Sunday, 27 March 2011


With a trickle of migrants arriving during the week Marc and myself hoped for a few birds to make their way to Reculver yesterday.  I met Marc in the half-light with the now weekly quest of adding Little Owl to my year list.  Heathy assured me he had seen one flit from one ivy-clad tree to another... I didn't, but I always bow to the 'Owl Whisperer's' almost canny intuition.  However, I did manage to see the six Sand Martins performing over Bishopstone 'cliffs' and we began our walk to Cold Harbour.  A lone Brent Geese sat almost apologetically on the sea with a couple of Cormorants and four Great Crested Grebes.  A smart male WHEATEAR popped up on the seawall and allowed both of us to take some fairly distant photographs.  For my 50th birthday I have joined the camera club and decided to take some inept pictures.  So rather than nicking Heathy's best efforts you'll be able to laugh at mine each week.  We reached Cold Harbour adding all the usual suspects except the SHORELARKS.   Marc wiped a tear from his eye and searched desperately in vain.  Fortunately, Julian and Alex Perry had found them later in the morning which allowed 'Dances with Owls' a warm smile. We walked in land and along the Green Wall and recorded almost nothing.  On reaching the Towers again we made contact with probably the same WHEATEAR.  On the rocks the other side of the Towers two BLACK REDSTARTS put in a very brief appearance and promptly disappeared.  After a coffee break we returned and found them a little more accommodating.We  both took pictures of a "flat headed" Goldcrest and Marc made his way home after pointing out a single Fulmer drifting West.  I met up with Derek Smith in Shuart lay-by and spent 45 minutes in search for raptors adding Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and some distant Buzzards over Thanet Earth.  I returned home to watch the European Championship match from Cardiff and the slaughter in Colombo.  Still not sure who's the most abject international sportsmen  - Luke Wright or the Welsh International football team minus Ramsey and Bellamy?

Sunday, 20 March 2011


After yesterday's fairly bleak weather, I arrived full of optimism for a few migrants to arrive.  The morning began well with a year tick for both Marc and myself in the form of a noisy BRAMBLING immediately we left our cars.  The walk to Cold Harbour was fairly uneventful although the sun was determined to break through.  We recorded all the usual suspects with good numbers of Redshank (30) and Dunlin (18) .  9 Linnets were showy on the seawall and the same number of Jackdaw flew high overhead.  As we reached Cold Harbour our chums the 3 SHORELARKS posed nicely for Marc to take their photographs again and the HOODED CROW was again sighted on the Mussel beds.  On our return walk we met Matt and Chris Hindle who had also drawn a blank.  Chris smiled sagely and reminded us we needed to wait another week for an invasion of Wheatears and Black Redstarts.  The last remnants of the huge Brent Geese flock whizzed up and down and a lone Peregrine decided to play 'Chase the Redshank' - unsuccessfully, by the Oyster Farm.  We had 20 minutes sea watch in which Heathy picked up three distant Gannets and I saw 10 buoys and a nice yellow boat.  We decided on a quick look around the caravan bushes and we soon found 3 Goldcrests.  Heathy now has a weekend set of 'Crest' photos and if you haven't seen his Firecrest photographs, have a look on his blog, they are Ashton quality,as you can see from one above.  Hopefully a few migrants next week, although other birders did find a Red Kite and Sand Martin today.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Meeting Marc at just before 6.00 a.m. at the Towers this morning all appeared well for an excellent morning's birding.  For once the weather seemed set fair and we hoped for a good selection of migrants.  Four Goldfinch were in the bushes by our cars and we soon added two Pied Wagtail and the first of seven Meadow Pipit.  As we passed the Oyster Farm a Great Crested Grebe was noted about 100 metres out to sea.  As we continued our walk to the Green Wall the mist descended and soon visibility was down to a few metres.  Two Shelduck flew high over our heads and two Red Throated Divers made their way East.  With the tide gradually coming in a number of waders were feeding on the beach and Heathy managed to pick out a Knot, a year tick for me, in the gathering gloom.  Good numbers of Turnstone (31) and Redshank (22) made our notebooks as did a single Sanderling, 12 Dunlin and I Grey Plover.  Our long standing chums the 3 SHORELARKS were found on a nicely constructed new ridge.  Marc's photo (one of 1000's) is in this month's "Birdwatch" magazine of Reculver's favourite visitors.  The HOODED CROW put in a brief appearance and we moved inland and made our way along the Green Wall adding Stonechat, 7 Reed Buntings and 5 'Alba' Wagtails.  A single Chiffchaff sung in the gloom and we made our way back to the cars.  With the fog not lifting we decided on a trip to Bishopstone Glen to hopefully find a Firecrest which Marc did in about 2 minutes. We then spent 30 minutes with the bird giving fantastic views and Marc obtaining some great photographs.  Surely tomorrow a Black Redstart or Wheatear?

