Friday, 14 February 2020

Northern Pintails at Oare Marshes

When visiting Oare for the Bearded Tits, I noticed several Pintails on the East flood and made a mental note to return one afternoon to hopefully grab a few images. I returned on the afternoon of the 8th with an appearance from the sun being forecasted for the later part of the day and hopefully ideal for my visit. It was still cloudy and a little gloomy on arrival at the pull in between the two floods but encouragingly the line between grey and blue overhead could be clearly seen approximately an hour away behind me to the west. There were a few Drake Pintail in front of me and about as close as they could be from the pull in between the floods so I set about getting a few images whilst waiting for the overhead cloud to move off.

As predicted by the weather forecast, the cloud disappeared, leaving a blue sky and some lovely late afternoon sunshine, the Pintail's immediately looking a lot more dapper with the sun on their backs.

There were eleven drakes seen during the afternoon, all vying for the attention of the several duck Pintail present and a few were caught as they flew around the flood chasing after each other.

Lovely looking ducks and a great afternoon at Oare marshes.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Bearded Delights

Hopefully, somewhere in a reed bed near you, there will be Bearded Tits, arguably the best looking reed bed dwellers the U.K has to offer. Always a delight to happen upon and a brief session in the reed bed around the sluice on the Eastern Flood at Oare a few days ago was a welcome distraction from the Avian non event that is usually associated with the early months of January and February. I spent about an hour with a small flock of four birds with four or five more joining them as the hour progressed. Waiting patiently for a bird to perch clear of the reed bed clutter eventually paid off with a few images below.

Bearded Tit (Male)

Bearded Tit (Female)

One female individual had black eyes, I do not know the cause of this but it certainly stood out from the other females.

As I was walking back to the car a flock of Long-tailed Tits passed through the reed bed alongside the path, one bird posing just long enough to get a grabbed shot.

Probably just as good looking as the Beardies.

The start of February has been poor weather wise (we are only a week in) with the wind coming mainly from a westerly direction and strong enough to be uncomfortable. I have not ventured out apart from a couple of half hearted visits to the Grove Ferry reserve where the only creature to trouble the camera was a fly over Great White Egret. Hopefully with the onslaught of Spring just around the corner, things will improve.

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

A Most Welcome L.B.J.

Reading on the Reculver sightings web page of eight Tree Sparrows being found by Julian and Alex Perry, I decided to see if I could catch up with them, walking in from the fisherman's car park, down to the lagoon and then westward  until  reaching the green wall which is where they were first sighted. A huge flock of  Brent Geese were on the field behind the sluice which is located midway between the lagoon and the green wall, their numbers in excess of a thousand and a wildlife spectacle well worth seeing, especially when they take to the air in one huge flock.

Brents flying from the marsh back onto the sea.

Walking further along the sea wall, there were a few high tide wader roosts and carefully crouching behind the wall, the birds were photographable without disturbing them with Grey and Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling and Oyster-catchers all being seen.

Ringed Plover


A pair of Stonechat's were feeding along the beach and the male was pretty tolerant of my presence, allowing me to get close enough for an image. 

I arrived at the green wall and immediately noticed a lot of bird activity in the surrounding bushes and soon worked out that birds were stopping off in the bushes en route to foraging for food in the surrounding fields out on the marsh and also the the beach just the other side of the sea wall. There were numerous Reed Buntings seen here, several House Sparrows, a solitary Corn Bunting and I also saw five Yellow-hammers, always nice birds to see.

As mentioned, it's always nice to see Yellow-hammers but the stars of the show (well for me they were) were four Tree Sparrows and by sitting on the grass embankment partially hidden by the long grass, they would come to the bush that was about 20 metres away in front of me. It was difficult getting a shot that was free from the clutter of the bush.

Patience paid off as eventually a bird landed on a branch on the edge of the bush allowing for a shot without all the surrounding twigs and foliage.

and then a few seconds later, the bird climbed up the twig to pose on top giving me enough time to fire of a few shots before it alighted with the other three birds to feed on the field the other side of the Green Wall.

These Sparrows were common when I was growing up and probably taken for granted but for me now, they are somewhat of a rarity, especially in and around the east kent countryside. They have to be one of our best looking L.B.J's. 

Thanks to Julian and Alex for posting the sighting, thus allowing me to catch up with them. An enjoyable excursion to Reculver. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

An injured Lapland Bunting.

I went to see the Lapland Bunting that has been feeding on the beach by the Cold harbour lagoon at Reculver last Sunday, (12th) and after a scan with my binoculars, picked it up just under the sea wall by the sluice just to the west of the lagoon. It soon became clear that the bird was injured, hopping about, stumbling and using its wing to help balance which was not a pretty site. It could fly and seemed to be feeding well but it clearly had trouble negotiating the uneven terrain of the beach. I took a few pictures but to be fair, I have seen a lot better looking Lapland Buntings (and more stable ones) and soon became disinterested and sat along the tide line trying to snap the passing waders that were being continually flushed by Sunday dinner time dog walkers taking advantage of the brief spell of sunshine. Alas rather frustratingly, they passed by just out of range but good numbers of Sanderling and Ringed Plovers were noted with a few Dunlin adding to the mix.

I did see and hear another Lapland Bunting that flew along the beach westwards but it never stopped, just called as it passed the injured bird. There was also a Brent Geese flock out on the marsh numbering 200 plus and two Marsh Harriers were also seen hunting, a Little Egret flew along the dyke that edges the marsh and several Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches were seen along the beach. A smart looking dark phased Common Buzzard was being harassed by a Kestrel and eventually put down in a bush and watched by me as I drove along the concrete road to the fisherman's car park at Chambers Wall on the way in.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Messing About in the Woods.

My favourite woodland birds are Nuthatches. Over the years I have often baited areas in the local surrounding woodland with varying degrees of success when trying to entice the common woodland birds down from the canopy to feed on a free and easy meal. The now "quite famous" log in the Bossenden wood complex was started by Mike Gould and myself a number of years ago and still to this day remains an attraction to visiting photographers looking for photo opportunities. I have a few other locations around my area that always seem to deliver but I am noting an alarming decline in Marsh Tit numbers, with none being seen in any of the haunts they have been seen in years gone by. (Just my observations and may not be a county trend) Anyway, a few sites were visited by Tim Gutsell and myself over the past week and armed with a few different props, a few pleasing images were gained.

Chaffinch (Female)

Coal Tit

As mentioned above, the stars of my woodland visits always seem to be Nuthatches, such characteristic birds, pleasing on the eye and their inquisitive nature always a pleasure to watch.

Thanks for looking.