Friday, 22 January 2016

Friday 22nd. January 2016

A catch up on a couple of outings , for a change this winter , in sunshine .
The first was supposed to be straight to the Isle of Sheppey , but found the A249 completely shut at the M2 . The roundabout was completely grid locked , but the slip road onto the M2 was running , so made a split moment decision and headed for Oare Marshes . With no other hitches , I arrived to a cold , windy Oare , but there was some milky sunshine , which made anything on the East Flood
almost a silhouette , like these two drake Pintail as they dabbled for their breakfast . The other side
of the road provided better opportunity , even though only Teal were on show . The far end of the road near the car park was flooded , as was the surrounding grass areas , but it did provide feeding
opportunities for this Black-tailed Godwit , along with a few Redshank . Along the sea wall , amongst the swaying phragmites , the ' pinging ' of Bearded Tit was heard , but not seen . Almost at the sea
wall hide , a female Stonechat bounced along infront of me for a short while . On the Swale , the tide was well out and any birds were just dots on the strand line . Beyond the hide , the track resembled ' The Somme ' , so I about turned and retraced my steps , finding a group of about a dozen Avocet ,
feeding and constantly on the move out on the mudflats . The BTGodwit had moved on when I got
back , to be replaced by a small flock of Wigeon . With little else found , I made a stop at the track to the East Hide , searching the ditch for a Penduline Tit , which wasn't forthcoming , having seen one
there a couple of years ago . But I did find a female Reed Bunting , that was only too happy to pose .
Leaving , I decided to retry to get to Sheppey via Sittingbourne , and for once luck was on my side and I managed to get there without much hassle . At Elmley , the track looked great with plenty of

water in the ditches , but the sightings were confined to Starling , Lapwing , Redshank , Mute Swan , Grey Heron and a very distant male Marsh Harrier . On the return , a Brown Hare showed momentarily in the seed crop , and although I stayed for a while , it didn't re-appear . Almost at the
entrance , a raucous Rook announced my departure , and even the Little Owls kept out of sight . Heading for Capel Fleet , I changed tack , deciding to try for the Shorelark on Minster beach . I found the shingle ridge easily enough , then slowly drove along the top , looking for the tiny bird as I did so . I was almost at the far end , when I saw two people looking down from the top of the ridge with binoculars . They said they were watching the bird , but in the shade and amongst the shingle , I
couldn't . Then , a small movement and there it was , less than 5 metres away . It spent it's time like a wind-up toy , constantly on the move looking for food , always in the shade , but after ten minutes or
so , it moved into the sunlight and then onto the top of a gravel ridge , and posed . Shortly afterwards , it flew to the strand line and out of view . With no sign of it returning I left , heading for Shellness , whre one of the birders had had views of the Richard's Pipit during the morning . Having ' rocked and rolled ' down the track to the car park , I made my way along the sea wall towards the hide , seeing almost nothing along the way . Mind you , the sun was sinking and I was walking into it which didn't help . 3/4 of the way to the hide I met another birder who was looking at a distant Hooded Crow , and
I mean distant . I took a record shot and with maximum cropping it still doesn't look convincing , but through the other birder's scope , it showed much better . With the light fading , we made our way back to the car park , both searching for the Pipit . With the car park in sight , we had just got a distant sighting of the bird , when we noticed a wildfowler coming towards us and more importantly , towards the bird . Just before the bird flew from the long grass at the bottom of the wall , I got a
record shot , heavily cropped again , for what it's worth . The fillings took another battering on the return along the track and on reaching the sea wall at Leysdown , found several Turnstone out on the
road , battling with the gulls for a few scraps that had been thrown down . One of the gulls involved
was this winter plumaged Herring Gull .
My other trip , before ' the return of the rain ' , started at Pett Level , hoping to see the Glossy Ibis that had been showing well along the roadside . Had , being the word , as it was not seen whilst I was there , and has only showed sporadically since . Some compensation though came in the form of
about 25 White-fronted Goose that were in the fields beyond the roadside pool . The Ibis was
probably doing the same as this pair of Shellduck . From there , I made my way to Scotney Pits between Camber and Lydd , finding things quiet apart from the Barnacle Goose flock near the double

bends , and amongst them , a few Emperor Goose type birds . Moving on to Dungeness RSPB , a check on the feeders at the farmhouse failed to find any Tree Sparrows on the feeders and a similar failure to spot the LEOwls in the willows behind the dipping pond . Mind you , nobody I spoke to had seen them . With what looked like a volunteers fire behind the hide by the car park , the large numbers of duck , mostly Shoveler , Tufted , Wigeon and Mallard , were dozing in the sun , midway or further out at the other end of Burroughs Pit . From Scott Hide , a female Goldeneye was the only
bird close enough to photograph , and that was only between dives . Not a sign of a Smew , Great White Egret or Bittern . Across at ARC car park , I had just started up the track to the hide , when I fortunately met a birder coming back and asked if it was worth the effort . He replied that there was absolutely nothing outside the hide , everything was over the other side / end of the pit . With that , I returned to the car and headed for the beach for yet another attempt to see the Caspian  Gull which has always evaded me on previous visits , or even the Glaucous  Gull would have been good . Plenty
of gulls were seen , especially at ' The Patch ' , the warm water outlet from the power station , both birds could well have been amongst them . With the day running out , I decided to call in on the Purple Sandpipers at Hythe on my way home . I checked out both rock groynes , failing to find a single bird . It could well have been because several people were sitting on each groyne , enjoying the sunshine . Giving up , I headed home , but it was nice to be out and about in that sunshine .

