Monday, 20 May 2019

Pied, Golden, Spotted & Great............

Saturday 18th May, 2019.
Broadstairs, Foreness, Worth, Boughton & Crossness.



Barry Wright and I headed down to Broadstairs early doors in search of the Pied Crow of "unknown origin" that had been present in the North Foreland area for a couple of weeks, only being seen on and off after a wide-ranging flight about the country. It looks like it's last years bird which was first seen at Spurn in mid-June and then flew to Somerset, Wales then back to Yorkshire.
We found Nigel Jarman in Broadstairs very early morning and as we swapped thoughts Barry got a message from Barry Hunt to say the Pied Crow was at Foreness.
A quick dash round the headland and we were watching it perched on a cliff-top bench.
It flew down onto the beach and foraged with a lot of Carrion Crows allowing reasonably close approach.
There were 3 smart Dogfish swimming around a large rock pool and on the cliffs a few pairs of Fulmar are breeding.
Our next stop, after dropping Nigel back in Broadstairs, was Pegwell Bay where the long-staying Spoonbill was still on the "garage pool". Spooked by a micro-light it did a large circuit and returned and we left it happily feeding with a Little Egret for company. Small numbers of Whimbrel were also seen here but the tide and the light made much further exploration fairly pointless.
News of a singing Golden Oriole on Worth Marshes provided an easy answer to the question where next? Parking on the edge of the village we walked perhaps a mile to a block of mixed woodland in the midst of meadows and grassland much of which is apparently now managed by the RSPB; a rather lovely spot.
The GO was not especially vocal but we heard it a few times. Sadly not an easy bird to catch up with in the UK these days. We also had Turtle Dove and a lot of the commoner warblers.

As we headed inland a bright sunny morning quickly changed to cool, overcast with occasional showers. Looking for raptors looked fairly pointless so instead we finished the day with a twitch for the Great Reed Warbler at Crossness found earlier that morning by Richard Bonser.

Palm Bay

Pied Crow & Carrion Crow

Pied Crow

Pied Crow

Pied Crow

Pied Crow

Pied Crow

Dogfish

Dogfish

Dogfish

Fulmar, Foreness Point

Fulmar, Foreness Point

Spoonbill, Pegwell Bay

Spoonbill, Pegwell Bay

Worth Marshes

Worth Marshes

Large Red Damselfly

Crossness

Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler



Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Norfolk........mostly twitching.

Saturday 11th May, 2019.
North Norfolk; Muckleburgh, Wells, Choseley, Burnham Overy Staithe, Holkham and back to Muckleburgh, Weybourne, Cockley Cley and Cavenham Heath to finish.


Do all birders start as patch-watchers, then morph to "twitchers" and then back to patch-watchers?      I certainly have, though I now have several "patches" and none that close to home.
Sometime the relentless flow of information just seems to be telling you that its time for a break from repeated visits to your favoured birding spots and it might result in a rather good day out..............
So, I left my house in Orpington just after 05.00 and was parked up near Muckleburgh Hill in North Norfolk by 07.30, 141 miles later. By the time I headed south from Salthouse, 10 hours later, I'd seen Great Spotted Cuckoo, Purple Heron, Wryneck, Spoonbill, 6 Wood Sandpiper and 16 Dotterel plus a host of common birds and a cracking male Gos on the way home. Not sure I'd ever manage a haul like that in Kent, and I've been trying for 40 odd years!

It didn't go quite like clockwork. I dipped the G.S.Cuckoo at my first attempt, and after a couple of hours standing in the cold and drizzle I threw it in and headed west to Wells. (Nice to catch up with Sue Bryant though).
It was like a different day when I got to the new wader scrapes/pools just east of Wells (North Point Pools); sunny, bright and warm. The pools look superb and amongst the breeding Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcher and host of wildfowl were 6 Wood Sandpipers and a few Greenshank. A smart male Whinchat appeared and the barbed wire fences around the pools were adorned with over a hundred Swallows and small numbers of House and Sand Martins.
Next was the rolling farmland above Titchwell around Choseley where a "trip" of 16 Dotterel were feeding in what looked like a pea-field. There had been 5 on Friday on this very traditional site for Dotterel and by nightfall there would be 26!  I was more than happy with the 16, a good mix of bright females and duller males. A smart full summer plumage Golden Plover consorted with the flock. I spent a while here soaking up views of these very smart birds.
Next stop was Burnham Overy Staithe where after a short walk in the sunshine I had a heron-fest with Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Little Egret and Grey Heron in the same field.
Then it was a slow drive back to Muckleburgh stopping to check-out the floods at Holkham.
Back on Muckleburgh Hill I bumped into Mike & Mandy Buckland and Frank Cackett and we had some distant views of the Great Spotted Cuckoo. Glad it wasn't a lifer !
A Wryneck warranted a stroll down the hill to the radio masts on the cliff above Kelling Hard where it duly showed perched on the top of a concrete fence post.
I headed home via Cockley Cley and Cavenham Heath which proved a mixed bag though a smart male Goshawk at close range was a nice surprise.

