Saturday, 19 November 2011

Dungeness 19th

I decided for a morning off patch, as I only had the morning Dungeness was high on the list given it's only just over half an hour away. I started at ARC, TREE SPARROWS were heard as soon as I got out of the car. I  walked to the railway line, there were several CHIFFCHAFF and GOLDCREST on the way but I didn't find much else a few CETTI'S WARBLER were heard.
Tree Sparrow

Walking back a LITTLE EGRET flew over. Usually I drive from one area to another today I walked from ARC to Hookers Pit, it was very enjoyable. Several MARSH HARRIERS drifted to and fro', a SNIPE was huddled down in a clump of grass and at least 3 STONECHAT were seen on the way to Hookers.

Marsh Harrier


From the ramp BEARDED TITS were seen well and were making plenty of noise, 1 CORN BUNTING showed well as I walked back towards the ARC.
Bearded Tit

Corn Bunting

With a little over 40 minutes left I drove to the point to have a quick sea watch from the fishing boats, KITTIWAKES were flying west, a RED THROATED DIVER was on the sea and a couple of GANNETS were a little way off shore. A couple of TURNSTONES came quite close and a MED. GULL flew by. There were no 'stars' this morning but it was extremely enjoyable.

Mediterranean Gull

Friday, 18 November 2011

November 18th

A bit boring now but more than welcome! another lovely bright morning and I was at the castle before 7am, with just ROBINS and BLACKBIRDS for company as everything else gradually joined in on the act. I really enjoyed the stroll round today, I sat for 10 minutes by a tree waiting for a Kingfisher to appear, possibly more time needed there, and did a fairly full circuit round the fields. The highlights round the fields were 3 CORMORANTS heading east. A COMMON BUZZARD flew low being mobbed by a crow and at least 1 CROSSBILL flew south. I was rubbish with the camera this morning and haven't got a lot to show for what was a really enjoyable walk!!
The sight that greeted me first thing

More Sun stuff, just making the most of it!!!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

November 17th

Even brighter this morning, the sun shone and everything!! It certainly makes a difference to my early morning walks, this morning everything was waking up earlier due to the improved conditions. The only SISKIN flew over as I got out of the car. There was a little rush of birds again in the car park, the SONG THRUSH was singing well and there were 6 GREENFINCHES in the hedge, REDWINGS and FIELDFARES were both leaving their roosts. LONG TAILED TITS and GOLDCRESTS added to the first few minutes. With my excitement at the event of the pond, I checked it out again this morning. I had a chat with the digger driver and the pond will consist of deeper parts and shallow areas and should manage to contain water all year round.

I left the driver and walked along the hedges, the next birds I saw were 5 LITTLE EGRETS that settled down along the stream out of sight, this was the largest flock this year. Next a confiding REED BUNTING sat and eyed me for a short while.

A nice surprise!! 5 Little Egrets

Reed Bunting

SKYLARK and LINNET numbers were up on yesterday and the Skylarks were dancing all around in the sky above me. Other birds today included several PIED WAGTAILS, a JAY, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, GREY HERON and at least 8 BULLFINCHES.
Pied Wagtail

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

November 16th

Visibility this morning was much better, a few hundred yards at least. The bird list grew accordingly to almost 40 species for the hour long visit. Once again REDPOLLS were the most common finch and a were heard throughout the hour, with a flock of 19 being seen by the barn. 10 PIED WAGTAILS were on the newly sown Lodge Field, as were 100's of corvids and 14 BLACK HEADED GULLS plus a few REED BUNTING and CHAFFINCH scattered around the edges.
A few corvids

On my way down to Lodge Field I checked on work that started yesterday on a new pond, the hole was already sizable, it'll be interesting to watch it's progress over the coming weeks.
Start of new pond!!

 GOLDCRESTS were again evident from several of the hedges as I wandered round and the one of the stubble fields had 22 SKYLARK, 12 LINNET and 8 MEADOW PIPITS that all took to the air as I made my way around the edge of the field. Back at the car park NUTHATCH and TREECREEPER were calling the the overflow held about 30 thrushes, a mixture of REDWINGS and FIELDFARES.

