Sunday, 30 October 2011

This weekend at Sandwich

This weekend I broke with my normal routine and went over to Sandwich - though because time was short I didn’t go to the coffee shop on either occasion! The reason for the switch with routine was the report of a Pallas’s warbler in the Elms Friday afternoon.
To be honest I was a bit peeved when I read about the Pallas’s. As normal I had been at Sandwich most of the morning but on Friday our progress was particularly slow. Eventually we were rewarded with a yellow-browed warbler which was very active but if watched for long enough did give good if fleeting views. I did get the camera out but never got close to getting a shot. So despite being at the Bay for 3 hours I didn’t in fact make it to the Elms (I’m not sure what time the Pallas’s was found).
Anyway I was up with the bats (it was still dark and the larks were still asleep) and stopped off at Restharrow waiting for it to get light enough to search for the Pallas’s.  A quick scan showed the curlew sandpiper was still around as was one of the dunlin, plus teal and ~ 10 common snipe. After a few minutes I was joined by another birder (Steve Arthur – who I don’t think I’d met before) and I put him onto the curlew sand and in return he put me onto a jack snipe.  Eventually the snipe moved and treated us to the classic bobbing behaviour.
About 30 minutes later Steve and I let to searching for the Pallas’s.  There were already several other birders in the Elms but they’d had no luck...........and 90 minutes I had the suffered the same and gave up. About all I saw there was a fire crest. I told everyone I saw about the jack snipe (I had left my phone at home) including Steve Raynaert’s who made my day by getting some great shots of the little beastie.
Common Snipe
Today I went to the scrape again first thing – lots of snipe, the curlew sand, a water pipit but no Jack snipe. After that I walked to the Chequers across the golf course hoping for a Lapland bunting or a rare wheatear. As it was I got neither but I did spot a short-eared owl coming along the sea wall at about 30-40 feet. I think it had just come in-off because it didn’t seem to be hunting and almost immediately landed in some rough. A few minute later it was flushed by a dog and started coming in my direction but the excitement was short lived and it re-landed - I didn’t see it again.
From the Chequers I went to the sea wall then north to the Gullies seeing skylarks, mippits and a few linnets. In Big Gully I found a mixed flock of tits (LTT, blue and great) and a couple of chiffchaffs with a third heard. As I was leaving Little Gully I first heard then saw a small flock of gold crests and whilst looking at these move through the tree tops an equally small bird flicked across my sight showing a very pale yellow rump. I got nothing else on the bird but the only bird of that size I know with a yellow rump is a Pallas’s. Try as I might I didn’t see it again and within 5 minutes I’d lost the whole flock. I searched the Elms but no sign of them there either so I called it a day.
Short-eared owl coming into land
On the drive home I saw Steve Raynaert along the Ancient Highway and as we chatted we spotted a(nother?) short-eared owl high and heading west over Worth Marsh. After a minute or two it turned back and flew high overhead before coming down on worth Marsh just north of the caravan park (in the field where we normally see the geese). We couldn’t see it on the ground but had managed some record shots as it went down.
This afternoon I whilst watching goldfinch on the feeders a green woodpecker landed in the garden and provided the best shots of the day.........or even the month.
Green Woodpecker


  1. Not all was lost then! You got some decent birds, I take it your Green woody shot was from your bedroom window!

  2. Nice blog Steve, some nice birds seen even if you didn't get the shots you wanted.

  3. It's a hard and frustrating life being a wildlife photographer. Not that i'd know it seems quite easy to me ha ha !!!