Friday, 30 November 2012

Roding Valley Lake and Nature Reserve

Had a nice 2-3 hour stroll round Roding Valley Lake and Nature Reserve with dad this afternoon.

The lake was the starting point and a quick scan produced Wigeon, Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck Gadwall and Mallard.
1st Winter Common Gull
Both Great Crested and Little Grebes were also present along with Mute Swans, Cormorant and Canada Geese.

A walk round the lake added a Great-Spotted Woodpecker busily stripping bark from tree branches. A single Siskin was seen briefly when it flew in to a nearby tree.
Water levels on the lake and along the length of the River Roding were much higher than usual with all the recent rainfall.

Plenty of Jays were seen and a group of Common and Black-headed Gulls were making good use of the flooded fields either for drinking or bathing.

Ring-necked Parakeets were heard but not seen on this occasion. However two Redwings were found feeding at the bottom of the hedge line.
We crossed the river taking the Charlie Moule's Bridge into the Roding Valley Meadows.

Two Goldcrests were heard and quickly located amongst the ivy, a Kestrel flew across and landed briefly in a nearby tree but was quickly moved on by a Carrion Crow.

The walk back was pretty quiet on the whole, but we added a few of the commoner species to the list. With Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.

Around forty species seen, which was not bad at all. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hen Harriers in Kent

Having met Brian at 6.30am we decide to head for Reculver in Kent. With high winds and strong gusts during the night and into the early morning we find the QE II bridge is closed. We take the tunnel and at 6.30am on a Sunday morning there's no delays and we soon knock off the 70 odd miles to reach the pay & display car park below Reculver Towers.

Heading up the slope and past the Towers and Fort we head off towards Coldharbour Lagoon. Birds seen included Turnstones, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Shelduck, Redshank, Curlew, along with large numbers of Brent Geese. Among the commoner species seen are Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtail.
The walk out was cold and very windy, but it was nothing compared to the trudge back towards the car. Having turned round the wind was now directly into our faces and the wind chill effect was very evident.
Reaching the path before the Towers I spot a female Kestrel on the top window ledge. It seems quite content up there and was obviously happy to be shielded from the wind.

We leave Reculver and head for what is our main target of the day. We arrive at Capel Fleet watchpoint at around 11am,  and shortly afterwards pick up the first Marsh harrier. It's quartering the fields below the lime mounds.
While scanning the adjacent fields what looks like a very good candidate for R L Buzzard is found, but we leave not completely convinced, with a pale Common Buzzard not being ruled out.

While waiting for the target bird to hopefully show we have great views of eight Marsh harriers, mainly females but a cracking male bird is seen quartering the fields nearest to us but it's still just out of range for a photo opportunity. 
Along with Marsh Harriers there's also Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel all seen.
Then a target bird appears in the form of a ringtail Hen Harrier. It's a little distant at first as it makes it's way along the hedge line. But it soon drifts closer and gives great views as it turns into the sun.
A second bird is found and it too gives great scope views as it twists and turns in the wind. 

A great couple of hours spent here, Shame we couldn't nail down the id on the possible Rough-Legged or pick up a male Hen harrier.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Desert Wheatear, Abberton Reservoir

Having made the trip to Worthing last Saturday for the male Desert Wheatear, We arrived only to find that the bird had flown the previous evening.
Then on Sunday a female is reported from Abberton, but it's too late to make the trip and with work making it impossible to try for it during the week. 
Brian is more mobile during the week so bags the bird on the Monday before work, and I'm left watching the reports and hoping that the bird will stay put all week.
To my surprise the bird is reported every day right up to friday afternoon. So with Brian down in Norfolk for  the weekend it's just dad and myself who make the trip to Abberton.
An hour after setting off from home we are pulling in behind the workmen's cars just outside the gates of the reserve.
One birder is just about to leave and tells us that the bird has been showing well. Once in the car park we scan the fence posts with no sign of the bird, Then Bingo! the bird appears on a post by the parking bays.

We watch it for a good 15-20 minutes before we are joined by another birder.
The skies are heavy with cloud and it's not long before the rain starts to fall so we decide to head onto Cudmore Grove CP.

First stop is the pool just beyond the bird hide, We get good views of Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Wigeon and there's high numbers of Common Snipe present.
While scanning the snipe I find a Jack Snipe feeding along a narrow strip of mud. We got Jack Snipe here last year while watching the Grey phalarope that was present, and it's a nice year tick for this year also.
Snow Bunting
From here it's off down the grass track and on towards Stone Point. 
Brent Geese are feeding in large numbers in the fields, with a c600 birds. There's a single pale-bellied bird seen among them.
At the point we find a single Snow Bunting among the shingle and 2-3 Rock Pipits along with a couple of Meadow Pipits.
There's large numbers of Golden Plovers feeding on the mudflats along with Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Knot, Curlew, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwits.

With the skies showing signs of clearing we head back to Abberton hoping to grab a couple of shots of the Desert Wheatear.
On arrival the car park is packed and the bird is showing superbly well. While we are there the bird spends all it's time on the tarmac and approaches ridiculously  close when someone throws down a few mealworms.

One guy turns up and asks if the bird is showing, only to be told it's two feet in front of him. Obviously not close enough for everyone.

We head for home very happy.