Sunday, 28 June 2015

Spoonbills in Kent

With not much happening locally on the bird front, we decided to spend the morning in Kent and headed for Dungeness this morning.
Arriving shortly after 6.30 we started with a brief sea-watch. As expected it was very quiet. Gannets were regularly seen passing by. Sandwich and Common Terns were seen but only in small numbers and only a handful of Auks were seen.
We headed for the observatory and while Brian tucked himself away with the camera, I went off looking to add Black Redstart to the year list. I walked the power station perimeter fence scanning for any movement, but was a little hesitant when a police patrol car appeared inside the fence. It was probably just a routine patrol and didn't approach me at any point.
After returning to the car, I scanned the wires again and eventually found a single Black Redstart perched up on the barbed wire within the compound. On the drive back along the entrance track on the observatory another two birds were seen.

After a tip off that there had been a couple of Spoonbill present on pools near Scotney GP's, we headed in that direction hoping to connect and add another year tick.
Pulling into the farm entrance, we scanned the pools but only found Little Egrets present. Brian scanned the pits themselves and spotted a couple of likely looking targets. A quick scan with the scope and the presence of two Spoonbills are confirmed.
After driving further along the road, we managed to get a little closer to them, but they still remained distant. At first they were as is usual asleep, but they did wake briefly and I grabbed a few record shots.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Bonaparte's Gull, Oare Marshes Kent

Limited time today, so opted for a trip to Oare Marshes in Kent. Leaving at 5am we arrived shortly after 6am.
Yesterday saw the report of a Bonaparte's Gull on East flood, On arrival the tide was in so we parked up at the first pull in but after a quick scan of the flood we failed to locate the bird.
A Barn Owl was hunting low over the marshes and then it headed towards the hide. Brian did the same while dad and I stayed behind and started another scan of the flood.
Again with no sign of the bird, we decided to head towards the hide. The Barn Owl was still hunting and flew straight across the path in front of us and headed for the sea wall.
A message from Brian saying he had found the Bonaparte's Gull saw us quickly join him in the hide. The bird was quite distant and would regularly disappear behind one of the islands only to reappear a short time later. Great scope views were had but photo's were proving almost impossible! A couple of distant record shots is all I could manage.

Bonaparte's Gull

A large flock of Black-tailed Godwits were also present and some even began feeding a little closer.

Black-tailed Godwit
On the way home we dropped into Elmley and drove the entrance track to the car park. Bird numbers were well down from our last visit. Although numbers were down, There was still a nice selection seen. Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Buzzard, Yellow Wagtail, Skylark, Redshank, Lapwing among them.


As we pulled out of the reserve we found small groups of Linnets and Swallows visiting puddles by the side of the road. 

Friday, 12 June 2015

Hudsonian Whimbrel; Church Norton, West Sussex

Sitting at home I received a surprise phone call from Brian around 1pm yesterday afternoon to say he had the rest of the day off and did we want to try for the Whimbrel?
We quickly met up and set off on the 120 mile journey around the M25 and down the A3 arriving around 3pm. Luckily we found a space close to Church Norton car park and walked through the church yard and over the little stile at the end of the path.
The tide was out but we quickly picked out a couple of Whimbrel busily feeding on the mud. Neither bird was jumping out at us and eventually both took to the air to show the white "V" confirming any doubts that neither of these were the target bird.
A tip off from a guy saying a group of birders had what they thought was the Hudsonian some 300 yards further along the shoreline.
We joined the ranks and were put on a sleeping bird behind a small island! It would wake to preen occasionally giving views of the head, which looked very pale at this distance.

The view while waiting for the Hudsonian to show!

As expected, still a popular bird!

This was the routine for the next two hours. Watch a sleeping bird, watch it wake and preen, watch it sleep again.
Suddenly it started to become more active and gave a couple of wing stretches. The bird was still looking good for Hudsonian. Then it took to the air and the identity was confirmed!
Many of the birders began to drift off back towards their cars, but we stayed and as the tide began to come in the bird took to the air again and was easily picked out among the other Whimbrel flying with it. 
A great afternoon twitch with a good group of birders. 
Thanks Brian!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk

We arrived at Titchwell early on Sunday morning to find the car park empty and for the first couple of hours we had the reserve to ourselves.
As soon as I stepped out of the car a Cuckoo was heard calling, and Brian had already spotted a Barn Owl quartering the field running alongside the reserve.
Shortly after leaving Island hide a Chinese Water Deer was spotted from West bank. 

Chinese Water Deer

A scan across the Freshwater marsh located several Little Gulls, with fourteen being the highest count. A male Garganey was seen from Parrinder hide (South) spending most of it's time asleep on one of the islands.
A single Little Tern was also seen from here along with two Little ringed Plovers.

Good numbers of Little Terns were seen during a short sea watch, along with several groups of Auks moving through.

A short drive away is Choseley Drying Barns and while being entertained by the Hares a couple of Turtle Doves flew across our heads and headed towards Titchwell. On the concrete pads outside the barns Yellowhammers and Goldfinch were feeding on seed.
Corn Bunting were seen and heard on the telegraph wires, and another Turtle Dove landed briefly on the same wires.
While watching a fly over by a Marsh Harrier a welcome and very much overdue year tick was added when Brian spotted a Hobby flying directly overhead.