Sunday, 18 December 2011

Reculver And Oare In The Cold Winter Sunshine.

With the day dawning a lot more clement than yesterday I decided on a visit first thing to Reculver. Reculver is situated on the coast between Herne Bay and Thanet. It is well known for its towers that can be seen for miles. I set off along the sea wall in bright sunshine enjoying several skeins of Brent Geese looking grand against the blue sky. Turnstone, Redshank,  Sanderling,  Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher were all seen going about their business along with a Kestrel that was so engrossed with finding food it let me have time to watch before drifting away.  A pair of Stonechat also gave close views,  these are the birds that let you practise with your camera.  Eventually I arrived at the lagoons, not much here though. just a few Redshank and Black Headed Gulls.  The Snow Buntings that had been around for a while I was unable to locate which was disappointing.  A brisk walk back to the car taking 20 minutes or so left me feeling as if I had been dragged through a hedge backwards having battled against a brisk cold wind.  Next stop was Oare,  a short drive up the Thanet way to try and see the Short Eared Owl that's been showing throughout the week.  On arrival I met Andy Hills and Steve Ashton who had managed a few photos earlier, they  informed me that 3 Owls had been sighted.  We waited in front of the East flood where one had gone to ground out on the island.  Within minutes of my arrival a weather front came through bringing a shower of rain,  we took cover in the car as it past over.  As the sun came out the owl burst back into action quartering the road several times although distant.  We decided that the best chance for a photo was from the hide, so took up position and waited for the owl to come by.  The lighting from the low winter sun was brilliant,  we could see the owl coming towards us,  we waited with great excitement for a flyby but sadly the owl had other ideas turning away from the waiting cameras and duly headed across the creek towards castle cot. O well maybe next time.  We made our way back  towards the cars noting Pintail and Wigeon amongst the ducks. Distant views of another Owl were had however I had to except that although privileged to watch Short Eared Owls in action a memory would be all I would have for today's efforts. If you decide to visit Oare the best time is either side of a high tide as the birds drift up from the coast  to roost. Evening time has the best light for the east flood from the car parking bays if you want photos. A great way for whiling away a few hours for us all. Finally a pleasing image of the Great White Egret which left the area this morning.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Diver At Dover And An Owl At Oare.

With a day of sunshine promised I decided I needed to make the most of it so inspired by the local sightings and pictures on flickr etc through the week it was Dover docks for my first port of call ( excuse the pun).Having paid for two hours parking the Great Northern Diver that had been about all week was my first target especially as this would be a life tick. I crossed the swing bridge and walked to the life boat station where I knew it had been,  here I found a close in Guillemot, good views were had but the life boat roared in to action and the Guillemot dived surfacing a fair distance away. Making my way back to the swing bridge a smiling engineer informed me that it was now out of action for the day and a long walk around the inner harbour was required to get back,  as Victor Meldrew would say..I don't believe it!!. Anyway I was soon back and disappointed that my car park ticket had been eaten into.  Setting off on to the pier I bumped into Mark Chidwick and Adam Faiers,  here we spotted a Black Throated Diver and a few more Guillemots .We soon reached the end of the pier with no sign of the Great Northern however Mark eventually located it across the other side of the basin.  Another route march was required if I wanted  a photo  so with time ticking away on my ticket it was best foot forward all the way.  Phil Parker joined us,  we were soon the other side enjoying reasonable views of the bird,  it must look magnificent in summer plumage. Back to the car with minutes to spare my next stop was Oare . Arriving just after midday I met Steve Ashton who put me on to the Great White Egret.  It stood grand in the sunshine allowing a few shots. This was my third life tick of the day.  Phil Parker arrived and joined the camera action.  There has been a Short Eared Owl hunting most days for a while now so I hoped to catch up with it,  Steve said it had a tussle with a Male Hen Harrier earlier,  shame I missed it.  We stayed in the sunshine where there was plenty to see and fire the camera at including two Kingfishers, Knot, Lapwing, Avocet, Barwits, Goldfinches, Snipe,etc.  As the sun started to drop Phil went and found Twite along the sea front and Steve and I were joined by Andy Hills.  We kept ourselves amused trying to capture flight shots of Knot and Lapwing.  Just as we thought the Owl was a no show,  Andy picked it up flying across the east flood. It gave distant views as it quartered the marshes, sadly  a little to far for the camera  but well worth the wait capping off an eventful day.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Last Throws Of Autumn

