Thursday, 22 July 2010

Which county is Next?

Finally the WTLapwing has left Dunge on route to ......who knows where?
Norfolk, Suffolk or an early morning visit to the dam at Weirwood. Definitely a severe case of dump in the pants if that happens I expect!
Wherever it wanders, it was great to know that Kent was on our route and no longer will this species quite be the blocker it once was.
What's next I wonder, personally I'd be happy with am Arctic Warbler or really pushing the boat, Red-necked Stint

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Leeds Castle in the summer

With a yearly pass to use and no visits since March we decided to venture to Leeds Castle today to have a wander, see some Med Gulls and have an ice cream. (mango two scoops highly recommended). Busier than in March but also a lot warmer we spent a few hours wandering the superb grounds and enjoying the wildlife and seeing such award winning events as kids being chased by Geese, chasing after the ball down the slope and the finale of crying. Leeds Castle, fun for all the family and well worth the annual pass. From a bird point of view there's wild and collection birds and an opportunity to see both close up in a beautiful setting.
This Crow was waiting to be fed on the grass whilst overhead Meds and Black heads flew around calling
Med Gull, one of seven seen today
Black-headed Gull outnumbered by Med Gulls here!
Summer in the Uk, bird displays and ice cream

Shock horror as four White Storks came into view, part of the bird display! Keep an ear out for White Stork sightings in this part of Kent. Note the white rings and they all have names!
Even more of a shock 3 Black Kites that spent about 20 mins in the air catching food and putting on a great display, I almost thought I was back in Delhi!!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Mid afternoon Lapwing mayhem

A lazy start today, Shoreham for Adder, Grass Snake and Slow Worm, then down to Mark Beech for butterflies. A brief stop at Chiddingstone West Kent for dragonflies was suddenly interrupted by the incredible news that the wandering White tailed Lapwing was now in at Dunge on the ARC! Ok, now being a technophobe and not having a satnav. tom tom or motmot what ever there called I have to rely on my knowledge of the Kentish road system and my instinct knowing that less than 60 miles away birders from all over Kent will be descending towards Dunge to attempt to see this lively bird that has a habit of flying off again to another county. A quick glance of the map on the floor once I pulled it from under the heap of cans and crisp bags and sense told me to head back to Bough Beech and follow the M25/M20 to Ashford
I set off at 1544 and at 1657 arrived at the car park, ARC. A quick chat with Chris, Terry and Mike revealed that the bird had already done a runner. I decided to check the RSPB approach road and a few minutes alter saw what looked like the Smart car version of the Batmobile heading along the shingle track towards me with a very red faced driver at the wheel and shouting 'it's at the screen'.
A few minutes later after a 4 point turn the car park was a seething mass of cars parking up, birders falling out of the cars and heading determinedly towards Screen Plover.
Like a Who's who of Kent birders there it was showing superbly the Lapwing I had seen a few days earlier at Rainham Essex, that then spent a short time at Slimbridge, Glos before coming back East to Dunge.
What a day, and finished with a Great White Egret at Denge Marsh and Black eyed Peas blasting out on the stereo on the way home
Monday at work was an anti climax!!

Mark Beech Purps

For many years now I've been visiting Mark Beech near to Hever in the hope of seeing the big boy of the Butterfly World, Purple Emperor. I've found over the years that I come away unconvinced that I've seen anything other than White Admirals despite seeing black and white butterflies high above the trees in aerial display. This time I was fortunate enough to see up to three chasing each other in exactly the same spot as I always see them but this time actually see them land. Photos do indeed reveal that they are Purple Emps and I guess my previous sightings always looked smaller as a result of the distance that they are viewed at and the height of the 'master oak' ! They seem to regularly fly between 1 and 3 pm on hot sunny days and it would appear to be a reasonable place to see them, though sadly not yet at eye level
White Admiral

Male Purp Emp high above the trees
Male underwing
male in flight

The Lapwing has landed!

1975 Little Packington, a year and site that remained permanently etched in my mind over the years and despite the passing of times and the passing of a few more of ' The artist formerly called White-tailed Plover arriving on UK shores I still had yet to see one in UK territory. Therefore it came as somewhat of a shock that as I glanced at my mobile following a meeting at work I saw those three words WHITE-TAILED LAPWING

My immediate thought was I'm at work, it's still early and it's in Kent. Only when I read the whole message did I see Rainham, Essex. Slightly less panic now and so it came to pass that I contributed to that great money gulping bottomless pit, the Dartford crossing and say patiently in the traffic until the RSPB sign of Rainham loomed ahead. It was now that I realised I'm no spring chicken these days , more of a Southern fried as I paced in the heat towards the wobbly cluster of birders on the floating boardwalk situated in prime Penduline habbo.
BINGO, there it was White-tailed Lapwing and a splendid bird it was, not just rare but a damn good looker on a great RSPB reserve that it situated in Essex and not Kent. If only Dartford could match this, Bob Dunn pools, the Pete Aley hide or even the Morris screen!

Meds and Sarnies at Rye

Aware that there were lots of birds at Rye Harbour NR I decided to cross the County line heading West towards the ternery pools at Rye. If you've never been here before it's a great place that should be an extension of the Kent border that has been host to some great birds over the years, including squeaker the Least Tern that was present several years. This site must be one of the best in the UK for Terns and hosts Commons, Sarnies and once again Little Terns as well as hosting over the years Bridled, Sooty, Whiskered, WWB and Least Tern.
I spent a few hours here sheltering from the heat watching the terns and attempting to photograph them plus the Med Gulls that seem to be in abundance. I counted 78 juvs birds on the islands plus 36+ adults loafing around or attending the youngsters

Surely one of the best looking British birds, adult Med Gull

Heron fest at Dunge

A few weeks ago for a change I thought I'd venture South to Dunge to see if the Purple Herons had finally got off some brown jobs.
No........still no juvs but the adults were still returning to the nest. Nearby on the marshes the scenic windfarm is always a delight to see, still keeps plenty of consultants in work looking for mashed up herons, raptors etc.
Grey Heron at Dunge tickling the wires (as seen on Channel 4 advertising) the pylons not the heron!
Bittern one of two seen in a morning at Dunge. Way back in the late 70's early 80's I could only dream of seeing one of these in Kent, yet nowadays there's plenty of places to look for them in winter, spring or in this case summer!!
Purple Heron, have they bred, haven't they..................must be the longest nesting ever and still no visible young, has it all gone pear shaped?