I received a text message from MW on Wednesday 10th July at approx 5.35am informing me the Bonaparte's Gull was back at Oare marshes and roosting on the East flood !!!1
About an hour or so later i joined MW & RR by the East flood looking from the road and sure enough now back for it's 7th year the Adult Bonaparte's Gull was having a well earned kip near the pull-in.
On high tide the East flood is the best place to see the Bonaparte's Gull , low tide it favours the mud near the slip way and can be seen having a feast on all the lug worm.
Having a preen near slip way.
You can just about see the white on the under-wing.
The water levels are still quite high on the East flood however there is a bit of mud and shallow water in the South east corner , MW suggested it might be worth a look , so we headed off in that direction.
We were all scanning through the numerous Black tailed Godwits & Redshanks when MW & myself both got on a wader which made us both think ' What's that ??'
After discussing the possibility's MW suggested Lesser Yellowlegs and after making double sure of all the features, we all agreed that indeed that is what it is !!!!
MW sent out more txt messages and i tweeted the news out and RR just enjoyed the bird !!!
This was a new bird for all our Oare marsh bird lists , there has been 2 previous records however both were one day only birds.
The Lesser Yellowlegs flew out into Faversham creek at one point with Redshank but thankfully soon returned.
Flying back into East flood.
The Lesser Yellowlegs is still present as i write (18-7-2019) and still favours the South east corner of the East flood, i have seen it alongside Spotted Redshank & Wood Sandpiper , it has also roosted on the island near the road on occasion.
Spotted Redshank & Lesser Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs & Wood Sandpiper.
Lesser Yellowlegs roosting near road.
Hopefully the water levels will drop some more to expose some muddy fringes and who knows what else might turn up !!!!!
On Saturday 15th June we headed to King's Wood near Challock in the hope of seeing Tree Pipit and after finding a suitable habitat we soon heard a Tree Pipit , we eventually located it and had some really good views of this bird displaying .
We also saw the Tree Pipit perched quite a few times.
We saw 2 each of Tree Pipit & Garden Warbler here plus we heard at least 2 Willow Warblers.
From here we decided to head to Elmley and just drive the track leading to the reserve with no real target birds.
This proved very successful with superb views of Yellow Wagtail.
On the way back down the track we saw plenty of chicks, with Lapwing chicks at various age & size.
We also saw a superb Redshank chick , we didn't stay to long looking at these for obvious reasons.
Our bonus bird was a stunning Bittern flying past us as we were driving along the track near to the entrance.
Wow what a treat and most unexpected , this was a new bird for my Sheppy bird list.
Various Dates : Graveney Marshes
I have been checking the Graveney marshes over the last couple of weeks and have had several sightings of Barn Owl over this time , including 2 birds together on one visit.
I also saw Common Whitethroat and heard Lesser Whitethroat on all my visits , on one occasion i saw 400+ Common Swifts low over the marsh which was an amazing sight.
On Saturday the 1st June i had a day trip to East Anglia, the first location was Needingworth in Cambridgeshire, and the target bird was a Great Grey Shrike.
Very confiding bird.
On the walk down to the quarry entrance (many thanks James K for directions) we heard several Turtle Doves & a distant Cuckoo, there was also a Lesser Whitethroat calling but remained unseen.
Having reached the quarry entrance the Great Grey Shrike was on show pretty much the whole time we were there, only disappearing into the quarry and returning with a large dragonfly to eat every now and again.
Watching us watching him.
Having a preen.
Great Grey Shrike.
Next stop was Rspb reserve Lakenheath in Suffolk , i was hoping to see Bittern here and although my companion did see one , i missed it !!!!!
We had some really great views of 2 Cuckoo's playing chase.
There were several Marsh Harrier's & Common Buzzard's plus good numbers of Hobby
Close view of Hobby
Whilst watching the Hobby 2 Common Crane's flew over head.
2 Common Crane's
There were several birds with young and i was especially pleased to see a pair of Great crested Grebes with 2 young, one hitching a ride on an adult's back.
Trying to get a lift.
Adult & Chick.
It was also great to see this Moorhen chick so close.
The final destination was Weeting Heath which is just over the boarder in Norfolk , this is the site i saw my first ever Stone Curlew many years ago.
Head of a Stone Curlew.
We went into the West hide and was told there is only one Stone Curlew out there which another kind birder pointed out to us, as i watching this bird i saw another Stone Curlew and then my companion picked out a 3rd Stone Curlew (wow), although distant we had great views through the scope of these superb birds.
A really great days birding in East Anglia in great company plus i got home in time for the football 'YNWA' !!!!!
On the 20th May a superb adult summer plumage Whiskered Tern appeared on Burrowe's Pit at Dungeness Rspb reserve , i didn't get down there until late afternoon and managed some superb views of the Whiskered Tern both in flight and at rest.
Constantly twisting and diving.
The light wasn't great for photography (my fave excuse....) however the Whiskered Tern put on a tremendous display in front of Dennis hide.
Whilst we were all enjoying the Whiskered Tern DW from the bird observatory picked out a Roseate Tern on call alone (Wow) and sure enough a superb pink flushed Roseate Tern flew in and landed among the Common Terns.
