Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Local news and Weekend in Suffolk

I've been a bit busy trying to sort out a job (which may be coming to fruition, with people I've worked with in the past!! and they still want to work with me again!!) and as the header says I was in Suffolk for the weekend so the poor old patch has been a bit neglected!! I do have a couple of bits of news from other sources, a MERLIN was seen yesterday at the castle and the LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKERS were seen well. On the moth front a RED CHESTNUT was the highlight of three more nights trapping recently, it was found this morning.
The weekend was great, catching up with friends is always a treat and we did a couple of mammoth walks not totally birding walks but I struggle to do anything but look for birds while I'm out and about!! So there weren't many birding highlights but a flock of 31 TWITE were certainly a nice surprise on the estuary near Walberswick, a bird I've not seen for many years. That walk produced a couple of COMMON BUZZARDS, 1 MARSH HARRIER, a few SISKINS, PINTAIL, LITTLE EGRET and a couple of GREY HERONS in really great shape. Our second walk across North Warren RSPB and out to Hoskings hide on the river Alde was another long one and produced 100's of WHITE FRONTED GEESE, 2/3 MARSH HARRIERS, PINTAIL, WIGEON, AVOCET, BAR and BLACK TAILED GODWITS, CURLEW, CHIFFCHAFF and too many other species to name. A Sunday afternoon watching Liverpool win the Cup convincingly was well deserved!! Below is a selection of birds seen at the weekend.

Grey Heron

Greylag Geese

Twite (honestly!)

Little Egret

Green Woodpecker


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Feb 21st, a day out in North Kent.

I didn't know where to go today but definitely felt like heading 'off patch'. I started at Oare Marshes where the tide was coming in, a few BLACK TAILED GODWITS were feeding near the road and there were good
Black Tailed Godwit

 numbers of ducks mainly PINTAIL, SHOVELER, TEAL, a few WIGEON and TUFTED DUCK where also around. In the car park I heard a CETTI'S WARBLER, the only one today. I decided to walk to Dan's Dock a place I'd heard of but didn't know exactly where it was. Luckily I met a chap who knew the area and he pointed me in the right direction, small world syndrome set in, when amazingly he used to be the local village bobby in Sissinghurst just before I moved to the village. 40 years ago!
From the seawall a look across to Sheppey and Mocketts Hill in particular, produced 2 COMMON BUZZARDS and the ROUGH LEGGED BUZZARD, which is where it stayed for most of the morning. The walk along to Dan's Dock was very pleasant with the odd LITTLE EGRET and many waders commuting up and down the Swale. The highlights here were, HEN HARRIER (1 ring tail) and GREAT NORTHERN DIVER also a PEREGRINE was just across the Swale.
Reed Bunting, female.


 Back on the flood a few waders had come to roost, mainly DUNLIN, GOLDEN PLOVER, BLACK TAILED GODWIT and REDSHANK, there were also a few RINGED PLOVER, GREY PLOVER and 3 AVOCET.
After Oare, my next stop was the beach at Leysdown to watch the waders feeding as the tide receded, I added KNOT, SANDERLING and TURNSTONE to the day list.I then drove to Shellness, 8 CORN BUNTING were in the bushes by the car park, I started walking along the seawall, then had a sudden change of heart and thought I would go the raptor viewpoint and watch from there for an hour or so before going home.

Sanderling, Knot and Turnstone


 On the way I came across a would be 'footballing' SHORT EARED OWL as it inspected the pitch!!
I stopped again at Capel Corner where over 100 WHITE FRONTED GEESE were grazing, the most I've seen in Kent for sometime. At the raptor viewpoint I picked out another Short Eared Owl and 2 ring tail, HEN HARRIERS. Only a couple of MARSH HARRIERS were seen all day, which was surprising. 63 species for the day didn't seem too bad considering I was wandering fairly aimlessly as usual!!

Mainly it was checking the goal area!!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Feb. 20th

An afternoon walk again was fairly quiet but did produce another WOODCOCK and several REDWINGS. The fields had over 100 gulls in, a mix of BLACK HEADED and COMMON, despite checking them and checking them again I couldn't turn any into Mediterranean Gulls!! I spent some time watching a pair of LONG TAILED TITS and a pair of NUTHATCHES investigating an Oak and surrounding bushes. The only other birds of note were 3 MARSH TITS in different areas, a distant SPARROWHAWK and several FIELDFARES which were starting to head in to roost.
Common Gull

Long Tailed Tit





Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Weekend

Two quick walks produced nothing new, although both were enjoyable. The usual suspects were about, yestreday was slightly quieter as it was a bit more windy, the highlight being 1 COMMON BUZZARD. Today was busier a nice flock of 20 LINNETS whizzed by and there were reasonable numbers of REDPOLLS in the orchard. Several MARSH TITS called in the woods and around 20 COMMON GULLS patrolled various fields. 2 COMMON BUZZARDS could be seen distantly and a SPARROWHAWK was over Digdog Lane.
Great Tit

