Sunday, 27 October 2013


With just a short time available this morning I did a quick patch walk, things have been reasonably quiet apart from the visits to Hemsted, obviously to see more of the Parrot Crossbills, unfortunately I haven't seen the Two Barred again but there is probably still time unless it gets blown away tonight!!
So on the patch Dad had a LITTLE EGRET  in the week the first time for several months. This morning in gusty conditions there wasn't a lot about but the YELLOWHAMMER flock was upto about 30 birds with god numbers of HOUSE SPARROWS and CHAFFINCHES thrown in. Just one SISKIN went over and there was no sign of any Redwing or Fieldfare. The other bird that has been missing recently is Greenfinch I've hardly seen or heard one for months? So with little to report here are a couple of recent pics.
Sunrise a few days ago

Great Tit





Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Crossbill Tale!

With all the Crossbills being found, Two Barred and now Parrot, the two Steves have been checking out Hemsted regularly since around July! finally Steve B found a male Two Barred Crossbill on Sunday late afternoon! I was lucky enough to be at home only a couple of miles away and found the bird fairly quickly.
Yesterday there was a possibility that Parrot Crossbill was also in the area but maybe not conclusive. I spent a while listening to Two Barred and Parrot on Xeno Canto a great website for bird calls and songs last night! This morning at 7am I was at the forest nothing happened for the first quarter of an hour then a few Crossbills started whizzing around, two Sparrowhawks drifted over and a few alarm calls were heard including what I would describe as a single note not too different in tone from a Blackbird and definitely deeper than the other Crossbills calls, I couldn't find the bird and it appeared to stop when the Crossbills flew off. A Brambling then called as it flew over as I left for work at around 7.45am, a couple more Crossbills called then one single bird perched up a quick look through bins and I thought that does look a bit different, I grabbed the camera and snapped away unfortunately the bird wasn't that close, I started to re set up my scope and the bird flew off, it was there for just a few seconds really. My thought were that it could have been Parrot Crossbill and I sent a pic to Stephen who had since found a female Parrot Crossbill in the same spot and had put the news out. I've never seen Parrot Crossbill before, so was cautious, and as I looked at the pictures and chatted to Stephen who was pretty positive, I'm happy this was my first one, I would like to go back though and get some better pics, you can make your mind up from the one pic below of the Parrot against the Common Crossbill also taken this AM. Note the less tapered bill on the bottom picture and the curve on the underside of the lower mandible. Any comment of course are more than welcome.
Common Crossbill

Parrot Crossbill, not a great pic unfortunately

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Change of Sea..nery? and a Guided Walk

With the winds looking good for sea-watching in north Kent, I headed to Reculver on Thursday 10th for a full day in the field. It wasn't the busiest sea-watch ever but enjoyable nonetheless and the longest one I had ever done! The day started with a steady trickle of BONXIES all heading west at varying distances, I saw 23 birds by the end of the day. A few of ARCTIC SKUAS also headed west with one coming in close to tackle a MED. GULL. A few more species gradually got added to the list including COMMON SCOTER, GANNET and LITTLE GULL, a nice flock of 10 birds in great light went through around midday. As well as seabirds a few other species appeared, 2 PEREGRINES flew in off the sea as did a MARSH HARRIER, the best 'in off'' bird was a SHORT EARED OWL that came in high to east of the towers. After a few lulls things picked up a bit when a MANX SHEARWATER was picked up mid distance and then around 5.15pm with just 3 of us left a LEACH'S PETREL flew west, if I had stayed a bit after this I may have also seen Little Auk and Grey Phalarope! A very enjoyable day bird wise and chatting to a couple of fellow watchers.
So with another windy day forecast another sea watch was on the cards, Stephen and I arrived at Shellness around 7.30am almost the first bird was a LEACH'S PETREL! the first of 8 sightings through the day of probably between 3 and 5 birds. More BONXIES, ARCTIC SKUAS and LITTLE GULLS were also seen today. There were a couple of little surprises, a SNOW BUNTING flew north up the beach mid morning and a SHAG, not a bird I've seen many of in Kent was in the surf just off the beach. As the wind dropped we headed to Warden Point in a downpour in difficult conditions we picked up a few REDWING, CHIFFCHAFF and a handful of FIELDFARE. The wind picked up again so it was back to Leysdown and some sea-watching from the car, there was much of the same but we added SANDWICH TERN and a second ARCTIC TERN of the day, the most noticeable movement was of 1500-2000 BRENT GEESE mainly heading into the Swale, a quick walk around the bushes did produce a single BRAMBLING.
The only pics this week are from the Shellness trip.
Early morning at Shellness Point

Different takes on this young Little Gull, click for larger image, not sure if it helps though!

Just a few of the Brent Geese seen

A small flock of Turnstone

Before a short account of yesterdays guided walk, I did find a STONECHAT (101) last week to add the year list which was a bird I thought might could miss this years list.
So yesterday at 7am, 11 of us set off from the car park, there were lots of ROBINS and one of the first birds that went on to the list was a flyover BRAMBLING, 1 of 3 during the day. It was apparent that things were moving as REDWINGS, CHAFFINCHES and PIPITS were whizzing over. Within half an hour we had amassed 24 species. I happened to look up when we were in the wood and picked up a flock of about 100 BRENT GEESE flying south-west another unexpected addition to the list. In the wood we added all the Tit species including a very obliging MARSH TIT which fed above our heads for a few minutes. A single LESSER REDPOLL near the ticket office meant that by breakfast at 9.15 we were on 45 species, with a walk round the fields to come it was a good total. After breakfast we added the expected SKYLARK, YELLOWHAMMER and eventually COMMON BUZZARD of which, we had 9 in the air at once, a record for here! A couple of GREYS came next in the form of HERON and WAGTAIL. 2 late SWALLOWS were over the ploughed fields near Digdog Lane and probably the highlight of the walk came when all the STARLINGS in Rares hedge got up and just above was a fine male MERLIN! (102) which carried on high south west. In the end we had 55 species for the morning in beautiful sunshine and light winds quite a contrast from the previous two days.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Finally 100 for the year

It's taken a bit longer than usual but yesterday a LAPWING (100) flew over making it the hundredth species for the year about 8 days later than last year.
Rewinding slightly, a walk on Sunday with Dave, Phil and Warren (Pittswood Birds), we managed just over 40 species of the usual suspects, plenty of MISTLE THRUSHES, NUTHATCHES and JAYS were evident. there were a few CHIFFCHAFF, BLACKCAP and SWALLOWS still around as as well. the SKYLARK and YELLOWHAMMER numbers are building now getting to about 20 of each.
In the last few days a GREY WAGTAIL has been hanging around and several 'ALBA' WAGTAILS have flown through. CHIFFCHAFF numbers have dropped to only 3 birds yesterday and 2 today, with 2 BLACKCAP yesterday and none this morning. 1 SISKIN flew south yesterday and both days 100 or more SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS also flew south during my hour long visits. A GOLDCREST put in an appearance this morning and a KINGFISHER heard somewhere near the new pond.
We are still checking the moths and yesterday we managed to SCARCE BORDERED STRAW and GREEN BRINDLED CRESCENT to the year list, this morning Steve added CONVOLVULUS HAWK MOTH, MERVEILLE DU JOUR and FOUR SPOTTED FOOTMAN.
Long Tailed Tit

A few rays