Thursday, 30 October 2014

An unexpected day out 25/10

Waking early Saturday and checking that there weren't any pressing chores to do!, had me thinking where could I go, Yellow Billed Cuckoo? Surf Scoter.. Norfolk??? I'm not as adventurous as I used to be so settled for a day on Sheppey, always a favourite of mine.
Arriving at the NNR reserve at around 7.15am, the gate was locked but the sign said open at 7am I decided to climb the stile and walk a 100yds down the track and watch the sunrise, whilst waiting for the reserve to open, I was kept company by a couple of REED BUNTINGS and a STONECHAT. A KINGFISHER called several times and my first BRAMBLING of the autumn flew over calling and heading south-west. An early Buzzard drifted through the mist and a Fox was very active hunting in the long grass. The gates eventually opened at 8am by which time I had racked up nearly 30 species.
Along the entrance track more Stonechats were seen plus at least 6 MARSH HARRIERS. Several people were looking for the Long Eared Owl/s in the orchard but it or they were not roosting in sight. From the screen on the bank a flock of AVOCET were added and further along the track I heard the 'ping ping' of BEARDED TITS which drew my attention, and a nice male showed well with others moving around in the background.
Before heading towards the hides a brief stop and chat with another birder, who had just had a WHEATEAR in the fields, this prompted a quick scan which found 2 birds, one of my latest sightings. A hundred plus GOLDEN PLOVER dropped into the fields while I was here, another the first of the autumn for me.
I then did something I don't remember doing before, I walked to Spit End, as the tide was coming in, there were plenty of waders and several Marsh Harriers to be seen, the highlight though was a PEREGRINE taking a wader from the many gathered at the waters edge, may not have been a highlight for the wader though! On the long hike back I stopped in South Hide where there was not a single wader to be seen despite the tide being a fair way in.
Next stop was a short drive and a brief look at the sea at Leysdown not much doing apart from the odd TURNSTONE, so on to the raptor watchpoint along the road from Capel Fleet, I sat and had a quick coffee listening to Liverpool struggle against Hull, when two birds flew by which turned out to be a Marsh Harrier chasing a SHORT EARED OWL, I could just watch these birds for hours, I parked at the edge of one of  larger passing spaces and waited the bird came passed on a number occasions in lovely light, I can never get exactly what I am after but below are some of the images I got, probably as good as I have had of these great birds so far. The final highlight was a ring tail HEN HARRIER that a couple of guys had been watching which I picked out flying next to the SEO, which had moved closer to Capel Fleet, a really enjoyable day out, always better when unexpected :-)

Male Bearded Tit


Short-Eared Owl - overload

Sunday, 5 October 2014

A Week off work and to date

With nothing planned I wasn't sure what the week would bring but a couple of local walks and a couple of days each in Devon and Hampshire were pretty pleasant. Good weather nice scenery and a few birds nothing spectacular just some nice stuff during the w/c 22nd Sept.
The local walks were one around Hollingbourne which produced 2 WHINCHAT, 2 STONECHAT and 2 HOBBY, consistent at least also loads of SWALLOWS, HOUSE MARTINS and MEADOW PIPITS. Then a second walk a little further from home but just into East Sussex at Rye Harbour was fairly quiet although CURLEW SANDPIPER was nice and 3 RUFF dropped in. A small flock of Brent Geese were on the flooded beach with several LITTLE GREBE diving around them.
An early start on the 24th saw us in Devon for 9am not much doing GREY WAGTAIL at Cockington was the highlight, we then headed to Berry Head for some reason the Gyrfalcon I've seen a picture of many times over the years wasn't there! not to worry a WALL BROWN butterfly and a pod of about 8 COMMON DOLPHIN were enough to keep me entertained as was a call that I'm pretty sure was Cirl Bunting that I heard as I got out of the car. Again plenty of Pipits, Swallows and Martins were around and a few CHIFFCHAFFS. Onto Becky Falls and the first DIPPER of the trip plus a HOBBY, next stop was the hotel in the middle of nowhere at a place called Portsmouth Arms where the Northcote Manor Hotel was set in lovely grounds with views to Exmoor from the croquet lawn! The next day we walked A bit of the river Lyn with more DIPPERS, GREY WAGTAIL, BUZZARDS and RAVEN. The way back to Lynmouth along the coastal path we found several STONECHAT and a fine PEREGRINE sitting resting on the rocks. The last morning in Devon we walked near Saunton Sands, I was surprised to find 4 DARTFORD WARBLERS on the peninsula above the Saunton Sands Hotel.
After the walk a 3 hour drive to the New Forest was uneventful and we were ready to explore a bit more the following morning. A walk the hotel recommended to us which was very disappointing as I hadn't realised it actually took us out of the forest, which was surprising with all that forest they advertised as being through their garden and straight into it!
A second walk in the afternoon, this time of our own choosing was more productive, a few DARTFORD WARBLERS again, plus CROSSBILL many SISKIN, loads of SWALLOWS, MARTINS and PIPITS still. A group of FALLOW DEER were the first I've seen for several years. The last day away we headed for Acres Down here we had STONECHAT, BUZZARD (6+), WOODLARK and best of all GOSHAWK, we saw 2 and apparently they are doing quite well the first was very distant and the second a silhouette much closer but even so still great to see.
Becky Falls



Small Copper


Saunton Sands - Devon

Acres Down - New Forest

So holiday forgotten and a busy week at work, the new patch got neglected. A short visit Saturday the 4th didn't produce much a COMMON SANDPIPER was still around the GREYLAG GOOSE flock was up to maybe 150 or so birds a couple of EGYPTIAN GEESE were also around and a few CHIFFCHAFFS called. Also there were 4 TEAL and a female TUFTED DUCK.
This morning a GREEN SANDPIPER replaced the Common and several KINGFISHERS hovered and whizzed around, 20 LAPWINGS flew south and a flock of 12 TEAL flew east. The highlight came when I heard a familiar call I looked up and a BEARDED TIT flew over it went down in some reeds not far away, I was lucky to see it again and get a couple of record shots before it continued on its way, a brilliant surprise and hopefully not the last, the patch moves to 91 species since 4th July.

Bearded Tit - new to patch today

Bearded Tit again