Lesser Redpolls on Boxing Day

Paul had 12 Lesser Redpolls on his nijer feeders in his garden in Surrey today.





The ringed Herring Gull seen at Newhaven on 9th November 2009 ....

I have just received the following message with regard to the ringed first-winter Herring Gull seen at Newhaven Quay on the 9th November 2009. (click here to read original post)
My thanks to Richard Thompson for the information.



"I manage an RSPCA wildlife centre and we release back to the wild previously sick, injured and orphaned wildlife, many of which are gulls.

I have released nearly 3,000 gulls over the last 12 years and darvic ringed over 2,000 Larus argentatus, 150 fuscus, 30 marinus and one michahellis.

All birds are released from Pett Level, East Sussex 50:55N. 00:42E.

A6JF, GC69820: This bird was admitted as a small nestling and was in the centre for 53 days. It was released 3rd August 2009. It has been out now for 96 days.

This is the first time this bird has been seen.

Sorry for the delay in my reply.

Richard Thompson"

RSPB Pulborough Brooks ... 14th December 2009

Paul had to make a trip to Hampshire today and couldn't resist dropping in at the Pulborough Brooks reserve on the way where he managed to add Bewick's Swan to his year list.
Six adults and one juvenile were present and Paul witnessed a Kestrel pluck a vole from the water's surface and fly off with it.








A large herd of deer were present ...................


........... apparently dark-morphed Fallow Deer.

RSPB Dungeness ... 11th December 2009

On arrival, in cold and very misty conditions, we headed straight for the Hanson-ARC Pit and the shelter of the hide but, apart from plenty of Shovelers, Wigeon and Teal, the only bird of note was a female Goldeneye. We left the car in the ARC car park and walked to the main reserve.
Along the access track we flushed 2 Red-legged Partridges and a female Marsh Harrier was hunting in the distance.
Burrowes Pit was rather disappointing as, apart from numerous Gadwall, Wigeon and Teal, the only noteable birds were another female Goldeneye and about 10 Pintail. We headed on to Christmas Dell hide, where there had been reports of Smew and Bittern yesterday - nothing!
Beginning to feel that we had picked the wrong day for a visit, we ventured on to Dengemarsh Hide where, fortunately, things started to look up.
Three Black-necked Grebes and the long-staying Great White Egret were showing well whilst 3 female Marsh Harriers kept the wildfowl flighty. Also, a female Sparrowhawk flew low over the reeds. One Black-necked Grebe swam close to the hide but proved very difficult to photograph as it continually dived, remaining on the surface for only seconds at a time.


GREAT WHITE EGRET
(Graham)


BLACK-NECKED GREBE (Paul)


BLACK-NECKED GREBE (Paul)


BLACK-NECKED GREBE (Graham)


BLACK-NECKED GREBE
(Graham)


MARSH HARRIER (Graham)

At the viewing ramp at Hookers Pit, 6 Bearded Tits appeared at the top of the reeds which was surprising due to the windy conditions and a male Marsh Harrier passed by. A Cetti's Warbler actually showed itself for a few seconds and several others were heard around the reserve. The two Glossy Ibises were in the fields near Boulderwall Farm and a Tree Sparrow perched briefly on a bush near to the main entrance gate to the reserve.


GLOSSY IBISES (Graham)

On our way back to the Hanson-ARC hide, 2 Peregrines put the Lapwing flock into a panic and from the hide we spotted a male Goldeneye.


GOLDENEYE (Paul)


WIGEON, TEAL & LAPWING (Paul)

A last effort from the viewing screen at the Hanson-ARC Pit produced another male Goldeneye and a strangely plumaged Lapwing.


Oddly-plumaged LAPWING (Graham)


Oddly-plumaged LAPWING (Paul)

We both added Black-necked Grebe to our year lists, so it had been worth t
he trip.

Paul & Graham

Shore Larks at Cliffe ... 7th December 2009

A couple more record shots of the Shore Larks at the Flamingo Pool at RSPB Cliffe Pools taken on the 7th December.


SHORE LARK (Graham)


SHORE LARK (Graham)

Shore Larks and Great Northern Divers...7th December 2009

We visited the RSPB reserve at Cliffe Pools in North Kent today. Our target birds being Shore Larks and Great Northern Divers, both species being reported there yesterday.
Neither of us have visited this site in recent years and we were expecting to see a vast improvement in the area since the RSPB took over the management of this SSSI.
Arriving just after 7.45 a.m., we found that the new car park on the reserve didn't open until 8.30 a.m. so we had a short stroll and then waited for the warden to open the gates. He did so bang on time and we parked up and began our quest.
The Shore Larks had been reported along the western shore of Flamingo Pool so we headed straight there. A couple of other birders were already up on the bank scanning the weedy margins of the pool. They told us that there had been four birds there yesterday but they had not seen them today.
It didn't take long before Paul spotted all four Shore Larks feeding together on weeds along the muddy margin. We spent the next hour or so taking in these attractive birds and trying to get photos, which was very difficult as it had become very windy and showery and the light was very poor.


