Saturday, 29 November 2008

BB, Foreness Point and Capel Fleet, Sheppey

A planned trip to collect more ticks and get myself nearer to 200 fro my British list. I arrived at bough beech this morning and looked for the GN diver but couldn't see it so assumed it was down the over end. Here there were 1 Kingfisher, 4 Snipe, 2 Redpoll, 15 Mandarin amongst the regulars of note. Met Graham and we decided to head straight to Foreness point for purple sand.
On the journey there was a Buzzard in the usual spot along the M20.
At Cliftonville near Margate, I picked up an adult winter Mediterranean gull on a field by the sea which was a nice start to the day. At Foreness there was a large gathering of waders.
c150 Oystercatcher, c50 Grey plover, c20 Sanderling, 3 Curlew, c100 Ringed plover, Turnstones, Redshanks and a very Un-showy Purple sandpiper, a lifer for me. Graham has seen up to 40 of them here so we were alittle disappointed at 1 of them! 10 Fulmars were a great site and the best views I've ever had of one. 1 Kestrel showed well down to 3 metres, and to end our stop here 2 lifers: 2 male Red-breated mergansers flew past and I got onto some very distant divers which turned out to be my 1st Red-throated divers, 3 in total.
On the way to sheppey we came across another Buzzard at by the motorway.
We headed for Capel fleet and drove along the Harty Sheppey Road where we had incredible views of 3 Short-eared owls and I soon got onto a Rough-legged buzzard, the last lifer of the day. It was hovering in front of the Elmley Prison and showed for a short while before disappearing. Further along the road we totaled 3 Hen harriers showing well and 5 Marsh harrier. A Great Day!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Snow Bunting, Short-eared Owl and more, Kent 23rd November 2008

I spent the day with Josh J Shaw. The two main sites that we visited were Leysdown on Sea (where all the below photos were taken) and Elmley Marshes RSPB (Short-eared Owl). Both were lifers for Josh and year ticks for me. A full report (with a video) is available on

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Great Northern Diver

Went to see the GN Diver at bough beech today. Fantastic views of it diving ( Well it would be, wouldn't it??!!!!) A lifer for me and it brings my Bough beech list to 122 species. Lovely stuff!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Grey Phalarope at Home Park

What a great day birding with David Campbell. First Beddington SF with a Jack Snipe and lots of Tree Sparrow (both lifers). Then Home Park (Hampton Court Park) with a Grey Phalarope literally 1 metre away from us!

Here are a some of shots from the day.....
A Tree Sparrow at Beddington
And of course, the Phalarope......!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

GREY PHALAROPE and Jack Snipe 15/11/2008

I spent the day birding with Billy Dykes. First we went to Beddington where we flushed a Jack Snipe (lifer for Billy, year tick for me). Shortly afterwards, we went to see the Hampton Court Grey Phalarope. It took us a while to find the right place but we eventually watched the bird at 1-2 metres range during a beautiful sunset.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Pine Siskin invasiom

Hi all, Brendan here,

Pine Siskins have been moving down the eastern seaboard in mad numbers lately. Some estimates from the barrier beaches of New York lately have peaked at 6,000 birds. I was able to see some on two occasions recently. The first instance was a rolling flock of ~50. The second was a smaller flock feeding in some pines that I check regularly this time of year for Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls (those two and Snowy Owl are the only owls I have in my county!). There they all were, quietly nibbling on cones. Interestingly, I was repeatedly encountering tapping noises that day in the grove of pines but could locate no avian source. Finally I noticed some cones were shut tight and others were open like a flower. The noise was actually the cones popping open! Good timing for the siskins, who also seem to notice a difference (below).
On a different note, Pine Siskin happened to be my 299th New York state bird. Pine Siskins are pretty regular upstate, but aren't terribly common in the state most years, much less downstate. I am also missing several other winter finches, including both redpolls, both winter grosbeaks and Red Crossbill. Luckily, none are expected to invade soon so I can still control my 300th state bird!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Famous Green Heron

Thank goodness! My 500mm Sigma lens is now fixed, although some clumsy oaf at the Sigma warehouse in Nottingham managed somehow to break my manual focus mechanism! Never mind, I never seem to use it.
Seeing as I finally have my lens back I can get back to birdwatching again, and I went to see the Green Heron again to take some photos. They're not as good as those that some have taken, but the conditions were excellent for that lucky few. I'm pleased enough with the photos; at least it's proof that I saw it. Who knows, if I'd managed to take a photo of that grosbeak I saw in Donana, maybe all the issue that surrounded it may never have happened!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bushy Park- Wigeon Wonder

My first upload to this blog!

