Saturday, 28 May 2011


Insomniac Heath had been strolling around the fields and lanes in search of Quail and Reculver's "Holy Grail" a Golden Oriole since very silly o'clock before I met him at the Towers just before 6 a m.  It was cold and overcast and there was little improvement in the next three and a half hours.  However, there was a noticeable movement of hirundines with nearly 80 House Martins recorded in our walk with very good numbers of Swallow and Swift.  Heathy had one excited moment when I thought he had connected with a Red-Rumped Swallow but he didn't quite get a good enough view to make a positive I.D. 

The morning began with the first of 25 Gannets noted, which was a Year Tick for myself.  Small groups continued to pass all morning.  With the toilet block closed Marc soon disappeared off into the undergrowth by the Oyster Farm and cried with delight ........ when a TREE PIPIT flew over his head, distinctly calling.  Little Egret, Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Oystercatcher were all sighted in the Oyster Farm and as soon as we reached the Cold Harbour lagoon a couple of Yellow Wagtails made the notebook along with a few noisy Sedge and Reed Warbler.  7 Dunlin and Turnstone were feeding in the lagoon and we then took an uneventful stroll inland.  Our return to the Towers added Sandwich Tern, Great Crested Grebe and daddy Stonechat with two baby Chats.  We watched from the Towers for 30 minutes and almost unheard of Marc returned home at 9.30 a.m.  Hopefully, his family didn't think they were being burgled.  Golden Oriole next week?  It won't be for lack of trying to find one.

Saturday, 21 May 2011


With an early morning start at Shuart, Marc and myself strolled down to the sea wall via the riding stables hopefully seeing the Spotted Flycatchers which Chris Hindle had found yesterday and perhaps even a Garden Warbler.  At the end of a two hour session we had a very sparse list which included eight Whitethroat, two Lesser Whitethroat, one Sedge Warbler, one Cuckoo, two Marsh Harriers, two Yellow Wagtails, two Turtle Doves and a Sparrowhawk.  We had decided to go to Dover Heights to find Small Blue butterfly and started to make the journey.  However, all roads did not lead to Dover as all the roads between Lord of Manor traffic lights and Richborough were guarded by police or closed.  Deciding to go via Grove we received a text from Murray Wright that a White Spotted Bluethroat had been found at Oare Marshes.  Arriving just in time to look through Murray's scope we had good but distant views of this sparkling male.  As you can see from the fairly inept record shots it is a bird with a blue throat.  The bird showed on and off for about an hour while we were there and then promptly disappeared as more people arrived.  During our stay three Buzzards and one Hobby also made the notebook.  Big thanks to Murray for the text and for definitely saving the day.                                                                                                      

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


With news yesterday of a Woodchat Shrike coming on the pager when I returned home from work I decided to make a early evening visit to Sandwich Bay to see the bird.  Parking  in the observatory at just before 6.30 p.m. I strolled down the track towards the microlight hangars and the hawthorn bushes where the bird was last seen.  It took a little while for me to find the bird but it was soon sitting up happily as most Shrikes do.  Unfortunately, there was a stream in the way and fading light but I managed to take two pictures of this very smart bird.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Yellow Wagtail



With a planned visit to Dover postponed because of the unusually windy start to the day, to try and photograph Small Blue butterflies, Marc and myself met at the Towers just before 6.00 a.m. and began our walk to Cold Harbour and beyond.   There was a visible movement of hirundines with many more Swift and Swallow than normally and I soon added House Martin to my year list with a few sprinkled in with other birds.  All the usual suspects made the notebook with Redshank, Grey Heron, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Turnstone in varying numbers recorded.  As we reached Cold Harbour a few Yellow Wagtails made their presence felt.  Walking down to the railway embankment a distant Cuckoo could be heard calling.  Once again the usual selection of ducks Shoveler, Gadwall, Turfted Duck and Mallard were seen.  Marc managed to photograph 2 Common Tern feeding in the estuary.  Smaller numbers of Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat were heard and seen.  On our return walk Sandwich Tern (always in two's) drifted past us and it was great to see the family Stonechat (full compliment - mum, dad and four little Chats).  Just as we were returning to the cars Marc picked out a high and distant BLACK-TAILED GODWIT which was bird number 166 for the Reculver Year List and a very welcome addition to our Year Lists which is often scarce at our patch.  And as the old adage says 'You've got to be in it to win it'.  Thanks to Heathy for another enjoyable session and the help with my camera.  Hopefully, this week you can all have a laugh at my efforts.

