Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Looking Back at 2020 (Part 2)

And to part 2 of 2020. Bird wise, it was probably more memorable than the first six months with a few interesting birds turning up of which two being "firsts" for Kent.

July was all about the two returning "Yanks" to the Oare marsh reserve and I caught up with both of them through the month, the rather smart looking Bonaparte's Gull, seen in its full summer refinery and a Lesser Yellowlegs that always remained distant making it a little difficult with the camera.

Once again I was lucky enough to be able to photograph a young Peregrine family along the coast and not too far from my home. Four youngsters fledged and over a few visits I was able to get some photos as they showed off their aerial mastery. I also was able to get a few images of the parent birds as they patrolled along the cliff face and right past my vantage point. 

I came across a pair of Jays with a small chick that had only just fledged the nest whilst photographing the Peregrines.

The young Peregrines make for a memorable experience both with watching and photographing them as they learn the sufficient skills required to succeed in the forthcoming months when they leave the safety of their nesting site.

 August was my quietest month of the year with hardly any trips out at all. I did manage a few waders at Minnis Bay but that was all. Below, a Turnstone in summer plumage, a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover.

September was hugely better, departing Wheatears were in abundance along my local stretch of coastline, refuelling before their onward journey back to their wintering grounds.

A showy Wryneck turned up at Swalecliffe, staying for a week and performed well for the camera. It was nice to get a showy individual, they are normally quite shy.

Another two American waders were found at Worth, a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers which I saw during September. They were always distant on one of the newly dug scrapes on the RSPB reserve but I did manage a couple of record shots to mark the occasion.

Returning Waders were also plentiful during September and I visited Minnis Bay and Reculver frequently during the month. There were several species of Wader taking advantage of the flies attracted by the washed up sea weed that was strewn along the beach from Minnis Bay to the lagoon at Cold harbour. Below, a Curlew Sandpiper, Knot, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit and a Little Stint. September was probably the best month of the year for variety with the camera.

October was a month for Shrikes. The most memorable with the camera was an extremely showy juvenile Red-backed Shrike that stayed a week around bushes and gorse on the Northern perimeter of Littlestone golf course. I visited firstly on a grey dreary morning and returned on a much better day weather wise later in the week. The bird was an absolute star and must have liked the sound of the shutter.

As easy as the Red-backed Shrike was to photograph, the second Shrike of the month, a juvenile Masked Shrike seen at Reculver, proved to be as difficult. Although the bird mostly remained distant, the enormity of the sighting, a first record for Kent and only a few miles from home, made this the bird for me of 2020. I have seen them before in Cyprus, both youngsters and adults but never thought I would have the privilege of seeing one on my doorstep. Dodgy images hugely cropped and wrongly positioned but a record no less.

October was a month of quality over quantity.

 November and when you can take photos whilst working then it makes working just that bit easier. Visiting the concrete plant at the Ramsgate harbour complex I have had some joy with a family of Foxes that have a den behind the plant. Sometimes I can get very close to them as they play on the sand piles.

I was not expecting to get another 1st for Kent but that is exactly what happened when a Crag Martin was found at Kingsdown. I missed the news on the first afternoon it was seen but arrived in the dark the next morning and soon had another tick for Kent in the bag. (U.K tick as well) 

The bird stayed a week but on most days it would commute about a dozen miles south to Samphire Hoe to spend the day, returning to Kingsdown to roost each afternoon. I saw the bird at Samphire Hoe as well, in much better conditions than my previous encounters at Kingsdown.

December and the close to a year that has been trying to say the least. A new lock down disguised under the term of tier 4 was issued by our rather sorrowful government, so outings have been curtailed somewhat. I have restricted my outings to local, mostly between Reculver and Minnis Bay. A Black Redstart and Kestrel have been photographed by the towers at Reculver during December

And Snow Buntings have been seen and photographed on the beach close to the Wantsum outflow at Cold harbour

Lastly, one of the many Brent Geese seen between the towers and Minnis Bay.

That brings a close to 2020 with the camera, a peculiar year where travel has been severely restricted but still managing a few images and two new Kent ticks was a nice result. Hopefully next year will see a return to some sort of normality but I fear we have a way to go yet. Anyway, here's to a better New Year and above all, stay safe. 

 Happy New Year.

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