A couple late bits of news were a Chiffchaff on Sunday seen by Stephen and yesterday Dad had 60+ Lapwings flying south and 2 Little Egrets flying along the stream.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

November 14th and 15th

I put the title as both days but they were pretty much the same! Very misty starts indeed, this morning I did have about 10 minutes of better light before heading to work. On the bird front there were some more nice close views of GOLDCREST and yesterday 2 GREEN WOODPECKERS posed in the mist just visible in a small pear tree. I think I'll let the pictures do the talking with a few from this morning then a couple of photos taken while I was on lunch at work today, when the light was better.
These were about 20 yards in front of me, they are Pheasants, by the way!!

So I took a photo of something closer!

The Sun was on it's way

About as good as it got!
I actually manged to get to the car and back before it flew off :-)

It did eventually go though!

Monday, 14 November 2011

November 13th - The patch and a trip to Margate!

After, what seemed like, days and days of mist, it was great to get out in clear blue skies. The morning started with a quick run (maybe not the most accurate description!) round Bedgebury Forest, I didn't see or hear much on my run with Bec, as my breathing was so heavy the birds probably thought some awful predator had been re-introduced to the forest and they were keepimg their heads down, so I don't remember seeing anything much other than Mallards on Louisa Lake! Back at home, we headed out for a walk round the castle. Stephen had called to say he'd had maybe 4000 WOODPIGEONS through in the morning and more than 240 LAPWINGS, the biggest flock being around 90 birds.
One of the first birds we caught a glimpse of was a large female SPARROWHAWK as we walked through Bull and Birches wood but couldn't find any evidence of a kill where it flew up from. In Roundshill wood there was a good flock of tits which included all the of the family that I record here. A MARSH TIT showed well for a short time, not long enough to change lenses though. A SISKIN was then seen flying low over the wood. As we walked round the lake and I took the picture above, Bec drew my attention to 2 BUZZARDS circling over Lake Field, by the time I had changed lenses they were still in view but more distant, we followed them for a short distance, as we watched we became aware of another 3 birds circling nearby. Five BUZZARD together, always a treat, with our heads skywards we picked up a flock of 15 LAPWING heading south east followed by 20 or so BLACK HEADED GULLS. We didn't see a lot more on the walk but I was happy with the Buzzards and a bright day.

One did come a little lower briefly!
 I left home around 2.30pm in bright sunshine and arrived at 3.30pm to a misty Margate. With light fading I tried to get a few pics of what I think is the first mainland record of this subspecies of Black Redstart, Eastern Black Redstart. I'm not normally in the habit of going out of my way for subspecies of birds but this was quite different to our usual Black Reds and well worth the trip. It was very obliging and it would have been good to have got there earlier when the light was better and I could have explored the area a bit more.

Eastern Black Redstart

Sunday, 13 November 2011

November 12th

I managed a late afternoon stroll, on what was another misty day here, for the most part it was quietish again, 8 GOLDFINCH flew round the veg garden and 3 FIELDFARES flew up  from there. Several GOLDCREST were heard maybe 7 or 8 in total, including 3 together in a mixed flock that included a NUTHATCH and half a dozen LONG TAILD TITS. I walked one of the new hedges where the Chats had been earlier in the autumn, nothing was using the hedge but a few things flew over SISKIN, 11 MEADOW PIPITS, 5 PIED WAGTAILS and a good number of corvids, well over 100 birds. The stubble field yielded 22 SKYLARKS and 11 HERRING GULLS went over in the edge of the mist, a REED BUNTING also called from by the stream. I decided to wait by the lake until dusk to see if anything came in to roost, a small flock of REDWING and the odd BLACKBIRD were the only birds noted. Walking back to the car a TAWNY OWL was heard calling from the near the stream and as I stood and listened to it, a WOODCOCK flew by about 15 feet in front of me, at head height, a really nice surprise and only the second I've seen this year :-)

Friday, 11 November 2011

November 11th

I was still optimistic this morning, despite not being able to see much more than 50 yards through the mist!! You never know, things could have got lost in all that mist. In the end it was actually quite a struggle to find anything really which was reflected in the fact that out of 30 species noted, I saw only 12 of them! I foolishly carried the camera round for the whole hour and a bit but didn't take the lens cap off ,unsurprisingly. The birds I did see included one of a flock of LONG TAILED TITS, some nice views of a GOLDCREST in one of the hedges. There were a few more SISKIN about this morning, one of which I managed to see  dive into the alders by the stream. Siskins outnumbered REDPOLLS for the first time for weeks as only 2 Redpolls were put on the list. The other bird I picked up more of today was TREECREEPER, I heard 5 different birds from various locations, nearly as many as in the spring. Other birds calling from somewhere or another were REDWING, FIELDFARE, PIED WAGTAIL, SKYLARK, BULLFINCH, YELLOWHAMMER, LINNET, to name a few, as well as more than one GREEN WOODPECKER that sounded as if it could have been laughing at the shadowy figure trying to look through binoculars into the mist :-)
Apologies, another archive pic.
Purple Swamphen - Texas

