Saturday, 25 April 2015

Catching up with newly arrived Spring migrants.

I have made a couple of visits to Grove Ferry during the past week trying to catch the Grasshopper Warbler out in the open, but as is normal with this species, a long wait staring into a bush often results in not many images worthy of keeping as was the case here.

Common Tern was a new year tick for me at Stodmarsh today, (25th) along with Garden Warbler and a pair of Summer plumaged Dunlin from the viewing ramp at Grove was a new patch tick for 2015.
After another Grasshopper Warbler was found by the Shuart train crossing on the Reculver marshes, I went looking for it on the Thursday evening (23rd) but never saw sight nor sound of the bird. An ultra smart looking male Redstart seen moving down the railway embankment from Chambers Wall towards Shuart's was ample compensation though. I also heard and saw Lesser Whitethroat which was new for the year for me. Friday morning I returned and was lucky enough to catch a Common Buzzard sitting on a telegraph pole by the concrete road leading down to the fisherman's car park at Chambers. Leaning out of the car window I was able to grab a few shots.

I missed out on the Gropper again but saw plenty of newly arrived Warblers, a Chiffchaff by the fisherman's car park posing nicely for the camera. A Cuckoo was also seen along the embankment and several Yellow Wagtails were feeding in the fields out on the marsh. Walking back to the car, I saw two late staying Brent Geese which flew over the car park  heading westward, towards the towers.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A trip to Marquenterre in Northern France (10/04/15)

Catching the 06.20 AM train from Folkestone last Friday (10th), Martyn Wilson, Tim Gutsell and Alan Ashdown joined me on a day out to the Somme Estuary where the Marquenterre bird reserve is situated. We did not spend a lot of time in the actual reserve with much of the day spent walking around the wooded sand dunes that line the Somme estuary. The only part of the reserve we did visit was the first pool where the only thing of interest were newly arrived Swallows that were already collecting mud for their nests.

Click on image for full size.

Also visited was the Heronry which was alive with nesting Herons, Egrets, Spoonbills and White Storks.
Martyn was in charge of the days species count which ended on 73, being littered with quality birds and could of been higher if we had completed the reserve circular walk. This we neglected to do as it was hot, 25 degrees of hot and good enough reason to seek the shade of the surrounding Pine forests. Bird of the day for me was a superb Black Woodpecker with great flight views as we inadvertently flushed it from a tree along the path we were walking. My second sighting of this species and both coming from this area. A close second was a superb male White Spotted Bluethroat, seen on the reserve. Although it sat up singing, and allowed us to get fairly close, we could not get the sun behind us which was a shame as we could only secure record shots of the bird. My first male and a smart looking bird albeit still a little tatty as it completes its moult into breeding plumage.

Outside in the Pine forest, we encountered a number of quality woodland birds including Firecrest, Brambling, Short-toed treecreeper and several Crested Tits, the latter as normal staying up high but a reasonable record shot was secured.

It was not a great day for photos as is the norm for me with little birds in shaded forests. It's a lot easier trying to get huge Storks and Spoonbills as they leave their nest sites and fly over the reserve en route to the surrounding fields and mud along the Somme estuary.

A thoroughly enjoyable day out in pleasant warm sunshine and good company. It's always good when you return home with Black Woodpecker and Bluethroat on the day list. Cannot wait to do it all again.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Garganey........Another Dandy looking Duck.

A long slog around Grove ferry and Stodmarsh looking for newly arrived Garganey paid off after being told by Barry W and Malcolm Mc V that three birds had just dropped into the pool in front of the Reed bed hide. I made my way there and found two drakes and a duck, one of the Drakes most obliging. After a few photos I had to leave, a small job needed doing but returning late afternoon, the three Garganey were still on the pool with the added bonus of a much quieter hide. Along with a couple of other photographers we were able to get some half decent images in the late afternoon sun.

Click on images for full size.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Not a lot on the migrant front ......Yet.

 The weather over the Easter weekend was a little disappointing in spite of the T.V forecasters continually telling us it was going to be great. A trip to Dover yesterday to see the Glaucous Gull drew a blank, (2 loaves of bread wasted) and an earlier trip to Stodmarsh resulted in a booming Bittern, 4 Swallows, a Ruff at the Marsh hide and the displaying Grebes from the Reed bed hide. A paltry return for a long walk. The only other photographic opportunities came from a walk down the tide line at Reculver, westward from the towers car park. A flock of 50+ Sanderling are hanging on, 5 Grey Plovers were seen as was a single Curlew and Oyster-catcher.

 Click on images for full size.

Great Crested Grebe. 


Grey Plover.

Part of the Sanderling flock with Grey Plover.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Displaying Grebes in the Gloom.

A total weekend wash out with dull gloomy weather on the Saturday and Sunday no better with wind and rain marking the first day of British summer time. I only managed half an hour in the Reed bed hide at Stodmarsh where I saw what I expected which was nothing. My only photos were of a pair of Great Crested Grebes that were displaying out in front of the hide, the spectacle ending with the offering of a feather. It brightened the gloom for a while, just a pity there was not enough light to do the occasion justice with the camera.

Click on images for full size.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A few outings to Reculver.

I have had a few trips to Reculver during the past week, mainly in the late afternoon, hoping to catch up with any early arriving migrants. I managed a couple of Wheatears, one too scruffy to photograph and the other, seen this afternoon by the Oyster farm, a smart looking male bird. Unfortunately, it never stayed still long enough to get the camera on it, making its way east down the sea wall at a rake of knots. Shame as it was a "looker" I also caught up with the Black Redstart around the towers earlier in the week but again it was a scruffy individual, looking like it had been dunked in a puddle. (I'm getting too fussy)
The Brent flock seems to be getting larger, the birds gathering, ready for their long flight back North to their breeding grounds.

Click on image for full size

Brent Geese

The rest of the time was spent walking along the beach where a few waders were photographed as they were pushed nearer to me by the incoming tide.

Ring Plover

Grey Plover

A couple of Short-eared Owls were seen quartering the marsh and a flock of 25+ Corn Buntings was a notable sighting, seen by Mike Gould and myself out over the Oyster farm. It is the largest flock I have seen for some time now.