I have had a very boring couple of weeks recently as I haven't really gone birdwatching anywhere, but it was a very nice surprise when I found an eclipse male Wigeon at Bushy Park today. Ok, not the rarest of birds (it is in Bushy Park) but it provided a great photo opportunity.

and a fluffed up Pigeon....
On a couple of last notes, I can't believe I came 2nd place in the bird race and thanks David for letting me become a site member :). Also, don't forget to visit my blog at
Billy D

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Green Heron!

1st Winter, Royal Military Canal, West Hythe, Kent.

A great bird that showed really well. Apologies for the very poor pic, the camera kept playing up and the weather wasn't all too great either.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Got back from Cornwall on saturday to find Slavonian grebe reported on Birdguides at bough beech. So went there on sunday and had superb views of it all day.
Back to the main subject...Cornwall. To be honest the trip was quite un-eventful seeing as I had no way of traveling without my mum driving me places so I didn't see anything mega or rare but still had 2 lifers and some nice birding. The 2 lifers were Shag and Raven, which were both seen on the same day at Rame head. Great views of both species...later on that same day I dipped a firecrest reported near rame at Penlee battery. Oh well! Other good birds seen on the trip were: Golden Plover, Peregrine, Curlew, Dunlin, lots of Buzzards and surprisingly good numbers of butterflies, the most common being Red admiral. Photo: Peregrine that was seen perched for ages on the viaduct 5 mins walk from where we were staying in St Germans, nr Plymouth.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Getting in on the fall...

1/11/08 North Norfolk - Simeon
I managed to get out today after realising how much action I was missing on the coast!
First stop was Muckleburgh Hill where after following people (who didn't know where they were going!) for a while we eventually arrived where the bird had been. After about 10mins of waiting/searching a call went up as usual on twitches!
About ten minutes later I had had quite good views of it on the ground/in the lower branches of small trees. One disadvantage of being tall is that I had to crouch! The bird showed quite nicely but I left it after a few minutes to be hassled by the photographers!!!
Chris Orders kindly gave me a lift to Kelling where we arrived just in time to see 18 Waxwings sitting in a tree K-I-S-S... sorry - couldn't resist that! They were lovely and I was so pleased because I haven't seen one for literally about 7 years!
I then got dropped off at the station and got the train to West Runton. Near the farm builings I found a Yellow-Browed Warbler and several Goldcrests, and moving along the coast, there were several Blue tits in the clifftop scrub at East Runton. They must have been migrants - obviously new in, and large numbers have recently been recorded in Norway. Not really a bird I'd associate with long distance migration, but still nice.
My next (and final) stop was Warren Wood in Cromer. The habitat looked amazing but unfortunately the wind was too strong. I managed a Woodcock and a Yellow-Browed/Pallas's Warbler in the clifftop gorse near the lighthouse.
I good day by most standards and looking forward to next weekend providing the Easterlies remain...

Monday, 3 November 2008

Golf course Firecrests

I found 2 Firecrests at my local golf course (Banstead Downs Golf Course) on Friday and they've been showing well daily since then. This is quite a significant record for south London/north Surrey because there are 2 birds and they are both staying for a fair while (4th day today). They are generally scarce in my local area too with a brief bird at Mitcham Common earlier in 2008 being the only record this year.

Today I checked on them after school and one flew inches away from my head! Yesterday when I brought a friend to see them, I sat behind a small bush and played the call to lure them in- one came and landed half a metre away from me, no exaggeration! I was breathless. This whole Firecrest thing must be one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever had.

Despite coming so close they are extremely quick and restless (although the one that came very close sat there for quite a while, but I was too scared to raise my camera!) and hence very difficult to photograph.

I've managed a few shots and below is the best so far: