Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Dungeness and Oare Marshes 15.04.19

I set off at 6.45am for a day at Dungeness. The forecast looked good for migrants working their way up channel but the busy motorways conspired against me and, with a coffee break at Maidstone, it was gone 9 by the time I sat down in the Seawatch Hide. Here, warden David Walker and several others had been busy recording many species all morning as from 6.30. I had missed a huge movement of common scoter (2200+) with 14 Velvet scoter mixed in. Fortunately, a few still trickled by whilst I was in the hide along with gannets, an arctic skua, a great skua but I missed the auks, including 2 puffins and a manx shearwater.
I then headed off to check the Desert and Long Pits as well as The Moat. A wheatear flew by but nothing else of note as the wind turned unfavourably to a north easterly. A final check around the Lighthouse garden gave little so off to the ARC Pit.
Just testing my panning skills with a new lens. Work in progress!

Oystercatcher

Tufted duck

Male linnet
At the ARC Pit a whitethroat was in full voice, my first of the year. Buried deep in a huge bramble pile so no photo and likewise, a little further along the track towards the Hanson Hide, a sedge warbler and Cettis warbler called from deep vegetation. On the pit, pochard, tufted duck, coot and other regulars but nothing of note, so back to the car and on to the RSPB Reserve.
Here, I checked the brambles for tree sparrow, but none were seen so into the Visitor's Centre for a coffee before heading off along the trail.
Common gull

Male shoveler

Male reed bunting in full voice

Magpie braced against the strong breeze
Little was seen upon the pits, more whitethroats, cettis warbler and reed buntings so I entered the Denge Marsh hide somewhat unexpectant. From this hide very little, great crested grebe, greylag geese and a couple of pochard so I moved on. The trail took me back to the VC and en route a firecrest called from deep in a gorse bush, 4 Peacock butterflies passed by and a single Emperor moth (male)
Reed bunting (male) on gorse

Male whitethroat in bramble

Great crested grebe

battered Peacock butterfly
I eventually got back to the car and realised I was hungry. Time for a pork pie et al so off to Lydd shops where I tucked into a good picnic at Denge Marsh Gully. This small area near the shooting range for the MOD can turn up great birds, or none. My complete list for this area is: Black necked grebe, firecrest, raven, robin, stonechat, melodious warbler, bluethroat and redstart. Today, I added a hugely distant Common crane. This was seen through the scope as I checked swan species in a field some 750metres away. Here are the best shots I could manage, the one showing the bird hugely cropped.

Where's the Common crane? This photo on full 600mm reach. The bird is over half a mile away!


It is here!

In the background, neck down and feeding.
The crane was a pleasing find so I headed off to Scotney Pits with renewed enthusiasm. However, the wind had now turned around 180 degrees and was coming from the North East, not good for more movement up the channel later in the afternoon. Little noted at Scotney so I headed back to the Bird Obs to see if anything had cropped up before checking The Channel again. France was now invisible due to a thin squally mist and in half an hour all I got were 3 whimbrel up channel and a selection of gulls along with feeding great crested grebe and cormorant. 2 Harbour porpoises were also seen.
I now decided to head of to north Kent to one of my favourite small reserves, Oare Marshes near Faversham.
After a drive of 40 minutes I arrived and immediately added Mediterannean Gull and avocet to the day list. A quick wander along the lane got me on to a flock of black tailed godwit and, perhaps, my most pleasing photo of the day.
The new lens has been a little bit of a challenge but today I felt I had learnt a lot about using it and discovered a few foibles that I will need to work on to get better results. A few setting changes will be handy, but overall, I am really pleased with it.
I had a check on the Swale estuary where a pair of distant Brent geese were feeding but little else, so I set off at 6.45, arriving back home just after 8pm, a good journey.
A wonderful day out and some pleasing birds, especially the Common crane.
Avocets getting out of their depth

Swimming avocet

Mediterannean gulls and Black headed gulls. (The black headed gulls have the brown heads!!) Note a ring on both legs of the Med gull on the right.

Think the right leg ring reads 330A. I shall forward this sighting to the BTO and find out this bird's history. Suspect it was ringed at Rye Harbour.

Black tailed godwits in failing light, with a very well marked starling. The godwits behind are coming into summer, breeding plumage, the one in the foreground still in winter plumage.

First year, 2nd calendar year Black headed gull

More deep sea avocets

Black tailed godwits: sychronised flying


My shot of the day, Black tailed godwit putting on the air brakes and coming into land

And safely down.
Species List:

  1. Great crested grebe
  2. Gannet
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey heron
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada goose
  8. Brent goose
  9. shelduck
  10. Mallard
  11. Gadwall
  12. Shoveler
  13. Teal
  14. Pochard
  15. Tufted duck
  16. Common scoter
  17. Velvet scoter
  18. Marsh harrier
  19. Common buzzard
  20. Kestrel
  21. Pheasant
  22. Moorhen
  23. Coot
  24. Common crane (year lister)
  25. Oystercatcher
  26. Avocet
  27. Redshank
  28. Black tailed godwit
  29. Curlew
  30. Whimbrel (year lister)
  31. Great skua (year lister)
  32. Arctic skua (year lister)
  33. Black headed gull
  34. Common gull
  35. Mediterannean gull
  36. Herring gull
  37. Lesser black backed gull
  38. Greater black backed gull
  39. Common tern (year lister)
  40. Wood pigeon
  41. Collared dove
  42. Skylark
  43. Meadow pipit
  44. Pied wagtail
  45. Wren
  46. Dunnock
  47. Robin
  48. Wheatear
  49. Song thrush
  50. Fieldfare
  51. Blackbird
  52. Whitethroat (year lister)
  53. Sedge warbler (year lister)
  54. Cetti's warbler
  55. Firecrest (year lister)
  56. Great tit
  57. Blue tit
  58. Long tailed tit
  59. Magpie
  60. Jay
  61. Jackdaw
  62. Rook
  63. Carrion crow
  64. Starling
  65. House sparrow
  66. Chaffinch 
  67. Linnet
  68. Goldfinch
  69. Reed bunting.

Grey backed Mining bee. Only 2 colonies  used to exist in the UK of this very rare species. Wonderful to get a photo of one specimen. Andrena vaga. Now found in several new sites in the South East, so possible colonisation from Europe.

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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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

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