Sunday, 22 October 2017

A Most Confiding Bunting.

With all the excitement of the recent Wilson's Phalarope and Long-Billed Dowitcher and a trip to Boppard near Koblenz in Germany for a Rhine river break, I had forgotten about the Lapland Bunting that was on the sea wall walkway at Bishopstone Glen a few weeks back. A very confiding bird, sometimes a little too confiding for its own good, witnessing a small Terrier off its lead snapping at the bird as it escaped it's attention but only by inches. I saw the bird immediately on arrival and gained a few images, for me one of the easier birds to photograph due to their tolerance of people.

Not too much else about to shout about at the moment, but in truth I have not looked that hard.

Nice views to be had on my trip to Germany. A trip up a mountain, well large hill really, that overlooked the small town of Boppard where we were staying, right alongside the River Rhine. Bird life was not great but numerous Red Kites and Common Buzzards were seen and best of the rest was a Nuthatch seen from our chair lift and several Grey Wagtails along the rocky shoreline of the Rhine. There were a few Egyptian Geese in with a large flock of Greylags on the river.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

An American invasion.

I am not sure that two Waders constitute an Invasion but it is a little bit special having two American waders present on the east flood at Oare at this moment in time. I have seen both species before, one a Long Billed Dowitcher, first seen 10 years ago funnily enough again at Oare and I think it was 7 years ago that I saw a Wilson's Phalarope at Grove Ferry, distantly on the top pools in front of the Harrison's Drove hide. Last week along with a lot of other birders and photographers, I caught up with both species as there is one of each currently residing on the east flood, a part of the Oare marsh reserve near Faversham. There was also a Black-Necked Grebe seen in the creek and I wandered over and settled on the bank and waited, the Grebe eventually coming close enough for a few shots although the lighting was not great.

After, I went back around to the road and waited, hoping the sun would come out and the Dowitcher and Phalarope would be close enough for some images. When I first started photographing birds, Oare Marsh was a favourite destination for me but I find it difficult now. The muddy fringes seem more distant each year with encroaching vegetation slowly pushing the waters edge further from the road and the long line of photographers. Also the water levels are very low, with the pool drying out and further pushing the feeding areas for the waders away from our vantage point.  
I was lucky, the sun did come out and both the American waders passed by as close as it was possible, any nearer and they then became hidden by the vegetation on the waters edge.

Long-Billed Dowitcher

1st winter Wilson's Phalarope

I went to see the Phalarope on three occasions, the day that news broke of its arrival, but the bird remained very distant feeding around the island in front of the hide on the east flood. My second visit, the bird was a lot closer, feeding quite near to the road but it was a dull grey day and the light was very poor. My third visit, Thursday 12th, the sun was out and the Phalarope did come in fairly close once again allowing for the above images. It's not often that you can get a Long-Billed Dowitcher and a Wilson's Phalarope together in the viewfinder, something I was able to do but unfortunately it was on the dull grey visit.

A female Goosander appeared from nowhere, I only saw it swimming for a few minutes in the north west corner of the flood and whilst watching the bird, it suddenly took off and flew over the road close to where I was standing. It was a case of camera up and fire with a few pleasing results as it crossed the road and headed out over the Swale and towards Sheppey.

To round off a few good visits to Oare over the last week, there were 10 Little Stints seen, I think that may be my biggest numbers with this species, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and all the usual waders that make this venue so good. A particular favourite of mine are the juvenile Ruff taking their first look at Oare, smart looking waders and always a pleasure to see.

Another spectacular sight at Oare are the Golden Plover, especially when they are spooked and all take off, flying around the flood in one huge flock. I caught one returning to the roost after everything was spooked by a Peregrine.

All in all, a worthwhile few visits to Oare, catching the two visiting American Waders and also catching up with a few faces that I have not seen in a while.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Reflections (Walking on Glass)

An attempt to get a Kingfisher image whilst sitting on the bank of the River Wantsum en route from the Fisherman's car park at Chambers Wall to Coldharbour, was interrupted by a Little Grebe that was not camera shy. The stream was bathed in Autumnal sunshine and the waters surface was like a sheet of glass allowing for some mirror like images.

 The Grebe swam past me and then after a while returned, passing me before turning and then ran over the waters surface, back past me before settling back on the water and then swimming away from my vantage point.

A great way to spend an hour. Apart from this action the rest of my walk, down to the Lagoon, then east along the sea wall to Plum pudding Island, returning back along the railway embankment to Chambers wall was not very eventful. There were a few Waders in the high tide roost, Oyster-catcher's, Curlew and Dunlin but the only Wader to trouble my camera was a passing Turnstone.

Out to sea the paddle steamer Waverley passed by eastward but must of thought better of it and done a smart U turn off the Cold Harbour lagoon and then returned west from where it had paddled from.

SS Waverley paddling East.

10 minutes later

SS Waverley paddling West. 

The only other camera action was a young Common Whitethroat seen in a bush along the railway embankment on my way back to the car.

All in all, a pleasant stroll around the Reculver marsh.