Wednesday, 10 October 2018

White-billed Diver at Margate

A twitchable White-billed Diver not 10 miles from home was a bird not to be missed, add on the fact that it was dressed in full summer attire and indeed it was certainly not a bird to be missed. I got a phone call from Alan Ashdown early last Saturday morning (3rd) (thanks Alan) and the two sleeping Jack Snipe I was watching from the Restharrow hide at Sandwich were quickly forgotten as I hastily left and made my way up to Botany Bay in the North Eastern corner of Thanet, where Alan had rung me from. As soon as I got to the beach I saw the bird, a lifer for me and indeed the first summer plumaged Diver I have seen of any description. It was a stunner and along with a lot of other Kent birders that were arriving, well the ones that were not stuck in the KOS conference (I bet there was a lot of twitching every time the pager bleeped lol) I watched and tried to get a few images throughout the rest of the day. In truth, although the views were superb through my binoculars, it remained a good 75 meters out to sea and far too distant for anything other than record shots.

I returned for the Diver on Sunday but never fared any better image wise but at least the bird was still present for the KOS conference birders to add to their Kent lists.

It was after work on Monday (5th) that I got a few images of the Diver. I was told that the bird had been seen at Westgate and was last seen paddling east towards Margate at a rake of Knots. I decided to park up in Walpole Bay and soon had the Diver through my binoculars. It came in past the harbour wall and was swimming east when it decided to follow a small stream of sea water left by the outgoing tide and started to fish for crabs in a rocky pool just in front of me. Why there I do not know but not looking a gift horse in the mouth, camera was drawn and readied for action.

White-Billed Diver snorkeling which it did a lot.

The Diver was pretty close to my vantage point when I was stood along the concrete road between the Turner art gallery and Walpole Bay.

After a while the Diver had its fill of the local crabs and moved out back along the tide line. I worked my way ahead of it and got a few more shots from a lower level in the late afternoon sunshine. 

All in all a terrific new bird for me and no doubt a lot of other people that have come to see it. It's still here as I write this (10th) or it was yesterday, there has been no news as of yet this morning, (its only 07.30am) but it seems a little more restless of late and is often disappearing out into the deeper waters and news on line has become a little patchy. The White-billed Diver is my bird of the year so far, I wonder if this remains the case throughout the rest of November and December.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

First Signs of Snow at Reculver

During the last week of September the strong Northerly winds bought out the Sea Watchers and I went down to Reculver on the afternoon of the 28th to see if any sea birds were lingering along the shoreline which can often be the case after a blow. The sea watch was a bit of a non event with the number one priority being to find a bit of shelter from a very stiff Northerly, a groyne near to the coldharbour lagoon on the shingle being all that was on offer. A pair of distant Gannets and a Ist winter Sandwich Tern was scant reward for my efforts but I then noticed the familiar sight of a solitary Snow Bunting, foraging in amongst the debris in the section of beach I was sitting on. A few images were gained, rather pleasing considering the difficulty in holding the 500mm lens steady in the teeth of the gale. It did actually blow me over on a couple of occasions as I crouched on the shingle trying to get a shot.

It looks calm and windless in the images but I can assure you it was not.

I returned to Reculver on the 3rd of October, a bright sunny morning and with just a gentle North Westerly breeze. The Snow Bunting was still in the same section of shingle and easily picked out as it foraged in amongst the vegetation searching for food. A few more images were taken but as with my last visit, not a lot else on the avian front that was noteworthy.


A good job the Snow Bunting was there, it was the only images I took over the two visits.