Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sheppey, Dunge, Scotney, Jury's Gap!

Keeping this short and sweet.
From Capel Fleet the Rough-legged buzzard (127 for the year) showed briefly as did ringtail Hen harrier and 7 Marsh harrier. A couple of Corn buntings were about too, and c100 W F Goose fed in a field opposite the view point. Onto West Hythe for the night heron, which we duly dipped because the heron flew south minutes before we arrived and it wasn't located, "Ahhhhhh" Onto Dunge for iceland gull which we also dipped! No sign of it after endless searching and no news of it, but 13 R T Divers (128) and 2 B T Divers(129) flew west during our stay and there were c200 Kittiwakes (130) along the shore including several oiled birds. Hundreds of auks were at sea with just 2 Razorbill (131) seen and c500 Guillemot (132). Next onto Scotney GP's where there were 3 Scaup, including 2 drakes and I found a female Common Scoter in with the Wigeon.
From Jury's Gap there were 2 R T Divers, 6 Eider (133) Curlew, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Common Scoter, c20 G C Grebe and 2 Pintail flew west at sea.
A dipping day, but very much enjoyable. I think it's back to bough beech tomorrow, after 24 days away from it!


Monday, 19 January 2009

King Eider twitch

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, I'll try to do it more regularly in the future.

Yesterday (Sunday 18th Jan 09) I went down to East Sussex to see the King Eider that's been seen on and off for a week. A seawatch near Rye Harbour (I was in between the two main groups of birders about 5 miles apart from each other that were scrutinizing the coast for the bird) produced large numbers of Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a possible female Common Eider. I made a quick diversion to the Long Pits at Rye Harbour NR to get Scaup, one of my biggest bogeys, off my life list and I succeeded, getting good views of 2 immature males and an adult male. There was also a female Smew present (great, now I've got all the regular sawbills on my year list!). Back to the coast, nothing much new. I got a call from my mate Kevin McManus that the news had come through on the pager that the King Eider had been seen at Jury's Gap. I rushed to the car and told dad to get me there as soon as possible! After not too long, we pulled up by a large group of birders. I rushed towards them and frantically tried to get onto the bird using Lee G R Evans' instructions but it took me at least 5 minutes to get onto the bird in someone else's scope and then another few minutes to get it in mine! Beautful! Male King Eider, what a bird, even if you could only see it for a second or two before it disappeared under a wave! I spotted a distant Red-throated Diver (another tart tick off my list!) flying west and a Guillemot heading the same way.

A quick roadside stop at the ARC pit at Dungeness revealed a pair of Goosanders, a male and 2 female Smew as well as about 20 Red-legged Partridges. A half hour seawatch before dinner at the Pilot Inn, and sunset got me good views of a fishing Guillemot, a female Common Scoter and a Kittiwake.

At the end of the day my year list was on 99. Its on 102 after Beddington SF today with Tree Sparrow, Green Sandpiper and Woodcock.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

On the trail of a Bogey

It was absolutely freezing when we got out of the car this morning. I can't remember being so cold - it made a winter seawatch at Holme feel like Barbados! A Kingfisher greeted us, making use of a small patch of unfrozen water. A few Bullfinch were flitting about as we walked along a path towards our destination along with a multitude of thrushes, and a Barn Owl added character to the winter scene. A Muntjac and a group of about 20 Roe Deer seemed unaware of us, despite the constant explosions of woodpigeon that marked our movements.

Reaching our destination we scanned for our target - the infamous Long-eared Owl. However, it soon became apparent that we were not in luck. We decided to walk towards their favourite haunt, since there was no chance of disturbing them if they weren't there. Our attention was drawn to a shape slinking through a field to our left as 5 Snipe erupted from the grass. The Fox trotted towards us, as oblivious as the deer had been, and disappeared into a ditch. Reaching the Long-eared Owl bushes we scanned the open fields for any owls that may still be hunting. No luck, although we had another mammal surprise in the form of a herd of more than 100 Red Deer, including 2 magnificent stags! What a sight on a misty winter's morning. As if this wasn't enough a large raptor appeared over the top of the woods: a Goshawk!

We left happy, despite not having seen our target. A further 3 Foxes together were an unexpected bonus, evidently a family group. One final surprise came in the form of a Kingfisher which flew along a dyke, crossing our path not 2 metres in front of us. It seemed to be just as shocked as we were, making a violent swerve to avoid us!

Hopefully another visit tomorrow will bring more luck. My year list currently stands on 69, with Simeon's a few below (he was a bit miffed that I could claim Redwing, Fieldfare and Golcrest as yearers!).


Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Year Listing Comp 2009

Hello all, Josh here.

Simeon came up with the idea of a monthly update on your year lists, if your taking part in the competition ( see rules>>>>)
I think this would be a good idea so just email us your total and highlights at the end of each month and we can get an idea of who's thrashing who!!!
My year list in currently standing at 118.

