Thursday, 31 March 2016

Dungeness Day

Setting off early and, after a coffee at Maidstone, I was in the sea watch hide by 7.15. Immediately it was fairly obvious that the channel was quiet, with just 3 sandwich terns, several small flocks of common scoter and a great skua through. After half an hour, more spent chatting than seriously watching, I left to check the area around the Observatory. On Monday there had been a fall of over 100 firecrests and I was eager to see if they remained. Didn't have to wait long as 3 were in the lighthouse garden. Moving constantly meant time wasted getting cracking photographs of branches and leaves. A chiffchaff was also present, flycatching. As I walked over to the obs it was clear that firecrests were everywhere. Every small low growing patch of broom appeared to have a resident bird but they remained tricky to get a good photo of and really, I needed better light so the shutter speed could be improved.
chiffchaff in the lighthouse garden

same chiffchaff

dunnock

distant male wheatear

female wheatear outside the Obs

firecrest near the trapping area.

In the moat, at least 10 firecrests and the walk from the lighthouse to the obs gave up another 20 - 30 flitting and calling birds. I caught up with one near the moat at the same time a pair of wheatear flew in on to the mound near the Heligoland trap, where, there were another 4 firecrests!!
A wander back to the car by the power station gave distant views of a black redstart. I had already heard one earlier, but this was my first sighting of this bird for the year. Always a pleasing one to find. At the car, a further 3 chiffchaffs and 2 firecrests.
firecrest




A quick check around the fishing boats gave up a single male wheatear but nothing noted in the gull flock so off to the RSPB Reserve for a coffee. From here, I headed off to Denge Marsh Gully where the resident ravens were seen in flight, another black redstart and plenty of linnets. A fox trotted along the gully with a dead rabbit, but nothing else of note so back to the ARC Pit.
skulking forecrest inside the power station fence

black redstart on the power station perimeter fence

chiffchaff at the car park

fox with rabbit at Denge Marsh Gully
Water levels were high, so just wildfowl and a marsh harrier, with reed buntings and chiffchaff calling before I returned to wander the reserve. Not before noting an inquisitive stoat checking rabbit holes in the sandbanks.
The return path is still flooded, so to Denge Marsh hide and back again. This gave views of barnacle geese, greylags, wildfowl, with a few oyestercatchers in a field but not too much else. Apart, from that is, a firecrest near the Christmas Dell hide.
A check on the gulls roosting and a quick glance on Boulder Wall Farm pool for a reported smew but nothing seen.
small part of the RSPB Resrve gull roost

reed bunting ARC pit

stoat along the path to the Hanson Hide, ARC Pit

Great crested grebes from Scott Hide

dozing pochard from the Scott Hide

little grebe from the Christmas Dell Hide

By now it was getting on and I wanted to be through the tunnel before 5.00pm otherwise it can be an endless return journey. As I headed towards Lydd a snipe flew across the road, last day tick of the trip.
A super day with several year listers:
snipe, great skua, black redstart, wheatear, firecrest, sandwich tern, ringed plover, and raven.


Species List:
little grebe, great crested grebe, gannet, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, mute swan, greylag goose, canada goose, barnacle goose, shelduck, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, pochard, tufted duck, common scoter, goldeney, marsh harrier, kestrel,moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, ringed plover, lapwing, dunlin, snipe, great skua, black headed gull, common gull, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, sandwich tern, wood pigeon, collared dove, skylark,. pied wagtail, wren, dunncok, robin, black redstart, wheatear, stonechat, blackbird, cetti's warbler, chiffchaff, firecrest, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, magpie, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, raven, starling, house sparrow, tree sparrow, chaffinch, linnet

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This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander