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Tuesday 31 January 2012

Big Garden Birdwatch Update

I have just submitted my garden bird sightings to the RSPB from the weekend and it was a mixed bag really. We did manage to improve on the list that I mentioned last Friday. Totals were:

22 House Sparrows (about the norm),
12 Starlings (the big flocks just didn't materialise),
2 Blackbirds (both males),
2 Chaffinches (again males),
2 Blue Tits,
2 Woodpigeons (the first visit of the winter surprisingly),
2 Greenfinches (a pair - visiting the seed feeder for the first time in many months),
1 Dunnock,
1 Collared Dove (can get double figures!),
1 Robin (singing in the dark),

The left over take-away chips came up trumps early on Sunday morning with 2 Carrion Crows, 2 Magpies, and singles of Black-headed and Herring Gulls. The Herring in particular stayed a good couple of minutes, gobbling down a significant proportion of the left overs. They are normally just fly overs.

Yesterday (30th) after leaving work in Maidstone, I had a Common Buzzard sitting on a roadside post near to Junction 8 of the M20 motorway. I have been driving this route for 8 and a half years and it is the first time I have seen one sitting here. You just never know what you will find next.

Monday 30 January 2012

Snowy Sunday

Sunday (29th) was grim weather wise with a combination of mist, fog, sleet, drizzle and a cold northerly breeze added to the mix - certainly not good for photography. However the birding on the North Kent coast was still exceptionally good. As designated driver for the day, the first port of call for me was Swalecliffe, where despite a good search, we could not relocate the Shorelark. We did manage to see a group of Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the shore, a Little Grebe in the brook, a female Stonechat, several Meadow Pipits and my first Red-breasted Merganser of the year, a drake that flew west close inshore. A fox was seen near the skate park.

Moving on to Seasalter and the marshes around the South Swale NNR we walked west from the Sportsman pub to Castle Coote hoping to find the recently seen Snow Buntings. On route we saw a cracking male Marsh Harrier flying east, a female Sparrowhawk on one of the metal fences/barriers, 1 Skylark, calling Cetti's Warbler and a couple of groups of Bearded Tits (heard and not seen). The usual waders were noted on the mud in small numbers, most notably Knot. Around halfway between the white post and Castle Coote a flock of c35 birds took off from the beach and vegetation, clearly the Snow Buntings. They split into two groups and headed off west, fairly high towards Castle Coote, and despite a walk further west, with MG, who had been walking towards us and had also seen the birds fly, we could not relocate them. 33 Mute Swans and 3 Reed Buntings were noted before the long walk back to the cars, and while there was little to add to the notebook, an enjoyable chat about Kent birding, cameras and habitat management was had. See you soon MG.

We then dropped into Oare Marshes around 12:30 to see if we could catch up with the 2 Great Northern Divers seen recently. Once in the car park and wrapped up warm, we were treated to wonderful views of a Short-eared Owl hunting close over the reeds and rough ground, before later heading off over the slipway, saltmarsh and the West Flood. A Wren showed in the car park brambles. Moving over to the slipway, I started scanning the Swale with binoculars, and just to the east the first 2 birds that I came across on the water warranted closer inspection with the telescope. They turned out to be 2 cracking drake Goosanders. Both of my parents managed to have a look in the scope before they took off to the west and joined an already airborne drake Red-breasted Merganser - a nice comparison. The Merganser pitched down but the 2 Goosanders carried on west over Uplees copse and disappeared into the murk. Soon after, I started scanning to the west and located the 2 Great Northern Divers feeding and occasionally being hassled by juvenile Herring Gulls. There was obviously a good supply of food in this part of the Swale as there were also 5 Red-breasted Mergansers (4 drakes) diving, and then Mum picked up a Grebe. It was obviously smaller than the Mergansers, and after around 10 minutes of scrutiny, we were able to confirm that it was a Slavonian Grebe. Even at long range the black and white plumage could be seen with the white neck and cheek being particularly noticeable. The flat black cap was visible too. While looking at this bird a Common Buzzard flew low over the Sheppey saltmarsh before crossing the Swale and disappearing around the copse too. All of the usual waders were present on the mud, and back in the car, there was a healthy number of Pintail on the East Flood and a Kestrel in the top of a tree by the cottages on departure. Another enjoyable, if somewhat brief visit and good to bump into KC here too.

