Saturday 28 September 2019

American Golden Plover: Oare Marshes, Kent

September has seen us clock up the miles with trips to Cornwall, Lancashire, and Hampshire. So today we stayed relatively close to home with an early morning drive to Birchington-on-Sea in Kent. A Grey Phalarope had been present and showing well the previous day. We scanned the bay but there was no sign of the Phalarope. We spent most of the morning walking up and down the promenade scanning the bay and waiting and hoping that the incoming tide would push the Phalarope into the bay. Unfortunately, the bird never appeared and we had to admit defeat.

On the way home, we stopped off at Oare Marshes as dad still needed the American Golden Plover for a year tick. Luckily this time the AGP was found among its European cousins immediately upon arrival.  Brian and I had already seen it earlier in the month at Shellness, but today it was showing much better than it did on that occasion.

American Golden-Plover

 It was pretty easy picking it out on the flood, but Brian also managed to get a shot of it in flight!

Monday 16 September 2019

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Farlington Marshes, Hampshire

Yesterday afternoon proved very frustrating, unable to make the journey I was left sitting at home watching the news services continue to report the bird's presence at Farlington Marshes. With clear skies forecast would it stay overnight or had my chance of seeing this rare visitor disappear? At 19.35 encouraging news came through that the bird had appeared to go to roost.

After meeting Brian at 5am we set off down the A3 and after a trouble-free journey arrived at Farlington Marshes shortly before sunrise. After walking through the gate, we joined the assembled group of birders who all had their bins and scopes trained on the Blackthorn bushes in front of them. Almost immediately I had the bird in view! As the sun climbed in the sky the Blackthorn bushes were thrown into shadow making viewing more difficult. Throughout the morning the Warbler would move around within a small circuit of bushes allowing for some excellent views.

Farlington Marshes at first light

Eastern olivaceous Warbler

As the crowds continued to grow throughout the morning we left for Hook-with-Warsash LNR hoping to connect with the White-spotted Bluethroat. However, the Bluethroat proved very elusive and wouldn't show itself while we were on-site.

Pulborough Brooks has been host to a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope in recent days, it's forty-plus miles from Warsash but more importantly, it's on the way home. We followed the main tracks and eventually arrived at Jupp's View, a viewing platform looking out towards North Brooks. At first, the Phalarope was out of sight behind tall vegetation but it soon moved into sight and began feeding in typical phalarope fashion. Good scope views were had but Unfortunately, it was just too far for the camera.

Pulborough Brooks Visitor centre

The view of North Brooks from Jupp's View

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear: Pilling, Preston

When I get a text message at 3am, it normally means Brian is planning another trip. This morning his plan was to head 250 miles North up the M6 to Preston.  A journey that should have taken us four and a half hours actually took us six.  A lorry had overturned gone through the central reservation and caught fire completely closing junction 12 to 13 in both directions. After some lengthy detours, we finally arrived at Fluke Hall lane at 10am and were pleased/relieved to find the Wheatear sitting on the rocks entertaining a small group of birders.

This bird has enjoyed much debate as to its identity, firstly put out as "possible adult female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (or Pied Wheatear)" on the morning it was found, then being reversed that evening to "Adult female Pied Wheatear (or possibly Eastern Black-eared Wheatear)". A DNA sample had been collected and sent off for analysis to see if that could aid the ID process. This morning, while on-site, news came through that RBA is now reporting the Wheatear as an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear after studying the many photographs taken of the bird!  You can find the reasoning behind this decision Here 

No doubt the debate will continue until the BBRC sit and make a ruling on it, but for now, it's going down as an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (pending) until such time as it is deemed otherwise.

View from Pilling Embankment

Monday 9 September 2019

Red-backed Shrike, Holland Haven Country Park

A Red-backed Shrike was found at Holland Haven Country park yesterday and it was our destination this morning. Holland Haven is situated between Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. Although we live in Essex it's still seventy-four miles from home.

We had very little information on the bird but were hoping it had decided to stick around for a second day. Upon arrival, we walked along the track towards the beach and got lucky when a local had just located the Shrike and kindly waved us over. It proved quite mobile during our visit but spent the majority of its time among bramble bushes North of the sluice. We enjoyed watching it for an hour until the rain became heavier and we sought shelter in the car.

Red-backed Shrike

Looking down towards the hide and scrape

Sunday 8 September 2019

American Golden Plover: Shellness/Swale NNR, Kent

Early Saturday evening an American Golden Plover was found on the East Flood of Oare Marshes in Kent. Having already seen Pacific and European Golden Plover this year we were keen to complete the hat-trick. We set off early Sunday morning and arrived shortly after 7am hoping the bird had stayed overnight. Initial scans of the flood revealed small numbers of Golden Plovers and as the tide on the Swale receded the numbers grew, until there was over fifty present. We scanned the flock several times, but there was no sign of the American among them. There were plenty of waders present the best of which were nine Curlew Sandpipers and a Spotted Redshank.

At 10.25am news came through of a "probable" adult American Golden Plover at Shellness/Swale NNR among 130 Golden Plover. We set off soon afterward and upon arrival found three birders scanning the stubble fields from the sea wall. We were told the bird was still present but that it wasn't visible among the stubble strips. It was a waiting game and eventually, it showed itself. The majority of the time it remained hidden in the stubble sometimes with just the head and supercilium visible other times it would completely disappear. Before leaving for home we managed three brief views of the whole bird!

American Golden plover

On the walk back to the car we managed to find two Wheatear among the rocks.

The view opposite the stubble fields along Shellness Road

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Brown Booby: Kynance Cove, Cornwall

Brian and I had been bouncing a few texts about the Brown Booby back and forth yesterday, which cumulated in Brian saying "If it's seen more regularly I'm going". At 7.38 news came through that it had appeared to go to roost behind the rocks. That was all the encouragement we needed.

We began the 320-mile journey at midnight hoping to arrive before first light. The journey didn't start well when we found the entrance to the M25 completely closed off! Luckily after a short detour, the remainder of the trip went smoothly and we arrived at the National Trust car park around 5.30am. The main car park was almost full, with many sleeping off their long journeys or trying to navigate the parking meter buttons in the darkness.

It was still relatively dark as we made our way down towards the cliffside. Even in semi-darkness birders began scanning the rocks for any sign of the bird. Two hours passed and there had been no sign of the bird, Just as the usual thoughts began to form, Had we missed our chance? We should have come down yesterday. the shout went up "THERE IT IS", and indeed there it was, flying low across the water heading straight towards us! It headed around the headland made a few flights along the distant cliffs and returned to the small pyramid rock it had used yesterday. An hour passed and many of the birders had drifted away. We remained and eventually were treated to a full display of it flying, diving, fishing and sitting on the sea and rocks. 

An added bonus while watching the Brown Booby was the presence of at least seven Cornish Chough. They flew overhead and settled on the short grass on the far right of the photo below.

The small pyramid rock on the left seems to be a favorite resting place

Brown Booby

A view looking back towards the Brown Booby resting site