Saturday, 31 December 2011

Review of the Year...the final chapter

Well 2011 is almost over and a very quick review of highlights of the year that are both readable and 'allowed' to be published on the net!! (lurkers out there).

Only one trip abroad this year to Sri Lanka with excellent company courtesy of Baurs, Andy, Mike, JT, Mark, James and myself had a cracking 10 days birding on this supeb island seeing all the endemic bird species currently recognised by taxonomists as well a host of great mammals as well. On the Kent scene the sad loss of Ray Turley this year leaves the county without a great chap and birder, very sadly missed. On the bird front in Kent, Northern long-tailed Tits, a resident Glaucous Gull, a Blackpoll Warbler, stunning Daurian Shrike, host of egrets, an early Whiskered Tern and an adult Sabines Gull off Shellness remain memorable. On the Odonata front, two new species for me Dainty Damsel and Vagrant Emperor, whilst moths continue to impress including the first and second record of Black spot Chestnut Moth locally. Beyond Kent, the 'Slaty- backed Gull', Oriental Turtle Dove, host of waders in the SW this autumn and the Sandhill Crane some of the highlights.
Mike has clearly produced something noxious that John has trouble dealing with!

Serendib Scops Owl at Kitugala, the highlight of Sri Lanka and one of mu most wanted birds

Just ahead of Wills and Pippa, sorry Kate, the day I finally got hitched....who would have thought that!

Sandhill Crane in Suffolk taking a break from Scotland, a well deserved UK lifer.

A quick foray into 2011, bring on 2012, but this may be the last entry to this blog as time constraints prevent updates being done, though I may use Facebook who knows

Have a great 2012


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Blackpoll Warbler in Kent

Well that's thown you hasn't it, you were expecting crippling shots of the Blackpoll Warbler. With all this modern day technology I could play around with the EXIF files but sadly I never got ant piccies of the bird, but a collection of Kent and nearly Kent birders

Geoff 'the keeper of the lists' hard at work!!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Cornish treats

Autumn now in full swing, Lou, Forrest and myself head off to the South West for our annual West country visit. Last September proved to be a memorable week with good weather, lovely walks, lots of fun for the dog, good showings of pasty and of course some birds. As has become almost a tradition now we stopped off at Davidstow on the way down or 'Sheep World' as Forrest likes to know it. Whilst I savoured the cracking Buff breast on the airfield, Lou relaxed and Forrest had his sheep fix! This was my fifth or so visit to Davidstow and I must admit it's a personal favourite site as it's great for photographing waders at close range.

The Buff breasted Sandpiper above was one of probably in excess of a hundred seen this year in the UK and Ireland and surely Hurricanes must have a significant effect on their global population for what is basically a decling species.

Next stop was Stithians res where in the pouring rain I manged to locate the 1st year Long-billed Dowitcher that had recently arrived. With time getting on it was quickly off to Drift where the Semi palmated Sandpiper showed brilliantly from the hide and the Lesser Yellowlegs was seen distantly. Four Yank waders on a day wasn't a bad haul plus brief views of a 'probable' Black -headed Wagtail at Drift. It was interesting to listen to the conversation in the hide at Drift from the local birders of the well known and almost 'legendary' suppressors in the County, at time it almost felt like similar talk from certain birders back home. We arrived at our cottage near Pendeen late afternoon and so began a very enjoyable week in one of favourite parts of the country, oh to be retired!