SHORE LARK (Graham)


SHORE LARK
(Paul)


SHORE LARK
(Paul)


SHORE LARK
(Paul)


SHORE LARK
(Paul)


SHORE LARK (Paul)

video
(VIDEO) SHORE LARK (Graham)

Deciding that we ought to try for the divers that had been reported on the Alpha Pool, we headed off along the footpath that skirts the Thames and after a fairly long walk came to the edge of the pool. It didn't take long to pick out the two juvenile Great Northern Divers on the far side of the pool. Again, we tried to get photos, but the wind was even stronger by the river and digiscoping was obviously going to be difficult, especially as the light was poor.


Juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (Graham)


Juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS
(Paul)

video
(VIDEO) Juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (Graham)

We headed back in the squally showers, satisfied that we had seen both of our target species.
Other birds of note included a distant female Marsh Harrier carrying prey, 3 Little Egrets, 2 male and at least 5 female Goldeneyes and lots of Lapwings, a few Golden Plovers, Pintails and Shovelers with even smaller numbers of Wigeon and Teal.


Female GOLDENEYE (Graham)


So had Cliffe Pools improved much in recent years?
Well, sad to say, not really.
It was still pretty scruffy, with loads of litter everywhere, but at least the dumped cars had disappeared (except for one in the mud by the Thames). Dog-walkers were numerous with owners obviously not clearing up after their dogs. One of the notice boards was peppered in dents from air gun pellets and another was covered in graffitti.
It still seems an area that leaves you feeling pretty vulnerable, but I guess that the gloomy weather didn't really raise our spirits today and a bit of sunshine may have given the reserve a friendlier atmosphere.
Whether the RSPB can find a way to prevent littering and vandalism of this site remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, they will have a battle on their hands to succeed.
Bird-wise, there was not the huge numbers of wildfowl expected and, apart from the Lapwings and a couple of Curlews and Redshanks that flew over, waders were noticeable by their absence.
We can't grumble though, with Shore Larks and Great Northern Divers now safely on our year lists.

Paul & Graham

Bough Beech Reservoir ... 5th December 2009

Paul needed Goosander for his year list and so, after hearing that two males were at Bough Beech Reservoir in West Kent, he couldn't resist the temptation and shot off in the afternoon to see them.
Luckily, they were showing well and despite the wet and cold conditions, he managed a few shots during the 20 minutes he spent there.
Apart from the 2 Goosanders, there were just five Mandarins of note.











Isle of Sheppey...4th December 2009

We set off from Surrey at 6.45 a.m. on a cold and frosty morning and headed for Bough Beech Reservoir in West Kent as Paul had heard that two male Goosanders had been there yesterday. On arrival, we scanned all parts of the reservoir and North Lake, but there was no sign of them, the best we could find being 9 Mandarins.


FIRST LIGHT AT BOUGH BEECH RESERVOIR.

We drove on, deciding that the Isle of Sheppey in North Kent would be a better venue.

Capel Fleet was our first stop and we soon counted 8 Marsh Harriers. A Stonechat was flitting around by the fleet and then we noticed a group of swans and geese. No Bewick's or Whoopers, just Mute Swans, and the geese at first appeared to be all Greylags but, as we scanned through them, Paul soon picked out 4 White-fronted Geese amongst them.


WHITE-FRONTED GEESE amongst the Greylag Geese
(Paul)

Our next stop was at Leysdown seafront where we decided to walk from there to Shellness and back. The tide was well up and at least 10 Sanderling were amongst the 40 or so Turnstones. A few Redshanks, Dunlin and Ringed Plovers were also present but it wasn't until we reached the blockhouse at Shellness that the true numbers of waders roosting there became apparent. Hundreds of Dunlin and Oystercatchers with 50+ Grey Plovers, more Turnstones and and few Knot were on the shingle.


SANDERLING
(Paul)


TURNSTONE and SANDERLING (Paul)


SANDERLING
(Graham)


GREY PLOVER (Paul)


TURNSTONE (Graham)


DUNLIN
(Paul)


THE WADERS WERE OFTEN FLIGHTY
(Graham)


OYSTERCATCHERS
(Graham)

Out on the saltmarsh, about 40 Curlews and a few Black-tailed Godwit were roosting until a Peregrine flew low over them heading inland. Two Little Egrets were also on the saltmarsh and it was pleasing to see several Skylarks, some in full song-flight.
By now, the tide had peaked and heading back we had to negotiate a now flooded path by the hamlet.


LOOKING TOWARDS THE BLOCKHOUSE AT SHELLNESS.


LOOKING BACK ALONG THE FLOODED PATH WE HAD JUST NEGOTIATED (NO WELLIES!).

We didn't see much more on the way back so we decided a visit to Elmley in the fading light was in order.

Along th
e access track to the reserve, we noted a couple of Little Egrets and after arriving at the car park, we made our way to the Swale. At least 40 Pintail, 150+ Wigeon, 50+ Brent Geese and a few Teal were resting on the water. Another Little Egret flew across the reserve and looking west we picked out a Barn Owl hunting in the distance.


DUCKS ON THE SWALE AT ELMLEY (Graham)

A very enjoyable day with a few good birds to keep the interest going.

Paul & Graham