Here is a small selection of photos i took.
Pink flushed Roseate Tern.
Roseate Tern with a Sanderling.
Roseate Tern getting some Coot aggro.
We also managed to see both the Whiskered & Roseate Tern in the same field of view at times.
Roseate & Whiskered & Common Terns
Roseate Tern Flying over Whiskered Tern.
22nd May : Dungeness NNR
Adult male Red backed Shrike.
On the 22nd a male Red backed Shrike was seen in the moat by the Dungeness bird Ob's early in the morning and then went missing for most of the day.
It was relocated early afternoon back at the moat , so plans were made and i was soon heading to Dungeness in the hope of seeing this superb bird.
Eating a beetle.
The Ob's staff managed to catch and ring the Red backed Shrike so we were all treated to viewing this stunning bird close up in the hand.
Although i am not a fan of birds being displayed like this i have to say the Observatory staff were very professional and handled the Red backed Shrike with all due care and attention , they did not keep it for to long before releasing it where promptly it ruffled it's feathers and perched out in the open preening.
Red backed Shrike.
A superb male Black Redstart was also seen nearby plus plenty of Common Whitethroats, a Peregrine was constantly heard but remained unseen somewhere in the Power station.
A wonderful morning at Oare marshes resulted in one of the highlights of the Spring, seeing 2 Turtle Doves displaying in the Paddocks, their wonderful 'Purring call' gave their presence away and we were treated to some fantastic views of these very vulnerable birds.
15th May ; Broadstairs Harbour
On the 15th May i was in Thanet to meet up with some old work colleagues and i took the opportunity to try and see the much travelled Pied Crow.
I failed to see it at Forness point, Botanty Bay or Joss Bay during the morning, so after i had met up with my friends news had come out the Pied Crow was back at Broadstairs Harbour , i eventually caught up with it foraging on scrapes with the local Gull population.
Will it ever be accepted by the powers that be ?? i very much doubt it to be honest , however i thought the very same about Chinese Pond Heron & Dalmation Pelican !!!
Whatever the outcome it's an interesting bird to see.
16th & 18th May : Littlestone-on-Sea
I headed to Littlestone-on-Sea on the 16th and had brief but decent views of a superb male Serin, high up in some pine trees, i heard it calling as soon as i got out of my car.
Viewing was really tricky as it often could be heard and not seen but with a bit of patience it showed every now and again.
I revisited Littlestone-on-sea on the 18th May to try and get better views and i was not disappointed.
Singing out in the open.
Bright Yellow rump.
I also saw it in a small tree opposite the Golf club house on one occasion whilst i was talking to the postman !!
However it soon returned to the Pine's where it continued to sing in the hope of attracting a mate.
The Serin was a very welcome addition to my Kent Bird List.
I am a little bit behind with news of my recent birding trips on this blog so apologises for that, hopefully i will soon be back up to date. Starting with a planned trip to Minsmere on the 4th May but with a couple of diversions on route. Abberton Reservoir in Essex News of the 5 Adult summer White winged Black Terns reached me and it was to good to resist and so that was the 1st diversion, distant but good scope views were obtained of these stunning Terns , sadly to far for photos but what a great start to the day (Thanks RR for info). Then onto Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk. Rendlesham Forest Suffolk
♂ Red Footed Falcon.
Having now arrived at Rendlesham Forest to hopefully see the male Red footed Falcon , and we were not disappointed , Wow what a bird, this was my 10th RFF in the UK and i have had some great views of this species but this one topped the lot !!!
Coming into land.
Digi scoped photo.
Red Footed Falcon.
Sadly my photos don't do this bird justice (the light was awful) , but the views were great as it constantly swooped down to catch bugs to eat showing off its glorious red under parts.
Minsmere Rspb reserve.
We stopped and had a look over the heath on route to the reserve and were rewarded with flight views of Woodlark.
Once on the reserve we headed straight for Island Mere hide to have lunch , the hide was pretty busy but good views of Sand Martin & Swallows were had, you could just about hear the Savi's Warbler 'Reeling' in the distance (the hide was sadly just to noisy) but eventually i managed to get the Savi's Warbler in my scope and it was fantastic to watch it 'Reeling' .
From Island Mere hide we headed to the scrape and had great views of Sedge Warbler on route, the scrape was very busy with 100's of Black headed Gulls , the keen eyed could also pick out several Mediterranean Gulls.
Adult Black Tern.
Moving around the scrape several Common & Sandwich Terns were seen and also on one of the islands a stunning adult Summer Black Tern showed really well, i was also very pleased to see a single Little Tern.
There was a clear lack of waders with only a single Bar tailed Godwit , 3 Knot & 1 Turnstone seen , the usual large numbers of Avocet were present plus Oystercatcher & Redshank in much smaller numbers.
Moving round to the public hide we saw pretty much the same variety of birds we had already seen but added some really close views of Kittiwake.
The last hide we visited gave us the reward of a 1st summer Caspian Gull which was a welcome addition to a really great days birding.
I had a really busy April birding in Kent with some wonderful highlights plus an away day to Essex, here are a selection of some of my birding trips . 10th April : Sandwich Bay
Ring Ouzel by the Obs.
