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Monday 31 January 2011

Crossbills at Brown Clee, Shropshire

  A Great Grey Shrike was discovered two days ago at Brown Clee, Shropshire. So at about 08.00, John and I left my house and made our way to the south of the county. We stopped off at Cound, to check out the 4 adult Whopper Swans on the way. After about an hour of messing around and ending up in the wrong places, we finally parked in a layby at Hillside on the east side of Brown Clee. We had just got out the car and the first bird I heard was a Marsh Tit. We found the bird and with in a few minutes of standing there we also got, 6 Redpoll sp, 8 Siskins, 2 Nuthatch, 1 Treecreeper, all four of the other comm tits and a single Crossbill. John said, taking away the latter species, it would of taken him half a day to see that lot in Kent! We spent a good two hours looking for the shrike, but all we could produce were, Buzzards, Ravens, more Redpoll and Siskin and a flock of 7 Crossbills.

Two of the 4 adult Whooper Swans at Cound

Over 20 Buzzards were seen in the area of Brown Clee

Treecreeper at Brown Clee

  Next we headed West and got a male Goshawk fly over at close range. At Clunton Coppice, the Yellowhammer flock had increased from 50, last week, to over 150!! We both had never seen this many Yellowhammers before. With them were 50+Chaffinch and 5 Bramblings.

Part of the flock of 150+Yellowhammers at Clunton Coppice with a single Brambling in the near center of the photo.

Saturday 29 January 2011

'Rossi' the Ring-billed Gull

'Rossi' the RING-BILLED GULL at West Cliffe, Southend

'Rossi' sharing company with an Med, Common and Black-headed Gull 

A cracking adult Meditterranean Gull at West Cliffe

'Rossi' Med Gull and 4 dark-bellied Brent Geese at West cliffe, Southend

The only bird of note at Ripple N R was this Green Woodpecker

The bushes behind the car is where the Dartford Warbler was discovered

Up to 12 Reed Buntings were in this Hawthorn at Rainham Marshes 

A ruff was feeding with Redshanks on the Thames next to the stone barges 

Friday 28 January 2011

Jolly Farmers, Dartford

Without Johnny, I thought I would try and have a look for yesterdays Rough-legged Buzzard at Oare Marshes. On the way there, just out of Dartford, I had a look at the gulls at Jolly Farmers and found a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull.

3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull, (in between the crows) at Jolly Farmers, Dartford 

 Instead of walking around Oare Marshes, I opted to stay on the road in the center of the marsh and from here, 2 Marsh Harriers came by at very close range. There were sunshine spells, but with the NE wind, it was still bloody cold. There were 5 Black-tailed Godwits also present and the same wildfowl as yesterday and that was really it. I drove half a mile up the road, back to Oare Village, and waited at the side of the road for an hour in the warmth of the car, hoping the Rough-leg might reappear. Only 5 Long-tailed Tits and Green Woodpecker were seen.

Fem Marsh Harrier performing well at Oare Marshes

Thursday 27 January 2011

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD at Oare Marshes, Kent!


  Johnny wanted to go and try for the Hooded Crow that's been present on the Isle of Sheppy for the last two years. We arrived in the bloody cold weather with the wind coming from the NE. As we drove towards Harty Church, a fem Hen Harrier flew close by, followed by another fem and then an imm Marsh Harrier. Past the the Church and down a single track, looking on to Harty Marshes, In front of us on the track, was a single Brambling with over 60 Chaffinches. Ten mintues later, I picked up the Hooded Crow flying away from us way in the distance. Infact, every bird we saw today of note after this, was distant. We drove further down the track and found the crow feeding with lots of Carrion Crows, two fields away. There were also 300+dark-bellied Goose and just down the road at Capel Fleet raptor watchpoint, there were over 100 White-fronted Geese feeding in the fields. As we left the site, heading towards Oare Marshes on the otherside of the Swale, a pair of Peregrines flew low over the car.

