Friday, 27 November 2015

After the Blow.

Not being a fan of sea watching, (it's done in ridiculous weather and everything is too far away for my liking) I decided after Saturday's gale force Northerlies that battered the Kent coast line, to walk along the tide line at Seasalter on the Sunday and Monday morning, (22nd and 23rd) in the hope that a few wrecked sea birds would be seen close in and easy  Camera fodder. Alas, nothing too exciting, in fact very little evidence of any storm preceding my visit . I did see a 50 plus flock of Bar-tailed Godwits and also a flock of 500 + Knot that arrived together and landed to feed on the newly exposed mud left by the receding tide. The Brent Geese numbers are now growing as more wintering birds arrive from the North.

Most of the common waders were seen, Grey and Ringed Plover, Redshank, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew and Oyster-catchers as I walked along the beach in the company of Mike Gould who was out looking for the same absent storm wrecked birds that I was.

Most of my time was spent with a small flock of Sanderling, charismatic little wading birds to watch and ideal subjects for the camera. 

Just about to upgrade to windows 10, hopefully I will still be able to use the computer after this is completed. Something always seems to go amiss when attempting such manoeuvres. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Catching up.

After learning by way of social media (thanks Phil S) about the presence of a female Goosander at Kearsney Abbey in Dover, I decided on a visit. Only a fairly smallish duck pond but for an hour I could not find the bird. Sitting on a felled tree stump on the pond edge I saw plenty of over friendly ducks, 2 not so friendly Little Grebes and eventually a far from friendly female Goosander. She swam from the overhanging vegetation on one island to the overhanging vegetation of a second island and that was that. Very wary of people the bird shied away and could only be seen deep in the shadows of the overhanging vegetation but I was able to get a few images as she crossed the pond. In my opinion a very smart looking Sawbill.

Also seen whilst in the grounds of Kearsney Abbey were 2 or 3 Kingfishers and at least four Grey Wagtails. A Common Buzzard was seen high overhead when I was waiting for the Goosander to put in an appearance.

Just down the road at De Bradelei Wharf in the dock complex, another Sawbill in the shape of a female Red-Breasted Merganser has taken up residence. Quite why it has decided to choose this location is a bit of a mystery but by accounts, it seems to of been there for well over a month now. Given the location it was very easy to find and I have been twice over the past few weeks to have a look. Although vaguely similiar in appearance to the Goosander it's easy to tell the differences.

My other outings of late, (which due to the weather conditions have been very few) has been in pursuit of what seems at the moment to be a glut of Short-Eared Owls. I have been lucky and had superb views of these birds as they have hunted over The Cinque Ports Golf Course at Sandwich Bay, sometimes having them overhead and just metres from my camera lens.

Monday, 26 October 2015 time flies.

Looking through old photo files, (a sure indication that we are into a dull and dreary spell of  weather) it dawned on me that it is now seven years (too the day of this posting) since I was able to twitch and photograph the American Green Heron on the Royal Military canal in West Hythe. (My first real biggie) A dull wet and windy Sunday morning, 26th October 2008 and along with the "Grove Ferry gang" (a few of us met every Sunday morning at Grove back then) I remember standing alongside the canal bank in Hythe, cold and camera at the ready with concentrated efforts to keep it sheltered from the persistent drizzle and thinking what a waste of time this is. (me forever the optimist) Then Martyn Wilson shouts, "there it is". A mad scramble for views followed as the Heron appeared  from a wooded area, flying in and landing in the reeds on the far bank of the canal. As it happened, the need for haste was uncalled for, the bird performed pretty well throughout the day and continued to do so late into November. A fine twitch and one I will always remember.

Back to the present, and as mentioned previously, here in the south east of the country we seem to be stuck with dull and overcast skies which makes wildlife photography a little difficult. I have had a few excursions out, seeing a Great Grey Shrike sitting atop a bush just a few metres from me at Beltinge but it was so gloomy that you needed a torch and that was 9 o clock in the morning, (Sunday 18th). Still it's a great bird to see. I returned to Beltinge on Wednesday (22nd) in the afternoon, taking advantage of some rare sunshine. The Shrike had moved on but I did see a Dartford Warbler. However, most of my time was spent with the Stonechat's, they seemed to be less camera shy.

Thursday, (22nd) and another dull grey day as I walked around the marshes of Reculver when my second Great Grey Shrike of the week was seen sitting on top of a Hawthorn bush along the shuart track. Using the hedge as cover I slowly worked my way nearer to the bird and was able to get close enough to get some fairly decent images, especially as the light was pretty dire. Returning on Friday afternoon, 23rd, the Shrike had moved on, (a shame) but there were two Dartford Warblers in a bush just short of the railway line at the Shuart crossing and I saw my first Brambling of the year. 

A trip out to Grove Ferry yesterday (Sunday 25th) was all about meeting a member of staff from N/E who was asking for ideas on how to improve the reserve and in particular the views from the ramp and the Feast hide. Quite a constructive chat but it would of been nice if a few more birders/photographers put in an appearance to voice their opinions. Not much in the way of photo's, several Bearded Tits but they were hard work and being a Sunday, it was not a day for hard work, a pair of Stonechat's were an easier option.

A couple of hours in the afternoon at Sandwich Bay allowed me to get a few Short-Eared Owl images with at least 6 birds seen throughout my stay. The sun dipped as I arrived which was a shame and losing the hour through the clocks going back took its toll as by 5 o clock the light had gone, enforcing my departure.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bearded Tits.............lots of them.

I stumbled over a flock of Bearded Tits at Grove Ferry, noisily going about their business in the reed bed alongside the Harrison's Drove and it was not until a juvenile Kestrel flushed them that I realised there was over a hundred birds present. A few returned and I was able to grab a few shots as they climbed the reed stems.

Click on image for full size.

Smart birds.............A Grove Ferry favourite for me.