Saturday, 18 February 2012


Arriving at Reculver Towers just before 7.00 a.m. this morning hopes weren't too high on finding too many new species for the year.  After Marc and myself had finished the obligatory cup of coffee and bemoaned the fact that the White-Tailed Eagle had drifted off who knows where we walked down to Cold Harbour in generally cloudy and overcast conditions.  The session's highlight came at about 7.15 a.m. when two Eider were located just offshore.  A flock of c25 Linnet and two Meadow Pipits were disturbed from the shingle ridge and the oyster farm held about 20 Redshank, the wintering Spotted Redshank and 24 Mallard (counted by Heathy, I hasten to add).  A few waders flew past us at high tide including one of Marc's favourite birds "The Oystercatcher".  We also added Teal, Wigeon and a mystery duck which Marc hopefully will identify from his super computer.  The cameras remained firmly in the bag until our return journey when a Sanderling at least gave us something to point our cameras at.  A single Skylark tried to sing rather unsuccessfully and a flock of c35 Lapwing were unusually seen at sea.  Returning to the cars we popped down to Shuart and added two Woodcock expertly flushed by myself, assorted Tits, Greenfinch and two Goldcrest.  Hawkeye picked up a distant, very distant Marsh Harrier and it was time for home.  Not a lot to write about about ..... thank goodness for Marc's witty and amusing banter.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


I was hoping to use the headline Iceland Gull One Pound today but spent two hours unsuccessfully searching Westbere with Heathy this morning.  We reckoned that there must have been upwards of 5000 Gulls today and despite trawling through them time after time the best we could come up with was approximately 3000 Herring Gulls, tons of Black Headed Gulls, fewer Common Gulls, one Yellow Legged Gull and one Lesser Black Backed Gull.  However, we did have the impressive sight of nine Smew including four drakes, five drake Goldeneye and one Mandarin.  Sadly Heathy counted the Gadwall and got to 116 before his PE teachers brain exploded.  Also about 110 Tufted Duck a few Pochard and quite a few Mallard mooching about.  Disappointed I made my way home but at least had this Jay in my back garden to point my camera at.  I've also included a funny looking Tufted Duck and a photograph of a Green Woodpecker my wife took recently.  Hopefully I won't get too  many obvious comments that she is already a better photographer than I am.

Monday, 13 February 2012


A return visit today in the hope of connecting with the Smew again and hopefully getting some reasonable pictures was at least half successful.  Meeting Marc just after 10.00 a.m. we strolled down to Brook Reservoir with 16 Redwing overhead and a prowling Sparrowhawk for company.  The lake had thawed slightly and a larger area was filled with Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted duck and Little Grebe.  Around 600 nervous Teal were ice-skating and a single Grey Heron was skidding on the frozen area.  We eventually found the Smew hiding behind a Mute Swan.  I reckon it must have had a packet of Nytol as it didn't move for about half an hour.  Marc flushed 3 Snipe along the dyke and we then spent the time counting Gadwall.  Sadly, we reckoned about 116.  The Smew sprang into life and swam around for nearly a minute and then rested again exhausted.  A quick trip to Shuart added Moorhen, 6 Woodcock and Greenfinch to the year list and I ended up at Netherhale where I added Buzzard to my list who was sitting bored in a tree.

Sunday, 12 February 2012



I wasn't planning on going out this morning but a text from Marc alerted me to the presence of a RED HEADED SMEW on Brook Reservoir.  Last week's bird I didn't connect with as I was too busy photographing the Kumlien's Gull at Dover.  Smew is an incredibly rare bird at Reculver and I assumed that I would have to wait a long time to see one.  However, arriving in driving sleet I made my way to the bank to see Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Pochard, a massive gang of Teal and no Smew.  Phoning Marc he told me it had spent most of its time sleeping and I eventually tracked it down.  The first photograph its usual pose which lasted for about 20 minutes.  The second photograph is its one looking up movement which at least I managed to capture.  The photographs that Heathy took it must have been on amphetamines.  Thanks for the text and a new bird for the area.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Having never seen a KUMLIEN'S GULL before and after seeing Martyn's excellent photographs I decided a trip to Dover today was the only option.  Heathy was reluctant to travel to somewhere he would have to take his passport. I therefore arranged to meet Chidders and Adam and they kindly met me at the entrance to the Admiralty Pier and within 10 minutes we were enjoying great views of the KUMLIEN'S GULL.  A few photographs were taken and for the next hour we enjoyed its company.  A Kittiwake and Rock Pipit posed nicely for us and we strolled round to the Prince of Wales Pier where we found Dunlin, Knot, Ringed Plover and a single Snow Bunting on the old Hoverport and continued excellent views of the Kumlien's Gull as it changed location.  A few Shags, Razorbills and Guillemots were sighted in the inner harbour.  An enjoyable morning and a big thanks to Mark and Adam for their company.