Friday, 21 September 2012

Oare Marshes 18-9-2012

Tuesday was another nice day so Alan and I visited Oare Marshes though the wind was quite fresh it was warm enough (for me) to spend most of the day jacketless. My recent lack of practice at photography tells in these shots for which I apologise. We started off taking a quick look out from the jetty which revealed very little except a single Curlew and a number of Black Headed Gulls, a look down the margin from the western path revealed some Mallards, Coots, Tufted Ducks a sole Dabchick keeping close to the reeds and a Snipe snoozing in the corner of one of the islands. 
Linnet - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

We headed up the main road noting that the New West Scrape was dry with only a few flies buzzing about the remaining small puddle. The East Flood was also low on water but this did not diminish the variety of birds there. A large flock of Bar Tailed Godwits with a few Redshank around the edges were in the distance whilst nearer to us on a dried patch was a significant number of Ringed Plovers with a Curlew Sandpiper preening itself in their midst.
Ringed Plover - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
A large flock of Golden Plovers (aprox 150) covered one island with a similar number of Starlings scattered around as were a large number of Lapwings. Dunlin were dotted about busily feeding as was a Little Stint, however soon after spotting it all the Starlings and Plovers together with the Little Stint took to the air and I never found it again. A scan of the skies revealed a Peregrine Falcon quite high, they must have been very vigilant to pick it out as I needed my binoculars to identify it.
Little Stint - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Other occupants of the flood included Mute Swans, Cormorants, Little Egrets and several Ruffs
Lapwings - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Seen from the roadway was this odd looking heron.

Heron - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

And then it closed its wings.

Heron closing wings - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
As we moved off towards the West Scrape a pair of Swallows flew through and a Goldfinch was seen in a nearby bush. The West Scrape was as usual relatively quiet with the only excitement a Hobby skimming fast and low over the reeds and disappearing behind the hide before I could point it out to Alan. In the distance a couple of Buzzards were over Mocketts, some young coots were in the water in front of us together with 4 Teal.
Starling - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

On the footpath to the East Flood Hide a Green Woodpecker flew out from our right. From the West Flood hide we had repeat views of a Curlew Sandpiper and excellent views of all the Bar Tailed Godwits among which a couple of Greenshanks were stood. There were about 70 odd Avocets in the flood and feeding along the far bank a pair of Spotted Redshank, the summer plumage still clinging to one of them. Occupants of the hide had been watching a Water Rail before our arrival but it did not appear for us.
Dunlin - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
We left and watched the butterflies and dragonflies around the water margin near to the hide. We were watching  a Small Copper, some Small Whites, and a Common Blue of the former and some Common Hawkers and a Common Darter of the latter when a gentleman called us back into the hide as a Water Rail had just reappeared, it was my first sighting of one this year and lovely to see as it walked along the waterline on the far bank too far away to photograph. It was very kind of those in the hide to consider calling us back.

Common Blue - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The walk to the sluice was uneventful and we set up on the creek side of the flood to scour it from another angle but nothing new seen, however I looked over to where the Water Rail had been to see two Water Rails walking together which were then joined by a third – I was in seventh heaven, especially as one of them thought it best to walk in the sunshine avoiding the reeds all together.
Golden Plovers (from road) note summer plumage far right - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

The walk to the Sea Wall hide flushed out a solitary Long Tailed Tit, a pair of House Sparrows and a Linnet were seen in the various bushes whilst on the bank near the hide we saw a Pied Wagtail and some Reed Buntings. From the hide little was to be seen due to a very high tide however on the distant shore towards Seasalter were a large number of Oystercatchers. A check of Sheppey gave up a Marsh Harrier directly north of us.
Reed Bunting - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Other birds seen were Carrion Crows, Wood Pigeons Collared Dove, and Herring Gull. A total of 42 for the days walk but for me the highlight was the three Water Rails. A final thank you to the person who found the lost eyecup to my telescope and put it on a post for me to find, I am very grateful.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Kelsey Park, Bromley 15-9-2012

Young Mallard still with down  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
On Saturday I took my mum for a walk round Kelsey Park, near Bromley in Kent, it is a very popular public park and most of the birdlife is anything but shy vying with the plentiful Grey Squirrels for the nuts seeds and bread all the visitors seem to bring. The closeness of these birds would give some good photo opportunities if they were not forever on the move scurrying after the next bit of food thrown down by well meaning families.
Adult Moorhen - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Tufted Duck  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The park consists of a central lake fed by the river beck which is really no more than a large stream. The lake has a couple of small islands, one of which contains a Heronry consisting of 21 nests, the below photos are of the last chicks this year of which there were 40.
This Years Heron (chicks?)  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Heron  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The lake has always had a good mix of waterfowl and we saw Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Tufted Ducks, Mute Swans, Graylag Geese, Canada Geese and a single Dabchick, all of which are regulars at the park.

