Sunday, 23 April 2017

...prepare to drive North...

So....last night I had decided to head for Milton to get the breeding plumage Spot Shank and move on to Oare.....then I started dithering having been given directions for Yellow Wagtail by JK....a bird I hadn't seen for a good number of years....so....decisions...

...so I got in the car at 0525 preparing to drive north....and drove south....!

At Scotney Court Farm less than an hour later...

...slightly overcast but it soon cleared to sunnier weather....

...sorting out my boots...Cronk-cronk....cronk-cronk....Raven....fabulous start...!  First bird and first year tick for the day....

Crow, Chaffinch, Shelduck, Wigeon, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Little Egret, Coot, Mute Swan, Cuckoo, Mallard, Reed Warbler, Woodpigeon, Starling, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Corn Bunting...

...jingle-jingle...

...Wheatear, Wren, Reed Bunting, Herring Gull, Sedge Warbler, Shoveler, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Curlew

The views of Yellow Wagtail were only reasonable, two fly-overs and as I was noting a couple of birds down I looked up to find two sitting on the fence in front of me....but immediately took flight...bah!

Moving on to Dungeness....on the short drive I added a few more birds...

Marsh Harrier, Grey Heron, Magpie

.......I decided to head for the lighthouse to try to catch up with some new arrivals....but it was pretty hard going with very little between the lighthouse and observatory building, I found a couple of Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler in the moat but nothing else....another birder said they had seen Ring Ouzal (apparently three had roosted near by)....but I couldn't find it....I went to the patch....not much, calm sea....but I did manage to add Gannet, Great Black-back Gull and a few flocks of Common Scoter....

I wandered toward the observatory and found a group of orchids right by the drive...

Early Purple I believe...


...then to the scrub area again, meeting the warden from the observatory who said it was quiet...an understatement....but I did add a few....

Meadow Pipit, Feral Pigeon, Cormorant, Dunnock, Linnet, Chiffchaff, Great Tit

With yesterdays news on the RSPB reserve I decided to call in to see if the long distance traveller was still around....it was...but very flighty...go to the first hide I was told....so off I went to find two people coming the other way in a hurry, its gone that way, possibly in front of the visitor centre...off we trotted...and there it was....with two friends...

Lesser Yellow Legs, 2 Greenshank

Nice....!

Whilst there I had a quick wander to the far side of the site....

Skylark, Cettis Warbler, Tufted Duck, Buzzard

Driving out a small flock of about 8 birds flew in to one of the fields...STOP...!

Whimbrel.......excellent!!!

I decided to head to Rye Harbour...but on the way I stopped again at Scotney Court Farm to see if I could get better views.....I did manage slightly better views of Yellow Wagtail...and even added a third wagtail species...which was rather pleasing, all three within a few yards of each other....I also found a second Corn Bunting....

Grey Wagtail, Rook, Jackdaw

By the time I got to Rye Harbour it had warmed up considerably...the tide was out....and I knew there wasn't much chance of any target birds....Tern species....so I did the quick circuit...

Avocet, Kestrel, Sandwich Tern

....home time...!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Spot the Med Gull

0530 - 0815 overcast, cool to warm, SW f2

They were up there somewhere....but by the time they decided to fly over....or past....the cloud was a sea of white bleakness.  They called for  few minutes and then dissipated....maybe they were quite low behind the treeline....maybe next time....

There were 9 over the house yesterday afternoon heading north west.

Back to Whetsted....

Warbler count:

Whitethroat 20
Nightingale 10
Blackcap 20
Willow Warbler 8
Lesser Whitethroat 5
Cettis Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 34

Reed and Sedge Warblers were present around the site.

The Cuckoo was up by the Medway and seemed to patrol east and west along it....

Friday, 21 April 2017

Back Home...at the Gravel Pit...

0515 - 0730 bright, clear sky with some cloud, cool

A few days away from Whetsted....so had to get out there this morning to see what has been happening on site....

Warbler count:

Nightingale 10
Blackcap 19
Whitethroat 17
Chiffchaff 28
Willow Warbler 9
Lesser Whitethroat 6
Cettis Warbler 1

There are also Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler on site...I missed the arrival of the latter, but DH said he heard one on 19th...so I will use this date as their arrival.

A Cuckoo was quite distantly north again.  A few Stock Dove were round the site too.

After my gravel pit warbler extravaganza I headed over to Tonbridge where I had been given some instructions by MG to find...at last....Little Owl....and indeed...even in the tree he said it would be....hooray....several trips out to try to find this bird and this was easier than an easy thing...but great to find one....and MG has sent over a photo taken today....excellent...

'I found Rome a city of bricks......

....and left it a city of marble'......
               Augustus

....and here he is....Augustus....

A few days away in Rome....not the ideal birding scenario perhaps....but....


I'm guessing this view, or similar view perhaps, has been available to many a Roman and Rome visitor for 2000 years....yes...its the Colosseum...half way up is a Hooded Crow....and right on top is a Yellow-legged Gull....

Hooded Crow

Yellow-legged Gull in the sun....on one of Mussolinis fountains...

....and in the rain....at the Forum...

....and heres a couple of gulls....

...making little gulls.....

The first bird I noted however....was.....no surprise...

Feral Pigeon at the Colosseum

I think this guy has had 2000 years too many of them....

