Sunday, 29 April 2018

Patch Bashing for a Garganey.

 April is the time for me when patch bashing to seek out incoming migrants occurs. This year seems to of started of very slowly but several circuits over the past few weeks on the Stodmarsh/Grove reserve turned up a close encounter with a drake Garganey that flew in to the pool in front of the Marsh hide as I sat there on the 20th (Friday). I had seen a drake a week earlier in the Feast hide but distant and remaining behind the island hence no photo opportunities. Superb looking ducks and easily my favourite. Sitting quietly in the hide on my own, the duck swam in very close.

I sent a message to Marc Heath who I had passed a few minutes earlier raptor watching and he joined me in the hide, the pair of us taking full advantage of the situation.

I was even able to grab a few flight shots as the duck arrived onto the pool.

Other bits seen and photographed was a Sedge Warbler by the cattle crush,

an obliging Yellowhammer at the top of the middle drove,

and a "just as obliging" Common Whitethroat seen by the river.

Cuckoo's and Swifts have now arrived but I am still to see a Hobby. They have been reported so it's only a matter of time. It was nice to bump into Dylan the other morning, I have not seen him for ages and a chat as we walked down the Lampern Wall brightened up a dreary morning session at Stodmarsh.

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Not so Unlucky Friday the 13th.

With news of a Black-winged Stilt present in front of the Marsh hide at Stodmarsh, late on Thursday 12th, I arrived at 5.00 am the next morning hoping the overnight showers were enough to keep it there, at least long enough to see the bird. I did see the last bird here in 2015 but Stilts at Stodmarsh have been very hard to see over the years. Although plentiful just a few miles across the channel in France, it is only my 3rd Black-winged Stilt sighting in the U.K, the above mentioned bird at Stodmarsh in 2015 and a pair at Elmley in 2008.

As soon as I arrived at the hide I saw the bird and throughout the morning I was able to get a few shots but overcast grey skies made it a little difficult. I left, hoping the Stilt would stay around until the sun appeared, which it was forecast to do later in the day

The sun arrived for the late afternoon so I returned to the Marsh hide hoping for better results. The light was a lot better now and the Stilt was back in front of the hide after i was told being on the distant pool to the left of the hide for a couple of hours.

At one point the Stilt decided to bathe and to the delight of the people in the hide, right out in front of us.

After bathing the Stilt kept jumping up out of the water, drying it wings by vigorously flapping them.

There was also a Jack Snipe and at least a pair of Water Pipits seen from the Marsh hide as well. All in all a not so unlucky Friday the 13th.

Monday, 16 April 2018

A Pair of Ramsgate Merganser's.

I had the pleasure of being able to photograph the pair of Red-breasted Merganser's on the inner basin at Ramsgate harbour last Tuesday (10th). I was actually at work in the lorry which made it all the better, seeing them in the morning and returning in the afternoon to get a few images. There was a male and female bird, this being the first time I have been able to get a male in the view finder. I usually see them through binoculars out on the Swale at Whitstable or Oare but far too distant for images. I did not realise just how smart the males look, especially at this time of the year.

Red-breasted Merganser (female)

Red-breasted Merganser (male)

It's good getting paid and photographing birds at the same time lol.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Waiting !!!

I have had a view trips out over the past week or two, dodging the rain and hoping to find newly arrived migrants but apart from a few Chiffchaff's and a single Sand Martin, I have not done very well. I was able to get a few images of a Peregrine Falcon, the location undisclosed for obvious reasons.

Most of my time has been spent at Stodmarsh and Grove in the hope of an early Garganey but fruitless. It surely will not be long now ?

The Marsh Harriers are pretty active from the Reed Bed hide and a few images were taken whilst waiting for non showing Chocolate Brown Ducks.

And a couple of Common Buzzards joined the Harriers for a bit until they were chased off by the local Crows.

 Other bits to arouse my attention from the Reed bed hide at Stodmarsh was a lonesome Canada Goose, before departing to the fields behind the hide,

one of several Shoveller that decided to swim past the hide window,

and a pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes that came close in, a lot of head shaking and weed offering but stopping just short of their weed dance. It would of been nice to see at such close quarters.

also out of the right hand window of the Reed Bed hide a flock of Bearded Tits were seen in the Willowy scrub. Shooting into the sun is always difficult, but with a bit of Photoshop tampering, a couple of usable images were obtained.

 It cannot be too much longer before the incoming migrants arrive in numbers, let's hope the weather improves as well.