Sunday, 28 September 2008

A blast from the past

As keen as ever I awoke before first light from the slumbers of our farmhouse ready to venture into pastures new and hopefully find some good birds. The walk took me across a few fields and towards the coast where a few Wheatears, a Whinchat and several Chiffs were seen. A few hours wandering the area before getting back for breakfast revealed potentially what a great area this would be to have as your local patch. Much of the habitat was very Scilly like, and I'm sure with time and effort stuff would be found in ideal conditions. Once I'd met up with Louise again we spent the remainder of the day wandering the area and getting to grips with the various parts of the Rame area. I decided to visit the church at Rame as the sign indicated it was open. An excellent little church full of character and very well maintained, I spent some time here before I heard 'voices' and on opening the door I was greeted with, 'Barry Wright' what are you doing here? Low and behold, it was me old mate Dave Allan, not the comedian that would have been a challenge nowadays but the ex Kent birder from Thanet with his wife Mandy.

Dave explained that it was bit surreal seeing me come out of a church of all places as I'm happy to look at them but ceremonially avoid them! The last time I saw Dave was in 2002 at Plymouth for a Ross's Gull and we had done many twitches together in the 1980's and early 1990's with Dave Gilbert another Thanet birder. Dave now lives in Torpoint and was out for a Sunday stroll.
A great day seeing old friends, getting to know the geography of the area but little did I know that less than a mile from the church there had been three Dotterel that day in the same field I checked late that day, but I certainly never saw them, maybe they'd already flown or I was simply bird blind!! We'll never know.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

I remember it well !

July 1985, and four very young and keen birders head West to Dawlish Warren and the chance to see a Lesser Crested Tern. Fortune was on our side as the bird was on view from the main hide and we had good but distant views through our 'top of the range' fledgling twitcher scopes. That was over 23 years ago now and that intrepid quartet were Marcus and Andrew Lawson, Pete Morris and myself the driver. If my memory is correct Andrew and Pete spent the night in the local pub up the hill corrupting a very young Marcus at the time whilst I slept in the car roughly to the left of where the photo below was taken. I remember seeing the zig zag wandering trio return to the area opposite the car where they settled down in the local sheltered accomodation, yes a 'shelter' with their Millets special sleeping bags! The scene in the morning that I have a slide of somewhere was entitled 'Dawlish Dossers'.
The reason for my visit this time though was a brief stop to see the Semipalmated Sandpiper that had been present for a few days and luckily I got great views. My birding skills also allowed me successfully fail to see an Osprey fly overhead and a Wryneck that was hiding away in the scrub.

Incredibly you can see the semi palmations, webbing between the toes in the photo above. A very grey bird but a cracking bird to see at such close range. Despite only a few visits over the years to Dawlish I've managed to see Great spotted Cuckoo, Lesser Crested Tern, Surf Scoter and another Semi pee, Semipalmated Plover in virtually the same spot as the Semi pee Sand, a great place.
with the rain now lashing down we headed off to our cottage for the week, just a mile from Rame and with a fantastic view (Rame Church is in the far left of the picture). This really was a great place to stay with stunning views of Badgers, Foxes and a few nights a cracking Tawny Owl was on view on the back fence from the kitchen or in the trees outside the bedroom.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Holiday in Cornwall, the forgotten corner !

Apologies for the lack of posts in the last weeks, or for some maybe a blessing that I'd stopped posting!! Just spent the last week in Cornwall 'just' concentrating on the aptly named 'forgotten corner' of Cornwall, the Rame Peninsula.
I simply cannot praise this are highly enough, a great area scenically, to relax in, enjoy the local wildlife and plenty of prime migrant habitat to keep you permanently wondering what's lurking in the area. Hopefully I'll return to the area again and find a rarity as despite my early morning wanderings I didn't hit the jackpot. Historically birders will remember Rame for Wilson's Warbler, the only British record and more recently a Bluetail and Chimney Swift. At nearby Penlee, a Parula was present many years ago also. This area has great potential but I guess has few birders living close enough to be able to thoroughly cover all the areas in favourable weather conditions. Other than the Isles of Scilly, this has got to be the best part of the UK I've ever visited.
When time allows in the next week or so I'll expand on the trip with some piccies of birds and stunning scenery!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Chance encounters

The last weekend of August, and the chance of some good scarce passage migrants on the cards. The SE airflow across Kent boded well, but as is often the case little comes of these 'hoped for classic' winds. A quick dash over to Rainham RSPB for an Ortolan Bunting drew a blank though aided the Tunnel coffers and 2 Spot Flys, 3 Yellow Wags flying over were the only birds of note. A visit to Broadditch duck pond, 'this really is becoming a habit', I must get out more produced Ed the Falcated Duck as seen above enjoying life in the UK, but a real shock was a Shoveler also on the pond a superb find and illustrates the pulling power that this tiny farm pond has for stray quackers! At this rate, Hooded Merg must be on the cards !!
Shoveler at Southfleet
Spatule bill, and good size comparison with Mallard behind
Following the dip at Rainham Richard, JT and myself headed off towards Sandwich stopping off at Oare to enjoy the wader spectacular, with the dead Ringed Plover still in residence, Little Stint, a good number of Knot, Golden Plover, a super Hobby sitting on a post and a mass of Blackwits. With a freshening wind Richard suggested that we have a look on the Swale and within minutes we picked up 2 Arctic Skuas that headed inland over the flood followed shortly after by another 3, but incredibly minutes later at 1425 a cracking adult full hooded Sabine's Gull steamed across in front of us with a small group of Sandwich Terns and performed admirably in front of us as it flew up the Swale towards Conyer, a stunning bird and reward for our lengthy sea watch. On Sunday I briefly visited the RSPB Birdfair at Bromhey Farm and Northward Hill before heading off to Allhallows.

Martin is looking very dapper in front of the KOS stall, good to see so many people at the fair enjoying themselves most of them staying dry and out of the ditches!! see

Allhallows was incredibly quiet, this Black Tern was one of the best birds plus a Med Gull, 2 Whichat and 2 Wheatear whilst waders were virtually non existent despite it being a very high tide. September is now upon us, let's see what that brings!!