Survey time in North Kent started well for me and Mo when we find a Male Merlin perched on the approach road and typically our camera's are in the boot!!
A cracking bright but cool day with a moderate westerly wind kept small stuff down but finding 6 Barnacle Geese amongst the regular Greylag flock was a nice surprise as was a Snow Bunting along the seawall.
A stop at Higham marshes (church street) where we located the Red-Necked Grebe which was showing sign of coming into summer plumage, also a drake Scaup that was unfortunately sleeping the whole time that didn't really feel robust enough for greater, and was of similar size of the nearbye pochard and tufties!!
After a 4am start, myself, Jono and Nick arrive in Rhiwderyn, Gwent south Wales, and along with 150+ birders we searched the surrounding fields in search of the recent Common Yellowthroat, with the weather turning for the worst and several hours past with not even a sniff of the bird it all seemed too clear that the bird had done a bunk!
nearly had 150 of these in one field !!
By 12:30 we decided to cut our losses and head for a change of scenery and try and add some ticks for Nick, which involved a drake LESSER SCAUP at nearbye Penarth which showed very well and an adult BONAPARTE'S GULL that we relocated in Cardiff Bay sewage works.
Adult Bonaparte's Gull
Between these birds we discover that the Yellowthroat had again been seen briefly so with high hopes and adrenalin flowing it was back to the warbler site to discover most birders dispersing the site having all getting satisfactory views of the bird, leaving just a mere 25-30 birders to try and relocate the bird, and after several glimpses and another 90 minutes eventually the COMMON YELLOWTHROAT finally gave itself up, what a bright and cracking little bird it was and well worth the wait and getting wet for, our happy party finally headed home well chuffed on what started out looking like it was gonna be a dippy day....
After work Saturday went to Barking Bay, added both Pochard and Wigeon both scarce here, obviously all pushed onto the river in the big freeze, and a pair of Goosander flew down river was a site tick.
A flock of 4 Common Sandpiper were unusual near the outfall as was a single Jack Snipe.
Sunday: The mighty Masey held a 3w Yellow-legged Gull briefly, Green Sandpiper and two Lapwing, onto Barking Bay a single Golden and six Grey Plover in the Bay and an increase in duck at the outfall, for a change of scenery went to the valley with Shaunboy where we saw Water Rail, Kingfisher, Cetti's Warbler and Little Owl.
A brief visit to Belhus Country Park where 3 redhead Smew were present, until some idiot flushed every bird off the lake (aka phsycokiller)
2 of the 3 belhus birds (b 4 flying!!)
Tuesday: me and Shaunboy visit Stubbers outdoor pursuit centre in south okendon on the way home from work and find a cracking drake Scaup along side 3 redhead Smew.(pls sign in at reception if visiting here)
Wednesday: today a late aternoon visit to Mighty Masey produces my second ever record of Smew, a fine redhead on the main boating lake.
After a heavy night in Leicester celebrating Pop's 65th Birthday Bash, i was nursing the mother of all hangovers, a walk over Mayesbrook Park after our return home was needed and after last nights Snow covering and Jono reporting unprecedented numbers of Lapwing on his Wanstead patch (http://www.wansteadbirder.blogspot.com/) i hurried out to get a amoungst the action!
With a good 6 inch of snow, everyone and there pet dog was out enjoying the fun, nothing unusual on the remaining unfrozen water, soldiering on i discover a single Lesser Redpoll feeding amongst the regular Greenfinch, then bingo a single Lapwing flew south, then back to the lake another two flew off the ice heading west, only seen 1 before (2010) in twenty years here so well chuffed, heading home a Green Sandpiper drops into the stream and 2 Snipe are flushed, and two Meadow Pipits feeding along thawed edge, not a bad haul for an hours stroll!
So minus 2 this morning at the Bay, arrived at 7:30am hoping to catch up with some more displaced duck on a rising tide, didn't really happen! plenty of waders though the highlight was a single Golden Plover, quite a rare bird this far up the Thames and didn't see one last year.
Other waders included 6 Grey Plover, 11 Curlew, c50 Redshank and good numbers of Dunlin which have become a more regular sighting feeding on this side of the river as normally favouring the cross-ness side, was also able to get quite close to these as the tide fell and they flew towards me feeding just yards away.
Also 8 Ringed Plover was a good count roosting on the jetty, and added L.T tit for the year list#61
Repeated yesterdays walk in reverse, firstly the mighty masey where again added a single Snipe along the stream and at what first i thought was a common or garden Little Egret, on later inspection looking at photo's it could possibly the newly discovered BROKEN TOE EGRET and undoubtedly would be a first for Britain, will put out directions later once sorted out parking arrangements! lol
So onto Barking Outfall and Bay where i added both Tufted Duck and Shoveler to the year list, obviously both displaced due to freezing temperatures of late, and a bonus 1st winter LITTLE GULL seen mid river before moving to cross-ness outfall, hopefully back tomorrow for some more cold weather movement.
Felt green today so walked to the patch via my other patch (Barking Bay via Mayesbrook Park) at the former i added both Ringed and Grey Plover's for the year and a dashing male Sparrowhawk to bring the year total to 58 in three visits, also thought I'd discovered a corpse wrapped in a duvet along the seawall, turned out to be a dosser after several pokes with my tripod he awoke i don't know who was more shocked me or him,lol.(surely there are warmer places to sleep!)
Walking home through Masebrook Park a pair of Jackdaw were a nice surprise as were 4 Common Snipe along the stream and an increase in Shoveler numbers, the Little egret roost is now numbering 5 birds.