Saturday and an early morning seawatch with cracking views of Bonxies, Manxies, Arctic Skuas and 10+ distant Leach's Petrels were good early morning birds whilst the afternoon was spent watching two Black Kites at Bosfranken Farm near Sennen one of which followed the plough and was watched eating earthworms.
Lesser Legs at Drift, distant but great scope views on my second attempt

Pec Sand on a farmyard muddy puddle near Sennen!! This bird was at Trigithian Farm situated only 500m or so from the coast and evidently attractive enough to tempt a migrant Pec to drop in and feed. On my trips to the West Country and especially this part of Cornwall it always amazes me how much is found by the dedicated army of local birders and visitors scouring the valleys and cliffs yet at the same time how much is missed!! Only a short disdtance away and esaily visible on a clear day is Scilly which was literally brimming with rares the week I was at St Just!
Sheep World complete with sheep, birder car and 'hidden' waders

The Long-billed Dowitcher at Stithians

The week continued as it started with great scenery, variable weather, some good walks, sheep watching for Forrest and some great birds. A memorable seawatch at Pendeen produced all four Skua species, Grey Phalarope, Sabine's Gull and Leach's Petrel. Choughs were seen a few times near Pendeen as well as Peregrine, lots of Sparrowhawks and some great views of the commoner waders. If your ever wondering what to do when you reture and live in the South East, simples...............move to Cornwall

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Crossing the Wantsum!

Today I found myself heading East, not to Asia or Oz but to cross the Want some (Wantsum) and into East Kent, home to many a good birding site and also the vebue for todays KOS meeting at SBBO. With a few hours to spare I ventured across to BOB, as Prof Hanby would see 'the back of beyond' or locally known as Backsand Scrape. This superb hidden corner of Kent is a great place to watch and hopefully photograph waders but locating it when you're an infrequent visitor like me isni' always straightforward. Is you was an escaped birder on the run you could hide out here for a while and not be seen, there's even three hides and some large blue plastic containers to hide in if the blog police are after you.
Looking through my photos on the PC, about 80000 digital images now I decided I needed a few good Greenshank shots and looking at other blogs eg Steve Ashton I also wanted a piece of the action knowing the Bittern land and the viewing hide would be open season on a Saturday at Grove.

I was not disapointed and there were ctaully birds present

A billy bonus came in the form of this cracking juv Temminck's Stint that fed sadly too far away for a decent shot but nonetheless a good bird to find and see. East Kent is full of surprises you just need to get out there and look, don't assume someone else will have checked a site, it's a migrantion hotspot and every day is different.

Greenshank at Backsand, crackers

Ruff at Restharrow scrape

These last images are Honey Buzzards plus atmospheric dust migrating through Kent in the last few weeks

And now for something completely different

Ok then we all like birding and many of us take it very seriously 'me included' but there are times when we all 'look on the bright side of life', ignore birding for a while and let our guard down. We all do it, I've seen ultra keen birders watching Mr Bean whilst in hysterics, pretend shooting at passing cars with kids pretend shooting back at them with toy guns and playing knock the can over at Dunge on a poor seawatch.

It's a Hobby, but birding aside it's good fun and often the times between birding are the more memorable and amusing.

Above a photo of me pre Sumo wrestling
above in competition with my sister, ...................I won!!

Lou and myself in Devon at Pixie land this year on Honeymoon........... but note the bins are still with me (never leave home without them)

There we are Derek another posting, it's becoming a habit now, no Moths, no birds, just a break from birding.


Autumn is well and truly here now, bring on the birds!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Billy no mates does Dunge

I've had little time for birding recently based on many factors ...including moths but with the possibility of a few Moth lifers and a potentially good days birding I decided to pay a visit to Dunge, 'pay' being the operative word as the Treasury reaps the benefits of my fuel costs there and back.

First port of call the reserve for the Cattle Egret but as I struggled to see more than about 50 mretres in the mist I diverted to Galloways, tin helmet on, I'm going in. Galloways is one of the places that always has the 'rare bird' feel to it yet it hasn't happened to me yet! It's also birded less than some of the other 'Gilleard' brother sites nearby....(do they have the monopoly on hides in the UK)? Slowly driving towards the sea I managed six Whinchats, good numbers of Whitethroat and a cracking male Sprog Hawk over. The mist started to lift so next stop the entrance track to the reserve and within a few seconds of parking and scanning the Cattle Egret was UTB showing well with it's wavy neck in the fields. It's incredible to think how the fortunes of Cattle Egret has changed not just in the UK but Worldwide as it moves into areas raped of their forest by large Cattle ranches in S America .

