Monday, 13 February 2017

Goshawks & Willow Tits

So yesterday i headed out with Dave Darrell-Lambert, Adrian Webb & David Campbell. Dave had answered my request in finding me Goshawks and Willow Ticks for the list.

We headed to Surrey to pick up David and then ventured on to Combe Wood in Berkshire to what seems like a last surviving area for the Willow Tit down south. What a place! I loved it here and will certainly try for another visit - hopefully the Willow Tits will still be around.

A leisurely stroll up hill surrounded by an amazing view. The first thing of note was the kronk of a Raven. Not to be seen at this moment but it was close. On a little further and we were treated to superb eye view Red Kites in the adjacent field. Then they were there......from each direction Ravens. We counted 10 but they were mobile in and out of the woodland and behind out of view this figure could easily be more.

Slowly we made our way towards the woodland when we heard a Bullfinch,  we looked and find it along with numerous others; from this point on wards they were everywhere it seemed; well probably not everywhere but easily double figures. We left Adrian and his lens and headed further down.

Within a couple of minutes we had a call from Adrian; he had heard then seen briefly a Willow Tit. We rushed back up the hill; well rushed as fast as you can carrying scopes cameras, sound recording equipment through sticky mud. The Willow Tit had headed into a small area of trees. We followed in slowly moving forward. We all heard the little space ray gun when it went off and gladly i managed to get in on one bird, whilst David was on another. Tick Tick Boom.

We headed now to the wood itself, numerous Goldcrests, Coal Tits and a stunning Tawney Owl which silently flew from a nearby tree into the unseen.

Finally before the return walk more Willow Tits, even three in one binocular view. Probably 6 birds in total;



Courtesy of David Darrell-Lambert




























So from here we headed south for the New Forrest and Acres Down. After parking up we headed to the top of the hill and made our stand for Goshawk. It wasn't looking great, it was dull and cold. We waited for a while and then decided to make a move; it was then we noticed a flock of Hawfinch. We headed over and in total throughout the afternoon saw 28+ birds.

Shortly after a female Goshawk flew across the vista from left to right. The Hawfinches spent the rest of the afternoon flying about calling providing good viewing as they went. Numerous other birds included Redpoll, Greenfinch, Siskin, Raven & 4 Crossbill made the afternoon. SO the Goshawk was lifer number 2 Tick Tick Boom.


Dave Darrell-Lambert





Saturday, 4 February 2017

Harrow Lodge Park

So with the girls at dancing i headed to Harrow Lodge for the Waxwings, strangely i parked up and didn't even bother. I decided to head to the main lake and use the camera for the first time on Manual Mode. All the usual suspects to be found.








Sunday, 29 January 2017

Pine Bunting - Murston, Kent

Tick number 4 of 2017 came in the form of a Pine Bunting.......

So when is a Sat Nav of no use on a twitch? Well, as it turns out today. Apparently a Sat Nav needs its owner (that would be me on this occasion) to put the correct post code in. Apparently if the said owner does not put the correct post code in you can find yourself about 25 minutes in the wrong direction (assuming the postal codes entered and what should have been entered were the one I USED.

OK, so that should be it shouldn't it where these little gadgets are concerned. NOT SO. Now if your passenger then provides a new postal code surely this one then takes you where you ideally wanted to go? Of course not. Yes we were closer but we still didn't have a cigar. We were down a dead end in the middle of an industrial estate.

Finally, we hit gold with the correct one and ended up on site. A brief walk from the car and we were on the sea wall looking back towards the small pond with the shooting hides nearby.

The Pine Bunting had not been seen for over 6 hours - - - 6 Hours, OH HELL, just what you want to hear; not another dip surely? Within thirty seconds of setting my scope up with water still in my eyes, i had it sitting on the fence wire right in front of the brambles it was frequenting. Oh hold on that's a Reed Bunting.....erherm, lets move on.

Yellowhammer x2, Greenfinch x4, more Reed Buntings and Dunnocks frequented the area. Then sitting on top for about two minutes one Pine Bunting. TICK TICK BOOM.

It was gone, was that all we were to get? NO, it then appeared up top of the same bramble twice more and although scope views  - they were all good. 

It had a head i assure you
Time to get the camera out, a couple of Turnstone were patrolling the sea wall behind us. Its getting easier but still not got anything yet i was hoping for with it. I know its me and not the camera - i'm not blaming my tools.

We decided as time was getting on to chance our arm at the Harty Ferry Lane raptor view point. Marsh Harrier's, Buzzard's,  a single Ring Tailed Hen Harrier and to finish the day a year-ticking Pheasant


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Waxwing - Rainham RSPB

The first outing with the new camera and #OMG i have so much to learn...... the best of a quite shocking bunch.........

The day started over the Valley looking for that dam Shrike again, another hour/half. Other locals were there as well but between us nothing.