This stunning ♂ Ring Ouzel near the bird observatory showed really well at times and was my personal 1st record of this species in Sandwich.
♂ Ring Ouzel.
15th April : Conningbrook CP Ashford
Neil Burt has been patching Conningbrook for many years and has found some really great birds in that time, and in times of large housing development this site is under tremendous pressure, however Neil is still toughing it out and has had an amazing spring finding some rare and scarce birds , sadly i missed most of them but i did see this delightful Black Tern.
Black Tern .
Watching this bird twisting and diving for fish with the back drop of several warblers singing was amazing, keep up the good work Neil.
20th April : New Hythe & Elmley Track
A visit to New Hythe to hopefully see or at least hear Nightingale was amazing , i was afforded my best ever views of this wonderful songster with 2 birds in particular giving a tremendous close show as they chased each other and now and again stopping to give a vocal show unrivalled.
Nightingale in full song.
There were so many other birds in full song it was quite an amazing site to visit , from here i headed to Elmley and drove up & down the track a couple of times.
Lot's of birds to see along the Elmley track plus plenty of Brown Hares but the highlight for me was superb views of Yellow Wagtail.
25th April : Abberton Reservoir
I joined RR for a trip to Essex to see the ♂ Ortolan Bunting and although it was quite distant i had some really great scope views.
It was mainly feeding in the grass & nettles but the lovely bright colours were very evident even at this range.
Hybrid Blue headed x Yellow Wagtail.
We also saw this complex 'Yellow Wagtail' , stunning bright yellow underparts with a curious head colouration, birders on site were calling it Channel Wagtail !?
We popped into the visitor centre then had a brief view over the reservoir and saw good numbers of terns, mainly Common Terns but RR picked out an Arctic Tern then 2 Black Terns flew into view, another cracking days birding.
On Saturday the 6th April we started the day at Reculver , and the first bird seen was the immature male Eider which was on the sea near the Towers, we also saw the Black Redstart near the car park.
Immature male Eider.
We only paid a short visit here as the plan was to go to Dungeness to try and see the Common Crane, so that was the destination, the Common Crane had been reported along Denge marsh road and sure enough there it was although distant , reasonable scope views were obtained.
1st winter Common Crane.
We spent sometime watching this bird but it always remained distant , after a while i drove to Springfield bridge to have a look around and more or less straight away the Gulls all took to the sky in a right old panic , the Greylag Geese were also flying around , what was causing all this comotion ??
I soon picked out amongst all the various Gulls the Common Crane !!!!
Common Crane causing a panic.
A walk around Dungeness Rspb reserve produced good views of an adult Little Gull which was also new for the year plus 2 Sedge Warblers were heard along the entrance track which was a very pleasant sound indeed, various other highlights in the general Dungeness area included Wheatear, a brief Dartford Warbler & 2 Sandwich Terns.
On the way back we called into Godmersham and had good views of ♂ & ♀ Mandarin on the river by the bridge.
A brief Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails were also seen.
♂ & ♀ Mandarin
Stunning male Mandarin.
Grey Wagtail , ♂&♀ Wood Duck plus ♀ Mandarin ?
Of note we also saw a ♂ & ♀ Wood Duck (presumed escaped birds) plus a 2nd female bird which looked like another female Mandarin ???
On Saturday 9th March i went to Pencester Gardens in Dover in the hope of seeing the over wintering Yellow browed Warbler, it had been seen briefly before i got there and after approx 20 mins it started to call and show well by the green footbridge. As ever it was constantly moving and calling but gave some really great views.
Yellow browed Warbler.
I watched and listened to this delightful warbler for a good 40 minutes before heading to the Isle of Sheppy for an afternoon of birding.
2 Adult Mediterranean Gull's
Starting off at Leysdown there was 2 adult Mediterranean Gull's on the sea in superb plumage , lot's of waders moving up and down the coast line included Turnstone, Sanderling & Redshank.
A walk out to Shellness also produced many more waders with large numbers of roosting Oystercatcher's , Dunlin & Grey Plover.
Every post in the water held a Turnstone , Redshank, Grey Plover or Knot.
Plenty of Ringed Plovers & Sanderling were seen and 500+ Brent Geese were gathering in the adjacent fields with plenty of Red legged Partridge for company.
A brief look from the 'Raptor watch Point' at Capel produced a distant Ringtail Hen Harrier and half a dozen Marsh Harriers.
News of a Rough legged Buzzard showing well along the track to Elmley NNR had us heading there asap as it was already 4pm and the gate closes at 5pm !!!!
Well we were soon on site and had some superb views of the Rough legged Buzzard as it flew low over the track and landed .
Rough legged Buzzard.
The white terminal tail band was obvious at this range (see 1st photo) and you can just make out the pale head in the 2nd photo.
It eventually gained height and headed further out into the marsh.
Rough legged Buzzard.
Later in the evening we saw the Rough legged Buzzard flying back over the track and heading towards Funton Creek.
Going to Roost.
We also saw plenty of Common Buzzards & Marsh Harriers along the track plus good numbers of Brown Hare.