Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Walk To The Point

Today I got back to normal and birded Sandwich. I parked up at Newdowns and walked to the beach then up towards the point.
On Newdowns reservoir there were 9 pochard, 3 tufties and 25 or so coot and walking towards the sea I had a jay, a kestrel and a great spotted woodpecker but other than that it was very quiet.
The beach likewise was very quiet – whether it was the weather (dull/overcast) or the partial (or should I say invisible)eclipse I don’t know but the dunes were near deserted – all I managed was 5 skylarks, a reed bunting and a couple of dunnock.
As I got within a 200 yards of the “No Entry” post line up signposting the edge of the restricted area I heard a weak indistinct call then saw 2 birds flying overhead. I though I could see the yellow face of a shore lark but I wasn’t totally sure.  They flew overhead and appeared to drop onto the golf course so I pushed through the buckthorn and looked on the path/track on the landward side of the dunes then searched the fairway itself. In the middle of the fairway were the 2 shore larks.
Shore Larks
They were seen on the 1st so I’d hoped they would still be in residence.
I took a couple of shots then they took to the air and returned to the beach and I followed.
They were quickly relocated but they refused to let me get very close (as they have done throughout the autumn).

After ~ 15 minutes I gave up and left them to it and continued to the 100 Acre field. The wader roost was on the beach  in the restricted area so I didn’t go in but something seemed to spook them every few minutes – I could see oyster catchers, dunlin, knot and a lot of grey plover.
At the 100 Acre field I went looking for snipe, slowly picking my way through the tussock grass and trying to avoid the deep water. The area was a lot quieter bird wise than the last time I was here but I put up 3 snipe, 1 woodcock and then a jack snipe. The jack took to the air from just a few feet away but it didn’t fly far and landed ~ 20 yrds away. I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to refind it in the hope of getting a shot but failed totally - I didn't even manage to spook it again. Most disappointing really.
Eventually I gave up and made my way back to the beach. In the whole time I had been in the 100 acre field I hadn’t seen a single raptor (nor did I during the rest of the walk).
Back on the beach I immediately refound the shore larks but as I walked past them they flew back onto the golf course – I didn’t follow this time.
The walk back was as quiet as going north with only a few skylarks to liven things but my main focus of attaention was the buckthorn for the Dartford warbler that has been seen on several occasions (including New Years Day). When I was almost opposite Princes club house I heard it calling and searched the buckthorn.
Eventually I found it moving low/on the ground through the buckthorn but then it flew to the top of a twig and had a little song.
Now I had set the camera up in the hope of getting a shot but when I reviewed my efforts I found that I had inadvertently moved the setting from manual to shutter priority and the shots were grossly under exposed (due to the back light) I have tried to retrieve the situation in photoshop but the reality is they  are all rubbish.
Dartford Warbler
During the next 15-20 minutes of I saw the little beastie several times and very close but always behind a load of twigs. This is the only shot I managed:
Dartford Warbler
 Frustratingly close to being a decnt shot.
That was it really though on the way home I stopped off at the SBBO for a coffee and a chin wag.

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