A Line of Greylag Geese responding to a group of children throwing food for the ducks  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Its location has also meant that it usually has a few escapees of which a Muscovy Duck and an Aylesbury Duck can often be seen here along with the odd Domestic Duck and an increasing number of Egyptian Geese (6 on this occasion), whether these are all free flying or not I have no idea.

Egyptian Goose  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Muscovy Duck  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
My favourites at Kelsey Park are the Mandarin Ducks which happily breed here, their fantastic colours dulled by their preference for the quieter areas of the lake swimming among the many overhanging trees in the lower portion of the river Beck.
Male Mandarin Duck  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Female Mandarin  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The spot of the day had to be this Teal in mid moult – the probability is that it is a Ringed Teal (note the dark red patches on its back) which have been at the park before.

Teal (probably Ringed Teal)  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Over the years the popularity of the park has meant that the wooded areas have been over-visited from a nature point of view and are heavily criss-crossed with a myriad of mini footpaths and thus especially on a busy Saturday the number of passerines seen was very low, limited on this visit to single sightings of Wren, Blackbird, and Robin whilst overhead a few Great Tits called from the upper canopy as did a large number of Ring Necked Parakeets (the pictures of the latter are taken at my parents neighbours apple tree about 2 miles from Kelsey Park in the early evening when they visited, hence poorer picture quality).

Ring Necked Parakeet  - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Other bird sightings were House Sparrow, starlings, Black Headed Gull, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon and Feral Pigeon. A quick word of thanks to the lady from “The Friends of Kelsey Park” who was doing a duck count and engaged me in conversation, updating me on recent goings-on.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Oare Marshes 27-8-2012

Yesterday I met Stephen at Oare Marshes at 10am, the weather was overcast (hence poor photos) with a gentle breeze gathering strength through the day. The tide was fully up and there were only a few Black Headed Gulls and a Great Black Backed Gull from the ramp. However a quick look from the sea wall into the “New West Scrape” revealed a Greenshank, a Black Tailed Godwit a Heron half hidden in the Reeds and seven Little Egrets with some other waders, when we got down to the viewing spot those other waders turned out to be a Wood Sandpiper and a couple of Green Sandpipers. Whilst watching them a Meadow Pipit landed in the nearby grass.

Ruff feeding - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The East flood was quite bounteous in variety and quantity with large flocks of Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits, and Golden Plovers, interspersed with the latter among the islands were Starlings and Lapwings. In the water among the larger flocks were some Dunlin, Redshank and a couple of Ruff. Ducks included Mallards, Coots, Dabchicks a couple of Tufted Duck, some Teal, some Shovelers, some Gadwalls, a few Moorhens and confusing for me was a Wigeon in eclipse. Somone kindly pointed out two Curlew Sandpipers and a Yellow Wagtail to us which was slowly making its way along the Southern Reed line. Dotted around were some Snipe and some immature Shelducks whilst a Pied Wagtail scoured a bit of dry land near to us. The East Flood also contained a family group of Mute Swans, a couple of Cormorants and some immature Pochards. Whilst scouring the flood a warbler dived in and out of the reeds quite close to us, despite it showing for less than half a second on each of two occasions I am certain it was a Reed Warbler.

Snipe feeding - Canon 400D +100-400mm
Next we went to the West Flood (West scrape) hide – on our way there we came across a lot of Common Darters and Stephen proved to be at one with nature when one of them decided to land on his hand and use it as a feeding post to eat a fly there.

