Saturday, 29 September 2012

Little Stint Oare Marsh

With high tide due around lunch time I decided to make the trip down to Oare Marsh near Faversham in Kent again today.

The reserve is only 60 miles away and after picking up the Jim's I was on site for 10am.
As the tide came in so did the birds.

Golden Plover and Black Tailed Godwit in the hundreds and Ringed Plover numbered at least fifty.
Lapwing, Dunlin and Ruff also came in in good numbers and with them at least four Little Stint in both adult and juvenile plumage and two Curlew Sandpipers were also noted.

A Water Rail and Kingfisher gave quick views as did a passing Hobby and Sprawk.
Egrets and a Heron came close to feed and a Cormorant dropped in after a catch.
Five Snipe were seen in flight

We experimented with Jim's camera attachment today and grabbed a few shots with it.
Going to take some practise to get the focus and light right but you have to start somewhere.
Here's a few taken today with my card in Jim's camera hopefully some taken with Jim's card will be posted later but I think for a first outing the results are ok.
Ringed Plover

Golden Plover and Dunlin
Little Stint & Ringed Plover


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Red Breasted Flycatcher & Booted Warbler in Norfolk

I've put a shift in today. Left home at 6.30am this morning and didn't get in until 9.30pm this evening.
The reason for the length of the day was a combination of a days work followed by some evening birding.

Red Breasted Flycatcher twitch
I picked up the much sort Red Breasted Flycatcher at Warham Greens. A cracking bird that showed well for me and the group of about thirty other birders on site. To reach the bird is quite a walk, parked up on the track leading from the A149 towards Warham salt marsh then turn left and head west back towards Wells. The bird is in a copse at the end of the farmers field.  I also had a nice Pied Flycatcher here.
Burnham Overy

After the success enjoyed here and having spoken to a couple of locals I decided to drive to Burnham Overy and give the Booted Warbler a try.
I parked in a layby on the A149 and walked down the track towards the sea wall. Once on the Sea wall I headed east along the sandy track and found four other birders seeking out the Barred Warbler just where the sandy track meets the wooden boardwalk.
I had a very brief glimpse of the Barred and decided to walk back up the track in search of the Booted.
Good views were enjoyed by me and the other four birders of the bird flying up and down and on occassion stting up for us.

Cracking trip rewarded with two year and life ticks for me but with a two hour drive home in the dark I still question my sanity for doing it.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Ticking Short Billed Dowitcher

A 5am start this morning as we travelled round the M25, down the M3 and across the M27 to cover the 163 miles to Lodmoor from sunny Essex.
We arrived at 8am mostly due to a pit stop at the golden arches for coffee.
Parked up with three hours on the ticket we walk the 300yards to the pool and bang we're on the bird.

The visitor from the USA is showing well and we get great scope views as THE SB Dowitcher feeds.
This is offically only the second SBD to visit our shores so a Mega tick for all of us and one that's had me break my two hour twitch rule (eventually).

Also on the pool is a juvenile Med Gull, a couple of Sandwich Terns and a Snipe.
A Common Buzzard sat on the fence nearby and a Water Rail showed well as Cettis Warblers sang.
A Grey Heron dropped in to fish quite close so I grabbed a couple of pics......

Grey Heron
Good catch

By 9.30am we're back in the car heading for Portland where we find Wheatears and Rock Pipit.

Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland BTO

After a short time looking around the rocks and checking the Gannets at sea we moved on to the BTO observatory where Moths were on the agenda. A raven flew noisily past and a couple of warblers flitted about in the shrubs but nothing of note.

 Moths found in the trap were Beautiful Gothic, Brimstone, Feathered Ear and Black Rustic to name but a few. Lot's of Sataceous Hebrew Character and an Angle Shades were also noted.

Beautiful Gothic moth
Some kind of Cicket?
After a while looking at bugs we made our way to Radipole Lake. Birds were not great here with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler the highlights amongst the usual Ducks and Geese.
Lot's of Hawkers and Darters about too giving a couple of photo opportunities.

