Monday 30 January 2012

Foggy Kent

Survey time again in North Kent, it was a very foggy start for me and mo this morning not lifting till 11am, with visibility down to two hundred metres it was time to test bird calls!

Along the fleets whistling Wigeon, bleeping Teal and farting Gadwall were all numerous on call before being seen, as were a pair of pinging Beardies and the contact call of a Cetti's warbler, i guess we all take for granted on sight but birding is also about hearing.

odd Buzzard came out the gloom as did a young male Marsh Harrier, also silhouette of both Little Owl and Stonechat.

Eventually the fog lifted and the waders i could all here came into view, Knot and Dunlin in there thousands, both Bar and Black-tailed godwit alongside Grey Plover,Curlew and Oystercatcher with odd Turnstone and Ringed Plover thrown inn, and the skies littered with Lapwing and Golden Plover shows how important the Thames estuary is for a wintering waders.

Short-eared owl was out hunting before lunch and a pair of Merlins showed, as did the now wintering Rough-legged Buzzard which showed superbly through the scope.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Local Year Listing

OK, not a bad start to the new year listing so far (not that I'm in competition) but i did add another four this afternoon to bring my total to 152, and didn't have to travel far.

First stop Wanstead Park for Firecrest, met up with Jono and didn't take long to see our first one of the year in the usual Holly patch in Bush wood.

Then to the William Girling reservior for some distant Black-Necked Grebes (viewable from mansfield park) 7 in total along with a fine pair of Goosander.

Connaught Water for the usual Mandarin, 7 seen today.

Then back to Wanstead for some unsuccessful lesser spot haunts but did add Ring-necked parakeet.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Mid week birding

Myself and Mo travel to the other end of Essex today to catch up with a couple of tart ticks for Mo (though he claims not to be a twitcher!).

First stop Abberton Reservoir, a scour around we pick up 2 redhead Smew, 2 drake Goosander, Teal and Wigeon as far as the eye can see, and smaller numbers of Gadwall, Pintail and Goldeneye all viewable from the Layer-Breton causeway.

A Quick stop by the visitor centre produces 4 Green Sandpiper on the pit by the entrance gate.

Next onto Fingerinhoe Wick nature reserve, a site Ive not visited for probably the best part of fifteen years, renowned for its famous Nightingale's we were probably a little to early for these! but a fine juvenile GLOSSY IBIS more than made up for this (although a tad distant!).

a view from the hide

No sign of the recent G G Shrike but superb views of Bullfinch at this site with probably ten birds being seen and by far the easiest place ive been to see this species.

some digiscoped Avocets

Next stop East Mersea, as well as all the common waders you would want too see we picked up Common Scoter at least half a dozen Mergs and no fewer than 19 Slav grebes.

Then onto Tollesbury wick for our second target the day, walking out from the marina we head east (thanks bradders) we stumble across a female Merlin carrying prey, further along no sign of any Brents on the adjacent fields, but a scan across the saltings looking towards Old hall we discover the brents feeding and pick out the RED-BREASTED GOOSE amongst them, a flybye drake Smew was a nice surprise before some wild fowlers guns flushed the whole lot off.

A great days birding where we saw only one other birder all day was ended at Gt Braxted for Hawfinch but our luck had finaly run out.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Iceland Gull

Lashing down with rain, what better way to stay dry is too stay indoors or bird from the car, luckily i chose the latter and pulled up at the stone barges car-park, scanning the melee of gulls i was quick to pick up a 1st year Iceland Gull on the river, Fantastic! i grab the camera and know sooner as i do the bird ups and heads of down river.

Other gulls of note were a 1w Caspian and at least 9 Yellow-Legged Gulls of various ages.

1w Iceland

2w Yellow leg

Saturday 21 January 2012


Its back to Thameside north kent today for some on going survey work for me and Mo, it was hard work with a blustery south westerly blowing down the estuary so small stuff were keeping low, but we did pick up the Rough-Legged Buzzard that has been seen recently.

Other highlights were a female Merlin and male Marsh Harrier and twenty Red-throated divers offshore and a single Gannet.

a couple of heavily cropped rough-leg

Friday 20 January 2012

Yellow-legged Gull's

A brief visit to the stone barges of Rainham yesterday produced a brief adult Caspian Gull and several Yellow legs before heavens opened!

adult yellow leg

2nd winter

Saturday 14 January 2012


Both the Spanish Sparrow and Dark-Eyed Junco showed superbly well today, first stop was Calshot for the Sparrow where we arrived just before 8am to an already gathering crowd of probably a hundred and not the thousands that some of us were thinking (thankfuly) probably due to the fact that the bird had rumored to have been present upto two years !!