Thursday, 10 November 2011

November 10th

The moths were almost non existent this morning but it that time of year when things slow down and it was a pretty clear night, we did still record one migrant the micro Rusty Dot Pearl, there was also a Northern Winter Moth new for me this year.
The bird walk was a much more sedate affair than yesterday and started with a flyover BRAMBLING. The car park was back to it's busy best with REDPOLL, REDWING, FIELDFARE, BULLFINCH, GOLDFINCH, GREENFINCH, GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, GOLDCREST and LONG TAILED TIT all recorded plus several BLACKBIRDS, SONG THRUSHES and ROBINS. The Song Thrushes giving a few short bursts of song every now and then.
Redwing with obligatory branch infront!!! :-)

Great Tit

Across the valley the corvid flock had grown again with JACKDAWS and ROOKS in the ascendancy, 2 LINNETS flew over head and a couple SKYLARKS and YELLOWHAMMERS made themselves known. A KINGFISHER was again heard by the moat and later, seen briefly on a perch where I keep meaning to settle myself by, to try and get some pictures. A NUTHATCH was particularly noisy as it flew towards the gardens and another single SISKIN was recorded. GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER were added as I walked from the wood back to car park, which leaves a couple of raucous JAYS that headed into the wood and a flyover PIED WAGTAIL and single BLACK HEADED GULL, before it was time to go.
Another taste of Autumn

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

November 9th

We were back 'mothing' today inspired by the find in Dartford of a Black Spot Chestnut, the first for the country!! We did have a couple of migrants, Vestal and Diamond Back Moth, otherwise it was a bit quiet but nice to be back checking the trap, with some more southerly winds and a mild weekend we may still get something else. There was a year tick today, which was Mottled Umber.
December Moth

Mottled Umber

I did a long bird walk this morning, in distance terms at least, compared with normal and saw less species. The highlights were a TREECREEPER in the car park which showed really well, oh, for some good light! and a NUTHATCH called loudly by the moat. There are still lots of REDPOLLS around and were again the most numerous finch this morning. PIED WAGTAILS put in a noteworthy effort with upto 10 seen during the walk. I managed to find 4 or 5 GOLDCRESTS scattered around the estate but despite listening hard there was no sign of yesterdays Woodlark, in fact I didn't hear a Skylark either which is pretty unusual. There were reasonable numbers HOUSE SPARROWS by the Granary. Just 28 species today about the lowest total this year but still despite the drizzle etc. I wouldn't want to start the day any other way :-)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November 7th and 8th

After the excitement of the weekend it was back to the patch yesterday, it was a sort of 'half light' for the whole visit. REDWINGS were leaving the car park with just a couple of FIELDFARES and at least 8 BLACKBIRDS were at various points around there too. An early KESTREL drifted over Park Field and the PHEASANTS were very vocal in the stubble fields mainly sitting on any available straw bale and announcing themselves to anyone that would listen!! I wandered with no particular purpose and found myself by the lake, where I stayed for the rest of the visit. A JAY flew through on the other side of the lake and a MISTLE THRUSH settled for a while in the Oak behind me. A few more Redwings went over and by the end of the hour visit around 42 birds were noted. I also counted the REDPOLLS, four flocks went over flying east totalling 38 birds then a few minutes later a flock of 55 came back west and settled around the Mistle Thrush, they were probably local birds going to and fro'. It was a shame it was so grey, I left the camera indoors, a KINGFISHER flew down from the moat and settled for a short time on a low willow, whether I'd have got a shot I don't know unlikely. 14 BLACK HEADED GULLS also flew north-east and I saw just one SISKIN as it flew over.
This morning  a few flocks of FIELDFARES were going over high south, not massive numbers maybe 50 in all and the REDWINGS again were leaving their roost. I idled round the fields to the constant calls of JACKDAWS, they were so noisy I'm sure was missing other birds calling!! I did however, mange to pick up  the calling GOLDEN PLOVER as it flew high north west, the second one this year, I was pleased that I saw this one as the other called from near darkness last month. There were still a few YELLOWHAMMERS around and 2 REED BUNTINGS. MEADOW PIPITS were also in ones and twos around the field. The best bird this morning though was a Woodlark found by Stephen around 9am and watched for about 5 minutes, that's 118 for the site this year, once again I shall have to wait until tomorrow :-)
With no pictures again, here is another delve into what is a limited archive!!
Proboscis Monkey - Kinabatangan River - Borneo 2008

