Saturday, 22 September 2018

Twitching a Moth.............Never !!!

I spent a couple of days at Dungeness recently, Friday 14th when I was able to get a few images of the Wryneck that was in residence in the shrubbery around the trapping area just to the South of the DBO and returning on the morning of Monday 17th where I had the pleasure of looking at an Oleander Hawk moth trapped overnight by Martin Casemore and in the custody of Dave Walker at the DBO. I am not particularly into moths, there's too many of them to identify, but I know Hawk Moths tend to be large which makes the species pretty impressive. Poor image quality as my 500 mm lens was rendered completely useless for this job and I had to make do with images from my phone.

Very smart and worth calling into the DBO for a look. Thanks to Martin and Dave.

It was my first visit on the Friday that proved to be the most successful regarding the Wryneck, getting to see it on numerous occasions and also lucky enough to have the bird land close to me and pose for a few images.

During the day I saw several Lesser Whitethroat's but they would not pose for the camera and at least half a dozen Whinchat's, all fairly distant but looking good perched on top of the blackberry bushes.

On the Monday I saw the Wryneck a couple of times but there were a lot more birders and photographers present, consequently the bird seemed a bit reluctant to sit out in the open so much.
I noticed a few Wheatear's fence post hopping so I soon turned my attention to these, sitting on the shingle and waiting for them to land. I did not have to wait long.

I was also able to get a few images of  a pair of juvenile Stonechat's along with an adult male, part of a family that I saw when waiting for the Wryneck to put in an appearance. The juvenile birds were looking very scruffy.

A very enjoyable couple of visits to Dungeness and nice to have a chat with Martin Casemore whom I have not seen in a while. Easily the best Wryneck images I have obtained and an Olelander Hawk moth as well, but I don't think I will be building a moth trap just yet !!!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

A Close Scoter

A trip to Ramsgate harbour on the 8th proved a pretty mundane affair, a couple of distant Kingfisher's were the only birds of note until walking up the western arm (the one with the clock tower at the end) and just over the wall in the ferry turning basin, a drake Common Scoter was resting on the water. The bird was heavily in moult, the reason I guess that it was there. Each time I popped over the wall it swam out a little but was plenty close enough for some photos. 

It makes a change to see these birds up close, usually for me they are just black dots out to sea bobbing up and down in the swell and a good job the bird was present otherwise it would of been a pretty poor outing.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A Wood Sandpiper at Sandwich Bay

I have made a few visits recently to the hide on the Restharrow scrape at Sandwich Bay, mainly to try and get a few images of the Wood Sandpiper that has been reported there over the past week. Arriving early, I saw the bird on numerous occasions but it seemed to leave the scrape mid morning on each of my visits. There had been reports of two Wood Sandpiper's but there was only ever one present whilst I was in the hide.

Other birds of note were not that many, two eclipse drake Garganey's that never came close enough for a decent image so only a record shot and several Common Snipe that were displaying in front of anything that moved included the Wood Sandpiper and several Teal.

Several House Martin's and Swallows were gathering before their impending journey South for the Winter.

Monday, 27 August 2018

An American Black Tern.

I went to the RSPB reserve at Dungeness on Friday (24th) to see the juvenile American Black Tern. Not that I particularly wanted to see the bird, (it really does look like all the rest of the juvenile Black Terns on the Burrows pit at present, all bar a little darker on the under wing) but logistics placed me not too far from the area so it would be silly not to drop in and pay a visit. I started down at Galloway's, looking for the Wryneck , drawing a blank there but I did see a young Redstart, two Pied Fly-catchers briefly in the same bush and a stack of  Chiffchaff's and Willow Warblers in just about every bush I stopped at. Also a couple of Yellow Wagtails were seen.

I then went onto the RSPB reserve and made my way to the Makepeace hide that overlooks the Burrows pit. The hard part of trying to find the juvenile American Black Tern in amongst several of its European cousins was made easy as a birder got me onto it straight away. It was on the far side of the pit and looking out into the sun made viewing rather challenging, especially as I only had binoculars. The next test was to come off the bird and then try to find it again under my own steam,  which was surprisingly a lot easier than I thought it would be. It appeared to be slightly smaller in flight than the other Black Terns, with grayish flanks and a darker under wing, although after seeing the bird briefly on the deck with other Black Terns, no size difference was evident to me. Due to the American bird keeping at a distance and the conditions being far from ideal for photography, I never managed a shot of it but did manage a few heavily cropped record shots of  the Eurasian Black Terns seen out on the pit.

Other birds seen was a Wood Sandpiper, a Peregrine which flushed the Black Terns as I was watching them on the deck and two Common Sandpipers.

Monday, 30 July 2018

A Pec at Pegwell.

Seeing images posted on various social media sites, I could see that the Pectoral Sandpiper at Pegwell Bay has at times been very close to the path that passes the garage pool so decided to pay it a visit on Tuesday 24th. I was the only person there and immediately found the bird, resting in a shallow divot on the water's edge and just a couple of metres from me.

After 10 to 15 minutes, the bird got up and started feeding around the edge of the pool, seemingly oblivious to my presence. 

A smart looking Wader and although Britain's commonest American vagrant, always great to see and especially so close to home. I also noticed a juvenile Little Ringed Plover land on the far side of the garage pool, a year tick for me.

A not so smart looking Crab.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

A Stilt family at Oare.

For the past week I had read reports of a family of Black-Winged Stilts that had stopped off at Oare Marshes, fresh from their nesting site somewhere on Sheppey. I visited the reserve last Monday (16th) and watched the Stilts feeding way out on the East flood. I set myself up by the pull in along the road that splits the two floods and eventually one of the two juvenile birds flew nearer to me and started feeding along the edge of the pool close to the road and my vantage point.

Throughout my stay all four Stilts took turns in feeding along the nearside edge of the flood, affording superb views and great photo opportunities. Next, one of the adult birds joined the juvenile and started foraging for food alongside the waters edge .

To watch and photograph Stilts so close in the U.K was once a very rare occurrence but over the last few years I have been lucky, twice at Stodmarsh and now at Oare. With breeding records at Cliffe and now Sheppey, I wonder if this species will follow in the Little Egret's footsteps and soon be a normal daily sighting. Hopefully yes as they are stunning birds to watch. This is also the first time I have seen a juvenile bird, although I did see an egg in a nest whilst in Malaga in Spain a few years back. Other bird's noted along with the normal Oare Marsh fare for this time of the year was a Spotted Redshank, looking rather tatty, the Bonaparte's which was way out on the flood, several Ruff that were slowly loosing their summer coats but for me the Stilt's were the main attraction.