Saturday, 8 December 2012


Finally managed to get to see the flock of Waxwings in the village, thanks Bernard for the call this morning to tell me they are still there. That's the trouble of going to work in the dark and coming back in the dark, miss all the birds. Managed to get some quick views and a few photo's before shooting off to do the Xmas shopping with the other half. Also plenty of Redwing and Fieldfares.
Also had the Nuthatch back in the garden this morning, first time since February. In an hour I had 22 species of bird on my feeders, their are some hungry birds around.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ring-Necked Parakeet

Walked up the garden this morning to sort my chickens out heard bird calling flying towards me. As soon as I heard it I thought I knew what it was and then as it flew over my head I was right, a Ring Neck Parakeet, it flew along my road and landed in some trees 10-12 houses down. This is a first siting for me in Kent outside of the Thanet and Sidcup area. Strangely enough I have not seen one this year until this week, and now 2 in 3 days as one flew over my head on Thursday when I was in Feltham. I assume that this is just a single bird but will now be keeping an eye out for any more.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A couple of additions

On Sunday I made a brief visit to Dungeness and driving out of Hamstreet at 5:30 a lovely Barn Owl was flying along the ditch at the side of the road looking for its breakfast. The visit to Dunge proved to be a non event, an hour and halfs seawatching from 05:45 - 07:15 produced Gannets and Common Terns, and that was it. With the wind and overcast weather early on there was very little else around so I went home. Yesterday I had a meeting to attend to which meant I had the novelty of catching the train. Heading up to Hamstreet station via the footpath along side the bridge a Turtle Dove was calling. I spent a few minutes locating it in the tree before then rushing for the train I nearly missed!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Mad 45 minutes at Dung

Day off today and before catching up on all the chores I decided an early start at Dung to kick the day off. Arrived at the point at 5:45 and with Martin and the others off to Holland I had the place to myself. I had only just got my scope up and the birds started flowing and for the next 45 minutes I had the following. 4 Arctic Skuas (east) all close in 21 Little Tern (east) 12 Sanderling (east) 111 Scoter (east) 40 Scoter (west) 2 Swallows in 1 Hobby in 6 Oystercatcher (east) 1 Arctic Tern (east) Many Common Tern, in the hundreds Many Gannets Then at 6:30, nothing, apart from a few scoter (included above, Common Tern and Gannets it all went quiet. I hung around for another hour and a couple of others turned up but we all gave up. Looked around the moat, had a Black Redstart and a few of the now resident Whitethroats but not much else around. About half an hour after I left someone reported a Serin but missed that one. Not a bad morning, much better then I expected.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The migrants start to appear

Started the day off early before work in one of my Tetrads undertaken the 2nd visit of my Nightingale survey. Of the five I found last week only four were in place but I had two new ones so one I assume had moved, but at least I am now at six for that area. This evening after work I had planned to go to Dung for a few hours and this was more anticipated throughout the day with the news of the Melodious Warbler, would I see it. Finally got to Dung and the Melodious hadn't been seen for an hour after the owner had visited his garden. Nice views of a male Redstart and finally, half an hour later the Melodious appeared. I was informed of a couple of Whinchats and a Pied Flycatcher over by the power station so decided for a walk over to there and around the obs. On the way down the road a Spotted Flycatcher but not much else. Around the moat a 4 Wheatears, 2 Whitethroat, a female Blackcap, 2 Whinchat and a nice Garden Warbler. A quick sea watch picked up 1 Black-throated Diver flying east and a Gannet, quite a few Common Terns but not much else. A visit back to the lighthouse garden and good views of a Spotted Flycatcher but did not see the Melodious Warbler again. Not a bad few hours

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Where have all the Nightingales gone

First day of the Nightingale survey and up at the crack of dawn stumbling around my first Tetrad in Hamstreet Woods. The dawn chorus was in full swing with many birds singing.... but no Nightingales. My first area in which I have had Nightingales for the past 5 years was silent, even the one I had last weekend was not singing. I moved out of my first Tetrad into the second and in the distance I heard a Nightingale which was in the direction I had my second one last weekend. Then I had a slight distraction with a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling, it was in the tree right over my head but I could not find it so I moved on. This was the first one of the year in these woods. Down through the woods and to the Nightingale I heard singing in the distance and it was in the same area, I thought I heard two but could not locate the second at first but as I went around the track it popped up in front of me singing away. As I moved further around another Lesser Spot and this time I located it, but as for Nightingales that was it, only the 2 and so far this is the lowest count I have had for the past 5 years, hopefully another visit and covering the rest of my tetrad's will uncover some more.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Nightingales and Bluebells

Early start this morning with a 6am walk around Bourne Woods, it was a lovely clear morning with the sun coming up, no one else around but me and carpets of Wood Anemone and the first of the Bluebells coming through.