The golden autumn colours are slowly disappearing into the winter gloom as yet another dreary weekend slips away it is becoming difficult to find enthusiasm at this time of the year to get out with the camera. That said, I ventured out to the reed bed hide Stodmarsh where I hoped there may be a Bittern or two showing.  Their  numbers are boosted through the winter with birds from the near continent and it is not unusual to gain several sightings, even on a short visit.  Although dreary it remains mild for the time of year making it comfortable sitting in the hide. I was on my own for a while noting Heron, Cormorant, three Marsh Harrier, Teal, Mallard, Water Rail, Bearded Tit, Wren and Carrion Crow .I was joined by two gents who were new to birding,  they were thrilled when I pointed out the first of two Bitterns that gave us good  in flight views although distant for the camera. As the morning raced by I moved on to the alder wood noting a large group of Long tailed Tit and several Fieldfares feeding on berries  .Again the light was poor so no photos.  Making my way to the lampern wall a Great Spotted Woodpecker called and showed briefly. A scan of the main lake produced lots of Teal which took off in a real commotion.  Its not long now to the official start of winter and it would be nice if we can have a little Sunshine to brighten up the short days. Yesterday morning I joined a work party driven by Natural England where we cleared the pools adjacent to the feast hide which is at the grove end of the valley, a few years ago this  area was a must to visit but the pools became overgrown losing valuable habitat which used to  attracted the likes of Baillons and Spotted Crake.  We were let lose with pitch forks and rakes etc and made short work of the task. Hopefully the area can remain under control and views of the Crakes will be possible again next autumn.............Photo from a sunny day.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Ramsgate Merganser

I had been looking forward to this weekend as the Eastern  Black Redstart that was showing well at walpole bay thanet all through the week looked like it was going to stay,  however as with so many birds that stop off on migration in our patch it had other ideas and left Thursday evening.  Frustrating or what, I wished I went last weekend.  With Stodmarsh being fog bound photo opportunities were very few and far between,  a Common Snipe was about as good as it got and it did not look like  the fog was going to lift. I sat in the  Feast hide with Steve Ashton where we did not take long to decide to try and find the sunshine as promised by our highly skilled weather forecast team. We moved to Ramsgate harbour where we knew there was a Red Breasted Merganser showing,  this would be a life tick for me and maybe action for my rusty camera shutter.  We meet Allan Ashdown and the three of us soon found the bird looking a little bedraggled, it allowed a few photos as it swam about. I was happy to gain a tick for this bird especially after last weekend. Yesterday I had seen three different Bitterns in flight whilst at grove so I would think if you want to see one the next few weeks will start to see the numbers rising throughout the reserve.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Day To Remember

Remembrance Sunday, so many poignant memories and far to many life's lost .For me,  one of the lucky beings I will be able to remember the day for all its autumn glory and will always be grateful to those not so lucky that I can. The day started with me driving just before sunrise along stodmarsh road and through trenley wood.  The sun was starting to appear and was stunning,  the colours just wonderful.  I slowed down as I passed the rookery and memories of school boy egg collecting came flooding back to me. I looked at the trees we used to climb, and remember reaching out into the branches hanging on for dear life to gain an emerald green streaked trophy. The farmer used to give us hell if he caught us.  I carried along stopping for a photo of the sun,  it was very misty. Reaching the reserve at Stodmarsh I saw at least 10 Goldcrest, 2 Bullfinch and a small gathering of Long Tailed and Blue Tit.  By now the sun was glowing and the mist was descending on a carpet of golden leaves, wonderful.  I made my way to the marsh hide as I wanted a few pics of the Glossy Ibis with the sun on its back,  as I passed the dyke a Kingfisher flew by and 2 Water Rails played in the edge, there was lots to see here including a Grey Wagtail and a handsome Sparrow Hawk.  Male Marsh Harriers were up in the sky and my first November Bittern appeared in the distance.  From the marsh hide I had lovely views of the Ibis the sun playing on its back,  you can see where it gets its name. A good hour was spent in the hide on my own drinking tea,  interrupted only by the birds that graced the day. I moved on to the reed bed hide watching a huge flock of mixed wildfowl being chased by a Peregrine.  2 Jay,  20 Redwing with a scattering of Fieldfare were also noted. The willows have been cut to the right of the Reed bed hide making it possible to see across to the lampern wall, thanks to who ever done the work as it was well worth it .Not much apart from a Cormorant was seen so home for a well earned bacon butty .On a separate note I must add that whilst out with my wife this afternoon on a long walk with our Springer Spaniels we saw 4 Common Crane flying over heading towards Deal. This capped off a great day for me in bird land so again thanks to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for me to do so.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Marsh Hide On A Monday Morning.