Migrant Hawker


So with us having now seen the second ever Short Billed Dowitcher to be confirmed as having landed on our Island we head off home to add it to our lists. The journey home is much slower with local traffic in Weymouth very slow and an accident on the M3 making us leave the motorway detour through Farnborough and return to the M3. We refuelled at Burger King and made it home at 5.30pm

Friday, 21 September 2012

Garden Warbler on the garden list

Today I plotted up in the garden with a coffee and spent an hour watching the local birds.
This was prompted by me standing by the kitchen window and seeing a SBJ in the tree by my bird feeder.

As I'm sitting there trying to decide on Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler the little fella starts to sing and clearly I had my first Chiffchaff in the garden although it was on the list as I'd heard one sing before.
So I'm quite pleased with this then a couple of Coal Tit's decide to drop in and spent the hour coming and going feeding from my feeders with the Blue Tits and Great Tits.
As for finches well we had eight Gold, three Green and a pair of Chaffinch.
A Greater Spotted Woodpecker dropped by along with a single Robin, Dunnock and House Sparrow.
Over fifty Starling about and a couple of Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove. Gulls (BH and LBB), Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws flew over and a single RN Parakeet.
Magpies and Jays flew past and a single Blackbird dropped in to feed with a Pied Wagtail for company. Then as I'm looking at a couple of birds a few doors down I noticed it...The Garden Warbler!

A new tick for the garden.

a great hour in the garden producing 25 species.

After that I took the better half to a little crafting shop in Rochester Kent so paid a quick visit to Oare Marsh while I was there as you do.
Three Curlew Sandpipers and a Little Stint the highlights with the LS really showing well and I did get great views of Snipe and Water Rail.
I had a camera malfunction otherwise I'd have some good pics to share of these two birds that performed well close in to the road for me.

Going to try to get another year tick over the weekend, might even venture down to Lodmoor and give the SB Dowitcher a go and the RB Flycatcher at Holme is also tempting.

PS. with a little bit of image recovery software I've managed to get a couple of pictures from my SD card.

Water Rail
Migrant Hawker

Monday, 17 September 2012

Montagu's Harrier Boyton Marsh RSPB

Well after failing to connect with the Montagu's Harrier at Minsmere  yesterday and the good lady in doors wanting to have a crafty day with her crafty mate in Brightlinsea it put me back up that neck of the woods. So I dropped crafty Sue at crafty Pat's and took the dog for a nice walk at Boyton Marsh RSPB.

I visited this place last year for Sandhill Crane but didn't get to see much of the reserve as it was a bit of a twitch after work.

Parked at the small car park which is not sign posted but reached from a small concrete road on a sharp right bend as you get to Boyton Village.

I walked towards the River Butley with a couple of birders (Husband and wife tag team) and we scanned the small pool a few yards from the car park to find Avocet, Lapwing, Teal and Snipe.
Boyton Marsh and the river Butley
As I reached the raised river bank a Kingfisher flew up the river and an Egret took flight.
I saw what appeard to be a Marsh Harrier drop below the bank south of the river and a Curlew was seen along with some Canada Geese and lot's Gulls.

In the distance to the north we saw several Marsh Harriers soaring high then a Sparrow hawk being mobbed by a larger BOP and a Kestrel also hovered over. A buzzard came close and soared over the farm. We scanned each Harrier and as we tried to convince ourselves each one had a little more Monty's about it and called various Crows and Gulls in the process. We had just about given up seeing the Monty's when the Lady of the couple turned and said "that wouldn't be it sat on that post behind us would it?" and would you Adam and Eve was. We had great scope views as the young Monty sat on the post no more than about 200 yards away before flying off to reveal the ringtail. This could well have been the same Harrier I saw drop down the bank on arrival.

Record shot showing the ring tail (terrible I know but all I could grab as I was too busy watching it to photgraph it)
The couple left with the husband promising his good lady a reward for her find and her trying hard to contain her satisfaction of finding this great bird. I sat with Tia for another hour watching the bird as it flew and dropped to the floor for periods as it seemed to be feeding on worms or something small.
Little Egret

We ate lunch while I took in the beauty of the Harrier before leaving to pick up the crafty one.

