Thursday 19 December 2019
7th December : Isle of Sheppey
Ringtail Hen Harrier
On Saturday the 7th December a birdwatching trip to the Isle of Sheppey proved to be a very successful one , starting off walking from the car park at Shellness which was busy with many Meadow Pipits & Reed Buntings in the nearby bushes (which used to be very good for Twite in years gone by).
We walked out onto the Swale NNR , plenty of Little Egrets in the pools plus good numbers of Brent Geese flying overhead and landing in the adjacent fields.
4 of the 5 Pink Footed Geese.
As we were approaching the hide a scan across the fields produced 5 Pink Footed Geese which were hunkered down and we saw them later in flight on the way back, there was also a Peregrine Falcon sat in a nearby field keeping an eye on proceedings.
As we went past the hide we were treated to a really great view of a Ringtail Hen Harrier which was amazing to see.
We carried on and eventually found the Tundra Bean Goose which was feeding among the Greylag Geese.
Tundra Bean Goose with Greylag Geese.
Tundra Bean Goose.
Lots of Marsh Harrier, Kestrel & Common Buzzard were seen with constant calling Curlew was really wonderful to see and hear.
A Corn Bunting heard but remained unseen on the way back plus a good size winter flock of Skylark was seen, we decided to head to Elmley NNR for the afternoon which proved to be a very good choice.
Long eared Owl
We parked up in the reserve car park and were soon looking for the roosting Long eared Owls , they took some finding but eventually i managed to find them with one bird showing well.
Thankfully they are well out of reach for shall we say over enthusiastic photographers & birdwatchers (so hopefully no disturbance).
Long eared Owl
Overlooking the fields from the car park we were treated to 5 Short eared Owls, which showed very well, plus a Little Owl was heard and also a Barn Owl was heard to.
Short eared Owl
Digi scoped Short eared Owl
The drive along the track can be very productive with lots of Marsh Harriers , Kestrel & Common Buzzard seen plus a further 3 Short eared Owls.
We also saw plenty of Lapwing close to the track and a superb Brown Hare was seen very well, a really great day on Sheppey indeed !!!
Tuesday 19 November 2019
4th November : Sennen Cornwall
On 4th November i joined up with RR and headed to Sennen in Cornwall in the hope of seeing the 'Pipit Species' that has or had everyone guessing on what it was ???
Large bellied & long legged.
It had a really upright stance (similar to a Wheatear) , long legged and a pot bellied appearance which reminded me of Richard's Pipit, it was in heavy moult so no real plumage details helped with the id, a heavy large billed bird.
Often run rather quite fast.
It was heard to call several times and expert analyst has come back with evidence of it being Paddyfield Pipit !!!! i also believe some droppings have been gathered and sent of for DNA testing,
It will be very interesting to see what the final outcome of this bird will be , even if it comes back as Paddyfield Pipit (which would be the first record for UK) there is still the small matter of how did it get to the UK in the first place !!!!
So for now it goes on the Pending list.
12th November : Corporation Marshes Suffolk
Eastern Yellow Wagtail.
A trip to Walberswick in Suffolk on the 12th was very successful with great views of the Eastern Yellow Wagtail on Corporation marshes .
Having a preen.
The EYW was very vocal which is a key id feature of this species, the hind claw was also noticeably longer.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
The Eastern Yellow Wagtail was a new bird for me , i was also pleased to see several Snow Buntings nearby.
Tuesday 5 November 2019
Juv Sabine's Gull
After my recent trip to Shetland most of my birding has taken place at Dungeness, starting off on the 19th October with a absolutely superb Juv Sabine's Gull that showed really well along the beach between the Fishing boats towards the Boardwalk.
2 Med Gulls, several Little Gull's & 100+ Kittiwakes were also seen flying past among all the Gannets.
3 Cattle Egrets & 1 Great white Egret were seen on the Rspb reserve plus single Little Stint & Garganey were seen from Hanson hide.
1st winter Caspian Gull
Back down to Dungeness on the 24th October and great views of the German ringed 1st winter Caspian Gull near the fishing boats were had, the weather was awful, driving rain & very windy.
1st winter Caspian Gull
Onto the Rspb reserve for some shelter and our reward was a distant Red throated Diver plus a smart Juv Long tailed Duck both seen from Scott hide.
Juv Long Tailed Duck.