The final stop of the day was Conyer Creek, where the tide was coming in fast over the remaining areas of mud in the Swale. Oystercatcher, 94+ Avocet, masses of Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Redshank with a few Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plover and Turnstone were quite a spectacle through the optics, plus there were 9 R-B Mergansers (7 drakes), 2 Little Grebes and many Wigeon on the Swale. Flocks of Teal and Mallard could be found in the creek. A Rock Pipit was on the saltmarsh and Curlew and Brent Geese could be seen on the grazing marsh to the east looking back towards Uplees. A look around the trees and bushes revealed several Long-tailed Tits and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Quite a day.... and weekend really.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Dotterel Delight

Saturday 28th - With the sun shining, our plan was to to head to Dungeness to try and see the Dotterel that had been seen earlier in the week at the ARC Pit and along the Dengemarsh Road. On route I caught sight of a Common Buzzard near the Old Romney Church. First port of call was the Lydd Airport road as several groups of Lapwing and Golden Plover have been present in the sheep pastures here. Sure enough there were c30 Lapwing present but the light was tricky as we drove up to the Airport buildings so we decided to turn around in the car park. At this point the Black Redstart once again showed itself on a variety of perches and was joined by a female Stonechat and some calling Meadow Pipits.

Black Redstart
Now in better light, a scan of the distant Lapwing revealed a single brown plover - closer inspection was needed. Parking up near the old fuel compound, the bird appeared much smaller than the Lapwing near it, and after retrieving the telescope from the boot I was shocked to notice a pale supercillium. This was clearly no Golden Plover. The bird then turned to face the car and the faint breast band could been seen... It was the Dotterel, and not a Golden Plover in sight! Panic ensued as both Mum and Dad got on the bird through our two telescopes, as I hastily sent texts to the Dunge locals and others that might be interested. Panic over I then concentrated on staying on the bird until others arrived. Over the next hour, it was nice to catch up with: CT, OL, KP, DW, GH, PT, MC, BB &AB, SB, others whose names escape me, plus birders that had seen the news on the pager.With more eyes on the bird, we noted other birds including, 8 Red-legged Partridges, another Common Buzzard, a flock of Curlew, a female Marsh Harrier, calling Skylarks, and various flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing that came and went. An enjoyable couple of hours.

Moving on to the Fishing Boats at Dungeness, we saw large numbers of Auks (Guillemots and a few Razorbills) and Great-crested Grebes, several Kittiwakes and Gannets, 11 Turnstones on the beach and a group of 14 Brent Geese moving east offshore. None of the unusual Gulls were noted.

Heading back to Ashford via Walland Marsh, we noted a flock of Stock Doves along Caldecott Lane, 53 Bewick's Swans at Midley, a final Common Buzzard, a Grey Heron, several Gadwall and a drake Teal near the Woolpack Inn, and a couple of flocks of Fieldfare near Snave.

Friday 27 January 2012

Whooper is back & the Big Garden Birdwatch

With a report of the Whooper Swan re-appearing on the Rother levels between Northiam (East Sussex) and Newenden (Kent) in recent weeks, the parents paid the area a visit this morning, before purchasing a Stephen Message art print later in the day ( They were fortunate to find the Whooper in a ditch on the Sussex side of the river with 2 Mutes for company. This seems to be the norm with this bird, as can be seen in the photographs that I took of, presumably, this individual on the 30th January last year. As to what the origins of this bird are..... well that is anybodies guess. It does not appear to be seen in the summer...

Whooper Swan with Mutes - 30th January 2011
Whooper Swan - 30th January 2011
On the flooded fields on the other side of the road there were 30-40 Gulls, 70-80 Lapwing and a single Golden Plover.

Also a reminder that it is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. A 45-minute watch in the garden this morning, in preparation for the big event, revealed little of note (as expected considering the relatively mild weather of late) but totals were: 12 House Sparrows, 1 Dunnock, 1 Collared Dove, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Blue Tits and only 2 Starlings !!! Things can only get better.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Hothfield Highlights

On Sunday morning (22nd), Angela and myself paid a visit to Hothfield (Common) Heathlands KWT reserve, hoping to connect with some woodland birds, particularly Nuthatch. As soon as we got out of the car, a Common Buzzard was seen circling overhead, later on joined by a second bird. Walking clockwise around the common we noted: 3+ Goldcrest, 3+ Nuthatch, a drumming and calling G-S Woodpecker, 50+ Chaffinch feeding on Beechmast, a couple of Treecreepers, 6+ Mistle Thrushes, c10 Goldfinches, several Wrens, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, and a Green Woodpecker. The adjacent meadows alongside the river Stour were being hunted by a male Kestrel, and at the small pond there was a roosting party of 4 Little Egrets. At the nearby Hothfield waterfall lake we had a lone Redwing and another small party of Long-tailed Tits.

