Monday, 10 January 2011

An update on the last few days

On Friday (7th) I had a wander around the Sandwich Bay reporting area but found little of note.
The highlight of the day was as I was returning home. I stopped off at the Chequers to check for geese on Worth Marsh. I could only see grey lags but whilst I was there I noticed some small birds in the gardens of the small estate – a quick check with the scope showed they were tree sparrows.
Tree Sparrow
I returned to the car and parked up near to the bush they kept returning to. There were 8 in all and despite the rubbish light I was really pleased with the pictures I managed.
Later on in the afternoon the sun came out so I had an hour on the rifle range at Kingsdown. On land the only birds on view were fulmars and a lone rock pipit. On the sea there were several red-throated divers 2 of which drift past quote close in (relatively!) and I managed a record shot.
Red Throated Diver
On Saturday 8th
 I went to Seaton; my thinking being that it would be relatively sheltered and I should get some year ticks with winter wildfowl. It was pretty sheltered and there were a lot of ducks and geese present but they were all of the common varieties – wigeon, tufted, pochard, mallard, shoveller and grey lags. No sign of any golden eye, smew or goosander. Pretty disappointing all in all.
Sunday (9th)
I went to Grove meeting Martyn, Mark and Sue. I hadn’t been there since before Christmas so was hopeful of a few more year ticks.
I got up early but the clear sky meant the day dawned earlier than expected and by the time I arrived I had already missed the Bewick’s swans and the bittern that had dropped in near the ramp.
From the ramp there was only a small exodus of marsh harriers but we had great views of a female hen harrier departing down the Stour Valley and a peregrine flying south east.
Once the harriers had departed so did we – we went to Fordwich. In the village we saw a pair of bullfinch  feeding by the river then we walked to Trenley woods.
The wood was pretty quiet other than great spotted woodpeckers though we did flush a woodcock as we walked up towards the Stodmarsh road and found one possibly two coal tits up by the road.
Once at the road we walked in the direction of Stodmarsh then we dropped down towards Trenley lake seeing a tree creeper on the way.
At the bottom of the hill there was a flooded field where we saw a green sandpiper – my second of the year believe it or not  - and as we reached Trenley lake a bittern flew across the front of us at ~ 30-40 yards giving superb views in the now bright sunshine. Needless to say none of us had the camera ready!

Bittern (but taken last year!)
Alongside the fishing lakes we picked up a number of siskin (but no redpoll), another tree creeper and 5 goldeneye.
On the way home Martyn and I stopped at the Chequers where we saw the tree sparrows and a grumpy resident who didn’t like bird watchers.
I picked up a number of year ticks today including peregrine, hen harrier, bittern, bullfinch, tree creeper, corn bunting and elevated my year to date list to 107. It’s looking better after a slow start.

Monday 10th Sandwich
Today we walked out onto Worth Marsh with Ian. The highlights were 10 yellow hammers between the Obs and the hay bales, several bullfinch approaching the railway crossing and a distant flock of 18 bean geese (identified by Ian).
On the duck front there were wigeon, teal, gadwall and mallard but numbers are lower than when everything was frozen.
On the seaward side of the railway lines we managed 3 marsh harriers, 3 buzzards, 2 peregrines but no sign of the great white egret though it was seen by others during the course of the day. The final bird of note was a lone female stonechat – quite a rarity these days.
Restharrow had shoveller, teal, wigeon and mallard present and the male sparrow hawk put in 2 appearances before disappearing into The Elms.  A water rail is still in residence though we didn’t see it.

On the way home I stopped off at Oldstairs and had a look at the sea. I wasn’t really expecting much so was surprised at seeing several distant auks on my first scan.  During the next hour (between 2.00 and 3.00) I had 146 auks – most being too distant for me to tell whether they were guillemots or razorbills, 33 red throated divers, 1 great northern diver, 9 kittiwakes including 1 first winter bird, 6 common scoter and loads of fulmars – with everything going south.
My Greater Kent list now stands at 114 so is looking far more respectable.

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