Monday, 7 November 2011

Birding all weekend!!


Four of us set off from my house at 7am, destination, Langdon Hole near Dover. I've always liked this area since Stephen and I went there in the early 90's. A sign of things to come was the first flock of birds that went over, 20 or so GOLDFINCHES, now, and probably have been for a long time, a feature at this time of year. Walking through the car park area we picked up a couple of GOLDCREST and a briefly calling CHIFFCHAFF, heard by Mary. Towards Langdon Hole itself we had more birds going over, SISKINS, CHAFFINCHES, MEADOW PIPIT and REDPOLL. Numbers soon rose and within an hour or so 200+ Goldfinches had gone over, we also gradually added a few more species PIED WAGTAIL, maybe 20 over in all, BULLFINCH, 3 went over with about 5 Goldfinches and female hung around for a short time in the shelter of the bushes. A BRAMBLING was picked up going north and the briefest of highlights was a SHORT EARED OWL that David and I glimpsed coming in off the sea and disappearing behind the white cliffs, there was also a taste of summer with two singles of HOUSE MARTIN. Another highlight came when two flocks of CROSSBILLS came over, one of 12 and one of 17, in quick succession. Add to that 3 YELLOWHAMMERS several SKYLARK and a flock of around 30 LAPWING in off the sea it was a good 3 hour visit. Totals are roughly as follows Goldfinch 720, Siskin 130, Redpoll 100+, Linnet 100+, Chaffinch 150, Crossbill 29, Redwing 1, Brambling 1, Yellowhammer 3, House Martin 2, Skylark 15.
We moved on to Bockhill with the rain and wind increasing!! The wood and the farmyard held a BLACK REDSTART, CHIFFCHAFF and 3 SWALLOWS flew over. In the paddock there were a couple of GOLDCREST and several LONG TAILED TITS. A bit of lunch then a drive along the Ancient Highway from Deal added a few more species for the day BRENT GEESE and GANNETS could be seen above the seawall and 3 STONECHAT and 10 GREY PARTRIDGE were nice additions to the day. Another stop at Restharrow gave us the CURLEW SANDPIPER, 1 DUNLIN and around 20 COMMON SNIPE. We had a quick look for the Firecrests that were around on Friday but to no avail, the light was fading fast and a stop at Pegwell Bay added a few common waders that we hadn't picked up anywhere else during the day.


Once again we were on our way soon after 7am, this time 8 of us took to the road, headed to Sheppey. A drive along the entrance track to Elmley started the day, MARSH HARRIER, COMMON BUZZARD and KESTREL were our first few raptors one Kestrel hovering just in front of the car moving from one side of the track to the other so everybody had a great view. There were, as ever, good numbers of LAPWING and several showed well next to the cars, always nice when you can study a bird so closely. A CURLEW was equally as obliging as we neared Kingshill Farm. With our main quarry along the road at Shellness or Capel Fleet, we only had a quick stop at Elmley and the highlight was a PEREGRINE dive bombing a Marsh Harrier that was sat on the ground, there were also 6 BLACK TAILED GODWIT, 3 LITTLE EGRET a flock of around 50 GOLDEN PLOVER and numerous WIGEON and TEAL below the farmhouse.
We continued on to Shellness and walked to the point, there were good numbers of waders and a lone COMMON SCOTER sitting on the sea, the KNOTS put on a bit of show as they wheeled over edge of the receding tide. With the wind being a little stronger than I would have liked the hoped for raptor fest was stuttering slightly but the odd MARSH HARRIER was putting in an appearance and a distant HEN HARRIER added to our tally. We weren't well equipped for a sea watch but talking to Barry (Highs and Lows of Birding Blog) and seeing later reports it had been pretty productive. Unfortunately we also just missed the 4 Snow Bunting that were on the point. Back along the sea wall the fields were almost birdless a few MEADOW PIPITS and REED BUNTING were the return for our efforts as well as a HARE disappearing and reappearing at various points across the salt marsh! lunch beckoned. The Ferry House Inn provided the sustenance and a nice surprise meet up with Derek Faulkner (Letters from Sheppey Blog). With time and light starting go against us, we made a couple of  quick stops along the Harty Road at the View point and the Fleet, the consensus among the other birders, was that the wind was indeed keeping the raptors down. All in all it was two really enjoyable days, with fantastic company and a really good range of birds. I didn't manage any photos, both days were pretty grey.