Mum and Dad also visited a KWT reserve in the morning, this one being Oare Marshes. Here, as well as spotting MW, KP & DB, they had the Rough-legged Buzzard hunting over Mocketts, on Sheppey, 1 Stonechat, 2 Little Stint, 3 Common Buzzards, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers amongst the highlights. A Rock Pipit was seen at South Swale NNR

UPDATE - The parents also visited Hothfield (Common) Heathlands on Monday (23rd) where they additionally had: c12 Redwing, 1 Jay, 3 Yellowhammers and 12+ Meadow Pipits.

Monday 23 January 2012

An E-Great Weekend

Pulling back the curtains on Saturday morning (21st) made me less than optimistic as it was a windy, overcast scene that greeted me. However I had promised Angela that I would show her a Barn Owl, not an easy task in recent years - as a result of cold winters, food supply and some habitat destruction across the Romney Marsh they have become very scarce in the south of Kent.

Leaving Ashford c10am our first stop was the Rother Levels between Northiam and Newenden on the Kent/Sussex border, looking for the reported Whooper Swan that appears to have returned for another winter. Sadly there was no sign of this bird so we made our way to Rye via Peasmarsh, noting a Common Buzzard over the car. Skirting around the edge of Rye, we made our next stop at Northpoint Gravel Pits where we noted 31 Curlew and a single Golden Plover. Further on there were more, distant Curlew at Camber Pits along with a Green Woodpecker, 5 Shoveler, several Gadwall and a Great-Crested Grebe. Jury's Gap held a Mute Swan flock but no other wild swans could be found amongst them. Scotney Gravel Pits contained the usual masses of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Wigeon and Geese, including the feral Barnacle population, with highlights being 6+ Dunlin and a Redshank on the flooded fields.

Back into Kent, Angela spotted a Sparrowhawk sitting on a bungalow roof in Lydd and a Marsh Harrier was spotted over Dengemarsh with another 2 seen later at Boulderwall Farm. Lunch was spent in the presence of Gulls, with the 1st winter Caspian Gull taking top billing, in the gull roost nearest the new lighthouse at Dungeness. Taking a walk over to the fishing boats we also noted several Kittiwakes (both adults and 1st winters) and a smart 2nd Winter Little Gull. Guillemots, Cormorants and a group of Turnstone were noted in the strong blustery wind before we retreated to the calm and warmth of the Car. The Glaucous Gull will have to wait for another day. Missed it twice now this year!

One of the birds I had mentioned to Angela, that we might see, was the drake Smew that had been frequenting the ARC Pit. Fortunately we soon found the bird amongst a flock of dosing Pochard, sheltering close to the road. The Smew was wide awake however and showed brilliantly in the scope. The Long-tailed Duck was also scoped along with several Goldeneye, Shelduck and many Teal. Heading to the visitor centre on the RSPB reserve, 2 Tree sparrows were noted in the brambles around Boulderwall. Lots of common birds on the feeders, a Moorhen being particularly showy.

From the reserve we then made our way to Lydd airport to see if the Black Redstart was still present. It was - almost in exactly the same place as last weekend, catching insects around a small puddle near the hangar. 3 Meadow pipits were also present with Golden Plover and Lapwing again showing on the sheep fields. A phone call/voicemail here from the parents alerted us to the presence of a Great White Egret, once again along the RM Canal between Appledore and Stone (cliff). More on that bird later.

Angela was on top raptor spotting form again as we crossed the marsh with a Peregrine zooming across in front of the car as we drove along Caldecott Lane. At Midley, Walland Marsh, the Bewick's Swan flock numbered 53 with 5 juveniles noted (record shot below). A flock of Fieldfare were near the Woolpack Inn.