It was nearly 9am now and I will still the only birder watching the Egret so I headed of to the Hanson Hide to check for waders. GPs, Dunlin and a few Little Egrets but little else.

The main reserve was next as it was nearly 10 am now and I had to decide carefully where to park the car next to the RSPB vehicle or the one other vehicle in the car park? Yes it's been a quiet autumn but even I was shocked how few birders were present maybe they were lost in the mist?

It was quite evident I was on the scene early as a Water Rail fed unconcerned on the track, Cetti's performed well, and at Christmas Dell hide the Great White Egret did a fly by, my 3rd Egret in just over an hour. Hobbies chased dragons overhead, a Little Gull parolled the pools and on the main flood 4 Garganey, 3 Spot Shanks and a couple of Ruff. Aware that raptors should be making a move soon in the increasing heat my HB dar was on full alert as a stonker of a Honey Buzzard flew overhead and was seen heading out to see at the obs such is the beauty of mobiles these days. Happy with my fill I visited the obs and had a Moth raid at the fridge, surely one of the most visited fridges in the UK. Book at the ready and with the help of Dave I added a few new moths to my UK fridge list including the splendid little, Beautiful Marbled .

One more stop before heading home was to see the Glauc at the fishing boats.

Job done and back home for Amy Pond, sorry I meant Doctor Who.

Today I was mostly working but yesterday was one of those memorable autumn days and all on my own bar the fridge encounter and raptor man!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Birding still takes a back seat!

Over the past year I've ventured into Moths to the extent that between April and Sept I appear to do very limited birding. This new 'hobby' I find extremely interesting and it seems at times like a whole new World, akin to when i first started birding. Fortuantely with the help of Messrs Milton and Morris of East Kent I'm hopefully starting to id things correctly now though any mistkes let me know!! In fact I seem unable to go anywhere now without looking at peoples fences, walls, sheds, and only last week whilst in the queue for the tip I saw a Least Carpet on the wall from the car! The garden list grows slowly but at a guess is on 120+ Macro sp and 40+ micros. Only this week I added another couple of corkers to the garden list with Lesser-spotted Pinion and Pebble Prominent whilst a visit to Bromhey today bagged Rosy Footman, Black Arches. Pale Prominent amongst others whilst the fridge held Gordons' prized trophy, Many lined Moth, a first for Kent?

Hours and hours spent perusing UK Moths website and in the fieldguides really has helped me with some Ids yet some completely throw me, which is where Louise the wife comes in handy, as ace moth identifier and surely one of the vows of anyones marriage! In fact she was pretty good at identifying birds when we first starting going out but the early mornings, ie earlier than 11am tend to see her leave me to it these days. I don't think I'll get the dizzy heights of some people out there ie Franny, Dylan, and ace pan lister Dave Gibbs, but looking at Dyls blog certainly has me more aware of what's all around us 'beyond' birds. Keep up the good work. The recent re igniting of the Planet Thanet website is also for me another great asset to what's about and certainly until the birds start getting going again, the MV 125, the guide and a bag of pots does me fine. All above are photographed in the mothcervatory a handy way to photograph them then spend the next ten minutes trying to re catch them once I get behind the camera and they've flown.

Oh the joys of mothing!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Normal Service will resume soon

Apologies once again for a lack of blogging, far too busy reading other blogs, attempting to identify moths, giving lectures, working, monitoring my ageing body and annoying tufts of aural hair, plus chasing insects! The above picture was from a few weeks ago, sleep induced!

King Eider on the Ythan

Star wort so I believe

Dainty Damsel

Once I get my act backing together I'll resume normal service including the Sunday edition minus phone hacking or any other way of finding whats about!