Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sandwich: Swallows and Martins today

A slow drive along the Ancient highway on the way to the Obs this morning was was pretty uneventful with just a few linnets being seen at the Chequers and the corn bunting singing from its bush by Restharrow, however as I approached Restharrow (~7.15am) I saw 3 cars parked up.
Needless to say I stopped to see what was the cause of all the interest. It was the female mandarin – after a few minutes of general swimming about and eying u p one of the resident mallards she slowly swam to the shore and disappeared into the grass on the west edge. Whilst distant I did fire off a few record shots – not brilliant I know but a very nice way to start the day.
Mandarin Duck
After that it was off to the obs to resume normal service.
On leaving the car park we were just about to cross the road when Ian spotted 2 peregrines over Worth marsh. These slowly made there way towards us but when ~ 200 yrds away they started showing interest in a wood pigeon. First the larger female gave chase but evasive action by the pigeon caused her to miss,  then the male took up the chase and hit the pigeon. There was a flurry of feathers (and I think pigeon poo) but somehow it managed to escape. I don’t know where the pigeon ended up but the peregrines retreated west over the marsh.
After that it was off to the Oasis/Haven where ~ 8 chiffchaff and 3 willow warblers were present along with the normal tits/wrens and chaffinches.
After that we crossed St Georges golf course to the beach seeing the resident skylarks, mippits and reed buntings.
Whilst crossing the golf course and during the walk to the Cellars we started seeing swallows moving north and these continued to trickle past till ~ 10.30-11.00 during which period we had seen ~ 60-70 birds. Also amongst the swallows were my first sand martins (2) and house martins(1) of the year. Not much else was moving though a few mippit, a couple of siskin and a lone goldfinch also moved north.
Whilst standing around in the Cellars watching the viz mig s black redstart (female type) showed up on the wall of Restharrow but it wouldn’t let me get close enough for picture.
From the Cellars we walked down to the edge of the Cinque Ports golf course seeing 6 wheatears (all males I think)  in the paddock, one of which posed very nicely.
Also in the paddock were the resident skylarks and mippits.
As we walked along the Ancient highway towards the Elms we had 2 kestrel and 2 sparrow hawks – the former hunting and the latter just circling high up.
One of the kestrels flew across the road and hung in the air only 20-30 feet above my head but I buggered up the pictures by “selecting” the wrong settings – somehow I had ended up on f 25!!!!
The Elms was pretty quiet with a chiffchaff and a very vocal blackcap but little else of note. Middle field was similarly quiet though a kestrel posed in a tree – this time I checked the settings before I started shooting.
So more warblers evident today and 3 year ticks in the form of the mandarin and the two martins.

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