Bewick's Swans on Walland Marsh
Driving across Fairfield, towards Appledore, there was a large mixed flock of Jackdaw, Rook and Starling. Quite a sight and sound. The RM Canal at Appledore was always going to be our last port of call, as my parents had seen a Barn Owl here on New Year's Day. A Kestrel was seen - sadly the Owl didn't show, but with the water levels in the canal once again dropping, the habitat around the sluice between Appledore and Stone proved excellent, producing good views of the Great White Egret, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Grey Herons and a Green Sandpiper. Both the GWE and Green Sand were present here late last year. The light was fading fast but a shot of the GWE was obtained. A fine end to the day.... still got to find Angela a Barn Owl though - the hunt goes on!

Great White Egret in flight

Mum and Dad were also out across the Marsh and Dungeness. Additionally they saw 6 Little Egrets at Hamstreet, Common Buzzard on Walland, Kingfisher from the ARC screen and another Great White Egret at Dengemarsh. 

Thursday 19 January 2012

A Purple Morning

What a difference a day makes. Sunday morning (15th) was still sunny but there was a brisk and cold wind blowing as we arrived at the seafront in Hythe. The target bird was Purple Sandpiper and we were not disappointed, seeing at least three birds on the rocky sea defences below Stade Court. They were amongst c20 Turnstones.

We then made our way back to Dungeness, seeing the Long-tailed Duck on the ARC pit from the Hanson hide along with 3 Smew (including my first drake of the winter), several Goldeneye and a Snipe. A visit to Lydd airport revealed a female/immature Black Redstart, obviously wintering around the hangar and port-a-cabins, as we saw this individual here on the last day of 2011. The surrounding sheep fields held many Golden Plover.

Across Walland Marsh we had 2 Common Buzzards, Tree Sparrows and the Bewick's Swan flock, now numbering 48 birds including 5 juveniles. A Little Egret was seen along the RM Canal at Hamstreet.

In the afternoon the parents headed to Park & Denge Woods where they had a couple of Jays, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk & G-S Woodpecker. I met up with Angela and between us we saw Little Egret, Mistle Thrush, 2 G-S Woodpeckers and the flock of Mute Swans behind Conningbrook Lakes and along Blackwall Road.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

The Isle Of Sheppey - Owls about that then...

Saturday (14th) was a superb day weather wise, with unbroken sunshine, almost no wind and a heavy frost early on. The plan was a trip to the Isle of Sheppey, hoping to connect with some of the special birds that have been present as of late. It turned out to be a good decision.
The first sighting of note was from the new Sheppey bridge crossing where a flock of Brent Geese could be seen circling and dropping onto the grazing marsh, actually below the level of the car ... quite a different view!
Our first port of call was at the eastern end of the Island... Shellness and the Swale NNR. The light was stunning as we set off along the seawall to the hide overlooking the reserve.

Swale NNR

The highlights along the way included a smart ringtail Hen Harrier, Little Egret, and a Peregrine that appeared over the saltmarsh, before it or another started terrorising the Golden Plover and Lapwing flock a little later on. Viewing the reserve from the seawall by the hide, we located 17 White-fronted Geese amongst the Greylags and a Short-Eared Owl was seen briefly before disappearing behind one of the banks in the distance... the first of many. More about them later. The walk back to the car revealed a Kestrel, and several Marsh Harriers before the sound of Geese alerted us to the main flock of White-fronts (100-150 birds counted by others) dropping in to reserve, apparently from the Harty Marshes/Capel Fleet direction. Sadly we were now too far away to search for the Tundra Bean Goose seen recently.

Next stop was the fields around Muswell Manor. Here we saw a Stoat, before locating the Dark-bellied Brent Goose flock, and soon the Pale-bellied bird in the telescopes. The birds were happily feeding quite close to the road and I was pleased to get a couple of shots.

Brent Geese

The birds were then spooked by something as the sky was soon full of Geese, Waders and Starlings. The predator went unnoticed but it gave me a chance to get a shot of them on the sea.

Brent Geese

A walk to the RSPB fields was also rewarding with the highlight being the Lapland Buntings. Several were heard calling, and seen with the large Skylark flock when they flew up from the field. However Mum managed to get one bird on the ground in her scope and soon several birders were on to this smart Bunting - well done Mum! We also had 4 Short-eared Owls on view around us, one towards the Hamlet/car park, and 3 over the Swale NNR. One of these birds ended up hunting the field right in front of us before coming into contact with 2 Kestrels, which forced it to circle higher and higher. The contact and alarm calls were fantastic.