After a couple of trips running the kids around a Scaup was reported on our local group and this followed shortly after from a call from Dave Mo. I headed over to find Dave McG, Steve Smith already there. Hawky rocked up shortly after sporting what looked like start of a Goatie. There's plenty of time for having a go at that if it continues...... :)

Moving on to Rainham RSPB for the car park Waxwing which showed very well. As such i had my first attempt with the new camera. Crofty telling me my ISO was to low, Dick telling me i need to add just under a 1/3rd....... the result was disappointing but this was further away than the Rayleigh ones and although not great is a better clarity than with the bridge......on wards and upwards...





Sunday, 8 January 2017

Dunge & Camber

A quip trip yesterday afternoon to Dunge followed by Camber turned out to be a surprisingly good two and a half hours (excluding travelling).

We initially headed to the quarry in search of the Stejnegers (After DNA now a Common) Stonechat . It turns out that its favoured area was the size of Wales. An then sometimes it liked a trip over the border (road). There was only the two of us there after the two guys we initially met had lost the will to live and had decided to go see some birds.

Looking one way for the Chat - Monkeys over there at the back
After tramping the area for 45/50 minutes we realised that apart from birds flying over we had managed to hear/see/flush precisely one Magie & Crow. Nothing, the place was void of all life it seemed. It was so life lifeless it felt like i was on the patch :) Actually that's not true we had a Great Grey Shrike the other day, not that i saw it. A great find by Mr McGough.

Looking another way

So we headed to the hide at Arc to look for the Ring Necked Duck. This was nice and easy. It was floating about in front of the hide although head down. It had been like this for some hours we were told. Regardless that was a Life Tick - Boom.


Courtesy of Russ who went a couple of days later

Other birds of note from the hide consisted of a Great White Egret, Redhead Smew, 3x Goldeneye.

Weirdly at the birders drink the night before i had been talking with a couple of guys and the LEO was back near the visitors centre so we headed there and sure enough sitting exactly where it should have been was one LEO.

Back to the main road with a quick stop for 11x Tree Sparrow.

Running out of time we headed to Camber for the Red Necked Grebe. We zipped past Scotney and the Black Necked Grebe which was still being reported. Sure enough the RN Grebe  was showing with superb scope views.

Again from Russ on his visit
Another Life Tick - Boom.

We then headed home.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Waxwings - Rayleigh Weir

As per the previous post i was at Bowers Marsh when i heard news of a few Waxwing at Rayleigh Weir McDonalds.

I had also heard of 300 birders all getting their 2017 year ticks in. I went none the less and was surprised to see about 20 people standing there roadside. No birds though.

Apparently they were quite mobile but seemed to come back to the same three berry laden trees every 15-20 minutes. Sure enough they arrived on time and had their fill only to take flight this time to a large tree opposite the new car dealer ship.

10 Minutes and they were back in the car park one again, quick grab of berries and off. I can only presume it was due to the close proximity of the people getting food and the numbers of people about.

I managed a few shots... 5 birds in total




Bowers Marsh

It was that time of year again when i take the rest of the family to Basildon to meet a group of friends so they can all go to the panto as such it mean i get my yearly trip to Bowers. I could go to other places but i like Bowers, very few people around.

As such by 11.30am i was standing in the car park freezing, a few cars but nobody to be seen. A quick shot of coffee and i headed to the path leading past the main barns. It was immediately evident that there were a lot of Redwing & Fieldfare around. All trees seemed to hold one or the other.



I arrived at the first gate and viewed the fields. Geese, Wigeon and Lapwing. Then amongst the Greylag 15ish White Fronts plus what looked like a Pink Footed Goose. Now for some reason i started thinking Tundra Bean Goose. I hadn't seen it in flight, it was a long way off and i couldn't see any leg colour plus i haven't seen either Bean yet so have no experience with them but something got me pondering. I would be better viewing it from the benches.

As i wandered over i bumped into another birder....." Hello mate, Bewick Swan from the benches plus a Pink Foot" We chatted for a bit and it turns out one of the SOG lot saw it fly in.

At the benches it was a lot closer and my hopes of a Tundra Bean were dashed. The single Bewick's Swan floated about; head up but not doing much.

I moved on to East Haven;


The sun was in an awful spot for viewing here but as long as i kept far left and far right i was ok: Knot, Dunlin, BlackWit, Green Sand, Redshank plus numerous Gulls. I had a shift through them but couldn't find anything other than the usual suspects.

The other thing the guy mentioned was a few Waxwing at Rayleigh Weir McDonalds. So i decided to head there. According to the news he had received some 300 birders were there getting there 2017 year ticks in.

Once i got back from Rayleigh i headed to the benches in search of Water Pipit. Apparently two had been seen there that morning before i had arrived (another bit of news, this time from a guy at McDonalds).

To my supprise as i was about 100 yeards from them i heard Bewicks, i looked up to see 8 Bewick Swan fly over my head land some way in front. Sure enough they were there and keeping them selves separate from the single bird.

Time was up, a few hours birding and it was time to pick the family up......