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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Summer Migrants despite the Cold Wind.

Bbbrrr it was chilly at the weekend but here are the highlights:

Saturday 14th:
2 visits to Dungeness (morning with the parents, afternoon with Angela - good to bump into many familiar faces, you know who you are!)
ARC - Little Ringed Plover, 5 really bright Yellow Wagtails, Sedge Warbler performing song flights, Whitethroat, couple of Sand & House Martins, Swallows and Little Egret.
Point - male Stonechat, several groups of Brent and 7 Greylag Geese, 4 Mediterranean Gulls, Common Scoters, single Common Tern and Arctic Skua, plus many Gannets and Sandwich Terns.
Dengemarsh - 2 Ravens - 1 on a dead lamb.
Gully - Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler.
Galloways Road & Herons Park - Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, 3 Stonechats (2 males), 2 male Wheatears.
RSPB - 3 Whimbrel (field along entrance track by double bend), 5 Avocet on Burrowes.

Back at home in Ashford, the first 2 House Martins of the year over the house.

Sunday 15th:
A morning trip to Oare Marshes and despite the wind, a pleasant visit with some quality birding and good company: MW, GB, JR, A&BF, JB, Dave, S? and others all out birdwatching. Highlights:
Common Tern over the east flood briefly then circled off high with 2 Mediterranean Gulls, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, small ringtail Hen Harrier (male?), Merlin (female at Uplees Copse feeding on a Linnet or Wheatear), Many Blackwits, Avocets, Little Egrets, 3+ Wheatear, several Swallows, Green Woodpecker, 2 Whimbrels east over the saltmarsh, couple of Yellow Wagtails and the star bird - the male Ring Ouzel at Uplees - see previous post for photos.

Moving back inland to Stodmarsh NNR to escape the cold wind, we saw a good selection of birds around the Alder Wood and Reedbeds: 8 Blackcaps (7 singing males, 1 of which was paired with a female), our first singing Reed Warbler of the year, Sedge Warbler, Water Rail, Treecreeper, Teal, Marsh Harrier (male), Green Sandpiper in flight plus the largest group of hirrundines seen so far this spring, with 100+ Sand Martins hawking insects over the main lake, with a handful of Swallows thrown in for good measure.

Heading back to Ashford we spotted a Little Egret along the Little Stour at Nargate Street, Common Buzzard at Godmersham, while Eastwell Lake held a pair of Pochard, 2 pairs of Great-Crested Grebes, c10 Little Grebes, singing Mistle Thrush, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and around 75 Swalllows, with a couple each of House and Sand Martins.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ouzel @ Oare

Ring Ouzel at Uplees Copse...

... And performing for the birdwatchers !!!

Friday, 13 April 2012

As Common as a Buzzard

The Common Buzzard is certainly a recent success story in Kent with birds colonising practically all corners of the county. A days birding rarely goes by without a sighting and once again I have seen them on my commute to and fro to work, one over the M20 yesterday (12th) and another at Smarden on Wednesday (11th).

Good Friday afternoon (6th) was also successful in producing a number of Buzzard sightings. Having picked Angela up, we decided to pay Aldington Flood Gap a visit noting:

Yellowhammer - roadside wires, singles of Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, singing Blackcap & Chiffchaff, 5 Great Crested Grebes (2 pairs and a singleton), 4 Tufted Ducks (2 pairs), numerous Coot, Greylags, Canada's and Moorhen, plus a Reed Bunting, pair of Linnet and a Grey Heron. We also spotted a couple of Butterflies: a Green-Veined White and a Speckled Wood.

Moving up on to the Wye Downs NNR the views were stunning and surprise surprise, more Buzzards (minimum of 6), plus a Kestrel and 2 more singing Blackcaps.

Wye Downs NNR - Devil's Kneading Trough - courtesy Angela G.

Tonight (13th) there were pairs of Long-tailed Tits and Chaffinches in the Garden, busy feeding and collecting nest material. The parents also noted a Grey Wagtail during a walk at Conningbrook Gravel Pits today (a female).

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hunstanton Fulmars

Rewinding a few weeks. Here is a photograph of a pair of Fulmars, that I took using Angela's new camera, on the coloured cliffs at Hunstanton in Norfolk.

Pair of Fulmars - Hunstanton, Norfolk.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Still looking at Ducks - Ring-necked this time.

Many thanks to CT and BB for the text messages and calls while I was at work this morning, alerting me to the presence of a cracking drake Ring-necked Duck at Hookers Pit on the Dungeness RSPB reserve. I had to leave work early today for a Doctors appointment but that was soon out of the way, and within the hour, the parents and I were at the viewing mound overlooking the reedy pools. No one was on the bird so I headed off to the Dengemarsh hide to see if the bird had moved there - bad move. While doing this, PT relocated the smart drake Ring-necked Duck amongst the dozing Pochard and Tufted Ducks from the ramp, and everyone eventually managed to get good views in the telescopes. Getting the camera out of the bag for a record shot, the bird decided to take flight and head for Dengemarsh. The photograph is the Duck and not a Coot - honest!

