Saturday, 26 February 2011


I'm sure Martyn Wilson will appreciate the headline and will probably be able to tell me the year of Dave Stewart's and Annie Lennox's hit.  It's the weekend so it's bound to be wet, grey and miserable.  Starting at the Towers at 7.00 a.m. about 100 Brent Geese were congregating on the sea and 21 Mute Swan were grazing in the fields.  Gangs of Oystecatcher were whizzing past and we gave up counting after reaching 82 birds.  A Little Egret was noted by the Oyster farm and the perennial Little Grebe was seen in one of the channels.  Four Meadow Pipit were playing parachutes with each other and we reached Cold Harbour in fairly steady rain.  The 3 SHORELARKS were sighted in the usual spot looking fairly bedraggled and Marc managed to relocate the SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT which alongside three other Rock Pipits is fairly striking.

We had almost given up hope of ever spotting the GOOSANDERS when Heathy looked out to sea and they were very close to shore. We were both delighted to finally connect and the SPOTTED REDSHANK showing well in the Lagoon had to wait while we enjoyed the male and 3 female GOOSANDERS.  Chris Hindle joined us in the torrential rain and we soon headed back to the Towers.  We recorded 2 Stonechats and 10 Reed Buntings on our return and as we reached the Oyster Farm a very smart adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL flew past to complete another successful morning despite the predictable conditions.  By the way, Martyn, I'm sure you know it comes from the Eurythmics 'Touch' album of 1984.


I went to see my parents in the Midlands this week and convinced them that a trip to the Cotswolds on Thursday would be nice!  I thought a quick trip via Chipping Norton to see the Rufous Turtle Dove would take about an hour.  Having seen it come up twice on the pager in two hours I thought to myself no problems in adding this mega to my UK list.  WRONG.  When I walked down The Leys a few happy birders were strolling back to their cars smiling contentedly to themselves. The bird had settled itself down in the garden of No.41, which was closed to visitors.  I stood in the passageway of No. 33 for 3 hours and saw Brambling, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, even a Sparrowhawk.  I realised this wasn't going to be mine or about 50 other birders days.  So I gave up and returned to the car.  My wife grinned knowingly and we left to have a really enjoyable afternoon in Bourton-on-the-Water.  Lessons learnt, my UK list remains stubbornly on 423.

Monday, 21 February 2011


Picking Marc up just after 10.00 a.m. this morning the outlook was bleak and the hopes for a few hours birding was not high.  Walking from the Towers at Reculver down to Coldharbour the tide was high and perhaps there was a chance of the Goosanders that had been lurking around the area for the last week.  Redshank, Oystercatcher and Curlew were soon recorded along with Wigeon and Mallard.  A lone Marsh Harrier quartered over the Oyster farm and a single Little Egret made the notebook.  Heathy was delighted to get the camera out of the bag and photograph a Stonechat.  Having recorded 5 Shelduck Marc then called another but on close inspection it was a male GOLDENEYE ,which is a difficult species for the area.  A few decent images were taken and we continued on our way.  Over 20 Ringed Plover were roosting on the shingle along with a smattering of Turnstone  and Dunlin.  Two Greylag Geese flew overhead and then Heathy received a text from our chums the 3 SHORELARKS  that they were waiting for us.After a 10 minute chat we started our return walk satisfied. As we passed the Greenwall  27 Sanderling whizzed by and an unusual Grebe greeted us.  After a little deliberation and a few flight shots plus a call to Chris  -  SLAVONIAN GREBE  was confirmed which is a new Reculver bird for both 'Dances with Owls' and myself.  Well pleased we nipped into Hampton Pier to 'Tick and Run' 3 PURPLE SANDPIPERS and an Eider.  Great Morning, Good Fun.  Thanks for your company Marc.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Meeting 'Dances with Owls' just before 7.00 a.m. he had already had a close encounter with a Long-eared buddy.  We looked out over the grey, dull misty morning at the Towers in the hope of Goosander but we had to make do with numerous Brent Geese, assorted Gulls and a lone Shelduck.  Twenty minutes later we decided on a stroll and walked the sea-wall past the Oyster farm.  Redshank, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher and Curlew made the notebook and by 8.30 a.m. we decided to make a visit to Brooksend home of the mythical Jackdaw.

