Saturday, 29 January 2011


Today's headline pays homage to Christopher Landon's 'Ice Cold in Alex'.  However, Reculver was not in any way ,shape or form like North Africa.  I started the morning by actually beating Marc, only by a few minutes though, to our Owl searching spot.  We recorded 2 LONG EARED OWLS with one bird passing closely over our heads.  I added year ticks in the form of Grey and Red Legged Partridge and we arrived at Reculver Towers just after 7.00 a.m.  By 7.15 .am. Marc had lost half his body weight in the nearby Public Convenience and we were soon enoying Kittiwakes, Red Throated Divers and Brent Geese passing the Towers.  A Sparrowhawk buzzed over the Caravan Park and as we passed the Oyster Farm I was fairly confident we had a Red-Breasted Merganser at sea but Judge John Deed was not so certain.  I'm sure we'll be able to add this later in the year to our lists.  Looking out to sea we saw two flocks of c100 birds each of Cormorant flying off in the direction of Herne Bay.  In the words of Blondie 'The Tide is High' and Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover and Dunlin were joined by Redshank fairly close to us.  The obligatory Little Egret and Little Grebe were seen and reaching Cold Harbour we met our chums the 3 SHORELARKS.  On our return we were joined by 'Nanook of the North' AKA Chris Hindle in some very natty head gear. We returned to theTowers and in the next 45 minutes 200+ RED-THROATED DIVERS flashed by with a small group  of 9 Wigeon noted . I thawed out in the car and returned home just after 11.30 a.m.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


In the words of "Hannibal" Smith "I love it when a plan comes together".  Yesterday, was one of those days in 'Birding' when everything goes right.  I picked Marc up at just after 10.00 am. and we made our way to one of Kent's birding hot spots 'Tescos' car park in Whitstable.  On site already was 'Robin' in the shape of Mike Gould but unfortunately his partner must have still been in the 'Bat cave'  searching through several thousand images of Waxwings.  After 20 minutes wait, the flock of 24 WAXWINGS alighted in the trees in the car park and Marc hiding in the trolley park area managed a few pictures.

We made our way to Dungeness to hopefully see the GLAUCOUS GULL which had managed to elude Mark Chidwick on previous visits.  However after arriving in the lay-by next to the fishing boats we immediately sighted the bird loafing around on a shingle ridge in the company of a few Herring Gulls and dwarfing the two Black-Headed Gulls standing sentry each side of it.  After 15 minutes the biting wind got the better of us and we moved on.

A smooth ride onto Dymchurch for Marc to see the Northern Long-Tailed Tits was our next port of call.  Within 30 seconds the mixed flock of Long-Tailed Tits were visible in the trees in the churchyard and the next 45 minutes tested Marc's skills to the limit as they moved at pace from branch to branch and tree to tree.  However, we managed to see 5 birds interspersed with approximately 6 'ordinary' Long-Tailed Tits.

Our final port of call was the Denge Wood in Canterbury to hopefully see the wintering HAWFINCH.  This would be a new Kent bird for me as I had been too lazy to venture to Bedgebury.  With the weather closing in and drizzle beginning to fall, the first bird was soon picked out sitting happily on top of a distant conifer and soon six other birds flew in to roost and we left very happy just before 3.00 p.m.  Marc managed to get his passport stamped and I dropped him off home for his tea, 'Primeval' and an early night after so much excitement for one day.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Amazingly on waking up this morning the sun was attempting to break through and I decided to make a trip to Dymchurch to see the long staying NORTHERN LONG TAILED TITS.  My wife very kindly agreed to chauffeur me down and we arrived just before 10.30 a.m.  There was only one other birder in the churchyard who had not seen the birds but help was on its way with the arrival of 'Batman and Robin', Steve Ashton and Mike Gould.  We spent the next 20 minutes unsuccessfully searching the area.  However, just before 11.00 a.m. the Cavalry arrived in the form of Martyn Wilson, Mark Chidwick and other assorted birders.  Chidders found some 'ordinary' Long-tailed tits, but no sign of the 'Special Ones'.  Mike needed a 'tea-break' - no surprise there and Martyn and myself decided to search the area again.  On reaching a more secluded area I immediately heard LONG TAILED TITS calling and a couple of minutes later a superb NORTHERN LONG TAILED TIT popped onto a branch a few metres away.  Then two more emerged from a ivy clad tree.  Martyn contacted the rest of the gang and for the next 45 minutes about a dozen of us enjoyed excellent views of these beautiful visitors.

Thanks Martyn for the images.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Meeting Marc at just after 7.15 a.m. this morning it was fairly obvious that it was going to be very hard work.  Two Woodcocks whizzed around and we started to walk down to the sea wall via the railway and riding stables a single Sparrowhawk made an appearance and the first of 3 Green woodpeckers made the notebook.  The HOODED CROW was spotted by Marc with a gang of his new friends and as we reached the riding stables a Peregrine was showing off to a few Crows and when we reached the sea wall we were thrilled to see 4 Curlews as this was a year tick for us both. (Hope you've noticed the irony).  Our walk along the sea wall was significant as there was nearly as many dogs as birds. Highlight (honest) was a juvenile Kittiwake but just for the record we recorded c200 Wigeon, 58 Oystercatchers and an impressive 48 Shelduck and 8 Redshank at Cold Harbour.  The walk inland along the railway embankment was a bit like the Somme but the adrenalin pumped when we saw 2 Shovelers to add to our year lists.  We returned to our cars at just after 11.00 a.m. and another weekend with the Rough Legged Buzzard still AWOL .

