, i was also very fortunate to see the adult Long Billed Dowitcher which showed very briefly roosting among the Black Tailed Godwits plus i also saw 6 Knot .

Cetti's Warbler.

I also saw a very showy Cetti's Warbler which i even managed to photograph !! , i decided to have a walk around the East flood and got totally soaked in the process but added Stonechat, Bearded Tit & Turnstone to my Year list.

2nd January  Ramsgate Harbour

1st winter Iceland Gull.

On the 2nd January i headed to Ramsgate Harbour with a few target species in mind , my main target bird was the 1st w Iceland Gull which fortunately i managed to see more or less straight away on top of the Museum  near the clock.

I also added Kingfisher & Rock Pipit but alas i once again managed to dip the Snow Buntings .

4th  January  Dungeness

Drake Smew photo taken by Paul Trodd.

I headed down to Dungeness today with plenty of birds on offer , that's the great thing about the new year , pretty much every bird is a year tick, my first port of call was Lade and iwas hoping to see Long Tailed Duck , Goldeneye & Slavonian Grebe.

Well as i walking across the gravel towards the South pit  news came through that there was a ♂ Smew on said pit !!(evidently this is the first Smew of the winter at Dungeness),  i reached the pit and started scanning whilst facing a head on wind which made things quite tricky , i eventually located the ♂ Smew in with a small flock of Goldeneye, unfortunately they all took to flight and i couldn't relocate the Smew anywhere (late it was found again on the North Pit) , many thanks to Paul Trodd for allowing me to use his photo of the ♂ Smew.

♂ & ♀ Goldeneye.

As i was scanning the South pit the Long Tailed Duck flew in and showed well but was always distant , lots of Pochard, Tufted Duck & Gadwall were all added to my year list but i could not find the Slavonian Grebe.

News then came through that the 1st winter Glaucous Gull was on the Rspb reserve so that's where i headed next.

1st winter Glaucous Gull.

I made my way straight to the Makepeace hide and was soon having decent scope views of this superb white winger, i managed a few digi scoped photos , i didn't add much more from here so i then headed off to the Arc pits.

Huge bill on this bird.

It took some time but eventually i managed to see the Black Throated Diver but it never came close enough for a photo , i also saw &  Goosander from here although they were always distant  , however through the scope you could make out the pink flush on the Goosander , however i did manage to see and photograph a  Great White Egret .

 Great White Egret.

My final destination today was at the Fishing boats which proved to be an inspired decision with superb views of  a 1st winter Little Gull , 1st winter Caspian Gull & large numbers of  Kittiwake , Guillemot & Gannets.

1st winter Caspian Gull

1st winter Kittiwake.

Good size comparison .

1st winter Little Gull.

A really great birding session at Dungeness and a good start to my birding adventures in 2018.