Bird 301 on the life list and 265 on the year list and a bird I have wanted for quite some time now and views I really didn't expect. Sometimes the birding gods really do bless you, today was one of those days!
Apologies to the Jim's for going solo on this one.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Pectoral Sandpiper Minsmere

After yesterdays quick twitch at Rainham I decided on a day for more birding than twitching so picked up the Jim's and we headed for Minsmere RSPB. 105 miles covered in 90 minutes so we're on site for 7.30am.
On the way in we see hundreds of Pheasant and RL Partridge and it appears they've had a good year and managed to miss the bullets thus far.

On arrival at the reserve we head straight for the Bittern hide and spend the next two hours in there. We clock up Bitterns in flight and plenty of Marsh Harrier activity. A Kingfisher lands in front of the hide to eat a fish it's just caught and a Deer crosses the ditch in front of us and walks along the footpath. A Water Rail squeals but doesn't show itself.

Red Deer at Minsmere
Bearded Tits Ping and Cettis warblers sing, Greylags fly in in good numbers and we see Black Tailed Godwit fly in and out at times along with a single Greenshank calling in flight.

We move on to Island Mere hide hoping to catch up with a Feruginous Duck but it wasn't to be seen although we did get great views of a male Sprawk here.

Migrant Hawker
We then walked the reserve which included a new trail that's been opened leading to Konik pool. (Named after the Konik Ponies that run free on the reserve.)

Konik Pony
This turned out to be a long but fruitful walk as we bagged : Pectoral Sandpiper here along with Little Stint, 15 Spotted Redshank, at least 4 Greenshank, Redshank, Black Tailed Godwits, 10 Snipe, Lapwing, Little Egret, 2 Hobby, 2 Garganey and 4 Ruff. (and hundreds of Hirundines getting ready for the off) Also saw another two Bittern, more Marsh Harriers and another Sparrowhawk here.
Konik Trail

We spent some time looking for Montagu's Harrier on South Levels but got only Herons and Crows.
News broke that one had been seen at Gedgrave Marsh further down the east coast so maybe that's the Minsmere bird?

Wasp Nest in a Rabbit hole at Minsmere
Red Admirals
All in all a good days birding which gave good views of some great birds.
The Jim's got a year tick but for me it was just about being out and about and having a chance of seeing all of the above.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Baillon's Crake at Rainham Marsh

Well with news that the Baillon's Crake has waited for me to get back from my hols and that the reserve plans to open at 5am it'd be rude not to give it a go so I set off at 5am covered the eighteen miles in eighteen minutes and I'm parking at Rainham by 5.20am. It's still dark but I make my way around the reserve and I'm in Butts Hide before 6am and it's still dark but as the sun starts to slowly rise the bird is seen to fly in to the far bank by the red water pump and gives good views to the massed birders for about five minutes before flying out of view.
A couple of short flight views followed before it came in to view again at 7.10am this time right in front of the hide where it walked along in full view for three minutes (ish) before vanishing back into the reeds.
View across Rainham marsh from Butts Hide
A packed Butts Hide

A great bird which happens to be 300 on my life list so even better

A very poor record shot

I pulled out of the car park where Howard was stood reluctantly shaking his bucket so added a few coins and thanked him for the effort he and his team have put in over the last week.

I should say here how good all the guys at Rainham have been to open early, they're giving up their own time to let others enjoy this fabulous bird and couldn't be more helpful, well done all!

Friday, 14 September 2012

A few more pictures from my trip to Norfolk

Black Tailed Godwit Titchwell
Black Tailed Godwit
Cormorants Snettisham
Black Headed Gull Brancaster Staithe
Brancaster Staithe
Common Gull
Sunrise Titchwell
Dead Wood
Heron Titchwell
Just a few I liked that hadn't made the diary.

oops....and this.
Flag at Sheringham

Oh and this last one!

Last day and I finally get a Spoonbill shot.