Sunday, 9 January 2011


After yesterday's desperate conditions it was fortunately much brighter, clearer and crisper at Reculver today.  On our walk down to Cold Harbour 15 Mute Swans were mooching around in the fields by the Oyster Farm.  Two big gangs of Cormorant numbering 70+ each time and similar numbers of Lapwing flew over the Towers.  Six Carrion Crows made the notebook but the 'Hoodie' seems to have moved on to pastures new.  Redshank, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and over 20 Oystercatcher fed happily on the beach but still no Knot or Curlew for the year list.  The obligatory Little Grebes and Egret plus approximately 200 Wigeon at Cold Harbour were joined by 20 Shelduck.  We soon found the 3 SHORELARKS and Marc fired off a few photographs but muttered about the light to himself.  On our walk back we met Ann and Chris and about 10 other birders on a pilgrimage to see and photograph the Shorelarks.  For a decent image of them check out the KOS website and view Mark Chidwick's pics.  We set up at Brook in the hope of finding the Rough-Legged Buzzard but again were unlucky.  However, 2 Marsh Harriers were seen, and Marc picked up a Ring-tail HEN HARRIER which was a very welcome addition to the year list .... and Jay.  A very enjoyable session was had by all.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Meeting  Marc at 7.20 a.m. this morning with wind and rain buffeting the car I wondered what on earth I was doing here.  A stroll down to Brook Valley in the hope of surprising the Mandarin lead to Heathy bothering only a few Coot.  Retracing our steps we hoped to connect with the Rough-Legged Buzzard who had probably roosted around the area.  However, a Pochard and 3 Tufted Duck and a few more Coot for Marc to upset were our reward.  Chris and Ann had no success either and we decided to stand at the Towers for an hour in the hope of something, anything flying by.  Loads of Brent Geese, loads of Lapwing some Shelduck and a few Oystercatcher and a single Eider.  Year ticks with Sanderling and 3 PINTAIL salvaged the day.  Marc went to the Post Office and I sat in a lay by for 45 minutes in the hope of seeing the Rough-Legged Buzzard but a Merlin enjoying breakfast and a smart male Marsh Harrier was the best I could do.

Monday, 3 January 2011


 With news of a Mandarin sighted at Brook Reservoir yesterday I met Marc just before 7.00 a.m. in anticipation of adding a very rare bird for Reculver.  A Woodcock flew past the car in the gloom and Fieldfare were calling overhead.   By reaching the railway line we had managed to add Wren which was New Year's Day elusive commoner species.  On reaching the reservoir Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Coot were sighted but despite a good, long search the Mandarin could not be found.  Two Water Rail were feeding in a dyke nearby and two WAXWINGS flew overhead, calling.  Walking along the fields Redwing, Great-Spotted Woodpecker and Pied Wagtail made the notebook.  Reaching the little copse area and duck pond Gadwall rose from the pond with the MANDARIN amongst them.  Delighted to see the bird we also added Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest to our year list.  On our walk back 14 WAXWINGS flew across the valley and a welcome addition of Grey Wagtail made the notebooks.  We returned via the road  to the reservoir where we thought the Mandarin had dropped into with the Gadwall.  Two Golden Plovers flew calling overhead and despite intensive searching still no Mandarin on Brook Rreservoir but a further 10 WAXWINGS flew over calling.  Another good session with 13 new species making it a creditable 86 species for the year.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


 An early start again meeting Marc in a quiet lay by to start the New Year off with a LONG EARED OWL.  Heathy had earlier "cruised" the lanes in search of a Barn Owl but was unsuccessful.  Arriving at a very gloomy and overcast Reculver Towers rafts of duck were sitting happily on the sea, mainly Wigeon but a few Mallard were interspersed.  A group of 12 Shelduck were noted as 20 Ringed Plover, c40 Dunlin and 20 Grey Plover were feeding on the beach.  On our walk we found a group of 5 SNOW BUNTINGS feeding happily and approaching Cold Harbour the 3 SHORELARKS were spotted allowing Marc the opportunity to take some photographs.  The long staying HOODED CROW was sighted feeding with approximately 10 Carrion Crows on the beach at Cold Harbour.  A single Eider flew past and over 50 Red Throated Divers sped high westwards in groups of c20.  Walking inland a single LAPLAND BUNTING called and was seen flying over the Oyster Farm.  Approaching the Railway Crossing 3 Waxwings were seen in a tree, which made Marc's day only to be very disappointed as he approached for the obligatory photographs for a Sparrowhawk to send them fleeing quickly towards the Sea Wall.  I did point out to Heathy that a Sparrowhawk didn't understand English or swearing.  Hoping to find Fieldfare inland we had to make do with just a Greenfinch.  Matt and Chris Hindle joined us on the Green Wall and SPOTTED REDSHANK, 4 TREE SPARROWS and c6 BEARDED TITS made the notebook. 

After lunch a quick look at Brook enabled us to add Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mistle Thrush and Chaffinch which made the total up to 70 for the day.  A quick trip along the Thanet Way gave us the opportunity to add Rook, Long-Tailed Tit and sadly Feral Pigeon.  The rain and gloom finally got the better of us and we finished the day at approximately 2.00 p.m. with a decent total of 73 species - with some glaring errors notably Wren!  A really good day despite the  miserable conditions.