Monday, 21 November 2011

Chatham Docks

Living in Chatham I took the opportunity on Sunday morning to go with Wendy to the Outlet Centre and walk down to the Marina and Basin No 2 hoping to catch the Long Tailed Duck that has been there for the last few days. I arrived at and the sun was shining brightly. The marina held 3 Little Grebes which were spending more time under water than on top, a few Herring Gulls sat on the rails and several Black headed Gulls buzzed us, I presume looking for handouts – they were disappointed; a Pied Wagtail was also bobbing about on the open footpaths. We crossed the road to Basin No 2 and my luck was in, the Long Tailed Duck was there in full view preening in bright sunshine not 20 feet away. The following are just a few of the photos I took with a borrowed Canon 20D with my 100-400mm Lens attached. I could have spent all day there, but after an hour Wendy wanted to go shopping, that was why we had gone to the Outlet Centre after all, wasn’t it?.


Last week I was lucky enough after a lull of a month to go out walking 4 times and 2 of those specifically for birding. A great time was had on each occasion. Each report will sadly be short but will contain a full sighting list. Unfortunately due to camera problems (mine is currently in Burton-on-Trent) my pictures are substandard, apologies for that. This is the last of the 4 reports, a walk with Alan and Wendy at Reculver on 19/11/2011

Kestrel - Olympus SP590UZ
We walked up to the Towers where some Rock Pipits were feeding with some Pied Wagtails on the sea wall, moving down to the Oyster Farm a Kestrel was sat on some metal work, but soon flew off. There was some life in the Oyster Farm, but it remained hidden, unlike the hundreds of Brent Geese that were in the fields behind. Cormorants occasionally flew over and there were plenty of Gulls at sea. I did spot something small and fast over the sea (auk like), but it landed out of sight before I could identify it. A couple of Shelduck were also well out at sea, whilst a young Mute Swan swam along nearer to shore.
Stonechat - Olympus SP590UZ
Past the Oyster Farm a small group of Stonechats were flying about, they hardly stopped for a moment, I only got one picture in focus; a Meadow Pipit also showed for a moment before flying off. In the distant fields a couple of Little Egrets flew around, whilst Oystercatchers and Redshanks occasionally flew up briefly from the shallows of sunken rivers. As we neared where the Snow Buntings had been seen a Grey Wagtail flew past, sadly no Snow Buntings. A small flock of Linnets were on the embankment of the sunken pond and some Redshank were in it, but little else seen.
Brent Geese - Olympus SP590UZ

Brent Geese - Courtesy of Alan

Brent Geese - courtesy of Alan
We walked back, I decided to walk on the shingle for a bit and saw 3 Turnstone coming towards me along the shore, they did not see me and passed about 6 feet away, it was a great sensation being that close hearing the noise they made as they hunted among the stones.
Turnstone - Olympus SP590UZ
Although the bird list was short we were treated to a terrific sunset. We returned to the Towers where I was hoping to see one of the Little Owls, however a Kestrel had the caravan rooftops to itself and although dusk had fallen no owls were seen. Also seen on this trip were Carrion Crows, Collared Doves, Black headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Magpies and a Robin.
Sunset over the fields at Reculver - Olympus SP590UZ

Stodmarsh NNR

Last week I was lucky enough after a lull of a month to go out walking 4 times and 2 of those specifically for birding. A great time was had on each occasion. Each report will sadly be short but will contain a full sighting list. This is the third of the 4 reports, a day at Stodmarsh with Stephen on 18/11/2011 .

Sadly there are no pictures with this post, it was a lovely day, I didn’t even put a coat on until 2.45pm, but all birds were too far away or skittish for photography.

Our first port of call was the Reedbed Hide, sadly though all activity was in the far distance which was soon to be seen far closer from the footpath which turned out to be quite active, first off a couple of Cetti’s Warblers were heard from the nearby reeds, then a small russet bullet flew between two sets of reeds, one of the singing Cetti’s. Then we overlooked the lake from which large flocks of Teal, Tufted Duck and Shovelers could be seen, interspersed among them were some Pochards, Mallards and Gadwalls and a couple of Great Crested Grebes.

Further along the path we could see across to the far side where Cormorants were sat in the trees, there were some Mute Swans and a couple of Heron by the bank. A solitary goose behind the island remained asleep and unidentified, though its size suggested Canada Goose (we did not count it); we also thought we had a Scaup among the Tufties and were checking the books frantically for verification features when the whole lot lifted, but no sign of a predator, and no sign of the suspect Tufted when they landed. In the trees around us were numerous small birds, most of which remained unidentified, however a Greenfinch stayed still long enough for identification as did a Chaffinch a little later. A Green Woodpecker flew off to a nearby tree, however a large number of branches helped it hide from my camera.

Tower Hide had nothing new to see, however of interest were a couple of owl pellets on a window ledge when we opened the shutter. It’s the nearest I have been to an Owl this year! We made our way up to the river and followed it towards Grove Ferry. Coots and Moorhens called up from the reeds and occasionally showed briefly, as did a Reed Bunting; as we moved down the river a number of thrushes shot across the river, I was certain they were Redwings, and I eventually managed to get one in the scope as proof. The riverside walk was alarmingly quiet, even a piece of wetland to our right which earlier this year had been teeming with birdlife held only a few Pied Wagtails. A half dozen Starlings, flew overhead, otherwise it was quiet, the river especially so.That was until we got within a couple of hundred yards of Grove Ferry when the trees came alive with a few Goldfinches and larger numbers of Blue Tits and Great Tits. A Kestrel was seen hunting nearby, and just as we were giving up hope of seeing one a Kingfisher shot past, very colourful against the dark river bank.