The bird appeared after a short while and showed very well to a well behaved crowd, and Bacon rolls and teas all round from the local village hall to celebrate hit the spot.

el sparrow

whilst bradders looks like his been working out, jono looks like his been eating out!

Then onto Hawkshill enclosure just up the road in the New Forest for the recently discovered Junco and again the bird performed well for the crowds, having not seen one for over twenty years (the previous also in hants) this also felt like a new species.

dark eyed junco

buteo beautiful !!

A quick unsuccessful stop at acres down was made up by a stunning Red Kite on the way home for myself, Shaunboy and Redsy.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Norfolk again !!

Second time in a week that Norfolk was the starting venue, but this time it was Shaunboy's trip to attempt to see the Lesser White Fronted Goose having missed the chance last winter, myself and Monkey came along for the ride, or really to point out the bird and share the petrol cost.

We arrive at Buckenham just after 8am and as we cross the railway crossing we can see a goose flock along the railway line some 5-600 yards away on scanning we find most are the taiga Bean's with European White-fronts amongst and also our target the Lesser White front, Bingo ! that was easy.

After half hour we return to the car adding 3 fly thru Bewick's swans and the regular Barnacle goose flock amongst thousands upon thousands of both Golden plover and Wigeon.
Next it was an unsuccessful search for Cranes up at Horsey, before adding a Great northen diver at Rollesby broad, Black throated diver at lake loathing in Suffolk and 4 Purple sands at Ness point, the latter site also hosting Red throat for a three diver day and both Med gull and Kittiwake for the year list.

purple sandpiper

shaunboy hides his £17 haircut

Before heading home we visit Reydon for Waxwing's where we find 16 of these little stunners and ending another great day's birding.

Friday 6 January 2012

Urban Birding

An afternoon stroll around my closest patch Mayesbrook Park today which as the crow fly's is no fewer than 500 yards away from my home produced 41 species in 90 minutes, not bad for an urban park totally surrounded by houses and has produced some good birds for me over the years, Smew, Goldeneye, Scaup, Goosander, Garganey and passerines such as both pied and spotted flys, Firecrest and Bullfinch.

This year i will plan to visit the park more often as well as covering the bay.

Today's Highlights were Grey Wagtail, Teal, 3 Little egrets and a small flock of Linnet.

Little Egret

Teal and Gadwall

Common Gull

Grey Wagtail

Monday 2 January 2012

North Norfolk

What a Cracking days birding today, myself and the Monkey, Bradders, Jono and Nick head up to Norfolk for some new year listing and what a great start, picking up the very striking Great Grey Shrike at Fakenham that appeared just as we were about to give up, also adding Grey Partridge and a fly over Goosander.

Then it was onto Cley to filthy year tick the Western Sandpiper (or sandpaper for jono!) that showed well in the beautiful sunshine albeit a tad distant.

Then onto Salthouse where we jam in on a fly bye Glaucous Gull which lingered briefly before carrying on eastwards, also picking up a single Snow Bunting.

Then Well's Pitch n Putt for Black Brant and pale bellied brent and near bye Holkham pines where we jam in on the Rough-Legged Buzzard and add both White-fronts and Barnacle Geese to our tally.

Black Brant (centre)

No stopping us now we head on to Titchwell where we have great views of the Coue's Arctic Redpoll in the picnic area alongside both lesser and Mealy for comparison.

Coue's Arctic Redpoll

On the reserve we catch up with the regular waders plus Spotted Redshank and two Scaup and a brief seawatch we find 2 Whooper Swan, Goldeneye, Red Breasted Merganser and both Common and Velvet Scoter along with plenty of auks and red throat divers.


A stop at Flitching farm we add a cracking ringtail Hen Harrier and a dozen Tree Sparrows.

A superb days birding with good company and a bit of banter and a total of 90 species seen wasn't a bad haul.

Sunday 1 January 2012

New Years Day

Not an early start for me today, didn't get to the patch until 9:30, luckily dave's two Brent Geese were still lingering in the bay and was a great bird to start the year off as was an adult Caspian Gull both birds avoiding me last year.

Good numbers of Black-tailed godwits seen along side both Dunlin and Redshank with tricky birds like Grey Wagtail and Water Rail also making a show.

The regular Peregrine and a decent flock of Fieldfare noted with a single Redwing.

A total of 51 Species was not a bad tally for a three hour visit.

This young male Peregrine was unfortunately on the end of a falconers arm!