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". 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Another Kingfisher morning.

I spent the best part of last Sunday morning (21st) sat in the Harrison's Drove hide on the Grove Ferry reserve alongside Andy Hills watching three Kingfisher perches minus the Kingfishers. We then walked back to the Feast hide and within minutes a juvenile female bird flew along the dyke and landed on one of the perches. It sat there for ten minutes before moving onto another post and then flying off east along the dyke towards the viewing ramp. A few images from the session posted below.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Migration in progress

I visited Dungeness on Sunday (7th), spending far too long waiting for a Whinchat to pose for the camera, which after 3 hours I realised I was flogging a dead horse and gave up, and also far too long waiting for a distant Red-backed Shrike, seen along the entrance track to the RSPB reserve, to come closer which it chose not to. Plenty of good birds seen but as it can be at Dungeness, plenty to look at but more difficult to get close enough to anything for a photo.. The best sight was the spectacle of House Martins in tens of thousands, (no exaggeration) filling the sky and sometimes just metres over my head. Plenty of Swallows as well, although not in such volume, all refuelling for their oncoming journey back south. A few images but all distant was all I could manage from the day.

Meadow Pipit.



On Tuesday, (9th) I had a walk around the Elms on the Sandwich Bay estate, where all I could find was 2 Goldcrest's and a Spotted Fly-catcher that remained high up in the tree tops, and along the beach and around the big house by the yacht club I counted 11 Wheatears, 1 Common Redstart and 1 Whinchat. A Kestrel was seen on a fence post and 6 Meadow Pipits were feeding on a lawn in amongst the Wheatears. There were 2 juvenile Ring Plovers on the shingle along the tide line.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Gotcha !!!

Several visits to the Feast hide at Grove ferry during the past three weeks, finally paying off with a female Kingfisher visiting the perch and staying for 90 minutes, allowing for a few images. (Well about 800 actually) A few posted below.

One smart bird.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Passing the time at Grove ferry.

During the past week I have made a few sortie's to the reserve at Grove ferry, mainly in the Feast hide trying unsuccessfully to catch the Kingfisher on one of the posts. A male has been seen on several occasions but although landing now and then on the nearest post, (it seems to make a bee line for the same post) the post is too near to the hide and any slight movement or shutter noise from within the hide results in a hastily departing Kingfisher. The post needs moving back onto the island side of the dyke, in line with its current position and I will ask Ben Ring (one of the reserve warden's) if he can do this when I see him next. Whilst in the hide Herons were frequent visitors to the pool, but the Tern raft being the nearest I could photograph them so the 1.4x converter was required. Not ideal but okay if the light is fairly decent.

A Grey Heron did fly in front of the hide and landed for a few seconds, allowing for a couple of close up shots.

A Cormorant was seen on the Tern raft, wing drying after fishing in the pool in front of the hide, the feather detail highlighted in the morning sun.

Several Water Rails were noted, at least 6, but alas no Spotted Crake yet. The water level seems to be dropping, the pool just a couple of inches deep in places so hopefully soon one will turn up but after today where it has rained all day, the levels may of risen slightly. I managed a couple of images of a juvenile Water Rail as it skulked about in the vegetation in front of the hide.

On Sunday, after spending a couple of hours in the hide alongside Andy Hills where 6 Common Snipe thought about landing on the pool but decided against it and a Green Sandpiper deciding the pool was to its liking, a somewhat poor wader count, I moved off to join Martyn Wilson, Sue Morton, Alan Ashdown and Dave Sutton whom were parked between the Harrison's and Middle drove. They got me onto a Whinchat, one of seven seen all in view at the same time, the most I have ever seen at any one time and easily a Grove record for me, having only seen this species here singly. Whilst remarking about a tweet received from Chris Hindle, alerting people to the sighting of a Honey Buzzard flying South over Reculver, Martyn was already on what I presume was the same bird, high over the boat house on the Grove road, where he then picked out a 2nd bird along with 2 Common Buzzards. We were buzzed by a couple of Hobbies, their numbers considerably down on the reserve this year which ia a major disappointment and a couple of Sparrow hawks put in an appearance making for a decent raptor tally. There were high numbers of Warblers on the reserve, feeding up in preparation for their long journey back south, and a flock of at least 50+ Goldfinches seen. The camera action came from the hide, a Little Egret gracing the pool and again with the aid of the converter, a few images were taken. I am not a fan of converters, but with some good light a few useable images can be gained, which is better than no images at all.

On the way out of the reserve on Sunday, we saw 2 Brown Hawkers along the entrance track, several Migrant Hawkers and even more Common Darters. A solitary Willow Emerald was also seen.

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