We ate a late lunch in the Bus shelter at Grove Ferry overlooking the fields of what should have been Fieldfare, but only contained Carrion Crows, Wood Pigeons and a few Rabbits. In the far distance a Buzzard was seen hunting high in the air. We moved on to the ramp to see a few Greylag Geese, hundreds of Teal and a Redshank. As it was getting late we missed out Feast’s Hide and Harrison’s Drove Hide and walked on to Marsh Hide in hope of seeing the Glossy Ibis, however it was a no show and dusk was fast approaching. “En route” we did catch a small flock of Fieldfare, their blue-grey rumps showing well. At Marsh Hide we did get good views of a Little Egret feeding nearby and of a Marsh Harrier which not only spooked what we can only deduce was a Snipe about 20 feet away (all eyes were on the Harrier), but large numbers of Lapwing and Teal as it skimmed over the Marshland. From here we also saw large numbers of passing Brent Geese. A Sparrowhawk also made a couple of very brief appearances just before and after we left the hide. We made our way back to the car park passing through the nature trail where both a Robin and a Wren were nosing around in the underbrush. Also seen during the day but not mentioned above were Blackbirds, Shelduck, Magpies, Great Black Backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Black Headed Gulls, and a pair of white doves.

An excellent day in excellent company with 46 spots.

Oare Marshes

Last week I was lucky enough after a lull of a month to go out walking 4 times and 2 of those specifically for birding. A great time was had on each occasion. Each report will sadly be short but will contain a full sighting list. Unfortunately due to camera problems (mine is currently in Burton-on-Trent) my pictures are substandard, apologies for that. This is the second of the 4 reports, a day at Oare with Alan. Sadly there are no photos from me as mine was still on holiday and I had left my Olympus at home. The below are Alan’s shots and his Gallery can be seen at :-

Tuesday 15/11/11 was a very nice day and we started off with a walk down to Dan’s Dock, on the foreshore were Dunlin’s a plenty with a few Ringed Plover and Grey Plover in their midst, whilst a Rock Pipit nagged us from the nearby rocks. To the South of the path a few Reed Buntings were in amongst the reeds whilst in the water were some Mallards, a Heron and a Wigeon. At Dan’s Dock a Robin, a Dunnock, a female Chaffinch and a Grey Wagtail all showed nicely, whilst a small flock of 7/8 birds took off from the Reeds on the seaward side, did a lap before disappearing back into the reeds again. From the few calls and their overall outline I believe these were the Twite that others had seen, but as they were always flying across the sun so all I got was a silhouette and they never showed in the reeds I cannot say for sure.

Grey Wagtail at Dan's Dock
We returned along the same path and then on to the seawall Hide, however the tide had just come in and on the remaining shoreline opposite could be seen a large number of Redshank with Curlews, Oystercatchers, Black Headed Gulls, Herring Gulls and a few number of Bar Tailed Godwits. In the Swale was a Great Crested Grebe whilst a couple of Goldfinches were seen in the nearby bushes.
The East Flood had its usual cocktail of birdlife including Teal, Dabchick, Little Egrets, Cormorants, Tufted Duck, Teal, a couple of hundred Avocets, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Coots, a couple of Shovelers, Redshank, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, some Snipe, a pair of Mute Swans and a Little Stint. By the bridge on the East flood Alan and I saw the briefest of glimpses of a Water Rail whilst over on the West flood a Green Woodpecker was spotted.

Grey Heron - near watchtower
Other spots included carrion Crow, Collared Dove, a Jackdaw, Magpies, Moorhens, Wood Pigeon and Starlings, and on the farmland to the South of the Marshes I saw 3 Pheasants. An excellent day with a total of 46 spots.

New Hythe Lakes

Last week I was lucky enough after a lull of a month to go out walking 4 times and 2 of those specifically for birding. A great time was had on each occasion. Each report will sadly be short but will contain a full sighting list. Unfortunately due to camera problems (mine is currently in Burton-on-Trent) the pictures are substandard, apologies for that. This is the first of 4 reports where I went for a non-birding stroll with Wendy around New Hythe Lakes last Saturday.

 Dipping Pond from the Jetty - Olympus SP590UZ

It was a lovely day and we started off along Ocean Lake where the usual Greylag Geese, Coots, Mute Swans, Mallards and Cormorants could be seen along with a distant Great Crested Grebe. We then headed off to the Dipping Pond which had nothing on it at all except a couple of coots and three Black Headed Gulls. It was so serene that I went for a scenic photo (above) whilst there.
We took the path to the North of the dipping pond and found a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the taller of the trees. There was a lot of bird movement in the reeds and bushes along the path but other than the Blackbirds, very little showed itself. We then continued around Larkfield Lake the bushes of which rewarded us with Great Tits, Blue Tits and Long Tailed Tits in a mixed flock, a Chaffinch and a Dunnock, whilst the water provided Canada Geese, Moorhens, more Gulls than I could count, a Little Grebe, some Gadwall, plenty of Tufted Duck and a solitary Shoveler.
Great Spotted Woodpecker -  Olympus SP590UZ

The scrub was fairly quiet other than the Magpies, but we stood and stared at the grass for a little while and a Green Woodpecker eventually showed itself by taking a short flight before disappearing again into the grass with only its head showing. On Roaden Island Lake was a pair of White Mallards and in the stream to our right was a Wren. We took the long way back around Ocean Lake catching sight of a few Goldfinches and some Collared Doves, Tits were again calling from the trees and several Robins were seen whilst a Great Black Backed Gull flew over. It was a nice long walk, nothing special and only 29 on the list, but we both enjoyed the walk. Not listed above are Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon,and Starlings.
Greylag Goose -  Olympus SP590UZ