Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sandwich and the Stour Valley

Sunday morning (23rd) was a morning of two halves. I went over to the Restharrow scrape on the Sandwich Bay estate where I enjoyed nice bright sunshine but very little to photograph. All I managed was a pair of Shelduck as they departed the scrape.

I quickly got bored and moved on, back to Stodmarsh where I parked up by the cow field above Collards and typically, in rather poor weather, dull and now overcast, the Cattle Egret decided to get up and fly around, fairly close to my vantage point.

With not too many work comitments at the moment, I walked the circuit at Stodmarsh on Monday (24th), the highlight whilst watching nest building by a pair of Marsh Harriers ( i say a pair but the male never contributed much at all) was a Little Ringed Plover, flying in and landing on the mud in front of the Reed Bed hide before taking off again just a few seconds later. What was I presume, the same bird, returned about ten minutes later, dropping back onto the mud but obviously not liking its surroundings as it was off again straight away, flying out over the main lake and was not seen again. I heard my first Cuckoo of the year and Sand Martins were seen, another year tick for me. The Marsh Harriers were a little distant but just about in range with a largish crop.

Tuesday (25th), I had a House Martin and heard a Turtle Dove in the paddock at Grove, both new for the year for me. Plenty of Common Whitethroat's are now in but I am still missing a Lesser.

Walking through to the Reed bed hide missing out the Marsh hide as it was undergoing repairs, I seem to of missed a female Red Footed Falcon seen on the reserve. I only learnt of its presence on my return home and hopefully I will be able to catch up with it tomorrow if it hangs around. I have not had a Hobby yet but that will soon change i suspect. The Reed bed hide was pretty productive during the hour I spent in there, a pair of Water Rails were seen, also two Yellow Wagtails were drinking from the pool, a pair of Greenshank were feeding out on the mud on the main lake and a Whimbrel dropped in for a quick wash and brush up. All of the above seen to the constant song of a Nightingale in bushes outside the hide door. The Whimbrel was a long way out but with a converter and reverting back to the 1.6 x crop of the trusty 7d, a few record shots were taken.

All in all not a bad couple of days, thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A more than welcome return.

Wheatear's, smart in their breeding attire and a most welcome returning migrant to our shores. Over the Easter weekend, quite a few arrived and reports were plentiful as they were seen stopping off along the Kentish coastline, taking a break before carrying on to their breeding grounds further North and West. (although I am sure a few do breed along the North Kent shoreline) I was lucky enough to see 5 Wheatears along the stretch of coastline around Seasalter, 4 being Males with one flighty Female that I could not get near enough to get a photo. Waiting around the grassy area along the top of the beach by the sea wall, the Male birds would periodically land on the fence allowing a few images to be taken before dropping down to the floor again to resume feeding. A shame a few Whinchat's were not with them, or is that being greedy. 

Today, (Wednesday 19th) I noticed two Common Terns on their new purpose built Tern raft out on the main lake at Stodmarsh, my first of 2017.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Catching up around the Stour Valley.

I caught up with the Cattle Egret at Stodmarsh on Saturday, (15th) in with cows opposite the Stodmarsh Court Farm entrance. Not too sure if this is the same individual seen a few months back at the Blue bridge at Preston and also in cereal fields along the North Stream at Marshside.

New birds for the year (for me) were a bit thin on the ground with three Swallows over the Reed beds at Stodmarsh on Tuesday (11th)  and a Nightingale heard at the Grove end of the reserve on Thursday (13th) all year ticks. There are now quite a few Sedge Warbers to be heard chattering away in the reed beds. Three Common Snipe have been feeding close in to the reed bed hide at Stodmarsh and giving the local wildlife snappers something to point their cameras at.

I hope the returning Terns are happy with their new 5 star accommodation, definitely an upgrade on their old 2 star residence. I have not seen any birds back yet but surely just a matter of days now. They are great targets for the camera.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Fulmar's and Falcon's

A walk in the Spring sunshine around the East Kent coastline never bought about the hoped for inbound migrant invasion but the local Fulmar population provided a few photo opportunities with the camera.

A Peregrine Falcon glided by, checking me out as it passed.

The only other bits caught with the camera were a few of the numerous Meadow Pipit's  taking advantage of the coastal path's fence post line, a good stopping point as they went about their daily business.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Dapper Looking Duck

Last Thursday morning (30th March) I watched from the Reed Bed hide at Stodmarsh as a Drake Garganey flew into the pool and spent the entire morning in the area, although on several occasions it would go missing only to fly back into the pool again later. It gave the occupants of the hide great photo opportunities as it swam past the hide on numerous occasions before settling down to preen in amongst the other Ducks present. 

Click on images for full size.

A rather smart looking Great Crested Grebe also swam into the pool from the main lake giving us superb views as it went about his business. There was a female bird present as well but she kept her distance.

Other bits caught with the camera were a Grey Heron flying over, three Little Grebes and the unusual sight of a Coot flying around the pool, all in front of the Feast hide at the Grove end of the reserve. There was a Little Ringed Plover on the top end of the pool at Harrison's, my first of the year.

After two weeks of searching every nook and crannie on the reserve for a Garganey, one finally found me. Always a great experience to see these rather dapper looking Ducks in all their summer finery.