Friday, 24 October 2014

Seasalter and Dungeness.

A trip out to Dungeness last Sunday (19th) in the company of Sue Morton, Martyn Wilson and Alan Ashdown resulted in very little being seen but we did get Sue a year tick with the Cattle Egret that is currently feeding around the entrance to the RSPB reserve in amongst the cattle. We visited all of the known "hotspots" around the area but nothing really out of the ordinary. A chat on the beach with Mick, Richard and Martin Casemore was the highlight of the afternoon with a few gull images the only results of a pretty quiet day out. 

Herring Gull (2nd winter)

Yellow-legged Gull (Adult)

On Monday (20th) I met up with Mike Gould for a stroll down the sea wall at Seasalter. There were 3 very showy Wheatears, two along the wall and one back by the wader roost about a mile east where we stopped off first. Two clouded Yellows were seen and an impressive number of Brent's have now arrived with a lot of juvenile birds in the flock. Along the sea wall west of the Sportsman pub, there were several Geese dabbling along the tides edge and close to our vantage point behind the wall.

Mike spotted a Grey Plover on one of the groynes as we were walking back to the cars and although a long way out a heavy crop and the 1.4x converter gave a usable record shot.

Monday, 20 October 2014

A Shrike from the east (16/10/14)

What looked a mundane slog around the Sandwich Bay estate last Thursday morning (16th) in the company of Alan Ashdown and Bernie Weight, turned out to be one of the years better sessions. News reached us of an Isabelline Shrike seen out on the Worth Marsh and after being given directions over the phone by Steve Ray, the three of us parked up in Worth and walked about 500 metres down a public footpath, stopping at a small group of local birders all peering into a bush, signalling that we had found the right spot. We immediately saw the Shrike on top of a small Hawthorn which was a  new bird for all three of us. The bird showed very well, albeit somewhat distant, and for most of the day it sat in the direction of the sun and always seemed partially hidden by the surrounding vegetation. Alan and I decided to spend most of the day with the bird and eventually it landed in the tree we were standing under allowing for a few photos free from clutter and with the sun behind us. Whilst there we also noted 5 Common Buzzards, 2 Marsh Harriers, a Kestrel and 2 Sparrow Hawks.

During the afternoon we were told that a Dartford Warbler had been seen in Gorse opposite the Restharrow scrape so we drove back to the scrape on the estate, parked up and immediately caught sight of the Warbler as it flitted around a small Gorse bush in the company of 2 Stonechats. We had a few minutes with the bird before we headed off to the Obs for tea and to duck a passing shower. This was another new bird for Alan and the first I have seen since a showy individual photographed at St Margaret's in October 2009, 5 years ago to the day. Unfortunately this bird was a fair way off but after the Shrike and this being a new bird for Alan, we were not complaining.

The bird seen at Hope point between Kingsdown and St Margaret's on October 15th 2009. This one was a lot more approachable.

A Little Egret landed on the island in front of the Restharrow hide windows, allowing a few photos to be taken before it quickly alighted and a good number of Skylark's were seen and photographed around Dickson's corner. One of this years better days.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Reculver Rocks !!! (10/10/14)

A few bits seen and photographed around the rocks either side of the towers at Reculver last Friday afternoon, (10th). There were 5 Wheatear's in the area, 3 Stonechat's, several Pied Wagtails and Starlings but I could not find the Black Redstart. A walk down to try and re-locate last week's Snow Bunting was unsuccessful but it was not a hard look and being distracted by two young Kestrel's squabbling over air space never helped. Five Little Egrets were looking for food on the mud in the Oyster farm along with a few Redshank, a flock of 9 Brent Geese flying west were my first of the Autumn but most of the time was spent sitting on the wall beneath the towers waiting for the sun to pop out and hoping there was something up on the rocks to photograph at the same time.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Snow Bunting at Reculver.

An early returning Snow Bunting, found earlier in the week by Mark Chidwick along the beach about 400 metres east of the towers at Reculver, proved hard to find at first, its winter plumage blending in with the surrounding shingle terrain. Its movement along the top of a ridge finally gave away its location (eventually) and during two visits I was rewarded with great views as the bird foraged for food in amongst the vegetation along the beach. 

Thursday 2nd October 2014.

Friday 3rd October 2014.

Apart from the Snow Bunting it was very quiet. Linnets and Meadow Pipits were actively feeding along the beach with a small flock of Goldfinches, several Herons and Little Egrets seen in the Oyster farm, a very distant short-eared Owl was out on the marsh as were two Marsh Harriers and the expected waders  were seen feeding along the tide line.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A juvenile Red-backed Shrike at Seasalter.

With news of a juvenile Red-backed Shrike being found by Geoff Burton at Seasalter, I wandered over to the Yacht club along the coastal road through Seasalter last Tuesday (23rd) but by 9.00am I had drawn a blank. I was making my way back to the car when the bird popped up alongside the road in a Hawthorn bush and gave great views for a few minutes before disappearing into low scrub out on the marsh. I could not re-locate it by 10 o clock so left after getting a few shots of the bird as it munched on a Crane fly.

After hearing that the bird was seen throughout the day and went to roost in the same bush as the previous night, I returned on the Wednesday afternoon, (24th) and was treated to exceptionally close up views of the bird and at one time the bird alighted from the top of a bush and grabbed a Crane Fly, less than a metre from my feet as I sat watching from my vantage point on a grassy embankment. The bird buried itself in the grass and emerged with the Crane Fly, leaving the four photographers watching slightly bewildered as to how the Shrike knew the insect was there in the first place. A few images were taken as the Shrike performed admirably just metres in front of the four lucky photographers.

I sat with Marc Heath for an hour or so on Thursday morning (26th) in the Feast hide at Grove Ferry where the Kingfisher's were again seen although their visits to the perches in front of the hide seem to be less numerous and I wonder if this has something to do with the flood repair work that is ongoing along the river bank to the North of the hide. The machinery and dumpers can be seen and heard from the hide so it may have a bearing on the Kingfisher feeding habits. A smart looking female Marsh Harrier caught us unaware but a quick burst with the camera resulted in a few usable images. It's not too often you hear photographer's saying "it's too close".