Sunday, 23 February 2014

Dungeness and the Dab world fishing championship comes to town

Dungeness was again our destination of choice as we wanted to get over last weeks dip on the Penduline Tits. On arrival we checked for the reported Slav Grebe but rain stopped play and we headed back to the car empty handed on our first target. On now to the beach where we found hundreds of Sea Anglers set up ready to start this years Dab fishing world championship. I'm told this is an annual competition held at Dunge in support of the RNLI.

Glaucous Gull
On the beach we located the Glaucous Gull and it gave me a short window of opportunity to grab a couple of shots from distance before it disappeared from view heading towards the patch. Kittiwakes hunted in good numbers and were seen taking both bait and the occasional catch from the Anglers lines.

Kittiwake stealing an anglers catch
After enjoying the gulls we headed to Hookers Pit where the warden had just seen Pendulines but after two hours they did not return so we suffered another of those double dip depressions that hit us from time to time.

Glossy Ibis
Great-white Egret was seen on ARC before we located the Glossy Ibis in a horse paddock as we left the reserve to head for home.
No year ticks today but despite a grey damp windy day we managed to enjoy yet another trip to Dunge.

Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull
Glossy Ibis
The Ibis was enjoying WORM!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Spoonbill at Cliffe pools

After a disappointing trip to Dunge where we dipped on the Penduline Tits (only to see them located as we headed back up the A2) we stopped off at Cliffe pools and found a Spoonbill for our trouble giving the year list another tick which was nice.  Earlier we had taken up strategic positions in Hanson Hide waiting for the Pendulines to come in to feed. We did have a Glossy Ibis fly over and a couple of Marsh Harriers put up the Lapwings on ARC pit. Several Red head Smew were seen with pairs of Goldeneye also noted.

Distant Spoonbill at Cliffe pools
On the beach we struggled to find anything other than a passing Little Gull although a stop to talk Morocco with Mick & Richard helped pass the time. Outside Pilot Inn we found a large flock of Oystercatcher but the Glaucous Gull wasn't seen on this trip. We had a quick trip around the reserve finding a Great White Egret, Stonechat and a group of Tree Sparrows before heading off for Cliffe where the Spoonbill stole the show along with more Goldeneye and several Pintail.

The years list now sits at 138

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Bittern at Fishers Green Lea Valley

A quick trip to Fishers Green today finally delivered a local Bittern as it walked between the reed beds in front of the Bittern hide. Three Goosander were also seen along with the regular birds of the valley.
Bittern from Fishers Green Bittern hide
Blue Tit

Great Tit

Blue Tit
Year list now at 137

Friday, 14 February 2014

Yellow-rumped Warbler at High Shincliffe Durham

As you'll know if you've read previous posts I have a soft two hour twitch rule that keeps both the travel time and costs down and helps me keep a lid on this crazy hobby. Well this week saw me driving up to Coniston for a work "team building exercise" so being only half an hour from the Yellow-rumped Warbler I couldn't resist carrying on up the A1 for it on Wednesday. I left home at 5.15am and parked up in High Shincliffe at 9am covering the 250 miles in good time without a stop. (Technically only an hours drive for the bird) The roads were snow covered and I took note of the request to park at the end of the village and walked about half a mile down the road to find a small group of birders enjoying the bird as it moved along the hedge row feeding on fat filled coconuts when the local Robin allowed it to. A Willow Tit was called by other birders and eventually also came in to feed with the Warbler. I duly dropped a couple of coins in the collection bucket and got on my way again. Several Red Kites were seen over the moors as I cut back across country to my hotel satisfied with the mornings trip and 2014's second lifer in the bag.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (best I could get)
Snow in Durham (the warbler flits about in those bushes)
The Coniston hotel was really smart too sitting right on the edge of Coniston Lake with great views from the bedroom. They have a large clay pigeon shoot which I enjoyed along with Archery and Golf. Food was very good and I'd recommend a visit if you're ever up that way.
The hotel has a Range Rover experience and Falconry centre in it's grounds if that's more your thing.
The Coniston Hotel
Along the way I passed Grassington Moor which I think holds the record for a days Grouse shoot but I failed to see a single bird on this short trip.

Year list now at 136
Life list now at 337

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Barn Owl at Wallasea Island

A very short visit to Wallasea this evening gave good views of up to three Barn Owls, a Peregrine and two Ring-tailed Hen Harriers but sadly the wind was too strong for the Short-eared Owls to make an appearance.

Barn Owl at Wallasea Island Essex

Barn Owl
Barn Owl
Barn Owl
Barn Owl
Peregrine waiting to surprise the passing Lapwings

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Photograph included in weekly round up on Birdguides

Pleased to see Birdguides pick my photograph of the Great-white Egret at Dungeness for their weekly roundup.

                                             The section of the BIRDGUIDES weekly round up

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Red Kite added to the year list

Red Kite shot from last years trip to Stockenchurch

I saw three Red Kites today whilst driving around the M25 and down the A40 to Greenford for a meeting.

Year list now at 134

Monday, 3 February 2014


A Rook feeding by the side of the road at Elmley yesterday was just asking for it's photograph to be taken as was the coot below. The colours on the Rook are very under rated as the sunshine bounced off the blues and purples hidden within the black plumage of the corvid.

Rook at Elmley
Coot at Elmley

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Dungeness delivers again

We opted to drive south to Dunge again this morning despite the forecast being better to the north of Essex.
The morning saw rain and strong wind in between small amounts of blue sky. From the point we had Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Kittiwake, Auks and the usual gulls before finding the Glaucous Gull in the roost close to the fishing boats. It obliged with a brief flight in dull light but always remained too distant for any real opportunity. On the beach we watched as the gulls took advantage of the tide line to feed and Kittiwake hunted in good numbers too. Scoters and Grebes were also noted before I found myself a very early Sandwich Tern. We bumped into fellow bloggers Lee and Alan B whilst watching the Glauc .

Glaucous Gull at Dungeness
Glaucous Gull at the fishing boats in Dungeness
Great black-backed Gull with catch
Good catch
Kittiwake with a good sized catch
Heading back out to the RSPB reserve we spotted the Black-throated Diver in New Diggings pit and enjoyed more time with the Great-white Egrets on ARC pit. On Burrows Pit we located a Black-necked Grebe, Red head Smew and Goosander before looking for Tree Sparrows again at the entrance track.

Great-white Egret at Dungeness
The Egret has landed!
In flight
We made a quick stop at Elmley where we bagged another year tick when Jimmy found a Little Owl sitting in the middle tree behind the wardens house and I found a distant Peregrine for Jimmy to tick. The fields at Elmley are still flooded and although there are good numbers of birds present they remain distant.
As we headed up the A2 we decided to try Dartford for the reported Iceland Gull and eventually located the Viridor building to find James Hunter present and the bird in his scope. He left and we scoped the juvenile bird for a while before checking the fields nearby for Caspian but sadly none were found today.

Another cracking trip to Dunge and the year list nudges up to 133.