Common Darter eating a fly on Stephen's Hand - Canon 400D +100-400mm
Outside the hide was a couple of Yellow-Winged Darters. From the hide I searched the reeds and found only a family of Coots and a few Mallards whilst Stephen scoured Sheppey where he picked out a Marsh Harrier, then over the distant block houses to the West he found a Kestrel. Over Mocketts two Buzzards were pointed out to us by another couple in the hide. On the way back to the road we heard but did not see a Yaffle whilst a Feral Pigeon watched us from a distance fence post.
Yellow-Winged Darter - Canon 400D +100-400mm

Running short on time we made our way round the East Flood via the Seawall hide, near the gate were a few Greylag Geese, whilst on the creek path we saw a Grey Wagtail. The Creek had large numbers of Redshank in it and a smaller numbers of Godwits. During the days travels we had also seen a Bar Tailed Godwit (I cannot remember where though) and some Wood Pigeons.

Lapwing - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
I am cheekily going to add 3 birds to the day list, namely Collared Dove, Swallow and House Sparrow the first 2 being seen by me on the road between Oare village and the reserve whilst the latter was heard on the same stretch on the way home. Stephen saw a Harrier on the way to the reserve which he believed was a Hen Harrier but could not be positive. The day list was 42 on the reserve, or a cheeky 44 with 2 others heard. Butterflies seen were Small Whites, Gatekeepers and Small Heaths.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Northward Hill, Cliffe Pools 21-8-2012

To avoid boredom I have put the reason for recent lack of posts at end of this report.
A Bit of a double report here, despite my break from Blogging the bird spotting continued. Whenever I travel up North I always go via the M40 to see the Red Kites near junction 5. Here are a few photos I took on 3rd August of these lovely majestic birds.

Red Kites 3-8-2012 - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
This brings me to yesterday when Wendy and I went to Northward Hill RSPB reserve, the bird sightings were poor, even the bird feeders despite being full of nuts were devoid of any activity. Wandering around the reserve sightings included Rook, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Wood Pigeon, Linnet, Magpie, Swallow, Starling and Heron.
Female Linnet with "grub" - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Wood Pigeon - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Looking out from the main viewpoint, the reservoir and mainly dried up lake contained a Little Egret, some Lapwings, Mallards, Dabchicks, Black Tailed Godwits, Moorhens, Coots,  a Redshank and 3 Teal. 22 species in all, a poor count, however the butterflies on the walk more than made up for this with a Small Tortoiseshell, a Red Admiral, several Small Coppers, Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Speckled Woods.

Common Blue - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Small Copper - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
There was also an awful lot of Dragonflies about as well (my identifications may be a bit awry here so please correct me if I am wrong), mainly Common Darters, a few Yellow Winged Darters and a couple of what I believe were Brown Hawkers, sadly no photos of these larger Dragonflies which were constantly on the move.
Common Darter - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Mating Common Darters - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Yellow Winged Darter - Canon 400D + 100-400mm

Common Darter - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Nature sometimes comes up with something new and interesting and for me it was the clouds of seeds which were being wafted around the reserve some of which caught in spiders webs leaving some interesting shapes - here is one of the hundreds of webs we saw covered in seeds.

We then moved on to Cliffe Pools but due to limited time only got as far as the viewpoint at Radar Pool. However we did get to see a huge flock of Avocets, intermixed with them on the shoreline were Grey Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones, Common Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, and Black Tailed Godwits a single Dunlin and a few Redshank. Around the edges of the pool were Little Egrets, an Oystercatcher and some Common Terns. On the pool itself were Little Grebes, Coots and Great Crested Grebes.

Meadow Brown - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (Northard Hill)
En Route back to the carpark we saw a Goldfinch, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a large mixed flock of Long Tailed Tits and Blue Tits, in the car park pool (I think it is called Flamingo) were some Pochard. Nearby some Collared Doves sat on some telephone wires whilst a few Cormorants flew overhead. This gave me an additional 15 species for the day – not great, but not bad for what ended up as a hot muggy day.
Small Tortoiseshell - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (Northard Hill)

Gatekeeper - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (Northard Hill)

Speckled Wood - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (Northard Hill)

It has been a while since my last post, apologies for that but RSI meant that anything beyond 10 minutes sat at a keyboard and mouse left me in agony for hours and sometimes days. Several months rest from a desktop now means I can do about an hour at a time without pain, so it is time for me to try and put a few posts together. Hopefully I will be back with a bit more regularity but it is dependent on me remaining pain free. If the pain comes back I will be left with just posting  a few photos and a day list, let’s hope it does not come to that.