Monday, 18 October 2010

East Kent........again

As I was working Saturday I decided to once again head East to the promised land with JT. A late start due to work we arrived at Shuart and nearby and wandered around for an hour trying to jot everything that was moving down.......... Fortunately I had a large piece of paper and an unlimited supply of ink in my pen for jotting down
Brambling 1
Siskin 1
Buzzard 2
Goldcrest 4
Fieldfare 5
East Kent birding at it's best, what to look at next. Following the first hours birding heading West and back home seemed a good idea but we ploughed on to Elmwood Avenue. A quick chat with the lady at the riding school who seems to have been there forever but never ages as if it was still the early 1990's! Again notebook at the ready bins poised the migrants flooded in, Redpoll 1, Siskin 1, Dunnock 2, Mipit >20 . Again heading West looked the best option
Next stop a cup of tea and a sandwich at the pumping station where the ambiance of a charity cycle race was the main interest. JT spotted bird of the morning, a Whitethroat in one of the 3 bushes. Excellent, things were really looking up now, next stop North Foreland where a Wheatear showed well on the clifftops and on the beach below uncle Tom cobley and dog patrol chased the Turnstones on the beach. Time to head West yet?
Next stop the ever reliable Northdown Park, another cup of tea and a text from Gordon ........Pallas's at caravan park Reculver
We dithered, birded the area a bit longer notching up a handsome group of 37+ Bramblings, good numbers of Blackbird, 5+ Chiffs, a male Blackcap ,a Lesser Redpoll then spent a while scraping the migrant turds that had hitched a ride on our boots . As if set in a scene from Slumdog Millionaire the Parakeets kept the background alive with their tuneful racket!
Time to head West, yes onto Reculver with the sweet scent of GTs (growler turds) wafting in the warm car air . The Pallas's Warbler put on a good show to it's small appreciative crowd. This really is one of the best looking migrants to grace our shores. Overhead a Peregrine flew over
Things were finally looking up and off to Grove we headed. Over the years there's been various birding spots named after events like a certain lane near Scotney and Belshaw's Bush at Capel and we decided to park at Howard's Bend turning the car at a 190 degree angle before locking up and entering the reserve. Immortalised for ever this quiet section of road will always be remembered for two things Wilson's Phal and International rescue for GNH!
At Grove the Wilson's Phal was again present from the Harrison's Drove and showed brilliantly through JT's revamped Kowa. A look for the GGShrike drew a blank and we returned towards the car when we had ten minutes of cracking birding
The Wilson's was from the viewing ramp, a Jack Snipe flew over us and away and just before Howards bend, the Great Grey Shrike zipped past us
That's why East Kent is so good for birding it just needs time, perseverance and a willingness to check those areas that you feel others may not have checked yet and well done to Gordon and Chris for finding that wee Sibe cracker that's what it's all about

Friday, 15 October 2010

Why oh why did it have to be sunny!

Last Sunday was a day in East Kent with high hopes and a 'hoped for list of special birds'. Sadly, despite the rest of Britain being bathed in rares, with Red flanked Bluetails literally popping up all over the place later on, East Kent was very hard going.
Despite living in North Kent, I've always enjoyed birding the outer reaches of East Kent around North Foreland and more recently got to know more about the birding sites nearer to Ramsgate
and Pegwell village. Saturday was dreary, strong E'ly winds and very overcast you could almost smell those rares flying overhead. A call to Nigel Jarman Sat pm revealed that bad news...........starlit sky, Sunday was going to be hard work. East Kent deserves more attention from birders, geographically well paced for migrants with lots of nooks and crannies to look at and always that possibility of something special amongst the migrants. First stop for JET and myself was Margate Cmy where bird of the day appeared almost immediately..........DCG (Dave Gilbert) a real rarity in the field beyond the Margate triangle and great to see him again and looking well. I'd spent a lot of time in the past birding with Dave and have fond memories of travels to Anglesey, Norfolk, South Wales, on the Scillies and even in Ecuador for three weeks !! Still in characteristic migrant plumage we spent a short while birding the area also bumping into Simon Fogg, Jeremy, Bob, Alan and Brenda Like the grand daddy of Kent birding Dave was as keen as ever and his repertoire of jokes as fluent as ever. I've had to alter the exposure on the pictures due to the clash of autumn colours from Jeremy in camouflage mode
Below Courtstairs north of Pegwell village an excellent looking area for migrants and worthy of coverage. The area South of here, Milton ranges, and Solly moth garden a great piece of coastline that allows for great birding and an opportunity to see migration as it happens on a good day with some truly great counts from Phil and Craig in the past week.
Elmwood and the lighthouse, another hotspot for migrants with Bramblings overhead, a Black Redstart, a distant Grey Heron and good numbers of Mipits. Back in the late 80's early 90's I used to bird this area quite a lot with the are adjacent to the old St Stephens college particularly productive. A hard days birding some good migrants with Chiffs, Siskin, Redpoll, a Tree Pipit and a few Swallows but still no star bird despite visiting Northdown Park and King George V park full of sun seekers and ice creams. A last ditch attempt at something rarer at North Foreland revealed a couple of Wheatear and then finally Steve Blaskett informed us of a Shore Lark at the pumping station nearby. Off we shot and there it was very very tame and almost run over a few times by cyclists.

So there you have it, a superb area for birding and a very enjoyable day. Good luck to Dylan, Francis, DCG, Steve, Phil and Craig and monitor the years events with some great photos not just avian on Planet Thanet, Margate Cmy blog and the Dumpton Non Conformist.
Anyone lucky enough to live in this part of Kent enjoy it, as despite rampant development and loss of habitat the birds common and rare will still be there just a bit trickier at times to find, good luck to you

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Yank Waders in Kent

It's pretty rare that you get an opportunity to see more than one or two species of Yank wader in a year in Kent, therefore with a White-rumped Sand continuing it's stay at Oare I decide to finally visit this superb reserve. With luck on arrival I saw the bird almost immediately as it flew onto one of the close islands (close for Oare) and almost immediately fell asleep amongst the Goldies. A cracking little bird and yet another good wader this autumn.
A week later and I was back at Dunge where two Buff breasts had taken up residence in the Kent part of Scotney. Parked in Calandra lane I walked with Alan and Brenda Fossey along the cycle track whereby the two birds were seen well amongst the Goldies and Ruff. The views were excellent though having recently seen the bird at Davidstow, I'd been spoilt with point blank views. The rest of the day turned us ome good birds with Whinchat, two Little Stint, Black and Arctic Tern, Black throated Diver, Merlin and a surprise Barred Warbler on the RSPB reserve that was actually quite showy
Barred Warbler crashing it's way around the bushes and scrub
Nearby, the Two Egrets showed well, Little and Large. A scene like this would have been unthinkable years ago yet Great White seems almost resident at Dunge now and Little Egret are common. A great day out and a good opportunity to see Barred Warbler well