Regards, Happy Birding and good luck if your taking part in the competition.


Monday, 5 January 2009

New year birding

Hey everyone,  Chris W reporting from the US of A. 

I ended 2008 with 461 species for the year and 526 species on my life list.  

This year, I started out the new year with some aggressive tactics.  

On Jan 1, I drove two hours up to Buena Vista Grasslands to find this Snowy Owl: 

On Jan 2nd, I drove around, adding a bunch of easy year birds. 

On the 3rd, I ran down to a cemetery in Madison where a flock of White-winged Crossbills had been reported.  It took about 15 mins to find them after I added a further 3 year birds before finding this male Crossbill: 

There were about 10-15 birds total.  This was a very welcome find as it was a new life bird for me!

A total of 11 new year birds on the 3rd brought me up to my current total of 38 species for the year.    As soon as the ice melts, that total should go up a bit more. 

As always, check my blog for regular updates: 

Happy Birding and Happy New Year! --Chris

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Slavonian Sandwich

Hi, Ben here,
I just thought I would put up some photos of the Slavonian Grebe I saw at Sandwich Bay this evening. They're regular winter visitors at Dungeness, but Dungeness does have a reputation for better birds than views most of the time. It was great to see this winter grebe at such close quarters as it swam past the nearest island! Other birds seen included a Short-eared Owl and a Barn Owl, the latter being a lifer for me as well as the Slavonian Grebe, or 'Slav' as some were calling it. The full report is on my blog.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Rails, Snipes and Bitterns

I took a trip to the London Wetland Centre (or Stringsville as Josh and David would call it) just before the end of new year to try and get a lifer to end 2008.
I managed to get great distant views of a Jack Snipe...

Here is the Jack Snipes' big bro, the Common Snipe which was very abundant on the grazing marsh.

And a Bittern was a nice surprise (after 10 minutes trying to locate it!)....

I even found my own Water Rail (lifer). It gave amazing views just metres from me and eventually flew when a family came.

They have very long toes like their cousins, the Moorhen to help them spread their body weight over a wide area so they doesn't sink into mud etc. They are also great for clinging on to almost any surface.

Here is a young female Stonechat that was also present on the grazing marsh, foraging on the ground a lot of the time for worms...

What a great end to 2008!
Happy New Year to everyone at Young Birders
Billy D

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Years Day Birding!

A total of 91 species were recorded today. I started by listening for birds from my bedroom window, here I added Robin, Jay, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Blue tit, Pied wagtail, Magpie, Crow, Starling, Nuthatch, Great tit, Wood pigeon, Chaffinch, R N Parakeet, Collared dove, Meadow pipit, Dunnock, L T Tit and Grn Woodpecker.
Next stop was the meeting place, to get a lift, near Badgersmount, not a place you'd expect to add any species but here I got House sparrow, Song thrush, Herring gull, Feral pigeon, B H Gull, Greenfinch, Goldcrest, Buzzard, Goldfinch and Wren.
Onto Bough beech, 4 female Goosanders, Cormorant, G C grebe, Greylag, Sparrowhawk, G N Diver, Pheasant, Mallard, Tufted duck, Pochard, Common gull, Grey heron, Coot, Snipe, Teal, Ruddy duck, Moorhen, GSW, Bearded tit, Marsh tit.
On the journey to Folkstone, Lapwing, Mistle thrush, Kestrel, Rook.
Get 22 Waxwing at Park Farm Ind Estate, no-body else there! Great views!
Journey to Dunge, Mute swan, Grey partridge, Stock dove, Little owl ( Lydd), Corn bunting ( 64 on wires on Walland marsh, Yellowhammer, Fieldfare, Redwing.
Field north of Lydd, goose heaven, Brent goose ( 1), White-fronted goose ( c80), Hen harrier ( ringtail), Pink-footed goose ( 8), Tundra Bean Goose ( 1 ad), Canada goose+more Greylags and feral Barnacle goose flock.
Scotney GP's, Wigeon, Little egret, R L Partridge, Redshank, Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall.
Jury's Gap, E Sussex, Velvet Scoter ( 2, male and female past East), Common scoter ( c100), Shag ( 1), Gannet, Turnstone, G B B Gull, Barn owl by barn.
Field in Dengemarsh/Lydd Ranges area, Whooper swan ( 2 ads) with Bewick's swan ( c40),
RSPB Dungeness, Goldeneye, Pintail, Smew ( 1 drk, 3 females) Red-crested Pochard ( drake) Cetti's warbler, Bittern, Water rail, Slavonian grebe.
3 british ticks!- 204
2009 Year List- 91
A great start to the Year Listing Competition on here.
Do take part in it....IF YOU DARE!!!