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Meeting Marc at 5.30 a.m. this morning I was hoping that after last week's disappointing show the 'Owl Whisperer' would not let me down and as soon as we left the car a LONG-EARED OWL could be heard clearly as we walked to our vantage point in the hope of seeing a Barn Owl.  Within five minutes we were treated to excellent views, in the improving light of a single Barn Owl and we left just after 6.00 a.m. well satisfied.  It was unusual to arrive at the Towers in relative brightness and calm.  Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipits were noted along with 3 Great Crested Grebes sitting on the glass like sea.  As we reached Cold Harbour Heathy managed to pick-up a single bird sitting on the rocks which turned out to be a SNOW BUNTING.  A newly arrived Chiffchaff enjoyed its picture being taken and we reached the fortunately redundant 'Environment Agency' diggers and excavators to be met by our long staying chums the 3 SHORELARKS.  Heathy has now taken more photos of these than his own children and on our return walk we surprisingly re-found the HOODED CROW which had gone A.W.O.L. for a few weeks.  Another year tick soon came with two flyover Siskins and we met up with Chris Hindle who is still flying solo.  Another look around the rocks at the Towers still failed to turn up any Black Redstarts or Wheatear.  We moved on to Brooksend where Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier and Kestel were added.  We both headed for home about 11.00 a.m. after another enjoyable session.  Hopefully a few migrants will grace us with their presence next weekend.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


 Meeting Marc at the Towers at 6.00 a.m. he had promised me an 'Owl Fest'.  Speaking to him on the phone on Friday he had assured me conditions were perfect.  Unfortunately, the owls didn't agree and after extensive searching of 'Dances with Owls' exclusive haunts we drew a blank.  Not to be discouraged we started our stroll from the Towers to Cold harbour and soon picked up the RING-TAIL HEN HARRIER hunting over the fields by the Oyster Farm.  The sea was fairly quiet and a few assorted waders were mooching about on the tide line.  Turnstones, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover and Redshank all made the notebook.  Between the Green Wall and Cold Harbour we found the extremely accommodating SNOW BUNTINGS.  The three birds were a few metres away allowing Heathy the opportunity to shoot off a few pictures.  The camera was out again to take a solitary Curlew but unfortunately, our close friends the Shorelarks were nowhere to be seen.  We consoled ourselves with meeting up again with our new Saturday chums the four GOOSANDERS.  A distant Peregrine made our notebooks and we managed to count c350 Brent Geese in the distance near to Minnis Bay.  We met up with Chris Hindle and strolled back to the Towers with Chris entertaining us with 40 years of Reculver birding history.  Whilst chatting a single Red-Throated Diver whizzed past and we said our goodbyes to Chris.  Earlier in the day we had seen 10 Geese distantly over Brooksend and hoped to relocate them.  8 Greylags had been positively identified but two smaller birds had been with them and we were fairly certain they had been White-Fronted Geese.  Unfortunately, we couldn't re-find them but 3 Marsh Harriers and 3 Kestrels were seen.  Marc then managed to pick up a distant raptor and we soon added Buzzard to our year lists.  Marc headed for home and I nipped to Minnis Bay in the hope of Purple Sandpiper and or Knot but only added muchos Turnstone.  Hopefully, next weekend we'll be swamped with Wheatears, Black Redstarts and Sand Martins.