Saturday 25 November 2017

American Horned Lark, Staines Reservoir

American Horned Lark of nominate form ( alpestris, praticola, hoyti) was found at Staines Reservoir on the 24th. A short trip around the M25 this morning was felt warranteed. Parking up in Stanwell Moor Road, it's a short walk up the ramp to the causeway. Joining the birders already present it wasn't long before the bird was located.

A really smart looking bird, hopefully the split will come sometime in the near future. But even if it doesn't it was still well worth the trip.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Dartford Warblers at Dungeness

An early morning trip to Dungeness was the order of the day.

There had been reports recently of a Dartford Warbler seen in the scrub around the Britannia Pub. Arriving shortly after 7am and with the likely looking areas bordering the road, we decided to scan from the car. A period of driving, stopping and scanning followed. Eventually, I located a Stonechat in the gorse and thinking the Dartford Warbler may be feeding in their company we concentrated the search in this area. A pair of Stonechat popped up onto the top of the gorse and then Brian spotted the Dartford Warbler feeding low in a channel close to the roadside.


Dartford Warbler

A second Dartford Warbler had also been reported earlier in the week and it eventually appeared close to the bird we were watching, but it failed to show well enough to grab a photo of both birds together.

On the way home, we stopped at Elmley and tried to locate the reported six Jack Snipe. The report had said "At least six on the right after the last cattle grid towards the car park" But this area was clearly not suitable. We drove back down the track scanning more suitable areas,  but we failed to locate any of the birds. Several Buzzards were seen perched on various posts either side of the entrance track, and a Marsh Harrier and Merlin were also seen. At the entrance, a small covey of Red-legged partridge were seen feeding in a recently ploughed area of the field. 

Monday 13 November 2017

Norfolk Seawatching from the "Cley Beach Hotel"

The weather forecast yesterday evening was predicting North Westerly winds blowing up to 50mph. So with that in mind this morning we headed for Norfolk.
We parked up in the Cley Beach car park and joined the assembled Twenty plus birders already present. With the shelter fully occupied we joined the line of birders outside on the East side. The winds had not yet picked up in strength and were more Westerly than North Westerly. There was very little movement at sea for the first couple of hours but a flock of 25-30 Snow buntings were a very welcome distraction in the bitterly cold conditions. As the wind grew in strength we had our first and only views of a Little auk as it headed East.
With the winds twisting round more towards the North and the rain beginning to fall, we headed for Cley Visitor Centre for much-needed refreshments before heading back to the beach.
Back at Cley, we managed to squeeze into the shelter and found bird passage had improved somewhat from this morning. Several groups of Kittiwakes (Adult & Juveniles) headed West, Bonxies were seen at regular intervals, and a group of four headed East to West and flew past the shelter at close range. 
The bird of the day though had to be the juvenile Glaucous Gull that flew along the beach straight past the shelter just a few metres away.

Sea passage was not as we had hoped for, but along with the single Little Auk, Kittiwakes, and Bonxies, several other species were noted including Little Gull, Caspian Gull, Common Scoter, Guillemot, Great Crested Grebe, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Red-throated Diver, Brent geese, Wigeon and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.

On route home, we managed to locate the two Cattle Egrets in the flooded field South of the A149.

Monday 6 November 2017

Dusky Warbler: Sandwich Bay, Kent

Not sure of which direction to take this morning, we eventually decided to head towards Kent and hope the Dusky Warbler had remained overnight. Two hours later we arrive at Sandwich Bay. This being a private estate there is a toll charge to enter. A normal day ticket is £7 per car, but if you are going to the Bird Observatory it will only cost you £1.

Toll Hut

Helped by directions from the previous day. ("c300m North of the Chequers pub and just North of golf course reservoir by Ancient highway"), Having quickly found the area, we gained some height by using the large sandhill overlooking the area.Almost immediately the "tak" call was heard and soon afterwards the bird was seen. It regularly gave it's "tak" call allowing us to narrow down its location. For a skulking bird, this individual showed extremely well. It would flit around among the gorse and ground vegetation, but would regularly visit an Elderberry among the gorse allowing for some superb views. 

Apart from a couple of Brambling calling overhead the only other highlight was a Woodcock that flew low overhead and seemed to land among the gorse near the roadside.

Dusky Warbler

Before heading for home we stopped off at Oare Marshes and with the tide in on the estuary, large numbers of waders were roosting on the flood. Hundreds of Golden Plover, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits were present. Brian picked out a Purple Sandpiper among the Dunlin and we managed to get a local group on the bird. The Long-billed Dowitcher was still present and spent most of its time asleep, but did wake and start feeding eventually. 

Along with the usual Avocets, Lapwings and Redshank several other birds were found among the large flocks including four Greenshank, several Grey Plover and single Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit. The sight of the large flocks of Dunlin and Golden Plover in flight was a fitting end to the days birding.