Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Belated Start to the Birding Year

A very late night of murder/mystery and too much to drink meant that I was in no state to go out Saturday morning (1st) though after lunch I did pop down to De Bradley warf  to see it the scaup was still there. It was and what is more it was far more obliging than normal and allowed me to get some better images.
All I need now is for it not to be overcast/raining. Anyway a scaup as the first tick of the year is ok
The 2nd is normally the day I normally go out with my Kingsdown birding friends - we go on the second because we all attend the same new years eve party and no one is prepared to drive on the 1st. Today however there was only two of us - Steve Caotes (KIngsdowner) and myself.
Steve proposed Pett Levels and seeing the list of birds seen there on New Years Day it was foolish to say no.
On the way we drove across Welland marsh hoping to see bewick swans but they were nowhere to be seen. There were several flocks of wigeon that were constantly taking to the air due to marsh harrier activity and a flock of 60 white fronts were were wheeling about. The good news was we managed to connect with some tree sparrows but they didn't hang around for their picture to be taken.
On the thrush front it was mainly blackbirds and mistle thrushes – very little in the way of fieldfares and redwings. After Welland we stopped off at Scotney where we had Canada, grey lag and barnacle geese. I counted 60 but I'm sure I missed some on the far side of a bank.
The only interesting ducks we saw were a pair of goldeneye on the water skiing pit just along from Scotney and after that it was off to Pett.
We first stopped at the Rye end of Pett Levels and scanned the geese – greylags, barnacle and a full house of brents - plae and dark bellied and a black brant. The black brant was particularly pleasing as I’d never seen one before. Unfortunately it was too distant to photograph.
There was no sign of any white fronted geese or the red breasted goose that had been associated with them. As the tide was high when we arrived there were a large number of waders present on the grass with the ducks and geese - dunlin, knot, grey and golden plover, lapwing, curlew.
On the shingle there were turnstones but out to sea there were literally hundreds of divers with all those close enough to id being red throated. At one point a small boat started moving across the bay way out. This caused the divers to fly east and allowed some counts to be done - over 500 flew east!  Also out on the sea were hundreds of greta crested grebes.
We were told of some scoter at the west end of the prom so we went down to Toot Rock and had another scan and found 20 common scoter but no sign of the 5 velvets seen earlier.
After that we wandered inland along the canal – we had been told of a rough legged buzzard had been seen along their earlier. First up we found 2 common buzzards circling distantly and then a marsh harrier but eventually the rough leg cruised past us and landed in some trees and allowed some shots to be taken. Eventually it flew off but I managed some flight shots that show the carpel patches, the dark band/trousers and the upper wing pattern of a juvenile.
Rough Legged Buzzard

Rough Legged Buzzard

The route back to Kingsdown took in Denge wood in the hope of seeing the hawfinch. I have only ever seen one before and this was a fly-by.
We actually had spent too much time at Pett and didn’t arrive at Denge Wood until about 3.00pm but the birds were showing well (if distantly) and some record shots taken in the failing light.


I’ve not done a tally of all the common stuff we saw but black brant, rough legged buzzard and hawfinchj on waht was effectively day 1 of the year is as good as I could have hoped.

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