Hooded Crow at Harty Marshes, distantly

Fem Hen Harrier at Harty Church being mobbed by Carrion Crows

Over 100 White-fronted Geese from Capel Fleet raptor watchpoint, distantly.

fem Peregrine low over the Isle of Sheppy

  At Oare Marshes, the only birds of note were, 86 Avocets, roosting out on the Swale. However, there were 3 birds showing a little closer in the creek. Lots of Shoveler, Pintails, Teal and Wigeon and up to 4 Black-tailed Godwits. After we had walked around one part of the marsh, we decided to leave. We were a mile away from the marsh, when I spotted a raptor, in the distance, being mobbed by 2 crows. I stopped the car and put my bins up 'ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD!!' I have never seen Johnny Bushnell move so fast. He was out of the car like a flash. I never knew he could move so fast. As the buzzard banked, you could clearly see the white tail with the black band. Johnny got the scope out and two birders driving by, stopped and asked what we were looking at? They to, were out of the car pretty fast and started observing it. All the time, it was circling away from us. This was only my third ever R-l Buzzard that I've seen. The first one I ever saw was on the Isle of Sheppy, Nov '94. Everyone was very happy and I quickly put the news out.
 Was this a new Rough-legged Buzzard or was it the Reculver bird, just east up the coast, that has not been seen for over two weeks? I think that it is more than likely that we have stumbled across the Reculver bird. It's a Rough-legged Buzzard and was a very good bird to end yet another good day.

86 Avocets roosting out on the Swale, distantly

Avocet feeding in a creek at Oare Marshes. This was the first Avocet since back in June '97, when Ren found one on the Abbey Pool Tresco.

Wednesday 26 January 2011



  The weather forcast last night didn't look too good with a cold NE wind and rain throughout the day. However, Johnny and I made the right decision to visit Dungeness as there was no wind and only a light drizzle on and off. Before we went to Dung, we spent an hour driving around looking for the Great White Egret in the dykes at West Hythe. All we could find were 5 Little Egrets, male Peregrine and a single Green Sandpiper. We also had 2 Green Sandpipers fly past in front of us as we drove near Bansett. Next was Flokestone Warren to see the local Meditterranean Gulls. Only ten birds were on the grass instead of the 200+ I had over a week ago. But, these birds were at a lot closer range and including 1st, 2nd and adult winter birds. We drove into the center of Folkestone and found that the 6 Waxwings that I discovered ten days ago, were in the same tree and had increased to 8 Waxwings

I love Meditterranean Gulls!

I wanted to see the Northern Long-tailers at Dymchurch again and within five minutes of being there, I found 4 NORTHERN LONG-TAILED TITS with 3 Long-tailed Tits near the garage. This time it was my turn to call Johnny in a panic.The birds were on view for a good ten minutes and showed very well before flying off towards the school

All 4 NORTHERN LONG-TAILED TITS showed well at Dymchurch

Time was not on our side as we approached Dungeness. Here there were a family of 5 Bewick Swans, 1 drake and 7 redhead Smews, up to 4 Marsh Harriers, all on the ARC Pits as well as the usual wildfowl. A Cetti's Warbler and up to 3 Chiffchaffs were in the bushes nearby. Dark clouds were looming and we only had less than an hour to go and look for the Black-necked Grebe from Denge Marsh hide. I made the long walk round and just ten meters from the hide, I was told that it was on the pit next to the Scott hide.That's miles away and I had just come from there! So off I went and as I reached the pit, I put my bins up and looked at a Slavonion Grebe. The very same grebe that we saw over a week ago. It had moulted a little but it was not a Black-necked Grebe. What I should of done was looked from the Denge Marsh hide. Never mind, We both had another great time in south Kent again and ended with a flock of 50+Bewick Swans in a Kale Field just outside Dungeness on are way home!

Drake and 3 rehead Smews at the ARC Pits

1st winter drake Smew a little closer than the others

A family of Bewick Swans on the ARC Pits with another 50 just up the road

Dave in our house in Trench, Telford a few days ago.. He's called Dave from Only Fools and Horses!

Dave's just about to raid the house of Monkey Nuts!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

2 Barn owls and a Fox!

  Driving down the M1 approaching junction 18 just before 12 last night, a Barn Owl floated past in front of the car to the otherside of the motorway! This was followed an hour later by another Barn Owl hunting at the side verge of the M25, just past the Potters Bar juction! Three different Barn Owls in less than a week! As we approached Gayna's house, we followed a Fox slowly walking beside the car, until it found some chips, and then it crossed at a bloody zebra crossing! I'll be Looking forward to the return trip back to Shropshire.

Getting stuck into some chips just outside at the pub, The Woodman, Dartford

  My third visit to Rainham Marshes was pretty poor. Johnny Bushnell and I spent most of the moring looking for Water Pipit. All we could produce were 12 Rock Pipits feeding at the side of the Thames on the RSPB reserve. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was at the Stone Barges and the only other birds of note were a male Stonechat, Little Egret and 18 Black-tailed Godwits, all at the Target Pools. Wildfowl on the reserve included, 30+Pintails, 45+Shovelers and 100's of Wigeon and Teal. Just before dark, over 50 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over the RSPB center towards Crayford Marshes  on the otherside of the river.
The Stone Barges on the River Thames