Short-eared Owl

Back at the car, a final look on the sea revealed 7 Red-throated Divers and a couple of Common Scoters.

Capel Fleet and the Harty Ferry Inn were the next stops. Capel was full of birders - never seen so many people on the Raptor viewing mound. Yet another Short-eared Owl was being harassed by a Kestrel and a Green Sandpiper showed briefly in flight, calling and then dropping into one of the nearby ditches. Harty Ferry was quieter birder wise but the birding was excellent. 3 Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl were hunting over the rough fields to the east of the pub and the Swale revealed small flocks of Turnstone, Knot, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits. A couple of Snipe flew from the saltmarsh and a small flock of Long-tailed Tits in the Clay-pigeon shoot area had a Goldcrest in their midst.

Our final destination was Elmley Marshes RSPB & NNR. On route we had a group of Fieldfare near Eastchurch. The entrance track was relatively quiet but once at Kingshill Farm, we realised where all the duck had been all day. The Swale held a mass of Gulls and duck, mainly Wigeon, but also containing Shelduck and some smart Pintail. 2 Foxes were keeping a close eye from the seawall. The final Short-eared Owl of the day was hunting the rough grassland to the west of the track and Dad found a Merlin sitting on a gatepost before it zoomed off skywards. A Little Egret and some Teal were in the pools near the Oaks, and Mum rounded off the Owl count, finding a Little Owl sitting in the middle Oak.

Little Owl
Elmley Marshes from Kingshill Farm

So what a day out birding. Nice to see plenty of birdwatchers out enjoying the weather and the birds - good to bump into a few familiar faces too (Hi to MR & CG if they are reading this). No sign of any Buzzard species today on Sheppey but we did manage to see two Common Buzzards heading to roost as we came across the Downs at the Detling Showground. But there's always next time...

Thursday 12 January 2012

Work for me... Hothfield for Dad.

Work as usual for me this week but my Dad, retired, used the sunny and still weather yesterday (11th) to pay a visit to the local Hothfield Heathlands KWT nature reserve. Highlights here included 3 Nuthatch, 1 Treecreeper, 5 Green and 4 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel, 2 Goldcrests, a pair of Yellowhammers, 2 Little Egrets, Greylag Goose and a Grey Heron. Another area that we will keep our eye on this year.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

The Weekend - Part 2 - On Fire!

Sunday (8th) dawned overcast but we decided to have a look around some local sites. Starting at Godmersham village I instantly heard a Firecrest upon getting out of the car. Incredibly there were two birds present in small Yew trees on the edge of a garden between the river Stour and some of the College buildings. A fantastic start to the day. The river held a Little Egret and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed nearby. A sign of the mild weather.

We then had look at Park Wood between Challock and Chilham. We eventually found a tit flock comprising mainly Great & Blue Tits, but also containing a Wren, 2 Goldcrest, and a pair of  Marsh Tits. 2 Common Buzzards and a Jay flew over. Back at the car there was another flock, this containing Treecreeper, Nuthatch, 2 more Marsh Tits, another Goldcrest & 1 Coal Tit.

Next stop was Shalmsford Street with a Little Egret, Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker, and a small party of Long-tailed Tits spotted along the river from the bridge. The final site visited was Denge Wood on the top of the North Downs. Incredibly we found another Firecrest!!! - again in Yew with another Tit & Goldcrest flock. Other highlights included 2 separate large flocks of finches, one of about 30 Chaffinch, containing a male Yellowhammer, 2 Greenfinches and a pair of Bullfinch. The other, in larches, contained a mixed group of c200 Goldfinch and Siskin (the latter species being the most numerous). Only 1+ Lesser Redpoll was present though. 9+ Marsh Tit (a great site for this species), Common Buzzard, Great-Spotted Woodpecker and a Jay rounded off a superb visit here.

On the way back home a Kestrel was hunting over farmland near Naccolt, and a Peregrine was seen over Ashford (also spotted on Monday 9th).

