Saturday, 22 October 2016

Missing the Rares

There has been an unprecedented influx of Siberian Accentors in Europe in the last week or so. In total there have been more than 120 and seven (unless I've missed some out) have occurred in the UK, The first in Shetland, was a UK first and then at least three on the north East coast of England and two more in Shetland and one in Lothian. None has appeared south of the Humber estuary.  I reckon that the undercliff at Kingsdown would make a perfect place for one to turn up in Kent. In addition a couple of rare gulls ahve appeared in Kent, only to disappear without hanging around for wider recognition. Ever hopeful I had a wander along the Undercliff on Friday afternoon, just as the sun vanished behind the cliffs and some storms started to wander along the channel.

It won't surprise anyone that although I did find a Dunnock, there was nothing exciting around although it is always good to watch the Rock Pipits there.

The fabulous cliffs looking towards Hope Point.

Black-headed Gulls wandered past, but no sign of any American visitors.

Black-headed Gull, adult in winter plumage.

The tide was high, and on it's way, and in any case I don't think I'm now up to the cliff bottom walk to St Margaret's Bay. Thi is a shame, because I alwys feel there is some good potential in places there is some scrub down to the cliff bottom.

One of the black storms wadering along the Channel.

The undercliffe, looking north towards Deal.

In fading light a black Crow flies sinisterly along the cliff top.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Moving Lumps on the ground.

The last week hasn't been good. A bad dose of something very nasty has had me in bed, or at least in doors in the smallest room, for most of the last seven days, I did manage to get to the Kent Wildlife Conference at Kent University, and with the help of heavy dosing and crossed fingers, I got through my talk on Kent's changing birds, over the period I've been birding, with out accident.

A view from the lounge window. Apart of the flock of Goldfinches feeding in the garden. These are under the feeders below the grape vine.

When I counted these I was surprised how many there were on the ground, As this is just one of two feeding areas the total flock in the garden is now approaching 200.

Yesterday I managed an exciting trip to the pharmacist, and took the opportunity for a drive from Deal along the Ancient Highway.

 I noticed some lumps on the ground. While thousands of Red-legged Partridge infest the countryside, waiting for the unspeakable to blast them out of the sky, some native Grey Partridges keep their heads down, on Worth Marshes.

They are one of my favourites and we are lucky to see them regularly here.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Last Hurrah!

After a very wet night there was some very nice sunshine today and it was great to see a couple of Red Admirals basking in the warmth, possibly their last opportunity this year.

The garden was buzzing with the calls of over 100 Goldfinches with Chaffinches and a few Bramblings and Greenfinches to supplement the seed eaters.

What interested me though were the odd glimpse of small warblers feeding among the leaves on the bigger trees. I reckon there were probably four, and as I got good enough views to identify each one in every case it turned out to be a Chiffchaff

There is no doubt that it is possible to get a rarer phyllosc here, I've seen both Yellow-browed and Pallas's Warblerrs within 300 meteres, but I'm still waiting here..

Monday, 10 October 2016

There's ants in the Lawn.

I have many faults, and one of them is hoarding rubbish. Sometimes it pays off. This old wall television "table" looked like it might have some use, and for about three years it has made a useful bird table, fixed to a large tree. It doesn't get used a lot, but I did notice, a year or so ago, that visiting Bramblings preferred to feed on it than on the ground. I put some seed on it and of course a Chaffinch tried it first. In the end I had four Bramblings feeding there.

It wasn't long before some of the flock Goldfinches found the seeds on the TV bird table, The flock is well over 100 now and as well as being very noisy they also get through a lot of seed.

I think this female Green Woodpecker must have found a good ants nest as it had it's head down most of the time I was watching it (about five minutes). As usual something, probably one of the clumsy Wood Pigeons landing with a thump, disturbed it and it flew to one of the trees.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A Bird Service Station

Sitting in the bath pampering is always a treat.



The Bramblings are still around, but only feeding on the ground occasionally and even then they are quite jumpy and never settled for long.



The small fountain continues to provide entertainment with action from Chiffchaffs and Goldfinches.


Meanwhile a Wood Pigeon enjoys a period of sunbathing, a treat that might not be available much in the next few months.

Wood Pigeon


The view on the other side of the house is equally entertaining with lots of birds using the little waterfall that runs into the pond.  I was surprised to see a Redwing coming to drink there this afternoon. I normally only see them in the garden, as opposed to flying over, in hard weather. 


Right outsilde the lounge windows I have a feeding station and of course the Golfinches drop a lot of seeds that are picked up by ground feeders.


Feeders on the pergola, looking through the open door. With around 50 Goldfinches the noise was incredible as the squabbled for a perch.

Some of the Goldfinches feeding on the ground.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Some Handsome Visitors.

I Heard a Brambling "sneering" in the trees in the garden on Tuesday, but didn't manage to see it.On Friday evening I looked out to see a male on the ground under the feeders, but by the time I had camera in hand it had gone. This morning, in what was a really gloomy, heavily overcast light, I saw one drop onto the ground and managed a couple of pictures out of the closed window, never a way ro get good pictures.

 It was this male that I had noticed, and as far as I could see in the view finder the other birds on the ground were chaffinches.

When I looked at the second picture I was surprised to see there were three two, with a second bird, a duller first winter or female, in front of the male. And then a second look showed that the bird behind was also a Brambling.

This year I haven't see a single Humming-bird Hawk-moth in the garden so it was a surprise to find one quietly resting on the side of my MV trap this morning. They look quite different at rest. 

It conveniently perched on a paint brush so that I could photo the underside of it. Despite being much plainer looking when they are not flying, they are a fascinating species. There are sill some flowers around in the garden so I still have some hope of finding it hovering in the next couple of days.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Miss some, photo the others

Today was as much about what I failed to photograph as what I managed to photograph. After watching and photographing a Chiffchaff  playing in the fountain, I was messing with the computer while half watching England bowling at Bangladesh in the ODI, when I had a quick look out side andf theer was a male Brambling feeding on the ground. By the time I'd got my camera it had moved on, not to be seen again. From where I was "working" I can seen the little waterfall that goes into out pond, and a few minutes later I looked up, saw a very small bird drop down into the bathing pool, and grabbed my binoculars and was pleased to see a stunning Firecrest. Of course by the time I had my camera it had gone, and it didn't reappear. I did take a few pictures of the comings and goings, mainly of the hundred or so Goldfinches feeding outside the lounge.







 Blue Tit and Robin


Robin and Goldfinch