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Arriving promptly at Grove just before 6.00 a.m. after arranging another weekend trip to Marc's 'spiritual home'.  I parked up and strolled half-way to Harrison's before phoning Heathy and he was waiting for me at Reculver, having changed his mind.  He had sent me a text the previous evening, knowing full well I never check my phone.  We therefore started our walk about 20 minutes late.  The Sand Martin colony at Bishopstone is now well over 100 birds and we soon both added Swift to our year lists.  Sandwich Terns were passing us generally in pairs and as we passed the Oyster Farm Little Egret, Shelduck and 3 Greenshank made the notebook.  Common Tern, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Grey Heron were added as we reached Cold Harbour.  There were definitely more Yellow Wagtails on show and even I managed to take a passable photograph.  A very approachable was Wheatear feeding on the millions (honestly) of flies present.  On the sea wall we noticed a distant Wagtail which was noticeably different and getting much closer we soon picked up on its striking head colour which confirmed to us it was a male GREY-HEADED WAGTAIL.  Marc managed to obtain some images and with Matt and Chris Hindle close-by they to were very soon enjoying this very rare bird for Reculver.  Chris with his encyclopedic knowledge of records soon told us this was only the 3rd record for the area and the first since 1989.  We moved on and a very smart White Wagtail made its presence felt.  As we moved inland Shoveler, Gadwall and Tufted Duck were added to our day lists and although we retraced our steps we didn't manage to re-find the Wagtail as the first of the 'Pan' Lister's arrived.  The Stonechats had successfully raised two Little Chats which was heartwarming and despite constant sky-watching Red Kite still eludes us.  Marc returned home looking forward to his perfect evening - 'Dr Who', 'Sing If You Can' and 'Britain's Got Talent' - pure TV heaven.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


With Heathy desperate to return to his spiritual home a trip to Grove was arranged yesterday.  I arrived just before six o;clock and strolling down the entrance track Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler and 'purring' Turtle Dove soon were in the notebook.  Marc was so excited to be 'home' he had already made it to Harrison's and we soon added the first of 24 GREENSHANK seen during the session.  Greylag Geese were in the adjoining fields, two with large families and a Yellow Wagtail whizzed calling overhead.  We strolled to the White House adding Whitethroat and Blackcap.  Marc decided a walk along the road to Middle Grove in search of RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE was rewarded with 2 walking sensibly along the road facing the oncoming traffic.  Chasing them down the road Heathy managed two rear view photographs of the Partridges which will be for his own personal consumption.  We soon added Grey Partridge and a very vocal and showy Yellowhammer before we made our way to the Marsh Hide.  Marsh Harriers put on a very impressive show for us before Martyn arrived and was soon followed by Steve Ashton, the celebrated twice winner of 'Bird Guides' photograph of the week. Marc, myself and Martyn continued the circuit adding 16 Common Tern on the main lake at Stodmarsh and a flyover COMMON SANDPIPER.  We made our way round to the Water Meadows adding a single Green Sandpiper. The meadows were fairly busy and we soon added more Greenshank, Ruff, Redshank, Dunlin and two WOOD SANDPIPER.  Marc managed to pick up a distant Swift which was a year tick for all of us and while Martyn and I were searching the skies for it Martyn found a real mega for all of us which was a ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD.  It took a few minutes to finally clinch the ID and after watching it for 15 minutes it finally drifted off over Under Trees Farm.  This was only the 2nd record for Martyn at Grove and a new bird for Marc and myself.  We walked back to the car adding Cuckoo, Sparrowhawk and a Lesser Whitethroat.  It was a great session, really good to spend time back at Grove and great to see Martyn again and a massive thank you to the Swift for giving us the opportunity to see something we would have probably missed.