Tuesday, 26 November 2019

A New Lorry Tick.

When I know my work necessitates a visit to the Brett concrete plant in the Ramsgate harbour complex, I always take a camera as I often encounter the three Fox cubs that are resident there. After I loaded my lorry I had a scout around the plant looking for any sign of the cubs with no luck but they are still about as I get reports from the Brett staff who feed them every morning when arriving to start their shift. Whilst looking, I came across a solitary Snow Bunting feeding along a path by the sea defence rocks. Armed with my camera, I set about getting a few images, once again ensuring I was late with my delivery, not a too unusual trait when I visit this site. 

I counted at least 3 Black Redstarts around the complex, one a smart looking male, but dressed in a green Hi Vis coat (a statutory requirement when visiting this site) and also with time being a factor, I had no chance of getting close enough to get any images. 
Still, a good way to start a working day.

Monday, 11 November 2019

A St Margaret's Great Grey.

A couple of visits this week to an area known as the Freedown on the Bockhill estate at St Margaret's at Cliffe to see and photograph the Great Grey Shrike that has taken up temporary residency there. Easily seen on each visit, the beauty of this species is they like to sit up on top of the bushes, making them easily visible to anybody watching. On the first visit (5th) I was able to get a few images, waiting behind the hedgerow that lined the footpath to the side of the meadow known as the "Freedown" for the Shrike to land on a nearby bush. At first the weather was grey and dismal but it gradually improved throughout my stay.

The weather as mentioned slowly improved and the bird landed on one of the smaller bushes giving a different backdrop, the green of the field behind the Freedown an improvement from the pale grey sky.

The weather forecast for the 6th was for sunshine throughout the afternoon at St Margaret's so with my work load finished by late morning, I returned and was able to photograph the Shrike as it continually took off from the various bush tops, chasing and catching wasps under a cloudless blue sky.

Other birds of note were Yellowhammer, a Ringtail Harrier that caught me unawares, flying low over the freedown with 2 Crows giving chase and disappearing over the farm to the south, 2 Ravens along the cliff top, a Peregrine and a couple of Kestrels, one in range of the camera.

A great couple of visits and as always, great to catch up with various Kent birders and photographers whom all enjoyed superb views of the Shrike.

A few more Great Grey Shrike images,

On Sunday, (10th) a walk around the harbour at Ramsgate where I bumped into Steve Ray and we both had quite close views of a Red Throated Diver that has been there for a couple of days. Although looking nowhere near as good as it did six months ago, it was a photo opportunity too good to miss. I must make the effort and try to get images of these Divers in the Spring when they are dressed in their best suits.

Red Throated Diver

I think this is what they mean when they say "showing well"

All in all, not a bad week.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Crest's to Brighten a Gloomy Weekend

Last weekend and after a fairly disappointing World Cup Final Rugby result and the weather to match, Sunday (3rd) produced a better day with the gale force winds abating overnight and even the sun put in an appearance, albeit far too briefly. With nothing planned, I took a walk around the lanes of Westbere and a circuit of the gravel pits down to the river Stour and back. Goldcrests were numerous in numbers, a few posing for the camera.

Especially pleasing and always great to photograph were the Firecrests. I counted at least 6 birds on my walk but getting photos of these was a little more tricky. They are constantly on the move and never remained out in the open for more than a few seconds. 

Crests, cracking birds and so tiny.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Desert Wheatear at Seasalter

I finished work early on Wednesday (30th) so having not been out with the camera for a while I thought I would pop over to Hampton (Herne Bay) to catch up with the Black Redstart that was seen there on the preceding day. On arrival I parked along the rocks and up it popped, right in front of me.

I only had a few minutes with the bird as Mike Gould phoned me to tell me a Desert Wheatear had been found along the sea wall at Seasalter and as it was his patch and a new patch bird for him, he was returning from a day out in Tenterden to twitch it. I immediately forgot about the Redstart in front of me and drove over to Seasalter to hopefully connect with the bird. My last Desert Wheatear was at Reculver in November 2014, so another one was overdue. I parked at the Sportsman pub and made my way along the sea wall towards a small gathering of birders about a mile away to the west. When I got there, the Wheatear was on the beach feeding and periodically returned to the sea wall where I was treated to superb close up views as it chased insects and flies that gathered on the concrete. A particularly smart looking individual, and well worth the effort to get there. Thanks again to Mike for the telephone call.

One very smart looking Wheatear. No news of it today so it looks like it has moved on, roll on the next one.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Gone Twitching.

If the Grey Phalarope twitch at Grenham Bay a few weeks back spoilt me for being close and making life easy for obtaining images, then a twitch to my local patch for the Tundra Bean Geese bought me back down to earth and a twitch today (Sunday 20th) to Dungeness for the Sabine's Gull, a new bird for me, added the bump to bringing me back down to earth.
Martyn Wilson alerted me to the arrival of the two Tundra Bean Geese at Stodmarsh and a couple of sessions with them over the past week resulted in a few distant record shots as they arrived at the reed bed hide pool and spent some time on the mud to the left of the hide.

We saw the juvenile Osprey on a couple of occasions but was way too far away for even record shots. A Grey Wagtail and the obligatory Kingfisher which landed for a few minutes on the perch in front of the hide, added a splash of colour to the proceedings.

I have never acted on reports of Sabine Gulls when they turn up around the Kentish coastline, they more often than not result in small dots out to sea, but seeing a few reasonable images yesterday of the juvenile bird that turned up at Dungeness, and news that it was still there this morning, off I trotted to see if I could add another new bird to my list. Arriving at the patch, it was easily found, a small dot out to sea, and I found my vantage point where I hoped it would fly past along the tide line. My luck was completely used up on the Phalarope twitch, as the bird stayed out on the patch throughout my stay, never coming closer than 50 or 60 metres from me. I did get a  couple of record shots, well not even good enough to be called record shots, distant, looking into the sun but hey ho, it is a new bird for me.

Carlsberg don't do Sabine's Gull pics, but if they did, it probably wouldn't  be these.

other birds seen at the patch were Gulls, Gulls and more Gulls. 

Saturday, 12 October 2019

A Fox Fest in the Port of Ramsgate

Another early morning collection from the Brett concrete plant in the Ramsgate port (7th) and after loading, I saw all 3 Fox cubs messing about on the sand piles behind the plant. Having my camera with me (I make a point of having it with me when I know I am visiting this site) I went about getting a few images as they chased each other around the sand piles, play fighting and digging holes in the sand. The light was poor so high iso's were needed to get a shutter speed anywhere near capable of capturing these charismatic creatures as they chased each other around, completely ignoring people around them going about their daily business.

These three brighten up any visit to the Brett concrete plant in the Port of Ramsgate.