Friday, 4 November 2011

November 4th, another little bonus!

I decided on self preservation this morning and wimped out, by standing in the shelter of the Granary!! Even when the rain left off I took no chances and stayed put. There were a few GOLDFINCH heading south and east, only in flocks of 4 or 5, I could hear LONG TAILED TITS in the nearby hedge with at least 1 GOLDCREST for company.

View from the Granary

Looking the other way!! still raining!
Further across the fields were loads of corvids and Pheasants, just 3 REDWINGS flew south and one FIELDFARE in the 50 minutes I was there. I could see the LINNET flock was around 30 birds and at least 15 SKYLARKS came up from the same field. A JAY was being noisy on the far side of the veg garden and 22 REDPOLLS flew out from a birch, they circled round and dropped back in. The highlight, however, came when I followed a flock of Goldfinch, whilst trying to find a SISKIN that I could hear, in the flock was an unmistakeable large finch, HAWFINCH (113), it headed off south east with the 4 Goldfinches, brilliant! I used to record these annually probably 3 or 4 times a year, sometimes in twos and threes. Last year we did get a couple of sightings of single birds, the first for a few years. I was again pleased with the mornings efforts and glad I decided to wimp out of the rain!!
Veg Garden

Story of the morning :-)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

November 3rd

A pretty damp start today but it was mild and you never know :-).  First up were 4 REDWINGS south over the car park, a few GOLDFINCHES were in the hedges and at least 2 GOLDCRESTS were nearby. I decided to check the lakes out, as I hadn't been there early doors much lately, unfortunately it was still quiet, I managed a MOORHEN and a GREY HERON, still no sign of Little Grebe with time running out this year. The wood was also fairly quiet, the most noise was caused by the rain on the turning leaves!! Out in the fields I found a dead Mink, which reminds me, I forgot to mention when Tom visited from Colorado on October 23rd we saw a STOAT, the first I had seen at the castle, although I know Dad has seen at least one before.
Back to today and I was struggling to reach 30 species, there was then a little flurry of activity as a COMMON BUZZARD flew low overhead, a REED BUNTING called and my first COLLARED DOVE of the month whizzed by, nothing out standing I know but the list reached 36 species for the hour, considering the conditions, I was pleased with that. The camera stayed tucked away from the rain so here is something from a sunnier day!!
Not only a sunnier a day but a different place!!  Lesbos 2009

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

November 2nd

A cooler night meant few moths this morning, just a handful of the usual suspects including a Grey Shoulder Knot.
The first bird I saw was a shadowy shape on top of the coffee shop a RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE, it crouched for a short time before whirring it's wings into action and disappearing. A FIELDFARE and several REDWINGS flew from their roost in the car park, later another 18 Fieldfares flew west as did 14 Redwings. I found a few more YELLOWHAMMERS today but still only around 10-15 birds hopefully the rest of the larger flock might return, the LINNET flock has also diminished to around 30 birds. A GREY WAGTAIL flew north and WOODPIGEON numbers were high again. For most of the walk round the field a COMMON BUZZARD could be heard calling, it sounded like it was from somewhere in the trees along the stream but several scans failed to pick it up. Walking across one of the stubble fields I disturbed my first SNIPE of the autumn for the patch. The rest of todays birds were much as yesterday, apart from 2 GREAT BLACK BACKED GULLS that flew east followed closely by about 15 HERRING GULLS and 4 GREENFINCHES were on top of a birch tree as I headed back to the car. I met the warden this morning and hopefully he will soon be planting a winter seed mix along one of the hedges to encourage the birds further, which will be great to see how it develops. The only pics I took today were of an eye catching male Pheasant, that looked like it was a Reeves cross type.

Sorry got carried away!!!