Ring-necked Duck getting airborne - better shots on other blogs !!!

Other birds noted on the reserve: Raven, Kestrel, 2+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Shelduck plus calling Cetti's Warbler and my first singing Sedge Warbler of 2012. At the ARC Pit car park we added 1 House Martin and my first two Swallows of the year. At the southern end: 2 Oystercatchers, 1 Ringed and 2 Little Ringed Plovers - another year tick. Another Marsh Harrier overhead and 6 Little Egrets feeding in a group on the New Diggings. En route home single Common Buzzard (Snave) and Sparrowhawk (Old Romney) were noted on the Marsh. An enjoyable couple of hours and good to catch up with PT, CT, BH and SB plus others.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday Birding

Another visit to Hothfield Heathlands KWT this morning with the parents, hoping that the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker would put in another appearance. A bird was heard calling and briefly drumming in the same area as last week, but no sighting. Other highlights included singles of Coot, Little Grebe and Grey Wagtail, all new species for us here. Male Reed Bunting, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, 4 male Yellowhammers, c30 Linnet, 2 singing Willow Warblers and 4 Blackcaps (3 males and a female - already paired) also made the notebook. A minimum of 6 Jays, several Treecreepers, a few Redwing and upwards of 6 Nuthatch territories were noted too.

Stopping at Worten Flood Gap, single Skylark and Reed Bunting could be heard, plus 2 Common Buzzards circling overhead.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Conningbrook Kingfishers

In between watching the British Touring Car Championship and another awful defeat for the Pool, Angela and myself paid a short afternoon visit to Conningbrook Lakes, where we had the following:

Male Yellowhammer along the farm track, up to 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 male Blackcap (again in sub-song), Common Buzzard, a Treecreeper calling but unseen, still several Tufted Ducks, a pair of Great-crested and single Little Grebes, pairs of Pochard and Shoveler, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Stock Doves and a Grey Heron. The highlight though were 2 Kingfishers, presumably a pair, on the middle lake. Lots of activity, calling and zipping low across the water. Top birds.

A distinct lack of photos of late I know - light, range, usual excuses.

But here is a picture I took of a pool full of Frogs at Sculthorpe Moor in Norfolk a couple of weeks ago.

Roll on Rye Harbour NR

Before visiting Dunge later in the day, we walked around the Beach Reserve at Rye Harbour on the morning of the 31st. The habitats here are constantly being improved by the Warden, BY, who we had a chat with. We also met JT and MC on the walk round. Highlights were:

Flat Beach - c60 Golden Plover, Merlin - female having caught a Ringed Plover or Dunlin (many of those around), 17 Avocet.
Quarry - Adult Brent Goose around the newly created islands plus a Snipe (spotted by JT on the margin).
Beach - Many roosting Sandwich Terns and several Bar-tailed Godwits.
Ternery Pool - Hundreds of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls, plus more Sandwich Terns. The new islands here are fantastic for the breeding birds.
Harbour Farm and pools - 7+ Ruff, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, more Avocets, female Goldeneye, Little EgretStonechat, couple of Chiffchaffs and 2 singing Willow Warblers (sadly unseen). Cettis' calling too.

This East Sussex reserve is certainly gearing up for another busy breeding season. Every chance of a spring rarity too. Another visit will soon be planned.

Dunge Delights

Several visits to Dungeness have been made in the last week by the parents and myself - the highlights were:

Tuesday (27th March) AM:

South end of ARC - drake Garganey & 5 White Wagtails.
The Point & Sea - Our first Sandwich Terns of the year, 4 Wheatears, 3 Stonechats, couple of Red-throated Divers, 3 Brent Geese east.
Dengemarsh - 2 House Martins !!! My earliest record.
RSPB Reserve - Long-tailed Duck from the Dennis's Hide. Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall and on Walland.
Park Wood (Appledore) - Chiffchaff's, Nuthatches, and raptors consisting of Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawks and a brief sight of a high gliding Red Kite !!! That's three in a week and all in different counties.
Kenardington Bridge (RM Canal) - Our first male Blackcap of the year in sub-song. 3 Bullfinch here too.

Saturday (31st March) PM:

Galloways - 3 male Stonechats, a small fall of Chiffchaffs.
Dengemarsh & Gully - Sparrowhawk, Raven, Kestrel, male Wheatear, female Black Redstart and a surprise Kingfisher - a migrant bird ???

Sunday (1st April) AM -parents only:

RSPB Reserve - Sedge Warbler heard only, Raven, Bittern, Bearded Tit, pair of Garganey, imm Spoonbill.
Kenardington Bridge - 2 male Backcaps now present.