My final visit to Dungeness this month was on the 31st October and absolutely great views of a delightful Shorelark by the fishing boats became my 245th bird species for the Dungeness area.
We also had great views of both Black Redstart & Firecrest at Kerton road.
Stunning male Black Redstart
Black Redstart Aggro.
Monday 28 October 2019
Shetland : Part 2
Here is part 2 of my Shetland trip with RR & PG, we decided to head North to Unst today , our first port of call was Baltasound and we saw 2 Mealy Redpoll near the post office, we then had a look around Halligarth where a smart Yellow browed Warbler & a couple of Goldcrest was the best we could find.
Stunning Mealy Redpoll.
We decided to head to Norwick and RR found a cracking Common Redstart along the fence line, we reached a small ploughed field which was alive with birds , 30+ Mealy Redpoll including one very 'pink plumage bird', 30+ Twite, 10+Siskin, 2+ Brambling , Chaffinch, Skylark, 10+ Goldcrest & 1 Tree Sparrow !!!!
With the weather closing in we decided to head up to Lamba Ness to look for Buntings , we spread out and begun our search , the rain start lashing down when PG & RR got onto a Snow Bunting, i soon joined them and enjoyed watching this superb bird.
On the way back to the mainland we called into Westing on Yell to hopefully see the Eastern/ Stejneger's Stonechat , well we saw it very well through the scope and i believe the bird has now been trapped & ringed and DNA has been taken for , so we will know for sure in due course.
Our last bird of the day was a very wet and bedraggled juv Waxwing sheltering in a bonfire pile, apart from being wet it looked OK , it had plenty of berries nearby and was out of the wind & rain.
We started off on Bressay this morning and the weather was awful , so we decided maybe to head north and look for the Bluethroat at Sandness, whilst waiting for the ferry i saw a brief but superb Great Skua fly over the harbour plus lots of Gannets & Kittiwakes and a single Black Guillemot.
We arrived at Sandness and was given some very good info and were soon enjoying several good but brief views of the Bluethroat, sadly i never managed a photo.
From here we headed north for my only Lifer of the trip !!!!!
Killer Whale !!!!!!
Now my only Lifer of the trip was seen today , not a bird but a mammal : KILLER WHALE at least 5 seen together from Braewick Cafe Eshaness.
There was a large bull & a calf among these incredible Orcas , i had superb views as they slowly passed by the viewing area we were in.
Brief video of Killer Whales.
The experience of watching the Orcas has to be one of the best wildlife experiences i have ever been lucky to have had and worth the trip up here on it's own.
RR & PG decided they wanted to look for the Snowy Owl at Ronas Hill today , i decided on doing some birding around Hillswick & Braewick , so i dropped them off at 9am and went my own way for the day.
Starting of at Hillswick Harbour i saw 2 distant Velvet Scoters which were new for the trip & my year list.
From here i had a look from Braewick Cafe and added Common Scoter, Great n Diver, Red Throated Diver Plus close views of Hooded Crow.
I spent a lot time searching in various areas with little reward today however i really enjoyed the thrill of the chase , i picked up RR & PG at Ronas Hill after their 6 hour search which sadly resulted in a dip (less said about this the better) !!!
I took them to Hillswick to see the Velvet Scoter which were still present, plus 2 Long tailed Ducks had joined them and a brief view of an Otter was good to see.
Long tailed Duck (From previous trip)
So our last day on Shetland was upon us , we started of down south and saw a Long tailed Duck at Grutness , then we headed to Loch of Spiggie and had brief views of Little Stint before it was flushed by some dog walkers.
Lot's of Whooper Swans were on the Loch which coming from Kent where they are scarce winter visitors were great to see.
Our main target bird here was a Barred Warbler which would be a welcome holiday & year tick for us all , eventually we managed to see it making it's way along the fence line by the road.
Record shot of Barred Warbler.
Although i only got a poor record shot of this large warbler i saw it very well and was a real bonus bird on our last day , then Hugh Harrop informed us of a Blyth's Reed Warbler that was showing well at Quendale , just like to add Hugh Harrop was very helpful everytime we bumped into him and always shared any info and generally a really good guy (if only everyone had the same outlook).
We headed to Quendale and joined the already assembled birders and enjoyed some really good views of Blyth's Reed Warbler & Siberian Chiffchaff , however i sadly never got any photo's of either.
So that concludes this years trip to Shetland , a really great trip in great company , superb accommodation , many thanks to RR for organising everything.