I was able to spare a few hours this morning so I decided that the marsh hide at Grove would be as good a place as any to visit,  there is not much about bird wise at the moment however the Glossy Ibis was very alluring especially as I had only fleeting views on Saturday.  I walked from the Stodmarsh end of the reserve and made my way along the track towards the alders, very little to see,  a Chiffchaff being the best. As I reached the clearing I looked towards the boat house and remembered great views of Barn Owls earlier in the year as they went about feeding their hungry brood. On arriving at the hide I was the only one there for a while,  Steve Ashton joined me and we were soon watching a fair amount of action. Birds of interest  were one Ringtail,  Peregrine,  Kestrel,  Sparrowhawk,  Marsh Harrier, Ruff, lapwing ,Egret,  Water pipit,  Jay, Snipe and Heron.  The light was not kind for the camera but we managed a few shots, a few other people arrived and were pleased to see the Ibis,  not common here and yet not the first this year. Its apparent that the seasons seem to be changing, birds and insects staying longer in the field, and boundaries changing giving us lots to enjoy. The morning flashed by and we were soon heading home with work commitments looming.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Grove In All Its Glory

I have often thought that I am not a lucky person but in reality I am,  lucky that I have been blessed with the ability to enjoy the country side and all that occurs within it.  I had decided that a walk to the marsh hide would be a good idea today as there had been a juvenile Glossy Ibis showing well in the week so setting off along the track from grove I walked to the ramp where I made my first stop.  Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits were fooled by the warm temperatures in to thinking it was spring along with a Wren and two Dunnock.  At the ramp there were lots of Reed Bunting and Chaffinch,  I scanned for a Brambling to no avail.  A Marsh Harrier scrambled the ramp locals and the raise in decibels was tremendous.  My next stop was the newly transformed feast hide,  I must thank all those who gave up their time in the week and help to bring the area back under control.. Here there were Teal and lapwing,  Little Egret and a few others.  Along the path to the marsh hide I saw a charm of Goldfinch and several Thrushes coming in of which there were a lot of Fieldfare. On reaching the marsh hide I was rewarded with distant views of the Glossy Ibis and the Grey Heron who seems to like his picture being taken. Six Ruff circled and a few snipe were also seen. This time of the year is stunning, don't miss it.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Warm Winds At Reculver

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 Meeting Steve Ashton at the fishermans car park just after 8 this morning  we were greeted with  a strong southerly wind albeit bright and sunny. I was going to go to Dungeness for the day as the Penduline tit seems to be showing but with the big game at lunch time and me being a man utd fan I wanted to be home to watch the local derby if you can call it that with the multi national teams these days  and boy what a waste of a sunny afternoon that was. .Any way back to the birding. We walked along the track from the car park noting a kestrel but not much else before crossing the railway  and turning left along the old embankment. We had a Green Woodpecker and fleeting views of various Thrushes as they skulked in the bushes keeping out of the wind,  a party of Finches flew over but photo opportunities were few and far between even though the light was kind.  Not being a bird lister I just enjoy what ever the walk turns up bird wise however I hope to see a few birds this time of the year that are new to me.  We had good views of Marsh Harrier looking spectacular on the wind they just seem to hang there.  We turned along the green wall heading towards the sea  where we saw two Bearded Tits and a flock of Golden Plover twisting and turning as they flew in the bright morning sunshine. A Peregrine was spotted towards the towers scattering all the birds in its path.  On reaching the sea wall the tide was in and we had good views of Brent Geese, Turnstone,  Two Wheatear and a pair of Meadow Pipits, here we had the bird of the day a Goosander flying towards the towers close in allowing a hurried record shot. We made  our way along the sea shore spotting a raft of Mallard  with a lone Wigeon, more Brent Geese,  Ring Plovers flying by and on the lagoons a  few Redshank calmly paddling in the clear water. Making our way back to the car park we located several Long Tailed Tits in the hedge row allowing a few shots,  they disappeared quickly bringing the mornings ramble to an end. Another enjoyable morning, you can forget all your troubles and everything else with this hobby.  Yesterday I  had an hour with the Bearded Tits at Grove,  they are thinning out now but still stunning to see when you find them. Lastly there is lots of work taking place around the feast hide lets hope we see the iconic Kingfisher back on its post soon.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Grove In The Sunshine