Monday 9 January 2012

The weekend - part 1 - Reculver Ramble

Saturday (7th) dawned with a few chores to complete, including feeding my friends cats. Mission accomplished, I spent an hour birding locally around the lanes bordering Conningbrook Lakes and out towards Wye and Brook. Relatively quiet but I did manage a Little Egret along the River Stour, 50 Mute Swans (2 flocks of 25 birds) and 1 Greylag, 1 Kestrel plus a calling Nuthatch. The usual waterbirds were seen distantly on the lakes. I then met my girlfriend Angela, who is interested in seeing some of the nature that I talk about and also that shown on the BBC Spring/Autumnwatch programmes.

Decided on a lunchtime visit to Reculver with a 2 hour stroll around the Towers and Oyster Farm. On route we spotted a Sparrowhawk at Godmersham and a Little Egret at Littlebourne. Reculver was again quiet with virtually nothing on the beach or sea apart from the usual Cormorants and Gulls. The Oyster Farm did hold a Shelduck, 2 Oystercatcher, c30 Linnet, many Redshank and also a Wren commuting with one of Angela's favourite birds, a pair of showy Stonechats. The anticipated Brent Goose flock failed to show - they must have been at Coldharbour Lagoon or beyond.

From here we spent an enjoyable rest of the afternoon on Thanet with Angela's family, before heading back to Ashford at dusk, adding 7 Long-tailed Tits by the Wincheap P&R, and the best bird of the day, a Little Owl, sitting on the top of a hedge near Bilting Grange Farm along the A28. A fox ran across the road back at home.

Additionally, my Parents were out too, birding Dungeness, Pett Level and Walland Marsh. Highlights included 5 Little Egrets at Hamstreet (RM Canal) and Great White Egret, Black-necked Grebe, Smew & Peregrine at Dungeness RSPB. The fishing boats held the resident 2w Glaucous Gull. Pett level was a wild Goose chase with 3+ Pinkfeet, 3+ White-fronts and 2 Brent (D-B). A Bar-headed Goose was probably not so wild!!! They finished the day with 2 Short-eared Owls at Littlestone Golf Course, 11 Grey Partridge along Caldecott Lane, Lydd and 6+ Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzard and 34 Bewick's Swans on Walland Marsh.

Thursday 5 January 2012

'Stodge' Marsh & Oare

Monday (2nd) was another day spent out in the field with the parents. Starting at the Grove Ferry car park, the plan was to walk along the riverbank to view the 2 Glossy Ibises that had been frequenting the water meadows at Stodmarsh NNR. We were soon told that the birds had been showing better from the Marsh Hide so we changed our plans. It was a proper slog through the mud but we were rewarded with lovely views of the un-ringed Glossy Ibis, along with several Water Pipits and 3 Little Egrets.

Glossy Ibis

Other birds of note were limited as we spent much of our time trying not to slip over in the mud. We did see a couple of Marsh Harriers and 2 Ruff from the viewing ramp though.

In the afternoon we paid our first visit of the year to Oare Marshes. Most of usual species present with the highlights being: 1 Little Grebe and 2 Snipe on the East Flood, 2 Greenfinches behind the East Hide, Merlin in the Elder tree, 2 Little Stints in Faversham Creek and 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels and an immature male Peregrine over on Harty Hill. An enjoyable day out.

2 Little Stints

Today (5th) my Dad had a Peregrine over the house, an increasing sight over this area of Ashford in recent months.


Tuesday 3 January 2012

New Year's Day... rain stops play.

After celebrating the new year festivities with close friends, I ventured out in the gloom meeting up with the parents at Kenardington bridge along the RM Canal for a days listing. They had already seen a Barn Owl near Appledore along with a Tawny Owl near the Rare Breeds Centre at Woodchurch. 3 others had been calling in Orlestone Forest. Highlights for me included 7 Little Egrets by Hamstreet Garden Centre, 32 Bewick's Swans on Walland Marsh near Old Cheyne Court Farm, Great White Egret and 2 Smew on the New Diggings at Dungeness and a Great Skua and Caspian Gull at the Fishing Boats. Sadly the weather deteriorated during the afternoon and we called it a day at around 2:30 pm having clocked up 80 species between us. Not bad considering the poor weather. The camera stayed in the dry and warmth of its bag...

A new year and a new years resolution.... Having a blog.

Firstly a big welcome and thank you for reading my blog. With the new year arriving with strong winds and driving rain, I have taken the plunge and decided to keep a blog detailing my bird sightings around Ashford, Kent and further afield, plus photographs that I have taken along the way.