Common Gull

Sparrowhawk, missing a couple primaries!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Feb 17th - Start of Moth season

Back to reality today, I was determined to get out although the 'man flu' I'm battling is starting to become a drag!! (strange how it almost disappeared when I was watching the Eagle yesterday!) I was a bit late meeting Steve and Pete but we checked the moths around 7.40am and found 40 moths of 8 species, a reasonable start. The species were, March Moth, Spring Usher, Dotted Border, Chestnut, Early Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty, Oak Beauty and Satellite.
Dotted Border

Spring Usher

I got walking soon after 8am, it was a strange walk which seemed very quiet but I managed 45 species. The highlight was probably the LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER again seen flying over 3 GREY HERONS that were perched high in the trees. Over 30 MEADOW PIPITS was a good count and there were SKYLARKS seemingly singing above every field. A few YELLOWHAMMERS were back with at least 3 males were singing well. Birds of prey today were KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and a calling COMMON BUZZARD. The woods were fairly noisy COAL TITS and MARSH TITS calling in several places plus GOLDCRESTS, TREECREEPERS and the odd LONG TAILED TIT. One GREYLAG GOOSE flew over Park Field and FIELDFARES trickled over all morning, at one point it looked as though several groups were making their way north with some conviction? There were no Siskins today and just 4 REDPOLLS were feeding in leaf litter deep in the wood.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Dad gets an Eagle!!!........(doesn't even play golf??)

Apologies for the dodgy post title!, you can see why I don't normally bother :-)

The day started meeting Dad in the castle car park, we saw around 28 species in the first 45 minutes, then a text from Steve Broyd told us that the WHITE TAILED EAGLE had been seen on Walland Marsh. A quick decision for me and I'm pleased Dad decided to join me, as birds of prey are his favourite and he had never seen any type of Eagle before.
We arrived just along the main road from the Woolpack towards Rye at around 10.30am and the bird was sitting in a distant tree, after being disturbed from a Fox carcass, which was close to the road. The bird took flight after 20 minutes or so, flying straight passed us. We managed to follow the bird for the next couple of hours, it gave some great views through the bins and scope. This was only the second one of these I've seen in Britain, the first was on Sheppey in December 1988!! I wasn't totally happy with the photos I took but they were secondary really, here are a few of my attempts, if I find any better ones I might post them at a later date but don't hold your breath!! I was pleased to meet Martin, who does The Ploddingbirder blog, I'm looking forward to seeing his pics.

with Black Headed Gull

With a Common Buzzard

With 2 Common Buzzards

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Feb 14th

Before todays walk I did manage an hour and a half on Sunday morning with Sam and Alex, between us the highlights were 2 WOODCOCK, 1 LITTLE OWL and a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER.
So to today, roughly I was out from 2pm to 3.30pm, the first birds of note were 5 BULLFINCHES near the shop, they weren't really happy about photos but I managed just a couple.


 As I watched these 2 KESTRELS chaesd each other over the veg. garden. Down at the lake a slightly 'strangled' call came from a WATER RAIL which I glimpsed running across the ice and then I watched as it fed in a shallow, now unfrozen, pool, good to know it survived the freezing temperatures.

 I headed to Park Field, where a flock of GOLDFINCHES, possibly 20 moved through the top of a couple of Oaks, lastly as I reached the car park a LITTLE OWL called, I managed to track it down and noticed it had a mate, which hardly released it's gaze as I stood still as possible and fired off a couple of shots, Lexi, the Head Gardener, joined me briefly before the bird decided it had had enough and flew to join it's mate.
Little Owl, I knew I was being watched!!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

10th and 11th Feb

Two walks yesterday, mainly due to cutting the first one short because I forgot to get something out for dinner!!!Still the numbers of FIELDFARE and REDWING in the orchard were good and about 15 REDPOLLS were also milling around.

Walking the woods, a COMMON BUZZARD drifted through the canopy and a GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER drummed, there were also good numbers of SONG THRUSHES in any exposed leaf litter. A single SISKIN flew over calling and once again MARSH TIT, NUTHATCH, TREECREEPER and all those flock birds were around in good numbers. During the second walk I managed to add LITTLE EGRET to the day list and KESTREL, as well as 11 LAPWINGS in the fields with sheep.

Today I headed to Paddock Wood after Marcus Lawson found a Hooded Merganser yesterday afternoon, it was bitterly cold and I met Marcus and 3 of the Saganauts, unfortunately the bird had disappeared but there was a really good selection of wildfowl in evidence, there were lots of TEAL, GADWALL, SHOVELER, POCHARD and TUFTED DUCK as well as a smart drake SMEW, 2 RED CRESTED POCHARD, a GOLDENEYE, 30+ BARNACLE GEESE plus several fly-by GOOSANDER!! A really interesting morning, I also saw a KINGFISHER as I headed back to the car.
Excellent selection of ducks on this tiny patch of ice free lake