Sunday, 25 March 2012

A week in early spring

Monday 19th March

After working and being busy all last weekend with family and sports committments, I was keen to get out at the beginning of the week to catch up with all the migrants seen at Reculver. However, clear skies on Sunday night appeared to have prompted a large clear-out, as on Monday morning when I went for a long walk along the coast there wasn't a single Wheatear to be seen, and all the Black Redstarts were absent from the areas they had been frequenting. Highlight of my morning was finding a georgous male Black Redstart at Coldharbour, but it proved elusive, and I failed to manage a photo.

After 3 hours birding on a lovely bright morning I had seen a large number of waders, including a flock of 52 Bar-tailed Godwits, quite a good count for the area. A Fulmar flew west, and the 4 Eider were sitting offshore. A steady passage of around 75 Meadow Pipits and 5 Rock Pipits flew west, and around 35 'alba' Wagtails also trickled past west.

Mid afternoon a call from Chris Hindle told me a Kumliens Gull had been found near Coldharbour. This put me in a tricky situation, as I had promised the wife I would do some gardening pm. The garden could wait, I raced over to look for the gull, in the knowledge I only had an hour before the car was being dropped off for an MOT. This wasn't a relaxing afternoon off, but good fun. The gull had flown out to sea by the time I reached the coast, but Mark Chidwick pointed out a Short-eared Owl, which was nice. I also had more nice views of the Black Redstart, but stupdly I had left the flash card at home, so my camera was along for the ride, but of no use to me.

Wednesday 21st March

The morning was bright sunshine, but again few birds to be seen at Reculver. There were 4 Chiffchaffs singing around Chambers Wall, and 3 Ring-necked Parakeets flew west, but that was about it really. So I spent the afternoon in the garden, where there I could hear a Goldcrest singing away.

Friday 23rd March

Dissapointment this morning when I awoke to to thick fog outside. Nevertheless, I went off to Reculver in the hope the sun might burn it off. I walked for 3 hours, seeing very little. There was a Little Owl in the caravan park, and I flushed a Short-eared Owl from the seawall near Coldharbour, and that was about it. It was still cold and foggy by the time I returned to the car. I had to be home by 10 o'clock to give my wife a lift to the train station for her weekend away, so I was resigned to a poor end to the week.

However, things changed for the better when I received a text from Chris Hindle to say there was a drake Garganey on Brook, at around 10:30am. By now the sun was streaming down, so I grabbed the camera, scope, bins and my old coolpix just in case a bit of digi-scoping was required. Just as I reached Reculver there was thick fog again. I sat down at the edge of Brook and scanned across the lake, and there were 2 drake Garganey together. I tried a few photos but got nothing at all, too misty. Luckily, with a bit of patience, the sun started to break through, and eventually I managed an ok photo. It's been a long time since I digi-scoped anything!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A walk in the woods

Tuesday 13th March 2012
Misty, cold, dry, light winds.

Today I kept away from the coast, instead I took a trip to Lyminge forest. I walked for several hours in the mostly coniferous woodland, and it was for the most part earily quiet. However, there were a few nice birds around, though hard to see at times.

Plenty of Siskins calling as they flitted about the tree tops, and Coal Tits calling on most of the walk. There were several sightings of Buzzards throughout the day.

Late in the afternoon I had my highlight of the day, when I could hear several Crossbills calling, though I couldn't see them through the trees. Wandering towards a more open pathway, I came across a fantastic little area of trees where there must have been a dozen or so Crossbills, calling, singing and displaying. There were 20+ Siskins in one small area, some singing, and a small flock of Redpolls flew over calling.

Walking back towards the car park, after a thoroughly enjoyable stroll, I came across a small tit flock, mostly Coal and Blue Tits, but alerting me to their presence with their distinctive calls, a pair of Marsh Tits. Great fun.

Monday, 12 March 2012

All fogged out

Monday 12th March
A bright start, becoming cold and foggy, light N/W winds, 7 C

I set off in hazy sunshine from Blean, reaching the towers just after 7.30am. I was expecting the sun to break through the light mist, but not long after reaching the Oyster farm i realised it was going to be a typical misty sea-breeze on the north Kent coast. They rarely disappear this time of year.

There were also several large caterpillar-wheeled 'diggers' on the beach shoving the shingle up the beach, presumably a coastal defense project. I hope none of the Ringed Plovers have started nesting yet.

I abandoned the walk, having seen very little. The 4 Eider were on the sea, about 8 Shelduck on the oyster farm, and a selection of gulls of different ages for me to look through.

A Goldcrest was singing in the garden on my return.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spring weather reaches Kent

9th - 11th March 2012
Cold early morning, warming to around 14 C early afternoon.
Light winds, mostly sunny.

Friday started with an early visit to Reculver, and although there was the promise of some sunshine, it was blooming cold first thing. Well wrapped up, I walked from the towers up to Cold Harbour, meeting Geoff Burton on a day away from Swalecliffe, and later Chris and Ann Hindle. We didn't see a great deal, though a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea, which was nice. There were 2 Little owls in the caravan park when I walked past, 9 Bar-tailed Godwits on the mudflats, and a pair of Great Crested Grebes on the sea.

Later I saw my first butterfly of the year, a Red Admiral near Boughton.

Saturday I spent the morning at home, and whilst helping my wife clear out some rubbish from the garage I heard a lovely song coming from the tree next to the garage door. After a few seconds I had a big smile as I listned to a male Blackcap singing away. I crept out and stood and watched it for a while, much to the annoyance of the wife still working away.

Later I saw 2 Common Buzzards and 2 Sparrowhawks over Canterbury golf club. I finished my day off with a walk at Stodmarsh from 5pm until dusk. There was hardly a breath of wind , and it was quite mild, if a bit cloudy, but I was hopeful of a few Bitterns in flight. There were probably 10-12 singing or calling Cett's, several Bearded Tits 'pinging' through the reeds unseen, numerous Waterails squealing, about 6 Marsh Harriers and a single Hen Harrier in to roost, and the 2 Glossy Ibis were roosting at the bottom of one of the Cormorant trees. I was joined by a couple staying in Stodmarsh village, and we all watched a single Bittern silently high east over the Lampen Wall at 6:20pm. At 6:35 and again at 6:42pm single Bitterns flew over east calling.

Sunday I was on my way to Reculver before 7am, and today i chose to visit the cliff tops at Bishopstone, walking east to the Reculver towers. It was very quiet when I set off, and I chanced upon a very approachable Kestrel sitting on a post by the path. I walked slowly past, taking a few photos on the way.

There were loads of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and very little else. Never mind, the walk was brilliant and the weather fantastic. On the return journey the crowds had built up and I was glad to be getting away to somewhere quieter. I paid Shuart a visit and scanned for raptors, but I only saw 4 more Kestrels and a distant Marsh Harrier.

This afternoon I had a walk along the Wye Downs, enjoying distant views of 4 Buzzards.