The first Feral Pigeon was at the railway station at the airport...surprisingly, the second bird was almost immediately after it....Common Swift....now, sadly I didn't capture them on digital there...but, yes....they were all over Rome...and here they are over the Colosseum...

...well...you might have to squint a bit...

I suppose we had better deal with Italian Sparrow...or is it just a House Sparrow?....and can I put it on my list?.....apparently its a sub-species...did it just look brighter as it was in the sunshine??....

Italian 'House' Sparrow

Heres one that can also be seen here in the UK.....its to be seen if we end up regretting not culling them when we had the opportunity though there seem to be fans on both sides of that argument...

Ring-necked Parakeet...here at Ostia Antica

You will find Parakeets in the city....I also came across them on  visit to the old Roman port of Ostia Antica about 10 miles away from the city.  If you've never been, go...its fabulous....very few, comparative, visit it and you can meander round the huge site unscathed by other people....its also good for birds....best bird here was a Hoopoe....great!

Heres the list...

Swift
Collared Dove...no surprise
Feral Pigeon
Greenfinch...one heard near the Colosseum
Yellow-legged Gull...everywhere
Hooded Crow....everywhere
Blackcap....singing by the Colosseum
Wren...at the Forum
Sardinian Warbler....at the Forum
Ring-necked Parakeet
Goldcrest...sadly not a Fire!
Serin....around the city and at Ostia
Kestrel....in the Colosseum
Italian Sparrow
Great Tit
Jay
Magpie
Hoopoe...Ostia
Little Egret...several over the city and at Ostia
Goldfinch
Jackdaw

....as I have put a quote about Rome from a famous Roman...heres another....maybe not a famous Roman...but maybe a bit funnier....

'They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but I wasn't on that particular job'
                         Brian Clough

Sunday, 16 April 2017

BB and the Tog (yes its a moan about Togs)

A quick tour of the Kent countryside was in order to pick up a bird that doesn't frequent Whetsted...or hasn't when ive been there...

Gargany....a splendid male at Bough Beech....and as its only 25 minutes or so away when its quiet on the road I took the plunge....having been given fine instructions from JdB it took very little time in locating it.....on the floods on the right just after going through the entrance gate....great views from the hide....

....the Tog came in the hide a few minutes after me...no scope, just a big lens and camera (though at least he had bins).....now.....if I said click every time I saw a bird through my scope or bins it would, I'm guessing, get pretty annoying....now Togs....please....you are all using digital cameras and they only make a noise because you haven't set them to quiet....in the menu....and yes....its annoying when I'm the only one in the hide, you come in and start click, click, clicking with your loud digital camera not set to quiet...you don't need that click noise....no...you don't....honest...

Moan over....phew!!

....having gained that tick for the year....always hoping to see another and really hoping one will alight at Whetsted....I moved on to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve...

Its amazing to think that right on the edge of Sevenoaks this reserve holds breeding Little Ringed Plover....fabulous....I did visit a few weeks ago as I hadn't been for years....its a nice little wander about....I stopped off to take in the Plovers....I found at least 7...possibly 8.....then it was on to Slingsby Hide for the Reed Warbler....which sat out giving splendid views....

I'm pretty sure there will be one at Whetsted by now...or at least the next couple of days....these birds always insist on an amazing amount of patience and then theres no guarantee you will see them....hey....but that's birding...

Lastly I stopped off on Hadlow Road on the way out of Tonbridge to try to get Little Owl....bah!!  2 out of 3 aint bad....as the song says....

Happy Days!!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Cuckoo in the quarry

0530 - 0745 overcast, cool but warming, becoming brighter

Not the full circuit today as didn't have time....however...a reasonable count for warblers...

Warbler count:

Nightingale 5
Blackcap 18
Chiffchaff 19
Whitethroat 6
Willow Warbler 10
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Cettis Warbler 1

...there were also some Sedge Warblers on site....these should become reasonably numerous and difficult to count in the next couple of weeks....

Chiffchaff count seemed a bit low but not all areas where I have seen or heard them before were represented so I'm guessing not a full count for the areas I covered.

The Nightingales are getting there....again a bit on / off with song....but great to hear.

The Cettis Warbler has decided to move slightly further east...not far....but it now seems to be ranging along the northern border between island pit and hidden pit reeds....

The Cuckoo was on site today, especially around the quarry area and I managed to snatch a brief view which was nice.

25 Swallows were over the west pit for a while before moving off west.

2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a male Mandarin Duck were the water highights.

Friday, 14 April 2017

3 Go Birding

0600 - 0900 overcast but clearing, cool but warming

Had company today on the way round.  MG and CR were on a visit to site.  The full tour was in order.

All the current warblers performed to a degree.....the Willow Warblers being their outstanding usual selves....and still around a dozen to listen to....its hard to go any distance on site without being able to hear one and in many places its possible to hear 2 or 3....Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were quite bright.

Nightingales were a bit reluctant today although they performed well enough.  Whitethroat were quite good and the Lesser Whitethroat was audible and viewable in warbler corner.  Sedge Warblers were rattling their call and the Cettis Warbler had returned west to the reed bed rather than its wet wood site.

A solitary Swallow went over.

The sun came out toward the end of the walk round and the bluebells were quite fragrant along east wood.

4 Mandarin went over and a 2 singles were seen swimming.