Wren,Jay, Green Woodpecker, Blue and Great Tits on entering the woods and the first of many Greater Spotted Wood soon after. Within 5 minutes in one of the normal spots I had my first singing Nightingale and I spent 5 minutes just listening to the song before it decided to go quiet.

I spent the next two hours walking around and had many Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Bullfinch and another Nightingale, along with all the other normal woodland species. A nice start to the day

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ring-necked Duck

Finally managed to get down to Dunge today after work to look for the Ring-necked Duck, it was reported in the morning from Springfield bridge so I started there and met Dave from the Obs, and found the bird within a few minutes in a gully behind some reeds. Within 5 minutes it came out in the open and had some great views, this was a lifer for me so happy to see it. Also saw from the bridge and Avocet fly over and the Raven.

Quick stop off at the end of the ARC and quite a selection of waders among the Teal and Pochard. Two Little Ringed Plover and a Ringed Plover.Oystercatcher, an Avocet, 4 Dunlin and a Redshank. Also a lone Linnet, 4 Pied Wagtail and 2 Yellow Wagtail. Not bad for a flying visit

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Catching up

After a busy weekend getting the decorating out of the way before the majority of the migrants start coming in and the Nightingale survey is due a catch up of a couple of birds over the weekend.

First Chiffchaff of the year in the garden on Saturday which has been there since, nice to wake up and hear it singing in the mornings. Lots of nesting activity with a pair of Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrush and Dunnocks frantically making nests.

On Sunday morning I woke to the sound of the first Cuckoo of the year down by the canal somewhere, I only heard it for about 10 minutes and then not heard it since.

Didn't get down to see the Ring Neck Duck yesterday due to work, I am hoping it stays around today so I can shoot down tonight.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Summer migrants on the way

It's been a busy week and not much time to update the blog, however in the past few days more migrants are appearing.

On Sunday morning in Ashford I heard my first 3 Chiff Chaffs of the year. In the afternoon whilst in Bernard's garden discussing the Nightingale survey the first Swallow of the year flew through. Also some distant views of Buzzard over Bourne Wood along with Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

On Monday evening, I was thinking about Bernard's comments that he had seen a number of Blackcap's in his garden which had then all moved on, when movement at the top of my garden caught my eye, and on grabbing my bins saw my first Blackcap of the year, I wonder if it was one that had come down from Bernard's.

Driving around the M25 today I saw at least 5 Buzzard's during the trip, they are becoming more common now and a lovely sight to see.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Guinea Fowl?

Had an eventful journey to work this morning travelling down the country roads. Lots of wildlife around all hell bent on committing suicide on a nice spring morning.

On leaving Hamstreet I had to stop suddenly for a rabbit, going through Ruckinge a party of Mallard ducks waddling across the road, in Bilsington it was the turn of 2 cock Pheasants and then in Bonnington 3 Guinea Fowl.

These Guinea Fowl were splendid looking, they are obviously escapes but are they now living wild. I first saw these (or 3 Guinea Fowl anyway) towards the latter part of last year by the Burnt Oak crossroads, and then again later in the year I saw them again but memory will not let me remember where, and now in Bonnington. Are they the same birds, are the living in the wild, has any one else seen them, if so let me know as I am curious.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A quiet day

What with it being Mothers Day today I ended up staying at home, having a few spare hours spent some time in the garden. Lots of birds around now starting to nest, I have a Dunnock nesting in one bush and a Blackbird in another, still nothing in the nest boxes although my neighbors have already got a pair of Blue Tits in there's.

Nothing much of interest today apart from a Raven that flew over calling this afternoon and heading up towards Orlestone Forest, so maybe one of the birds seen by Nick last week.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Unexpected find and an enjoyable short trip out

Spent the morning finishing off my new larger wildlife pond at the top of my garden. It was then down to my little old pond to transfer out of as much wildlife as possible to the new pond.

