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.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Shore Lark Sunday 24th Jan.

Today we visited the Isle of Sheppey, starting at Shellness, going to Minster then Elmley and finishing at the raptor viewpoint. Although 60 plus species were seen some key targets like Whitefronts, Short-eared Owls, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Bearded Tits and the Richards Pipit failed to show or I missed them! Star birds however were the Pale Bellied Brents, Hooded Crow, Marsh Harriers and the bird of the day had to be the Shore Lark at Minster. A fairly long walk on the beach at Barton Point eventually turned up the goods briefly as it flew off away, some more walking we found it at the end of the beach when it took flight and headed back the way we came. Eventually it was re-found and stayed put enabling good views and a photo or two.
Shore Lark well camouflaged


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Out and about locally

Since the trip to Scotland during the fine dry cold spells I have been out and about locally catching up with the Ibis again and seeing the White fronts at Pett Level plus a couple of visits to Dungeness.

Glossy Ibis -still present to Sat. 23rd at least

2 Whitefronts with Greylag and 3 Brents

Great White Egret at Dungeness
 On the 17th although the forecast was not that good I set off to Blashford lakes to find the Ferruginous Duck, which after 20minutes briefly showed for a few seconds on Kingfisher Lake.
To escape the rain I spent the rest of the morning in the woodland hide watching the feeders seeing Redpolls, Siskins, 3 Brambling, Nuthatch, GS Woodpecker.

Siskins on Feeder
A look on Ibsley Water, found of interest a Black-necked Grebe, Several Goosanders, Kingfisher but no luck with the Ring-billed Gull. 
 A Drive around Walland Marsh later in the week I eventually found 5 Bewick  Swans in with a flock of Mutes but were very distant, and then on the 23rd about 32 were in a different place near Horsbones Farm
Bewick Swans along Swamp Road

Friday, 8 January 2016

Birding Scotland January 2016

On the 2nd January Paul, Sandra and I took a trip to the Scottish Highlands on a cheapie Heatherlea break. Sadly Bob was unable to join us.

After arriving at Inverness airport on the 2nd we picked up the hire car and went to Ardersier where the highlights were Little Auks, Guillemots, a Black Guillemot, Red Breasted Mergs and along the road several Hooded Crows.
On Sunday the 3rd after a good breakfast 14 of us set off in the 2 mini buses to look at the lecking Black Grouse, unfortunately a heavy squall sent us off on our way picking up Red Grouse as well.
Our next stop was Loch Garten where in the car park were Tree creeper, Coal Tit and Crested Tit
Several hours driving around various woodlands failed to find Capercaillie .
Monday we set off towards Spey Bay and picked up Dipper, Glaucous Gull and Whooper Swan on the floods at Broomhill. Further up the Spey Valley in farmland we saw all the winter thrushes, finches and buntings and both sparrows, on the sea common Scoter, Long-tailed ducks, Little Auks and in the estuary Goosander plus the commoner ducks.
At Lossiemouth in the strong winds we picked most of the common waders incl. a single Barwit, a couple of Ringed Plovers and about a dozen Snow Buntings. Moving around to a more sheltered spot I missed out on an adult Iceland gull while having a pee, but caught up with a juvenile at the pig farm down the road. Next stop was at Burghead where we caught up with loads of Red-throated divers, a Great-northern diver, Purple Sand, Rock Pipit and Redshank!! The guides were really excited at finding a Great Crested Grebe as they hadn't seen one there for a couple of years.  Further on around the headland we went into the harbour and had great views of Eider
But the best birds of the day had to be the Little Auks constantly flying by from all 3 sea locations and finally finding this pair just off the harbour entrance.
Tuesday with a bit better weather forecast we set off in the am for another look for Capercaillie but without success. Our first walk of the trip was allowed into Carrbridge Woods where we were treated to views of a possible male Scottish Crossbill. Then off to the Findhorn Valley in search of raptors.
First raptor was a Peregrine followed by Raven then a female Goshawk and a brief view of a Golden Eagle which I missed. Further up the glen we were then rewarded with fantastic views of up to four Golden Eagle and one White-tailed Eagle at one time all in the air together - something I'll never forget. The picture does not do it justice.
Abit further up the Glen we stopped at the end of the road and saw Mountain Hare in their white winter fur, also wild mountain goat.
 By now the temperature had dropped and all but the hardy got out of the minibuses to pose for a photo.
A brilliant day with 3 more Scottish species in the bag.
Wednesday morning we left the hotel by 9 and headed for the Cairngorms, to find a near empty car park with a little visibility and gusting winds to 60mph.
A quick scan around couldn't find any Ptarmigan but it was really hard to see with the wind and snow blowing into the scope, a final attempt to walk up a bit higher (the funicular wasn't running until later in the day) found nothing but then on heading back a bird flew over the ridge and was a Ptarmigan  so that made 5 out of the 6 Scottish specialities so now time to head back to the coast and near the airport.
We stopped off at Nairn Golf Course, just in case we could find the King Eider that was reported earlier in the week but sadly no luck.
 but we got more views of Red-throated diver, Little Auks, Eider, and Long-tailed Ducks.
Also a couple of Hooded Crows
Finally our last new species of the trip was Pale-bellied Brent Geese a flock of around 25

Time now to head off for our 1.5 hour flight back to Gatwick. Approx 90 species seen by me, great company from Paul and Sandra, a pity Bob couldn't make it.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Highlights of the festive season

The long stayers of the Glossy Ibis and the Long-eared Owl have continued to provide interest over Christmas, however both have not been guaranteed. After missing out on both on Monday morning the Ibis obliged in the afternoon and on Tuesday the LE Owl was showing well.
Several Great White Egrets around.

One of two Barn Owls showed very well mid afternoon at Castle Water

On Dungeness Beach the 1st winter Caspian Gull has become a favourite with many birders. Here's hoping they stay into the new year to give a good start to our 2016 lists.