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Thursday, 25 April 2019

An Easter round up locally.

With the daily arrival now of Spring migrants, a few excursions locally over the Easter period on the local patches at Grove Ferry and Stodmarsh and all with the added bonus of warm bright sunshine  and light winds that were now coming from a more favourable South Easterly direction. The imaginary year list has continued to improve with Nightingale, Hobby, Cuckoo, Common Tern, Garden and Reed Warbler now all in the bag and also after missing Little Ringed Plover last year, a message on social media from Martyn Wilson (thanks Martyn) alerted me to one present from the Feast hide at Grove and was duly seen. A lot of the time was spent stood at various points along the Lampern Wall at Stodmarsh waiting for fly by Cuckoo's, two or three birds being very vocal around the Alder wood. A smart looking male Marsh Harrier flew past giving a great photo opportunity in the early morning sunshine.



After a patient wait, a pair of Cuckoo's were eventually seen chasing each other down the wall towards the new Tower hide (????) returning a few minutes later, close in over the lake and past my vantage point.





Walking up the Lampern Wall and generally back towards the car park on Easter Monday, a raptor fest was being watched, a pair of Marsh Harriers and 4 or 5 Common Buzzards drifting over the lake when Mike Gould noticed one of the Buzzards was in fact an Osprey which was being hassled by the rest of the Buzzards. Into the sun and high up is not an ideal scenario to try and grab Osprey images but a rather poor record shot was obtained, Osprey's being few and infrequent for me on the local patch.


Sedge Warblers have now arrived in numbers on the reserve, a rather vocal and showy individual posing for images by the Harrison's drove hide.




Whilst waiting for the Cuckoo's down the Lampern wall, Cetti's Warblers were heard and seem to be encountered every 50 or so metres apart down the wall from the halfway bench down to the river. Also they are quite showy at this time of the year, a couple being seen out in the open and posing for images.




Patch bird photography at it's best, Spring has truly Sprung.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

A Close in Eider

Looking around the rocks close to the towers at Reculver for Wheatears and Black Redstart's drew a blank for me this morning but I did notice a 2nd year Drake Eider swimming off shore. Sitting on the apron below the towers on the incoming tide, the duck swam by very close to me and hauled itself out of the sea to preen on a wooden groyne. I have never got close to an Eider before, they are usually well out to sea when I have seen them. I also had four Med Gulls fly east as I was walking back to the car.








Thursday, 28 March 2019

Bashing the Patch

Over the past fortnight I have paid a few visits to Grove Ferry, at least five, hoping to connect with the Penduline Tit that sometimes favours the reed patch directly in front of the Feast hide. I have seen it there on a couple of occasions but it's never stayed there for any amount of time whilst I have been in the hide and also I have not had it in a favourable photographic position as of yet, (obscured by reeds etc etc) so a few more visits may be in order, providing it decides to stay put on the reserve. Below is the best from a bunch of poor record shots I have managed so far but at least it does show the birds mask off fairly well.


I have also seen the bird on the reed mace heads along the Harrison's Drove path down by Savi's corner near the river but it is 60 or so metres away from your vantage point and way too far out even  for any record shots.

On the 19th I watched a Hen Harrier from the Feast hide, always a good bird to record and even better if you can get a photo. It was a fair distance away, over the reed bed to the back of the pool but a large crop allowed for a few record shots of the bird.





I have this down as a 1st or maybe a 2nd calendar year bird but if wrong, I would love to know.

The incoming migration still remains slow, singing Chiff Chaff's are becoming more numerous and I heard a Blackcap along the river but that's about it so far. The nesting Marsh Harriers at the Feast hide ensure that you do not fall asleep whilst waiting the arrival of the Penduline Tit and the pair of Bullfinch along the entrance track still remain frustratingly difficult to photograph, I have not managed a single shot yet.





Sunday, 10 March 2019

A Yellow-browed Warbler at Dover.

I went to see the Yellow-browed Warbler at Pencester park in Dover this morning. Very trying conditions with a gusty South Westerly gale making for a very difficult session with the bird. I managed several fleeting glimpses of the bird but mainly it remained hidden low down in the foliage and sheltered from the steadily increasing wind gusts . I did manage a half reasonable record shot of the bird before leaving for the sanctuary of my car, grateful to be out of the rather annoying wind. 


Whilst peering into the bushes I also saw a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. Well worth the trip and the buffeting from the wind as I learnt from an article on the K.O.S facebook group that this only the fourth record of a Yellow-browed Warbler over- wintering in Kent.


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

An hour either end

On Tuesday (5th) I was able to grab an hour in the Feast hide at Grove Ferry before I had to go to work and then after work I had another hour spare so spent the time in the Reed bed hide on the other end of the reserve at Stodmarsh. Only had the expected fare from both ends but given that I saw a Great Egret from each hide, it shows just how well they have colonised the area when they now come in the "expected" category. Photography wise, the Feast hide won by a Mink, an animal that I would of preferred not to see and hopefully the Mink problem on the reserve will soon be eradicated.

 Great Egret seen from the Feast hide.



Little Grebe seen close in by the Kingfisher perch



and a most unwelcome Mink that was escorted away from the pool by two Mute Swans.


I saw a pair of Bullfinches and a Goldcrest along the entrance track on the way in and a Common Buzzard was being harassed by Crows (who would be a Buzzard, they are always being mobbed) out over the river, seen from the hide. The other end (The Reed bed hide) was very similar, the Little Grebe being swapped for a Great Crested one


and thankfully no Mink seen. Once again a Great Egret was present, I do not know if it was the same bird that I saw from the Feast hide or whether there are two birds present. I did see two birds together a few weeks ago so more than possible that there is a pair hanging around. Hopefully they will soon be breeding on the reserve.

The, or another Great Egret seen from the Reed bed hide




Is it Great Egret or Great White Egret ??????


Thursday, 28 February 2019

Low ISO Photography

My last blog post was titled "High ISO Photography" due to the grey and dismal weather we were enduring. This post is the complete opposite with the past two weeks spent in sunshine and the bright warm weather allowing for the ISO dial on the camera to be cranked the other way resulting in  images a lot easier to manage when processing. The downside of the good weather is finding any space in the east Kent countryside with everyone else wanting to get out and enjoy the unseasonably warm spell. A trip to Sandwich bay where my attention was diverted away from three Short-eared Owls hunting along the Ancient Highway by several vociferous Skylark's that were displaying under a cloudless blue sky. 



I  also have had the pleasure of watching a few Peregrine 
Falcons along the east Kent coastline, their exact locations with held due to obvious reasons.



Leaving it a little later this year and missing the photographers (it can get a little hectic by the fallen log) I had my first trip of the year to the Blean woodland complex where I was able to get a few images of the common woodland birds expected at the venue. Blue and Great Tits were plentiful.




A Robin posed nicely, all it needed was a little snow (which we had this time last year) for that classic Christmas card image and there were a few Coal Tits but these seemed a lot lower in numbers than in previous years that I have visited.



A woodland favourite of mine has to be the Nuthatch and are great to watch as they are enticed down to feed, great characters and a bird I never tire of watching.






I have done a couple of circuits at Stodmarsh but to be honest it's been hard work. Not much in the way of photo opportunities, if I did a year list I could add Pochard and Shelduck to it but I don't so I won't. (Not sure if won't is a proper word) I did manage a photo of a Little Grebe in front of the Feast hide on Monday 25th in glorious sunshine


and also what is possibly the same bird, taken this afternoon, again from the Feast hide, but it looks like our two weeks of highly appreciated  hot weather is over. It was great whilst it lasted (well by me it was) and will very soon be Spring.