Friday, 1 January 2016

Friday 1st. January 2016

Firstly , a happy New Year to all .
The tail end of the old year failed to produce an upturn in sightings , so just a picture catch up on the few that were found , mostly in very poor light conditions .
The first of two visits to Bough Beech Reservoir found this Little Egret in the Oast Stream , running
into a very quickly filling reservoir , on the distant bank of which , was a female Goosander dozing ,
and her mate doing like-wise on the water . In the surrounding woodland , a Goldcrest searching for
food and a female Bullfinch that just allowed a single shot before disappearing . On the second visit ,
just a single Common Buzzard over the Visitor Centre , before being driven off by the local Corvids , but at least the sun had come out .
A visit to Sevenoaks Reserve finally managed to get a Siskin in the viewfinder , a male , before the
end of the year , along with a Redwing , one of a small flock , a species that has been really hard to
find this winter . From Willow Hide , a flash by from a Kingfisher and winter plumaged Great

Crested and Little Grebe , were all that were worthy of mention .
With Bearded Tit and Cetti's Warbler being seen at South Norwood Country Park , I made a first visit to try and find both . Another sunny period did not help when the Beardie finally came into view , as
the bird landed between the camera and the low winter sun , so an almost silhouette was achieved . No luck with the Cetti's , but I did see the back end of a Water Rail in the little stream and a Grey
Wagtail posed briefly , for once in a tree . On my way out , I managed to get unusually close to a
Rose-ringed Parakeet , before it flew off , squawking noisily . Yesterday , before visitors arrived , I
had another try , again failing with the Cetti's , but managing to get the Beardie in better light . Having seen a shot of the Cetti's taken yesterday afternoon , I made another attempt this morning , before going visiting this afternoon . I dipped for a third time , but was compensated by four Lesser Redpolls .I had just got them used to my being there and they were feeding happily , when a runner in
a fluorescent top came round the corner , and that was the last I saw of them . Around the site , there
must have been a dozen Song Thrushes in full song , this being one , and the back end of another Water Rail was also spotted .
And finally , when Carol brought her washing in off the line the other day , she spotted what she thought was a young Ladybird on one of the towels . It is a 2-spot Ladybird / Adalia bipunctata , just
about half the size of a 7-spot ,  and one of four forms that this species can be found in .

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday 13th. December 2015

Sightings are still ' in the doldrums ' and with all the wet and windy weather , it has not been particularly pleasant being out and about . Winter visitors are almost non existent , just one Redwing being found on the Down House bird survey , which produced 18 species . No sign of any deer and even the fungi has gone over . A look in at Keston Ponds was equally devoid of interest , with just the usual species showing in small numbers .
I did make a trip to Rainham Marshes , hoping for a Short-eared Owl or two , with seven being seen recently . Arriving well before the center opened , I made my way along the river towards the landfill area , finding little around .My hopes were raised when I found another birder around the Serin mound who had visited the previous afternoon and had two SEOwls , but two hours of scanning failed to find even a long distance specimen . I returned along the river and entered the reserve , thankful to be out of the biting wind along the river wall . I did a lap of the site , visiting briefly each hide , but finding little in the way of birds . Best of the few sightings was a drake Pintail feeding out
in the distance , whilst anything else was sheltering in the margins . I wasn't alone though , as the other birders I passed were finding things the same , apart from one who had a pair of Raven just as he arrived . The odd Marsh Frog was heard , but that was about it . To rub salt into the wound , the toll on the river crossing , which was paid for many years ago , stuck in my craw as usual .
A morning visit to Sevenoaks Reserve found two Little Egret and a Grey Heron still in roost at the
back of the West Lake and at the far end a male Kestrel was warming up in the morning sun . Heading round towards Willow Hide , a Kingfisher gave a fleeting photo opportunity before speeding
off over to the East Lake . From the hide itself , apart from the usual species , a pair of Wigeon stayed
well over the far side , whilst a female Shoveler at least came close enough for a shot or two , and just before leaving , a flock of mixed geese flew in for their ablutions and include what looks to me like
a Canada x Greylag hybrid . A Goldcrest ' ballet dancing ' around a Bhudliah bush was nice to see , but didn't stop ' dancing ' long enough to manage a shot . Very little on the way to Tyler Hide , but the regular geese and gulls were their noisy selves outside the hide . On the nearest island , 7/8 Common
Snipe were feeding in the margins , a couple in the company of a Greylag Goose , making for a good size comparison . Further out amongst the smaller islands , a Grey Heron was parading something ,
I'm not sure if it was food or not , but whatever it was , it wasn't letting go of it . Amongst the gulls
were a couple of Lesser Black-backed , one posed briefly for a shot . Walking down to Slingsby Hide and back produced the odd Treecreeper and , at last , my first Siskins of the winter , spotting just three specimens high in the Alders .
A visit to Kelsey Park in Beckenham produced the usual large numbers of Rose-ringed Parakeets , but again no Blue-crowned , which was my target with most of the leaves off the trees . On the way round , an old friend ' Angel Wings ' , a Canada Goose with the condition , caused by being fed too
much white bread . Unable to fly , I'm amazed it survives , given the large gardens surrounding the park and adjacent woodland being ideal territory for the urban fox . I was told that a Firecrest had been seen again this winter , in the same area as last , but although I hung about for some time , there was no luck with a sighting , never mind a photo .The only other shots taken were of a male and

female Mandarin from the bridge as I made my way out of the park .
And finally , I took this shot whilst at Sevenoaks of the Grey Heron and his ' food ' , as he passed two
other species . I could imagine the conversation going some think like - Cormorant ' You're not going to eat that ? ' . Grey Heron  ' I'm certailnly going to give it a try ' . LBBGull ' You'll regret it in the morning ' .