About Me

I am a novice to birding and have become interested since walking Frank our dog, a cross Flat Coat / Springer around Hastings Country Park and the surrounding area, I realised the little brown birds weren't just sparrows.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas at Castle Water and Pett Pools

This week the weather has started to turn milder and the ice starting to thaw from Tuesday. Thursday -  Christmas eve Frank's afternoon walk to avoid the mud and the rubbish from the Country Park was to the hide at Castle Water from the view point. Very little except the usual ducks at the viewpoint, but the Commorant roost was starting to fill up.
In the surrounding fields there must have been a couple of thousand Lapwings, several hundred Curlew and a Mixed Gull colony of 500.
and 100 Coote were on the bank

From the hide 30 - 40 Mute Swans, another 100 Coote, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall no sign of Pintail or the Smew. After 30 minutes headed back to see the Gulls, Lapwings, etc take flight due to a couple of walkers entering the fields - an impressive sight. Back at the view point no sign of the Bitterns, but a Barn Owl put in a good show quartering over the reed beds.

Christmas morning a biting northerly wind, but I managed an hour down at Pett Pools, the usual ducks, a couple of Redshanks, nothing on the sea, a possible Tundra Bean Goose, but probably a dirty necked Greylag in the distance, a Marsh Harrier with a cream head came over and flushed another from the bushes - 2 quartering together and then the cream headed landed in a tree on the far side of the middle pool.

Terrential rain on Boxing Day but on the 28th got out for a walk from Pett Pools to Rye and back with Frank, of note 2 Red Throated Diver on the sea at the end of the wall, plenty of Turnstone, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher on the beach, at the Long Pit usual ducks, good views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Kestrel, by the barns a female Sparrow Hawk sat on the wires and near Oyster Creek a Common Buzzard was high over.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

This week around Pett Levels

The temperature has continued to fall this week ending with  2cm. of snow on Friday morning, other parts of the county having 10 - 15cm. and frosts by night has resulted in the lakes and pools being frozen over. However the dabbling ducks have manged to keep an area clear on the larger pools. No real surprises this week but on Friday pm there were 2 rafts of probable Common Scoter off of Dogs Hill Road. On Pett pools apart from the ice 100 or more Wigeon were disturbed by a Marsh Harrier a couple of times, several Redshank were sheltering from the cold northerly breeze on the far banks and were joined by a snipe.

Lapwings, Curlew and Greylag Geese were feeding in the fields behind and a couple of flocks of Golden Plover put in an appearance. Next stop was a visit to the Viewpoint, the water frozen and very little going on except for a party of Gold Finches flitting around the bushes.
In the afternoon Frank's walk was a trip to pannel valley in search of the Great Grey Shrike (for the third time), Carters Flood totally frozen, along the canal there were close views of Curlew and Golden Plover, 3 Greenshank were flushed and also a couple of Snipe, Male and Female Stonechats showed well at the junction with Pannel Sewer, a Kestrel was hunting overhead and a water rail was heard. At the second hide on a patch of water a hundred plus teal were there, several shoveler, and a couple of shelduck. Despite walking to the farm and back no sign of the Shrike again. (Last seen on the 14th). A further walk up the canal and over the levels produced a grey heron and a couple of Mute Swans.

Walking back along the beach with tide receding Turnstone, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher and Dunlin were along the water's edge.

Afternoon trip to Castle Water Sunday 13th Dec.

The temperatures this week have slowly dropped and despite high pressure moving in on Sunday it was a wet morning. I decided on a trip to Castle Water in the afternoon to see what was coming in to roost.
Generally there were loads of Coote, many Shoveler, Tufted, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Several Pintail, Lapwing, Gulls, Cormorants, Mute Swans flying in to roost  and a lone Drake Smew,
On the way back another 30 mute swans returned from the adjoining fields and at the view point  a Little Egret appeared but no signs of a Bittern. I met with two birders who had a Little Owl in their scopes but when I looked it had flown.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Dungeness Early December

Today we met Paul for another walk around Dungeness as the original plan to Sheppey has been postponed to the new year. I gained another 5 firsts. 30 mile winds and heavy rain meant that we would spend most of the time in the hides. We started at the ARC hide at 9.30am to see the all the usuall ducks plus a couple of Pintail and a couple of Golden Eye in the distance, 10.30 the wind dropped a little and the rain stopped and immediately a Marsh Harrier was on the scene, but as this happened a disturbed Bittern sprung up from the reeds and flew north past the hide. We then left for a walk around the reserve at 11.00. At the entrance the 2 Glossy Ibis were showing really well
Despite looking from all the hides there was no sign of the Smew seen the previous day, but on Dengemarsh Pit a couple of Black Necked Grebes were infront of the hide and the Great White Egret was still there
On the way back along the trail a pair of obliging Stonechats and a Reed Bunting posed on the fence.
Next stop was for lunch on the beach at the point, seeing many gulls including Kittiwakes we headed off in search of the reported Snow Buntings, like looking for a needle in a haystack they were eventually found pecking around the first line of vegetation from the sea

Next stop was another visit to the ARC hide again hoping to see Bitterns coming into roost but no luck, the Marsh Harriers were still active setting up the Lapwings and gulls but then a male Hen Harrier appeared setting them all off again.
Just as dusk was to become darkness a pair of Bewick Swans landed on the pit right in front of the hide, a perfect ending to another perfect day birding.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A break in the weather

Monday afternoon the rain stopped and the winds turned northerly so a trip to Rye Harbour was on. On route all the rivers were almost about to burst their banks, at Brede lock the environment agency had the lock gates open coinciding with low tide. A disappointing trip as all that was seen of note was a very handsome Male Pintail on the Quarry and a flock of 50 plus Ringed Plovers on the beach

At last a clear and settled day on Tuesday, In the afternoon Frank and I set off for a round trip of Pett Level. Parking at Toot Rock we set off along the very high canal, briefly stopping at Carters Flood there were a couple of Tufted Ducks Gadwall and half a dozen Mallard, moving on the canal seemed deserted except for a pair of Stonechat and lots of Wrens. Close to Pannel Valley a large white bird flew up and perched in Oak tree hoping for a Barn Owl on closer inspection turned out to be a Little Egret. In the Pannel Valley hide at last there was water in front of it and birds well 6 Shoveler, 4 Mallard (Its a start)

Setting off again along the canal towards Winchelsea a couple of Cetti's were calling, across the levels Black Headed Gulls were around the floods, hundreds of Lapwing were feeding and a good sized flock of Starlings were displaying. 7 Grey Herons flew up out of a ditch. Onto the beach the light was fading but Curlews and Oystercatchers were calling out from the sands and then a possible Great Skua that dwarfed the Gulls out at the water's edge, but it was really an imature Great Black Backed Gull how the light plays tricks with your mind!!