Sunday, 6 August 2017

Hursey Nature Reserve - IOW


Just back from a week on the Isle of Wight and i haven't been for well over 35 years. So the IOW what did i make of it? Some of the more affluent rural areas were quite frankly stunning however the towns seemed a little lacking shall we say, not in amenities but in up keep. Possibly people moving off the island and coming to the mainland for employment. Then again the amount of residential building going on was vast but all at the 4 bedroom plus end and not in the towns (from what i saw) - IE houses for the more wealthy and rental accommodation. That suited us to the ground then - more choice of accommodation and we wouldn't have to mix with the riff raf.

We were staying at Seaview, a small yachting community with its own little club, a couple of decent gastro-pubs and lovely stretch of beech. Blue and white stripped tops were everywhere along with the non accent types - that accent that people obtain at uni.........the nothing one......you know somebody who has it i'm sure.



It was also Cowes week so the club was busy, races were being run on a regular basis, kids sailing clubs in full swing. It was actually rather good to watch. Especially when sitting there staring at the sea hoping for actually anything other than a Great Crested Grebe, Black Headed, Great Black Back or Mediterranean Gull.

Now our little complex actually had its own, small, nature reserve. This in turn rescued me from not seeing anything other than the above list. I've linked the reserve here. Thanks to Martin Blackmore who gave up some great local knowledge most mornings whilst we both sat there waiting for some action. This normally arrived in the form of a Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret or King Fisher. Unfortunately all just a little too far out for my 400 lens, Martin on the other hand with a 500, 1.4 ext and i think he said 1.7 crop sensor on a cannon 7D mark 2 managed to get some decent photos. See the above link. Mine of these birds were OK for the distance and light.



From the fields surrounding the reserve we did have some half decent geese - mix of feral population and plastic. Barnacle, Bar Headed, Snow Geese. Along with Greylag and Canada. All geese were free flying.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Bee-Eaters - East Leake

Well finally, after many cant do that date conversations/moments, we were on the road heading to East Leake for the nesting Bee-eaters. We consisted this time of Monkey, me and Dan Barrett.

Leaving just after lunch we headed north and up the M1. I was looking forward to this one - Bee-eaters, a bird that could seen from a mile away due to its over the top colour scheme. With its blues and yellows predominately screeching at you.

After parking at the.......


we made our way around to the viewing area.

Now, i was a little disappointed to be honest. I appreciate that this was a special thing going on - breeding Bee-eaters but come on. they we're nesting in the quarry and it looked as if this was to the back by the footpath bridge. The footpath that had plenty of walkers and horse riders going along it.

So why then we we situated as far back as we were. I'm not one of these that wants to be on top of the bird and cause it distress but we could have easily been a bit closer and it wouldn't have caused any problems. Oh and before anyone says......there was plenty of room.

Regardless though the view's were decent scope views - i would hate to have been one of the majority there who were scope less.

For us 3 birds, possibly 4 as they made there way along the hedge tops hunting. Dragonfly seemed top of the list followed by Butterfly.

Distant Bee-eater

Anyway it was at this moment where i had a Raven, Monkey seemed to do his now usual and turn this into something random - running barn owls and flying joggers spring to mind.

This time it was the turn of the flying Marsh Frog. My Raven was dismissed but to my delight it was shortly followed by three CRONKING birds.

Sand Martin whizzed by and i started to have a play with the camera at fast flying small brown jobs. I did alright considering it was my fist go at this and the light was pretty bad for it  - and yes i was still in Manual - pics to follow.

Redpoll was a little year tick

Now if only the Black Stork had been re found before we left.........

Oh Well!


Monday, 17 July 2017

Marsh Sandpiper - Cliffe Pools

So, i've been reading some old posts on here from back in 2013; nothing much on here really content wise and photos are either borrowed.....erherm or taken by me. However its a great little diary of my birding and although i don't like doing it as much as i used to (the blog not the birding) i think i'll perceive, you never know i may actually find something decent one day.

