Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Getting Going

I'm just embarking on this journey but given the excellent birding I have experienced in the last few weeks now seemed as good a time as any to get started.
The good times actually started late October (27th actually) when I went to Dungeness hoping to see and photograph the penduline tit. The bird had been reported the previous day and I was reasonably hopeful it would still be there since it had been raining all night.

I arrived at about dawn and took up position in the Hanson Hide on the ARC and waited, and waited, and waited then after about 3 hours there it was! It gave excellent views over the next couple of hours getting very close to the hide. The only "complaint" the photgraphers present had was that the light was so poor - i had to use ISO 800 to get a reasonable shutter speed.
This was only the third time I had seen a penduline tit so all in all an excellent day.
I actually went back the next day to try again because the weather was a lot better but the penduline had gone; c'est la vie.

On to November which has turned out to be the month of the bunting. First up was snow bunting at Sandwich, 5 of which have now been present for most of the month.
Normally these fly off if I try to approach but this time I managed to get in front of them as the foraged and one came within a few yards before he saw me and scurried away to join his mates.

At the same time as the snow buntings were around 2 shore larks had been reported. When I found them there were actually 3 present. These were more difficult  to photograph than the snow buntings and ran off as soon as they saw you. However I did manage to get some half reasonable shots (on my third attempt!).
On Sunday 21st we were birding Sandwich when we were alerted to the presence of a rustic bunting at Seaslater. It's just as well I was with Martyn and Mark because I would have had no idea where it was. Anyway off we went and arrived to see a dozen or so birders looking and photographing the bird in the tree that overhung the footpath. The bird then dropped to the ground and subsequently moved along to the adjacent gardens. I followed for a minute or two without getting as much as a view and was returning to our orginal position on the footpath when it dropped into a bush right beside me! It took an age for the camera to focus (well it seemed like an age) but I managed to get 3 shots off before it flew off.  I didn't actually see it again though it remained in the vacinity for the rest of the day. 
This was life tick for me (and for many others; the last one being seen 17 years ago) so I was well pleased that I not only saw it but managed to get a decent image too.

Monday 21st had been pretty quiet with little seen other than some tree sparrows but on the way home I stopped off at Restharrow in hope rather than expectation. After a while I noticed a raptor coming towards the hide from the general direction of Worth. As it came closer it was clear it was not a marsh harrier then I saw some white in the tail so I shot off a couple off images. Just as I started shooting it dropped out of sight never to be seen again but the images do seem to show a rough legged buzzard. I have another image where the black terminal band can be seen (just)..........................

The 23rd dawned bright but cold and I walked from the SBBO south to Deal with Ian. 13 shore larks had been reported a couple of days earlier which had been spooked by a dog walker and flown south towards Deal. The walk was very uneventful until we were nearly opposite the Cinque Ports golf club house when a group of 7 skylarks took off from near us and landed on the fairway. Almost immediately we heard a "chew, chew" call which Ian told me could be lapland buntings. The next second they landed on the fairway near the larks and proceeded to feed. We watched them for several minutes but eventually they were flushed to the far side of the fairway by a group of golfers. Lapland buntings have been a bit of a bogey bird for me; I have seen them several time but they are always "flypasts" so this was too good an opportunity to miss. After the golfers had moved past I scurried onto the golf course and got some pictures. On the walk back to the obs we saw a short eared owl being mobbed over Worth marsh from Mary Bax.

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