I new I had a number of smooth newts and normally during the summer months can count up to 15 but I was astounded to find 39 in the pond, which are now in there new home. Then, when I reached the bottom of the find I had an unexpected find, a three inch leech, how it go there I do not know but this too has gone into its new home, I just hope it doesn't suck all my newts to death.

In the afternoon I had an enjoyable short trip out with Nick, "The Shadoxhurst Garden". We decided drive down to the Romney Marsh. On finding the road to Rye still closed we took a diversion, sort of got lost and ended up finding a farmers reservoir we didn't know about. A quick look did not find much only a few Coots, but in the surrounding fields a Marsh Harrier was spotted sitting on the ground.

We drove down to the Woolpack for a walk out to the Marsh Harrier watch point and passed another Marsh Harrier, a splendid view of a Grey Heron sitting in the field, a Mistle Thrush and disturbed a scraggy Buzzard at the side of the road, which gave good views as it flew away.

Not much else seen after this from the watch point, a few Greylag Geese, another Marsh Harrier and a Sparrowhawk being the highlight, but an enjoyable few hours in the company of Nick, even if it was raining.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A new bird in Surrey

I had to take my son down to Guildford today for an interview for University, once I had dropped him off I had 7 hours to kill, now what could I do. A trip to Farnham Heath sounded in order to get a Woodlark, a bird I have not yet seen, so off I go, and what a pain to try and find, I am sorry RSPB but you haven't got this one right as there are hardly any signposts telling you where to go, but with help from a local I finally pull up in the car park. Within 5 minutes of walking into the heath I had a Woodlark, and I was quite surprised how easy it was to find. I had been listening to the song over the weekend and straight away I heard one calling and located it quite quickly. In the end I had at least 5-6 different birds along with Chaffinch's, Goldfinches, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers and many Wrens and Robin.

Then I popped down the road to Thursley Common to find Stonechat and the Great Grey Shrike that has been reported there on Surrey Birds. First time I have been there and I was amazed how big it was with heathland stretching for miles. I soon located Stonechat and few other birds but could not find the Shrike, did however have some good views of what I believe was Roe Deer. I had to leave with so much more to see there,I could easily spend a day walking around.

A good day out for me, now just got to wait to see if my son got into Uni, if he does it could be more visits on the agenda.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spring day at Dungeness

Spent today down at Dungeness, and whilst there was not a lot of new birds around, it was a lovely warm day and so nice to be walking around in sunshine down to a t-shirt. Early start at Hanson Hide around 6:00 hoping to catch an early Bittern, but not today, plenty of birds around though with Goldeneye displaying in front of the hide, Red head Smew, a Bar Tailed Godwit and Marsh Harriers flying around.

Then down to the point, which was really quiet, not just birds but birders as well, with no one there but me. 12 Scoter flying north along with regular groups of Gannets but that was about it. There was a Grebe quite a long way among the Great Crested which was possible a Black Neck but it was to far away for me to say for certain. Walk around the moat brought nothing so off to the reserve.

Walk around the reserve was nice in warm sunshine, there were plenty of Marsh Harriers around and viewing from the mound 2 were displaying and carrying nesting materials down into the reeds, managed to get some nice photo's (remembered my camera again for the 2nd day running) Also some nice Bearded Tit.

On the way home I diverted to Tickers Lane to look at the rubbish pile Ploddingbirder mentioned during the week to see if the Yellowhammer and Corn Buntings where there, and they were, thanks Ploddingbirder.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Crossbills in the woods

Early start before I go out with the family and a trip to Faggs Wood before the dog walkers all come out to play. Overcast morning with poor visibility but a nice morning with the Song Thrushes and Robins singing, Green Woodpecker calling out and the Greater Spotted seemingly drumming everywhere. It was pretty quiet for the first hour with just the normal woodland species and a couple of Woodcocks, I was hoping to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Crossbills but not having much luck. As I completed a circuit and came back to the newly coppiced area I heard a Crossbill called and then noticed 7 sitting in a tree about 50 meters away. I managed to get fairly close and got some photo's (for once had the sense to take my camera) but the light was low, the one shown was heavily cropped. When back at the car park I spent some time watching all the birds eating the french stick and donuts that are stuck on the branches by the kind benefactor, picked up Great, Blue and Coal Tit, 4 GS Woodpecker, Chaffinch and Robin's.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Newcomers to the garden