For now though i'll just have to go and see other peoples finds. This time it was the turn of a Marsh Sandpiper at Cliffe Pools in Kent. A juvenile bird that's been hanging around with the Black Winged Stilts that successfully breed this year.

So on Sunday evening i head down at 6.30pm. A nice easy journey and the post code provided by RBA took me straight to the site car park. Upon arrival i asked two birders where the Sandpiper could be found and got told to head straight round this path until i get to the 2nd viewing area. So far so good. Then one of the old boys states that they were just leaving, were locals, as they had just let themselves and car out of the gate with a key. They told me that i could follow them for a bit and they would direct me to a road the in turn would take me down and un-made road and i could park right next to the viewing are and save myself 45 minutes walking. Not being one to turn down local knowledge i did indeed follow them. I did give them a look, they were both in their 90's so i felt i could take them both in a fight if they had alternate motives. To my kids - do as i say not as i do.

Anyhow, they were right on the money, i found what i thought was the viewing area and started looking, Redshank, Black Tailed Godwits, mixed Gulls including Med. A couple of Spoonbill dropped into another pool. However no Stilts, no Marsh Sandpiper.

At this point another fella turned up, Jake (Everet, i think he said). Nice guy and we both furiously looked. In the end it turned out we were at the wrong viewing mound. We both jumped in the car and made our way to the next viewing mound, which to be fair to us, was so well hidden you needed to know it was there to find it, luckily we were shown in the end.

As soon as we got set up, there in front, 7 Stilts and 1 Marsh Sandpiper - Tick Tick Boom




Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Squacco Heron - Dunge

Squacco's don't seem to come up that much, so when this bird, which was relatively local at Dunge arrived, it was something i wanted to see.

After work last night i was on route mid rush hour and the traffic was Ok, i arrived just gone 6pm and parked up along by Sprinfield Bridge. I slowly made my way round the path ways but no sign. Eventually arriving at the viewing mound. I stayed here for a while hoping i may catch the bird in flight but still nothing.

Back to Denge Marsh Hide, viewing from the hide was right into the sun and useless. Slowly again making my way around i picked up a couple of Hobbies, Marsh Harrier, numerous Tern's. Warblers in the form of Sedge, Reed, Whitethroat and Blackcap could be seen in close proximity.

A family of Bearded Tit rushed about the reeds within feet of me but always buried and no camera action to be had.

I was still looking for the heron and it was looking like a dip; I made a decision to slowly head back to the car. Finally in the SW corner of Denge Marsh right out in the open on the far side stood one Squacco Heron. It fed, preened and stood motionless for about 15 minutes, great scope views to be had although always distant.



Eventually it took flight and headed towards the center buildings and out of view.







Saturday, 10 June 2017

Elegant Tern

So we hatched a plan to go Friday; but no news till late at Hayling Island - too late for us. Us being me and Monkey.

We decided on Friday to go today.......the afternoon would be best. Not because of any birding intellect. We were both busy because we have lives. We would go on News as well.

So today arrives.......what the heck lets go regardless because we thought we have lives but clearly we dont. On route by 1pm and News south of the river....... the birds at Pagham Harbour; Church Norton.

I've been there once before it was double MEGA tick day. Hudsionian Whimbrel (although this will be short lived) and Greater Yellow Legs, Titchfield. Was this a good omen??

Sat Nat reprogrammed.....more news came in. Bird flew southwest strongly. Decision time.......

Hayling Island? West Wittering just opposite East Point Hayling Island....clever huh? or stick it out at Church Norton.

Church Norton it was. About 60 odd birders still there, chilling, relaxing, up to no good.......Where have i heard that before?.....any way.......



Well after 20 minutes of scanning the terns, Sandwich, Little & Common. Dismissing a million Med Gulls, ignoring numerous Cormorants and everything else somebody shouts, its here on the spit. Not two minutes before had me and Monkey done a line up, Sandwich, Little, Little, Sandwich, Sandwich, Little, Common, Common, Little. and now the Elegant had dropped in mid line.