It's my last day in Sunny Norfolk (and it has been save a couple of hours this week).

Up early, packed breakfast cooked and eaten and we're walking Tia to the beach and back along the footpath at Titchwell.
As we near the end we see Spoonbills flying in from the west and I manage to grab a couple of quick shots. Well pleased as all week they've been so distant it's hardly been worth trying to get a picture save the close encounter one morning with eight birds in near darkness.

Anyway here's a couple of those I grabbed from today.

Spoonbill Titchwell
A quick sea watch gave good numbers of Gannet, a passing auk, Common Scoter and Eider along with lot's of wader activity.

As I walk back I see a Sparrow Hawk take a young LRP and it carries it off behind Island hide and doesn't seem to come out so I hurry into the hide to find the Sprawk sitting in front of the hide on the poor prey bird and manage to grab a quick picture before somebody opens the hide door with a bang the bird takes flight carrying it's victim. Nice site but still you can't help feel for the young bird that has tasted just a couple of weeks of life before falling prey to the hawk.

A sad end for a young Little Ringed Plover

On the journey home I nearly ran over these two RL Partridge so thought it work a quick pic.
Red Legged Partridge
and then we stopped at Alby's Craft Centre for Suzanne to buy some much needed supplies ( I jest..she could open a shop with the gear she has). While she shops....and shops......and shops I take Tia for a walk around the private gardens (at a cost of £2.50 which for a walk round someones garden seems a little extreme but it killed time). The flowers are in good colour, Red Admirals are everywhere and a Sparrowhawk hunts over head too (always birding!)

A fresh Red Admiral
One last stop in the Brecks to count Stone Curlew (We counted 22 birds) and then we're off home.
A really nice break with plenty of birding, lot's of eating..a bit of drinking and some real chilling.
(I didn't even take a mobile phone with me!)

I counted 122 different species of bird to include Baird's, White Rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers and the highlight for me with the Barred Warbler especially with the good views on day two.
I saw Chinese Water Deer, Natterjack Toads, Water Shrew and some great moths and beetles.

I talked to some nice like minded people who where enjoying the same relaxing hobby as me.
We saw some lovely coastal towns and I think the wife's actually moved a step closer to the idea we might move there one day so the plan worked.

As they say in the movies.....I'll be back!

Now....where's that Baillon's Crake?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

New Trail Titchwell

This morning I walked the new trail at Titchwell. Taking the path from the visitor centre to Fen Hide and the new trail continues from the there for about 800m. Along the trail they have erected three new viewing screens. The first two screens overlook Patsy's reedbed and the third screen overlooks the east side of Fresh Marsh which is where the Spoonbill tend to sit.
Benefit here is that the sun is behind you in the morning so you have a clear view the marsh.

After the quick walk around the trail I retraced my steps and walked to the beach where I had a couple of hours sea watching in the company of a guy from East London.

Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua, over a hundred Gannet, lot;s of Common and Sandwich Terns along with hundreds of PF Geese coming in off the sea. The guy I'm with spots a Sooty Shearwater but I can't see the bird. Red Throated Divers and GC Grebes fly through and a pair of Eider sit on the sea then a Wheatear drops in for a short visit in front of us.

The beach is alive with Gulls and waders.

Titchwell Beach
Returning home I picked up Little Grebe and Sedge Warbler and Bearded Tits showed well.

Trips to Wells and Burnham Overy followed as we walked the dog and Suzanne got a little retail fix.
Lunch on the prom was watched by a sharp pair of Starlings who hung around for scraps.

After lunch I headed off for more birding before picking up the girls (Suzanne & Tia) and heading into Hunstanton for a curry. Along the way we stopped to watch Marsh Harriers going to roost and several Barn Owls hunting in Burnham Norton. Two Common Buzzard and a Kestrel also came through as we watched. Oh and the curry was good too.

Last day tomorrow before heading back to sunny Essex with that Baillon's still at Rainham I'll be looking to get over there on the Saturday and hope that a) it sticks and b) they open a little early again.
Saw these three today as well as all the birds.....

Chinese Water Deer