Arriving at the mini Camargue the first bird we saw was a Jackdaw announcing itself with a call as beautiful to my ears as any Nightingale.  Soon another Jackdaw flew overhead and my day was complete.  Marc was desperately searching for last week's Canada Geese but had to make-do with a flock of Greylag Geese of around 26 and a pair of Marsh Harriers.  With visibility deteriorating Heathy left for home half an hour early which is almost unheard of.  Another weekend of desperate weather and on the grapevine we heard that even Chris Hindle had employed a Sherpa to take him to Pegwell Bay in search of a Caspian Gull.  Hopefully he'll make it back safely.

Fortunately, we haven't succumbed yet to chase 'The Dove from above' or various landfill sites in Essex to search for a gull.  However, if they did make it into Kent airspace...............

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Meeting the "Owl whisperer" just before 7.00 a.m. at Shuart, he had already clocked up two Long-eared Owls but had failed in his quest for a Little Owl.  On a fairly uneventful walk towards the riding stables at Minnis Bay we recorded one Jay and two very noisy Green Woodpeckers.  A smart female Marsh Harrier was sitting happily in a distant bush until it was picked on by a gang of Crows.  Two Field fare were disturbed eating their breakfast and 17 Lapwing whizzed overhead.  A single Long Tailed Tit (ordinary version) made the notebook and as we reached the riding stables approximately 250 Black Headed Gulls flew over the railway line.  In the adjacent fields 22 Carrion Crows were joined by the first of two HOODED CROWS again.  Once again the "Hoodie" seemed quite happy on his own.

We also managed to add 2 Corn Bunting, which were a year tick for yours truly, 2 Grey Partridge were flushed and made their way across the field to more cover.  The sea was quiet with just the second Hooded Crow noted along with 4 Oystercatcher and 3 Ringed Plover.  We strolled back adding Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Little Grebe.  Marc then disturbed a Sparrowhawk and decided to worry 4 sheep and a horse in search of Woodcock - unsuccessfully.

He headed for home - once again having carried his camera kit for two and a half hours,for little reward.  I decided to go Jackdaw hunting at Brooksend.  Fortunately, within a minute of leaving the car I added 2 Ringed-Necked Parakeet to the year list and completed my 100th and 101st with 33 Greyiags and two Canada Geese.  However, after searching for 45 minutes through hordes of Rooks and Crows I still couldn't find a Jackdaw and with the closing line of last weekend's blog - I hope I can add the elusive Jackdaw next week.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


Apologies for the 'Carry On' style heading but adding a Shag to the Reculver year list really was the highlight of yesterday.  Arriving at the Towers just after seven the 'Owl Whisperer' had only just arrived allowing himself the luxury of a lie-in.  Fortunately, he had availed himself of the facilities at his home and we started a fairly pointless sea-watch.  The poorly Eider that 'Batman and Robin' had spotted earlier in the week drifted past and small groups of Brent made their way to Cold Harbour.  After last week's Diver fest only 3 whizzed past along with small gangs of Oystercatcher, I fortunately picked a Shag out flying east which at least livened up our first half-hour.

We decided to try our luck at Minnis Bay and a stroll to the riding stables was fairly fruitless.  Marc picked out a Kestel which was sitting on top of the main stables and as we looked out over Shuart I saw the HOODED CROW fly over the railway line and alight in a nearby field.  Heathy dusted the cobwebs off his camera and tried to photograph the Crow which then promptly flew off in the direction of the Oyster Farm.  We reached the sea wall and scanning the beach Marc found the second HOODED CROW feeding with his more common brethren on the mussel beds.  We walked along the tide line and Marc happily fired off lots of shots of Sanderling, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and anything that moved.  Thanks very much for the photos underneath and hopefully next week I'll nail that elusive Jackdaw.