Sunday, 2 August 2009

Spring and Summer in a nutters shell !!

Ok then as I've got way behind was the art of blogging I've just spent an hour or so digging out some pix from the past 4 months !! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
Let's deal with the ugly first or should I say stunning bird as would have been the case if the grasps of the NHS would have allowed me, 'not be working that hallowed Weds in July' ! Generally speaking over the years I've been reasonably lucky with seeing birds both locally and further afield but sadly a variety of factors meant that 'the NHS show must go on' and a potential evening trip to Bockhill was potentially called for........ The bird sadly couldn't wait for me and departed at 1337 much to the disappointment of those with more flexible jobs or living too far away from that migrant tepid spot, Bockhill. Still that's two records for Kent now 20 years apart, I'll get the next one. But in the style of Bullseye the photo above is from Israel, 'this is what you could have had' !! Well done to the Old boys, Tony and Jack true testament to their efforts in the fields and the desire to forget sport on the box and find some fellow birders a MEGA in Kent. 'Shame the Bee eater and the finders couldn't coincide with the weekend. Of interest Bockhill has got to be one of the most picturesque localities in Kent to dip a bird and I've been fortunate enough to dip Arctic , 3 Radde's , a Barred Warbler, numerous Pallas's, an Icky, and best of all a Nutcracker!!! though I was in South America at the time so it doesn't really count. Such is the locality of Bockhill it's a great place to see the blades of grass or twigs frequented by long gone rarities but on the other hand we do get to know about them all, and that is a quality to behold and may it continue with lots more rarities up the proverbial Chantler sleeves yet !

Following a trip to Cameroon now well and truly blogged to death I managed to see some good birds in the spring with a superb pair of Ring Ousels at Preston near Wingham, found by wandering around specifically looking for Rousels and Wagtails! A purple patch at Stoke Lagoon and a Purple Heron at Crossness allowed me to see a not so showy Purple Heron eventually after 2 hours or so, emerging from the reeds of picturesque East London and a surprise find in the form of a very photogenic Spoonbill at Stoke whilst looking for a not so showy or photogenic Great White Egret! The Spoonbill didn't hang around and the GWE remained very elusive at times ! In fact these southern Herons seem to be getting decidely common in the SE these days, no longer is GWE a major UK rare.
Above we see a deserted beach near to Aberdaron on the Lleyn peninsula, in fact deserted of people, dogs, and even birds that, despite gorgeous sunny weather, we had it all to our selves for a week in June yet further along the coast little did we know that a Royal Tern also had peace and quiet for a while on these beaches until someone stumbled upon it at Abersoch...........If only it had turned up here a week or so earlier. A bit tricky to catch up with at times this eluded most birders who travelled to see it and for some was yet another dip to contend with this summer, despite being big, white and with a stonking luminescent bill, though not always apparent off the Welsh coast!
Wales was good though with Wood Warblers, Choughs galore, ridiculous numbers of Painted Ladies and mega auks at South Stack pre-Simon King and Springwatch. In terms of rarities I found bugger all, not a single thing bar a Marsh Harrier on the first day!!
The Spoonbeak at Stoke
Whitey the elusive GWE
A surprise find over woods near Canterbury were these two Spoonbeaks. At this site I've now seen Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Little Egret and White Stork!!! Not bad for a viewpoint over a wood in East Kent!!
An early Thursday morning in April following a restless night's sleep found me at Dungeness along with many others waiting day break and The Alauda enigma............ Sure enough the call went up, the legs moved into action and I suddenly remembered I wasn't 21 anymore as I was for the Roller in the New Forest in 1987 when a similar surge happened and we scored heavily. CRESTED LARK laid to rest on British soil, so near yet so far at Calais these Larks do NOT like crossing the Channel. Duly scorched and grilled I drove back to work and the panic was over. The last twitchable Cresty was at Landguard but that stayed only a matter of hours whereas this individual spent nearly a week at Dunge!
Mr Evans fresh in from the Western Palearctic awaiting 'more' views of this elusive sod of a Lark.
Another day dawned in Kent and another Kent tick, this time in the shape of Black-winged Pratincole at Reculver. Following a message early am about a Probable Collared Pratincole at Reculver, my lust for Prats was undiminished and I decided to travel down to look for this bird which as fortune would have it turned out to be a Black-winged, MEGA ......job done, special thanks to Marc Heath for finding this crippler and then amazingly re locating it at Grove Ferry later in the week.............Incredible!!
Above we have Team Lawson in hot pursuit !
A pram tick !!
Way back in 1984 there was a Collared Flycatcher at Northdown Park, Margate and this remained the only one I'd ever seen in the whole World!!! Therefore when news of an Eastern Bonelli's at Portland broke I cadged a lift with Andy A and headed down to Dorset. Sadly the EBWarbler had gorne but the Collared Fly put on a great show and I caught up with lots of old friends, some very OLD!
Rarer than Collared Fly, Dave Brown on a twitch out of Kent, captured on film for the archives!
Portland, yet another lighthouse in the same week at the Dunge double.
The main real reason for going to Dorset to see the LONGggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg staying Hooded Merg at Radipole, a corker of a bird and hopefully 'finger's crossed' a UK tick !! Elusive to start with I was wondering whether I'd left it too late to see this bird, ie 18 months!! but fortune was on my side and it appeared for the gathered crowd of 6 birders!
The Crossness Purple Heron

One of the Preston two!
So what will Autumn 2009 bring, will it be as good as 2008 in Kent and the bird bonanza. At the time of writing the long staying Hooded Merg is still in Dorset and the 'plastic' Falcated Duck is still up[ the road at Broadditch. Long live the Ducks!! Keeping with the quacker theme a bonus yesterday with a Red crested Pochard at Swanscombe CTRL still present today and a site tick.

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