Friday, 16 September 2011

Oare Marshes

First off thank you to Phil for identifying the Migrant Hawker in the last post, I am still a complete novice when it comes to insects. I am also having grave difficulty posting comments on as my ID is never recognised!!! Anyway onto this post.
On Wednesday Alan and I took a quick trip down to Oare Marshes, it was a nice sunny day, sadly we got there just a little too late (11.30am) to watch the tide come in. Overlooking the Estuary there were some 30 Ringed Plovers on the remaining foreshore and a young Knot hiding among the sand ridges, whilst there a Wheatear perched on the gate and fence quite close to us.
Wheatear - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

We walked west along the shore path hoping to pick up a few birds on the remaining shore, however other than a few Black Headed gulls there were just two Godwits. One had a distinctive upcurve to the bill, but I missed them take off so cannot confirm a Bar Tail. On the land side of the path there was a group of about 500 Starlings which were frequently swirling around in a sort of mini moot.
Starlings - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
There was nothing in the Estuary or the creek other than a few Black Headed Gulls, on the flood side of the path there was a Heron in the reeds and the a few Teal on the bank near the Estuary hide. Further along the path, views over the East flood gave sightings of Black Tailed Godwits, a Dabchick, Lapwings, Herring Gulls, Mallards, a couple of Greylag Geese and some Coots.
Teal and Lapwing (from road) - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
We passed the sluice gate walking towards the East Flood hide, a Whitethroat called from the bushes but didn’t show, a Willow Warbler and Robin were also heard from the bushes and both briefly seen. A silent Reed Warbler flew between two sets of Reeds, and several Common Darters and Small Whites flew about us. The path also gave the best views of the hundreds of Black Tailed Godwits on the Eastern flood along with a number of Redshank. From the East Flood hide we picked out a few Golden Plover, there were plenty of Cormorants on show and a large number of Avocets feeding. In the bushes in front of us a small flock of Goldfinches was flitting about, the one on the left of this photo was a juvenile still being fed by an adult.
Goldfinches - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Back on to the road, I was following a Heron in flight with my binoculars when in the background I saw a Buzzard, it was so high that it was invisible to the naked eye. We went across to the West Flood hide, however there was only one bird there but it was a Greenshank so we watched it for 5 minutes before it went from view. Too many intervening reeds for a decent photo.
Walking back to the Car Park, the East Flood showed more of the same, however we did get closer views of a Little Egret and a Ruff (see below), someone on the road spotted a Water rail, but sadly not us. A lonely House Sparrow flew past as did a solitary Red Admiral.
Little Egret - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Ruff - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Not seen at Oare, but on the roads up to the site were a Pheasant, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Magpie and Collared Dove. Not a long species list (33 + 1 heard), but more than made up for by the volume of birds.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cliffe Pools

Sunday I took a trip to Cliffe Pools, it was a gusty but bright day. I started off with a look over the pool by the car park  which contained mainly coot, however around  the far edges were some Mallards, Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes and a Dabchick, also standing around on the  western shore with a few Lapwing were well over a hundred Redshank.
Great Crested Grebe & Black Headed Gull - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
I then went on to Radar Pool and turned left to walk along its southern shore, there was not a lot of activity on the pool except a small flotilla of 20+ dabchicks which was nice to see. The path itself was a different matter, a flock of Goldfinches flew overhead, followed a little while later by a mixed flock of waders and then a moment later a flock of Redshanks, I would like to think that there were a couple of Spotted Redshank amongst them, though that could just be their flight angle slewing the white rumps, check out the one near top RH corner.
Redshank in flight - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The path to Flamingo Pool was alive with butterflies, mainly Small Whites and Red Admirals, a solitary Meadow Brown showed itself as did a couple of Commas, Dragonflies were also plentiful with positive identification on Common Darter and Migrant Hawker Dragonflies, there were others but they were too fast for identification.

Common Darter - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Migrant Hawker - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Flamingo Pool was initially quiet however as I walked around to the Western side a couple of flocks of waders flew in and seemed to line up in the water. At the far right were Grey Plover in a variety of plumages with a couple still in full summer, then there were Black Tailed Godwits, followed by Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers, whilst on the shore were Ringed Plovers, and a number of Little Egrets. I have to thank the RSPB warden who was there for helping me to pick out the Curlew Sandpipers. Whilst we stood sheltering from the buffeting wind behind his truck, Avocets started to fly in from the Thames and started to feed, in all about 300 of them. Sadly all in Flamingo pool were just too far away to photograph properly.
Black Tailed Godwits (over Radar Pool) - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

I returned to the car park via the same route still marvelling at the number of butterflies and dragonflies and at the junction of Flamingo Pool and Radar I found some Small Heaths flitting about.
Small Heath -- Canon 400D + 100-400mm

From the path viewing point over Radar pool I watched some roosting gulls on the northern shore. Black Headed Gulls were mixed with Great Black Backed Gulls, Shellduck and a couple of Herring Gulls, there was also a Lesser Black Backed Gull being pestered for food from a youngster. Wandering amongst these were some Starlings and a Pied Wagtail, whilst swimming past on the pool were three Wigeon.
Red Admiral - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Small White - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Red Admirals - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The last sightings of the day were a flock of Long Tailed Tits with a few Blue Tits among them. Other spots for the day included Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Oystercatcher, Swallow and Wood Pigeon. Heard but not seen was a Pheasant, a Robin and some Magpies. The day list was 32, not bad for me at Cliffe, sadly I did not get to see the Little Stint or Ruff that were there that day, maybe next time.
If there are any misidentifications please let me know, I am a complete novice with Dragonflies and Butterflies. Please also the post below. Painkillers are working so 2 posts today.


A bit of time since my last post due to my hands, unfortunately they still cannot cope with too much typing. Trying to edit the pictures gives me the most pain, this is mainly RSI as opposed to the Carpal Tunnel which I also have. I am experimenting with different mouses to see if it helps.
Anyway onto this brief report, last Monday (5/9/11) Alan and I went to Dungeness RSPB where the high winds seemed to keep everything smaller than a Lapwing hidden in cover, that is with the exception of the Great Tits on the feeder in the car park. The high winds also put paid to photography, the continual buffeting made telescope work equally difficult, fortunately Dungeness has a large number of hides. 
Great White Egret - Canon 400D + 100-400mm + X2 extension hand focussed
The day started well with the first four hides revealing Cormorants, Mallard, Lapwing, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Starling, Common Sandpiper, Coots galore, whilst Swallows flew overhead. On the walks between the hides we saw Magpies, Carrion Crows, Great Black Backed Gulls, Wood Pigeon and a distant Marsh Harrier.
Christmas Dell hide was quiet except for a few Sand martins.
Great White Egret and Little Egret - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Denge Marsh hide gave the first 2 new sightings for the year with Great White Egret showing well until it was chased off by a Heron. The second was a Hobby flying low over the hide. Others seen from here were Teal, Gadwall, Greylag Geese and Mute Swans, Great Crested Grebe and Common Tern. At Denge I took the only photographs of the trip.

Great White Egret pounced upon by Heron - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Great White Egret keeps face walking past the antagonist - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Great White Egret disgruntled strides off - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Hanson ARC Hide gave another three year firsts, Black Terns were in the far distance, whilst closer on the islands near the hide were Sandwich Terns, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, a solitary Oystercatcher, Dunlin, whilst a Garganey was among some Shovelers. A Sparrowhawk also flew over whilst we were there.
We missed the Cattle Egret, however despite lack of photos and smaller birds it was a nice day with 34 species.