After a cold night I was greeted with a frozen car this morning,  the first of the autumn. I set off for Grove hoping the sun would soon burn off the mist and develop into a nice sunny day like the weather forecast had promised.  As I walked up the track towards the ramp the ghostly appearance of a Barn Owl passed me in the mist and flew towards the feast hide, it looked stunning as flew by reminding me of the great times I had with them back in the summer. I also saw Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Reed Bunting and Cettis Warbler. Three Marsh Harriers were upsetting the ramp residents causing lots of commotion on a calm morning as I made my way to the track past the feast hide where I hoped to photograph Bearded Tits. Conditions were now perfect for my target bird and I soon found a few to grace the camera,  I clicked away happily for an hour. I met Alan Ashdown,  Steve Ashton,  Adam Faiers,  Martyn Wilson And Mark Chidwick just by the feast hide and we decided as it was so nice to walk to the marsh hide and a circuit via harrisons and middle drove. We saw Fieldfare,  Redwing Stonechat  andWater Rail before finding a small flock of Redpoll, these turned out to be the highlight of the ramble. The morning was most enjoyable with us putting the world to right in all departments as we strolled in the morning sun.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Last Few Weeks.

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Its been a while since I updated my blog, ive been away in Menorca for a week and catching up on chores for another so it was  nice to get out on Sunday for a few hours. Whilst in Menorca near Cala Galdana I walked through a gorge and was delighted to add to my life list Egyptian Vulture and Booted Eagle, the Vultures breed here and were magnificent, if only I had my camera. I saw lots of Spotted Flycatcher Sardinian Warbler and even heard a Nightingale,  truly a place for me to visit again along with the  uncommercialised beaches and turquoise sea, wonderful.  On my return I had a few days working at Arundal a mile from the Pallid Harrier, naturally I had a look for this super bird but was not lucky however did see Red Kite,  Buzzard,  Kestrel and Raven Along with a calling Tawny Owl. Again a cracking location set in delightful  Sussex countryside . With the wife working Sunday I had a a bit more time so set off for Grove to try for a few Bearded Tit shots,  this time of the year there can be at least a 100 or more with the numbers I would imagine boosted from other areas. The light was fantastic when I arrived and I soon located the birds they were very vocal.  I meet a few of the locals and just as we started the camera action we received a call telling us of an Osprey at Reculver ( or was it Seasalter ). We decided to pay a visit as it seemed to be staying put in the oyster beds.  On arrival we could see it from a long way off,  it was huge and sat for some time before  rising and heading south,  wow what a sight well worth the trip.  With the sun now baking down on us I decided to head home.  Monday evening after work with the forecast saying that the weather was to break I paid Oare marshes a visit.  High tide is needed for the best views of the waders as they come in from the coast to roost and with the sun behind me a few shots were managed. I saw Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper , Golden Plover, Greenshank,  Ringed Plover,  Ruff,  Little Egret,  Green Plover,  Black Tailed Godwit to name but a few and as the sun went down a lone Spoonbill glidded in from the west. So there you are a brief note of whats been going on and a few pictures as follows 1 Bearded Tit..2 Osprey. 3 Osprey. 4 Golden Plover. 5 Black Tailed Godwit..6  Black tailed Godwit. 7 .Little Egret.....Finally a note to all you bloggers for some reason I cannot leave comments on your reports,  I am trying to sort out the problem.