3rd bird from the left and TICK TICK BOOM! It settled, pruned up and sat for a good 5 minutes before flying over to the tern island where it dipped in an out of the harbor water, all good scope views. It returned to the spit and we had it in view continuously for 15/20 minutes before we left. Bird still there.









Sunday, 4 June 2017

Family Wander - Southend Gulls

So, its coming to the end of the half-term and as such a final little afternoon out found us in Southend, Gunners Park initially but the kids didn't like it. As such we headed to chavsville and all that Southend had to offer - arcades, candy floss, ice cream, tattoos, more tattoos, extremely expensive parking, flashing lights during the day and the smell of dodgy burgers. 

One thing that does take your mind of the surroundings are the Med Gulls and today there were lots, every stretch of the coast line had them. Finally a trip to the end of the pier, by train of course, and it gave me a few minutes to practice the flight photography - to say i am pleased is an under statement. I know there's better but for me this felt like a break through with the DSLR.











Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Minsmere

I has a day over at Dunwich & Minsmere on Tuesday; unbelievably apart from a Cliff Swallow twitch its the first time I've been.

A good day with 87 species listed; my highlight been extremely good views of Woodlark, albeit from the car.

Nothing but the usual suspects and local specialities such as Dartford Warbler. Three Bittern through the day providing my best views of this species to date.

Two pairs of Little Tern, frequented the scrape viewed from East Hide and proper little stunners they were too.

Wheatear, Knot (in summer plumage), Bar Tailed Godwit (also looking good).







Sunday, 30 April 2017

Moths: Sallow Kitten

NEW to the garden; initially thought Poplar Kitten as the trap is directly below a Poplar however there are Willows and Sallows very close


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Moths: Toadflax Brocade

A nice and welcomed visitor to the Synergetic trap over the weekend was a Toadflax Brocade.

Once a rare moth restricted to Dunge it is now rapidly expanding, its now in Essex and i get a few records a year at the moment however you only have to go a little further north in the County and there not to be found yet but other parts of the country are slowly being colonized.

Only two years ago, the first for Wales was trapped by Mel Oxford.





Sunday, 23 April 2017

Wheatear - Aveley Bay

I'm still getting used to the camera and finding it very enjoyable and frustrating at the same time. I'm keeping it in manual mode at all times, just so i can learn more about the exposure triangle. It does help, I've learnt more since having this one than any other time with a point and shot or my bridge camera.

A Wheatear from the bay from last weekend. I suppose it's personal preference but it was mentioned to me to look at a vertical crop rather than my original horizontal. Both added below




Some varied crops:




They are all getting too grainy, pulled back and changed the view


Friday, 14 April 2017

Moths - MV & Actinics

The two traps were out last night, we seem to have hit that lul period between the Quakers and the Prominents, however so new for the year moths were pulled in by both light sets.

The MV caught 14 moths covering 8 species; NFY here were Oak-tree Pug (2) and Seraphim (1).
The Actinic caught 9 moths covering 7 species; NFY here was a single Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Seraphim

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Vange.....

I got to the office on Monday and after telling a couple of guys i had been to Vange on Sunday they answered "Vange, wtf'ing hell did you go there for".

The answer was Two Black-winged stilts and Adder that went for my foot as i nearly trod on it and a very polite attempted mugging.

With beautiful weather i headed off to Bowers Marsh - nothing there. So i went to Vange.

With a handful of Gypo's at the site racing motor bikes, generally beering it up it made for an altogether peaceful birding experience.

I had Heath with me and as we wandered down towards the Stilts we heard a hiss, looking down an Adder struck out for my right foot; it was close but didn't connect. I don't think it would have made it through my leather boots any how. It slithered off into the longer grass leaving Heath aghast that he had just seen his first wild snake and that it had just gone for us. Cracking experience, although i suppose could have been different if it had gone for him and gone through his canvas shoes.

The Stilts were showing very well with binoculars, no scope needed.

On the return journey a different kind of snake decided he wanted my camera. After a few words we departed, camera firmly on my shoulder. I'm seeing him next Tuesday apparently.......

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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......