I spent some time in the garden today finishing off my new wildlife pond before the heavy rain comes tomorrow. I took a few minutes breather and noticed movement in the apple tree by the feeders and saw a flash of yellow and black and straight away thought, was that a Siskin. I hoped it was as I had not had Siskin in the garden before, plenty in Hamstreet Woods but not here. I moved back a few yards and sure enough a Siskin came out of the tree and onto the Nyjer seeds. I rushed indoors and grabbed my camera hoping that it was still on the feeder and it was, along with another. I managed to get a few shots before the flew off. Then about 10 minutes later I saw a raptor flying over, grabbing my bins I could see it was a Buzzard, which is a new one for the year across the village, and shortly after that 2 Common Gulls flew over, another new bird for this year in the village, so an interesting half hour, now, where was I with this pond?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Drive to work

Strange drive to work this morning with no snow around after it all melting during the night. As I pulled out of Hamstreet I had a Red Legged Partridge run across the road, the first I have seen around the village this year. Further down the road as I passed through Bonnington I had a narrow escape hitting a Little Owl that was sitting in the road and flew up in front of me, good job it wasn't icy slamming on my brakes like that. My first Little Owl this year, I am glad it wasn't a dead one.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A cold day in East Kent

Finally managed to do the trip that I was going to do last week before the untimley snow, off to Deal and East Kent.

On arrival at Deal as I was early in meeting friends I shot down to the Ancient Highway and picked up a magnificent male Grey Partridge right next to the road. When will I get it in my thick head to pick up my camera every time I go out, what a great picture it would have been and the first of what would have been many great shots today.

At Deal Pier and hour of seawatching brought Common Scoter, Gannet, Kittiwake, Red Throat Diver, Razorbill and a Peregrine amongst others. The Peregrine which had caught a small wader was harrased by gulls, dropped the wader and lost his meal, with the Herring Gulls having it instead. Then came the snow so it was inside the cafe for a slap up breakfast and watch what birds could be seen through the snow out of the window.

Then news came through of the Kumliens Gull showing in Dover, I hadn't got it yet and nor had a couple of others so it was off to Dover, the snow had now stopped.

In Dover as soon as we got out of the cars at Wellington Dock we saw a Grebe which we soon identified as a Slavonian. Then for a walk around to Admiralty Pier where the gull was last seen. After some time searching we did see the Kumliens Gull along with Razorbill, Knot, Shag, Kittiwake and Rock Pipit. The Kittiwakes were sitting on the wall of pier and we got within 3-4 feet of them without them flying away, another photo opportuniy lost.

After lunch I split up from my friends and headed home via Hythe to pick up 7 Purple Sandpipers by the Stade Hotel, and Dungeness to get a Goosander which I had not got this year (ended up with 1 of them on the new diggings.

On arriving home I walked into the garden and scared off a Grey Heron which was trying to get at my goldfish, if he had got them I would have been impressed through 4 inches of ice, so another garden tick for the year.

All in all, a good day

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Change of plans due to the snow

I had planned to meet up with friends today in North East Kent but due to the snow I had no chance of getting out of the village.

So this led to firstly a bit of garden watching, and in an hour I had 3 new birds for the year with the appearance of around 30 Redwings, 2 Pied Wagtails and 2 Lapwings.

Then off to Hamstreet Woods for a 2 and half hour trudge around in the snow, which was quite hard work at times. At the entrance to the woods despite all the children on sledges it looked quite promising with many of the normal woodland birds, and more Redwings. However as I got further into the woods it changed and just died and birds were hard to come by. I did see Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Greater Spotted and Green Woodpecker. What I was pleased to see was the 6 Nuthatches throughout the walk, in the past couple of years Nuthatches had been hard to come by in the woods but now they seem to be making a comeback.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Starlings grisly end

Spent a few hours at Dungeness looking for the Dotterel from yesterday but could not find it, so returned home as I had a number of jobs to do around the house. Also, being the big garden bird watch wanted to spend an hour doing the bird count.

Whilst doing this a Sparrowhawk flew in and grabbed a Starling near the feeders and pinned it to the ground. I spent the next 20 minutes watching the Sparrowhawk first shield the bird with its wings and then start to rip the feathers off and enjoy its meal, a grisly and sad end for any bird but that's nature.