North Point Pits, Wells
Brents

Avocet

Choseley


Dotterel 

Dotterel

Burnham Overy

Overy Creek looking N

looking East towards Holkham pines

Spoonbill & Little Egret

Spoonbill

Purple Heron

Red Kite

Kelling Quag from Muckleburgh Hill

Red-legged Partridge;  Cavenham Heath








Friday, 10 May 2019

Dungeness

Friday 10th May, 2019.
Dungeness

Sometimes you just make the wrong decision.
I'd contemplated heading to Norfolk but managed to talk myself out of it and headed to Dungeness (again/as usual) instead. I guess the "twitcher" in me continues to fade and as well as liking to find my own birds the thought of hours on the road on a week day was also unappealing.
Light southerly winds were forecast and I had all sorts of drift migrants in my mind's eye.
I arrived soon after 07.00 to find the peninsula fog-bound!
I drove to the point without seeing another car or person and all I could hear was the mournful wail of the foghorn.
I bumped into Owen near the old lighthouse and whilst we chatted it was noticeably brightening.
I left Owen checking the point whilst I headed to check out the ranges and Dengemarsh.
Two hours birding galloways and Dengemarsh produced a single female Redstart, a couple of Willow Warblers and a good selection of the local breeding birds but no cigar!
I walked out to the Hanson Hide on ARC with Martin Casemore; 4 Hobby, Great Egret and Cuckoo. A wander around Burrowes was fairly uninspiring so I returned to the ranges and Dengemarsh but to no avail.
Heading home across the marsh I had a single Turtle Dove in a roadside garden just outside Lydd and a good selection of summer migrants around Warehorne before heading home promising myself that I needed a change of scenery tomorrow.





the peninsula was shrouded in mist early morning

Stonechat - juv

Linnet

Lesser Whitethroat


lenticular cloud formation

The ranges looking east from galloways. Imagine losing those pylons and the power station; what an amazing wild place it must have been not so long ago......

Grey Partridge - the second pair I've seen in the area this year which is a bit of an encouraging upturn in their fortunes.

Yellowhammer nr Warehorne; rather scarce on Romney Marsh these days.





Wednesday, 8 May 2019

May Bank Holiday; at the Obs at Dungeness as usual.........

Friday 3rd May to Tuesday 7th May, 2019.
Dungeness.

The annual Dungeness May Bank Holiday "retreat".
The usual suspects; Marcus Lawson, Andy Lawson, Mike Buckland, Gary Taylor and this year a "guest" appearance from Nigel Driver. It's always good to catch up with old friends and this year was no exception. Also good to spend some quality time with the "natives"; Dave Walker, Jacques Turner-Moss, Martin Casemore, Tony Greenland, Gill Hollamby and Sean Clancy.

Sadly it wasn't a vintage year bird-wise; winds were predominantly northerly, quite strong at times over the weekend with some heavy showers. Monday and Tuesday were dry, sunny and still and surprisingly quiet.

Sea-watching was disappointing, a few Pom's on Friday evening, the odd Bonxie and Arctic Skua, a fair selection of the commoner terns, waders and ducks but generally really low numbers of everything. Very few scoter or auks. The best were 2 Garganey, a couple of Black-throated Diver and a single Velvet Scoter.

On the land the highlights were a Pied Fly (Friday only) and a Wood Warbler on Monday which may or may not have been present since the previous week.
Hirundines and Swifts were in low numbers and often missing altogether.
On the RSPB reserve there was a good selection of waders, the 4 long-staying Cattle Egret and 2 booming Bittern.
Everywhere you went you heard Whitethroats, good numbers of Lesser 'throats and fair numbers of Reed and Sedge Warblers. At least 2 male Black Redstart were singing in the power station complex and there seemed to be a fair few in the general area. Stonechat's too seem to be having a good year.
I worked the ranges and Scotney but with little to show for my efforts.
I also used the opportunity to make several long, slow drives out across Romney Marsh, taking the really minor roads and checking out scruffy corners etc. Sad to say but Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer numbers seem lower than ever and many areas just seem so intensively farmed with little room for birds. It was nice to see a fair few Yellow Wagtails but despite my efforts I saw no Turtle Doves though others saw the odd bird or two.
Over the years the May Day Bank Holiday has provided some very memorable birding moments but not this year. I guess you can't expect it to come up trumps every year but it would be nice!



Yellow Wagtail - Caldicott Lane, Romney Marsh

Corn Bunting, Caldicott Lane, Romney Marsh

Pied Flycatcher, Dungeness -trapping area

Pied Flycatcher, Dungeness -trapping area

Bar-tailed Godwits - Dungeness RSPB

Bar-tailed Godwits - Dungeness RSPB

Common Gulls, Dungeness RSPB

Cattle Egret - Dungeness RSPB - the 4 long-stayers, now in summer plumage






Fairfield Church, Romney Marsh



Royal Military Canal at Appledore

Kestrel 

Kestrel 

Little Owl

Little Owl

dusk over Hookers Pit on the RSPB reserve

dawn.....another sea-watch begins

Yellow Wagtail - Romney Marsh



Green Woodpecker @ the Obs