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!