Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A boost to my very fledgling year list.

A visit to the Restharrow Scrape at Sandwich Bay and a drive along The Ancient Highway was fun.,and provided some great views of a Short-eared Owl.

Before I got to the Scrape I stopped to watch a Kestrel hunting from the wires.

A group of four Curlew and a Common Gull at the back of the Scrape.

Among the many Teal there was one pair of Wigeon.


A party of Black-headed Gulls flew over the hide.

In the distance a Common Buzzard sat on a post with two Crows acting as minders

A Little Egret flew from the far edge to have a quick feed in the near by reeds before returning to the back.

Sparrowhawk. This bird flew through, causing a bit of commotion and landed on the back fence.

There were about 10 Common Snipe in view, but no sign of the Jack while I was there.

A noisy bunch of about 60 Greylags flew in, almost drowning out the chatter of the photographers in the hide.

 Nice to see some of the Drake Shovelers are in their breeding season finery now.

Short-eared Owl. Always a thrill when one comes into view as you drive along the Ancient highway.




After a while it came to rest on a post, not too distant,


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Somewhere beyond the sea Somewhere waitin' for me.................

 I wandered down to the bay after lunch and spent some time looking at a mainly empty sea.

I did come across three Common Seals some way out and not visible without the aid of a telescope. I bumped into an OLD friend, or rather he covered my telescope to attract my attention. Jack told me that the local fishermen are reporting a lack of fish, and this will account for the lack of auks, Gannets and Divers on my sea watch. I did manage to add a few common species to my year list including Kittiwake, Fulmar, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe and Cormorant.


Even with the sun in my eyes I still enjoyed the view of the Bay from the Lees. 


From up here a big chunk out of the cliffs reveals some quite clean chalk face formed when the was a large fall a couple of years ago. As I looked out to sea a small group of Brent Geese headed north.


As dusk arrived I had another look round for the Barn Owl, but ended up looking along Pond Lane for anything in the field there. Almost immediately I came across a Common Buzzard, and as I watched it a Kestrel was up in the air, hovering behind it. Apart from that and a few Black-headed Gulls there was very little to see until I surprised a Common Snipe from the side of the road as I drove down the hill.

 From the top of pond lane there isa good view back to the village and "The Hidden House" is clearly visible.

 From up here I can see our attic windows It helps me to realise what a good view I get from them back over the fields. The attic list is quite good and includes Osprey, Honey Buzzard and Hobby.

 Just at the bottom of Pond Lane is St Peter's Church and Wallet's Court. The Church yard and gardens is a good place for Little Owl, but no sign tonight.

St Margaret's Church from Pond Lane.

A couple more added to my very short year list.

After the news that a Barn Owl has been seen hunting over the fields I had a look round for a while this afternoon, but with out any luck. A few years ago one was quite regular in the winter, but ranged over quite a large area.


In between looking over various areas I popped down to the bay. It was high tide, and in the evening light a Rock Pipit perched up on the railings and posed for a picture.


The dump where the stables empty the waste is often a good place for Yellowhammers and occasionally Corn Buntings and other small birds. When I took a look the only brids I found feeding amongst the straw were a couple of Pie Wagtails.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Red Sky at Night, Shepherds Delight?

A Carrion Crow finishes the last of the Christmas Turkey


Looking south west from the attic. 


 Looking south west from the attic. 

Looking north west from the attic, from the window on the opposite side

No winter yet but is Spring in the Air?

Today was a much brighter day, and I managed to venture out for a short walk round the village.

A walk down Chapel Lane showed that winter really hasn't arrived. There are more flowers out than I can remember seeing before and even a few bees around,


The village pond is always a focal point, the only problem is that it does sometimes attract people to feed slices of bread to the ducks. There are two things wrong, it isn't good for the ducks and it does attract rats.
There were only two Mallards on the pond, but the drake was looking very dapper and if it stays warm and they remain true to type it won't be long before spring will be in the air.

Just down the road, at the corner of Dover Road, a great deal of noise was coming from the rookery. Most of the nests are in Holm Oaks, but a few are now in view in other trees. 

Rooks, and their co-tenants Jackdaws, are among the earliest of our birds to start getting their nests sorted out. Breeding probably won't start until Mark, but a great deal playing with sticks will take place before then.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

A misty gloomy day to start tbe year. Most of the day the church was either completely shrouded in mist and drizzle or just vaguely silhouetted against a grey background. Finally, about half an hour before dark, the mist lifted enough for a clear view of the weather vane.



The weather vane even had a couple of Starlings on it, resting before going to roost.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Last photos of 2016 - a few birds in the garden

 Male Chaffinches gain their colour as the soft tips of their feathers abrade to reveal a more colourful plumage underneath.

 Goldfinches stay nice and bright through the winter. Their melodic twittering is the main noise in the garden at the moment.


 Chaffinch

 Lots of Blackbirds around, form duller 1st winter females to handsome adult males with bright yellow bills.


 Blue Tits make use of the food and are happy feeding on seeds, fatballs or peanuts.



A much duller cock Blackbird with a dull bill. Not sure is this is a young local bird or one of the many continental visitors we host in winter.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Morris Day out at Dungeness

I thought I'd get into practice for when I take a new year's resolution to blog regularly, preferably daily. Of course the real problem is facebook, sometimes it seems difficult to do everything. It was good to get out in the sunshine yesterday. We had a Morris outing to Dungeness, with four of the Grandsons, two son's and their better halves and the old man. It was great to see six year old Eliot being helped to see a Long-eared Owl through my telescope by his 13 year old and experienced in the art of birding, Josh.
The first pool you come to when you enter the reserve is Cook's Pool. In the old days this had a few ducks on it but wasn't often a place to stop. This year it has hosted a few goos birds, and is also  good place to scan for raptors.

 Cook's Pool, Boulderwall Farm

As we were scanning for the main target here, a Ring-necked Duck, an American "Tufted Duck look-a-like, seeking refuge in the UK to get away from Trump, a Great White Egret flew in. 

 Great White Egret

It is only a few year ago that this would have been a major rarity, common in the Mediterranean region, but virtually unknown this far north. Now they are spreading through the country, a testament to the change of climate we are experiencing.

 Great White Egret
Much large than the, now familiar, Little Egret and with out the yellow feet.

  Great White Egret

The Great White Egret is a large Heron, standing almost as tall as a Grey Heron.The flock of Wigeon are behind.

 Ring-necked Duck

Fairly quickly Jack pointed out the Ring-necked Duck, quite close to us, but unfortunately with the
sun in a difficult position for decent photos.

 Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked is a strange name for this species. It does have a very indistinct mark on the neck, but it has a very distinctive ring round the base of the bill, The flanks are muck greyer than on the common Tufted Duck, but at the front of them there is a bright white triangular patch.

We moved on the the visitors centre and out to the pond. For a number of weeks a Long-eared owl has been roost in the trees behind the pond. It does try to be helpful and is sometimes mainly hidden. To day it was quite good,


Long-eared Owl.

I set my scope up and Sam, my nine year old grandson had a looking at the Owl. Using a telescope is not that easy and takes some practice, so it was good when he sorted out when and how to position his eye to see clearly. Eliot is only six, but fortunately his 13 year old cousin Josh was brilliant with him, and with a lot of kindness and patience he helped him to see the bird.

Then it was onto the Makepeace Hide and a look at the birds on the Burrows Diggings.

 It was this Big

 Burrows, with the power station in the background, The modern way to see wildlife.

 Cormorant

 Coot, with slipstream

 Male Shoveler with pylons as a background

Lapwings and Cormorants.