Also noticed whilst in the garden the first Snowdrops starting to appear, so hopefully spring is not far away and we can start enjoying those warm days again.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Trip to Sheppey

Trip to Sheppey today with friends and a day of two halves. Started at Elmley and dipped on the first bird of the day as no Little Owl showing in the tree by the car park. Then found out that the Swale Hide was closed due to falling to bits and no money to repair, so bang goes looking for a Merganser and waders. Down to the hides and a wasted trip with very little about with the only highlight a number of Marsh Harriers and a Merlin.

Back at the car park decided to go down to Muswell Manor and look for the Lapland Buntings seen in the fields behind. Yet again dipped as could not find them, plenty of other birds and a Hen Harrier, large flock of Brent Geese and Peregine so things started to look up.

Down then to the Harty Ferry, Red Legged Partidge on the way. At the ferry it was freezing in the biting wind but this was forgotten with fantstic views of the Rough Legged Buzzard and a Spoonbill.

Due to the wind did not wait around to see if any owls showed, I had all 7 raptors I would expect to see so then went down to Kingsferry Bridge and then Funton Creek, plenty of waders around with Bar Tailed Godwit, Avocet and Grey Plover which I hadn't seen this year.

So, not the best visit to Sheppey, but it wasn't a total washout, birds are hard to find this year.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Tawny Owl

A quick visit to Larkey Valley Woods this morning at dawn on my way to a meeting in Canterbury. The main spot was a Marsh Tit that I have seen regularly in the same place and I was hoping it was still around, however due to the wind there was very little movement from the smaller birds. As I was walking down through the woods just as it was getting light I heard at least 3 Tawny Owls calling, one seemed quite close. I saw movement of it flying into a tree in front of me. A few minutes later it flew out straight over my head and onto a branch 20 feet away giving me good views. A good spot, not what I was expecting but one I enjoyed as I haven't seen one that close for some time.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Marsh Harrier roost

At last a good day out and about, and what a lovely day. Whilst I moved out of the village and the surrounding area today I have to mention the Marsh Harrier roost at the Woolpack down by Brooklands.

After a day at Dungeness and West Hythe I decided to finish the day off by going to the viewing point by the Woolpack Pub to look for raptors and owls. When I arrived a met a couple of really nice guys Brian and his dad Martin. We spent the next hour watching the Marsh Harriers coming into roost, and at on stage had 10 flying around in front of us. We also had a Buzzard early on but unfortunately no sign of any Hen Harriers or Owls. It was mentioned that Barn Owls, which used to be seen regularly have not been seen by some time, in fact the last one I saw was on New Years Day last year.

When it got too dark to see any more we packed up and headed back to the cars. I did what I normally do and drive back across the marsh with my headlights on full beam to maybe catch site of an owl. I had only gone about 400 yards past the Woolpack when I saw a Barn Owl sitting on a post at the side of the road, flying off as I got closer. So if you are reading this Brian, there is one still around, hope you see one soon.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Out at last

Finally able to get in and drive my car the short distance to the canal and spent an hour hobbling along the canal path on a lovely bright crisp morning. Many of the normal birds around, I saw 5 Little Egret's, a Robin that kept me company by flying from bush to bush during my walk, and a flock of Meadow Pipits. The only other birds that I saw that I had not seen from my garden were 2 Grey Herons and 2 overflying Cormorants.

It wasn't until I got back to the house and recorded what I had seen that I realised that I had never seen Meadow Pipits in HamStreet before, which was a surprise and another bird to add to the list.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A calmer day

A calmer day after all the wind and rain yesterday and plenty of activity on the feeders in the garden. Mostly the normal visitors, one new bird for the year being a Kestrel which I first saw over the field and then it swooped down and caught something, probably a mouse. It was on the ground feeding for a good 10 minutes before flying off towards the canal. The Nuthatch that I saw on new years day made a brief reappearance again.

The birds are starting to show signs of of gaining territorial advantage with several male blackbirds having a set to in the garden. The Greater Spotted Woodpeckers that I normally see (male and female at different times) both appeared in the tree together, is love in the air already.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Years Day

Normally on New Years Day I am wandering around the marsh and Dungeness starting off my new years list but this year, due to me stupidly falling off a ladder and tearing my knee ligaments I am house bound and on crutches, so my new years birding is from the house.

Every cloud has a silver lining as after an hour of watching the birds I saw a Nuthatch appear on my peanut feeder at the top of the garden, the first time I have had one. On top of this there was just the normal birds that I would normally expect to see totaling 19 species by the end of the day. Who knows what might turn up next!