Saturday, 25 January 2020

A Most Welcome L.B.J.

Reading on the Reculver sightings web page of eight Tree Sparrows being found by Julian and Alex Perry, I decided to see if I could catch up with them, walking in from the fisherman's car park, down to the lagoon and then westward  until  reaching the green wall which is where they were first sighted. A huge flock of  Brent Geese were on the field behind the sluice which is located midway between the lagoon and the green wall, their numbers in excess of a thousand and a wildlife spectacle well worth seeing, especially when they take to the air in one huge flock.

Brents flying from the marsh back onto the sea.

Walking further along the sea wall, there were a few high tide wader roosts and carefully crouching behind the wall, the birds were photographable without disturbing them with Grey and Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling and Oyster-catchers all being seen.

Ringed Plover


A pair of Stonechat's were feeding along the beach and the male was pretty tolerant of my presence, allowing me to get close enough for an image. 

I arrived at the green wall and immediately noticed a lot of bird activity in the surrounding bushes and soon worked out that birds were stopping off in the bushes en route to foraging for food in the surrounding fields out on the marsh and also the the beach just the other side of the sea wall. There were numerous Reed Buntings seen here, several House Sparrows, a solitary Corn Bunting and I also saw five Yellow-hammers, always nice birds to see.

As mentioned, it's always nice to see Yellow-hammers but the stars of the show (well for me they were) were four Tree Sparrows and by sitting on the grass embankment partially hidden by the long grass, they would come to the bush that was about 20 metres away in front of me. It was difficult getting a shot that was free from the clutter of the bush.

Patience paid off as eventually a bird landed on a branch on the edge of the bush allowing for a shot without all the surrounding twigs and foliage.

and then a few seconds later, the bird climbed up the twig to pose on top giving me enough time to fire of a few shots before it alighted with the other three birds to feed on the field the other side of the Green Wall.

These Sparrows were common when I was growing up and probably taken for granted but for me now, they are somewhat of a rarity, especially in and around the east kent countryside. They have to be one of our best looking L.B.J's. 

Thanks to Julian and Alex for posting the sighting, thus allowing me to catch up with them. An enjoyable excursion to Reculver. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

An injured Lapland Bunting.

I went to see the Lapland Bunting that has been feeding on the beach by the Cold harbour lagoon at Reculver last Sunday, (12th) and after a scan with my binoculars, picked it up just under the sea wall by the sluice just to the west of the lagoon. It soon became clear that the bird was injured, hopping about, stumbling and using its wing to help balance which was not a pretty site. It could fly and seemed to be feeding well but it clearly had trouble negotiating the uneven terrain of the beach. I took a few pictures but to be fair, I have seen a lot better looking Lapland Buntings (and more stable ones) and soon became disinterested and sat along the tide line trying to snap the passing waders that were being continually flushed by Sunday dinner time dog walkers taking advantage of the brief spell of sunshine. Alas rather frustratingly, they passed by just out of range but good numbers of Sanderling and Ringed Plovers were noted with a few Dunlin adding to the mix.

I did see and hear another Lapland Bunting that flew along the beach westwards but it never stopped, just called as it passed the injured bird. There was also a Brent Geese flock out on the marsh numbering 200 plus and two Marsh Harriers were also seen hunting, a Little Egret flew along the dyke that edges the marsh and several Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches were seen along the beach. A smart looking dark phased Common Buzzard was being harassed by a Kestrel and eventually put down in a bush and watched by me as I drove along the concrete road to the fisherman's car park at Chambers Wall on the way in.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Messing About in the Woods.

My favourite woodland birds are Nuthatches. Over the years I have often baited areas in the local surrounding woodland with varying degrees of success when trying to entice the common woodland birds down from the canopy to feed on a free and easy meal. The now "quite famous" log in the Bossenden wood complex was started by Mike Gould and myself a number of years ago and still to this day remains an attraction to visiting photographers looking for photo opportunities. I have a few other locations around my area that always seem to deliver but I am noting an alarming decline in Marsh Tit numbers, with none being seen in any of the haunts they have been seen in years gone by. (Just my observations and may not be a county trend) Anyway, a few sites were visited by Tim Gutsell and myself over the past week and armed with a few different props, a few pleasing images were gained.

Chaffinch (Female)

Coal Tit

As mentioned above, the stars of my woodland visits always seem to be Nuthatches, such characteristic birds, pleasing on the eye and their inquisitive nature always a pleasure to watch.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Grey Geese.

A quick visit to the Reed bed hide at Stodmarsh where the two Bean Geese were asleep in amongst the Greylag flock. I presume these are the same two that arrived on the reserve back in October ? Whilst scanning through the Geese, (there was nothing else of note to look at) I noticed a single White Fronted Goose, a Russian individual I believe. I never saw a single White front last year, so well worth the brief excursion.

 White-fronted Goose

Always remaining distant so heavily cropped record shots.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Grove in the Gloom.

A stroll down to the Feast hide at Grove Ferry this morning (2nd) under a grey and gloomy sky, not expecting to see much but a Great White Egret dropped in and kept me entertained for most of the hour I spent there. The light was truly awful but a few usable images were saved from the camera.


Fishing, it caught 2 small Jack Pike whilst there.

And Leaving.

Not the greatest images but the best I could muster under the poor conditions. Whilst watching the Egret, the obligatory Kingfisher landed briefly on the perch in front of the hide. Not as pleasing on the eye as when sitting bathed in sunshine.

Other bits seen were three Grey Herons, a Male Marsh Harrier, a distant Sparrow-hawk over the river and a Kestrel hovering above the hide as I approached. Not much else apart from the usual Gulls and Ducks, a few Lapwings and a solitary Shelduck was on the mud where the Island used to be.