Sunday, 4 December 2016

More Harrier action at Wallasea

Another trip to Wallasea Island at first light this morning.

Stonechat Wallasea Island
A Male Merlin zipped along the reeds and a female was seen sitting on a fence post too before two Ring-tail Hen Harriers and a Marsh Harrier came out to play. Several Kestrel and a few more flying passes from the Merlins kept me entertained as did the large groups of Corn Bunting, Skylark, Lapwing and Golden Plover.
A pair of Stonechat came up briefly but spent most of the time feeding on the ground.

Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting
Starling at Wallasea Island

Golden Plover

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Capel Fleet Kent

We headed down to Kent this morning stopping at Capel Fleet at first light.
At least fifteen Marsh Harriers were seen mostly sitting out in the fields or on the fence posts but no Hen Harriers were encountered. A male Merlin flashed by and we saw good numbers of Buzzard and Kestrel too. A flock of around thirty Corn Bunting were happily feeding along the road edges and Starling numbers were in the hundreds.

Marsh Harrier
Corn Bunting
We drove down the track at Elmley on our way off the Island but encountered little more than Marsh Harriers and Buzzards again although numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover seem to be building well.

By lunch time we were scanning Scotney GP's and quickly found the reported Black-throated Diver which showed very well in the scope. Black-necked Grebe was seen here too before the short drive to Dunge gave good views of Ring-necked Duck, Tree Sparrow, Long-eared Owl and the usual Sea birds before we returned to Capel Fleet to end the days birding. Here we encountered well over twenty Marsh Harriers coming in to roost and a single Hen Harrier hunted low across the fields before dropping in to roost. On the drive out a Barn Owl hunted as more Marsh Harriers crossed the track towards the roost.

Black-throated Diver at Scotney GP
Barn Owl at Capel Fleet

A terrific day again in a sunny but freezing cold Kent

Barn Owl 
Marsh Harrier 
Starling at Elmley NNR

Friday, 2 December 2016


Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite
Red Kite at Harewood 
Red Kite close up!
All about the eye contact!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Red Kites at Harewood

Another work trip and another stop off on route at Harewood to enjoy the Red Kites that form part of the Yorkshire release project. The Kites were first introduced back in 1999 and now thankfully have a very healthy breeding population.

I only had an hour or so on site but managed some very acceptable shots in that short window of opportunity with the birds performing well in good light for a change.

Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite at Harewood
Red Kite
Red Kite at Harewood House
I'll post a few more later in the week.

These are amazing birds and It's fantastic to have them around again.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Harriers and Shorties!

My day started in gloomy weather at Wallasea this morning where four Marsh Harriers and a single Ring-tail Hen Harrier entertained me. With the Shorties staying down I headed off in search of a bit more light and found some in Cambridgeshire and the Short-eared Owls came out to play at this venue too.

A good day watching these magnificent winter predators relatively close to home.
To coin a phrase "I'll be back!"

Short-eared Owl
Hen Harrier at Wallasea
Shortie watching the Magpies
I see you!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Dungeness during storm Angus

Having seen the Mistley Tern last night the pressure to follow the crowds in that direction today was well and truly off so we headed instead down the M20 to Dunge and into the eye of the storm.

90 mph winds had battered the Kent coast and continued to do so while we attempted a short sea watch. Large groups of Scoter flew down and a couple of Divers, Kittiwake and Gannets were noted but little else as the waves continued to crash along the shingle beach. A couple of Turnstone and a single Sanderling kept us company around the fishing boats but a brief spell at the puddles delivered nothing out of the ordinary despite the quantity of Gulls being good.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

On the reserve we enjoyed good views of both the Catle Egret and Ring-necked Duck and on the approach road found four Bewick's Swans among a small group of Mutes.

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck at Dungeness

Year list now 277 and I'm finally in front of last years total.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Forster's Tern at Mistley Essex

The story of life tick 380

Texts to Jimmy "Forster's Tern"   "Essex!"

Reply "You going?"

"YEP" " ok meet you in ten minutes"

So at 2.30pm this afternoon we were heading up the A12 hoping to beat the falling light and connect with what would be a lifer for all of us.

As we pulled into the Quay after the sixty mile drive only two other birders were present and news was that they last saw the bird two minutes ago but it had flown out over the dock. We scanned and were quickly joined by about thirty others including LGRE scanning the bay when we picked up the bird heading back in and managed to alert the gathering as the bird came in quite close before turning to head off to the right and out of view. This was to be our only sighting of the target although we waited until the light had vanished before heading home.

The first winter bird flew up river which I'm told means it's crossed the Essex Suffolk border so big news for the guy next to me looking for the Suffolk tick on it.

Yet another gift to land unexpectedly on the year/life list this autumn.

Year list now 276
Life list now 380

Forster's Tern last recorded in Essex in 1998 when one wintered in the West Mersea area.
Total British records I believe to be 57 with the vast majority in the west as you'd expect.

For photographs check out the RBA gallery