Saturday, 28 February 2015

Sandwich Bay 21/02/15.

After spending the morning last Saturday on the Prince of Wales pier at Dover I moved onto the Sandwich Bay estate with the hope that a few Short-eared Owls would be out hunting over the golf courses. Tim followed suit and we spent the first hour sitting in the Restharrow scrape hide. The usual array of Winter wildfowl were on offer, the Teal, Gadwall and Shoveller, all common stuff but adding a splash of colour to proceedings.

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A pair of Little Grebe's were photographed as they swam past in front of us and I took a record shot of a very distant Goosander, one of 4 present on the scrape. Goosander is a bird I seldom get the chance to photograph.

We both soon got fed up with ducks and left the hide, parking along the Ancient Highway in the hope that we would be lucky with the Owls. After only 10 minutes, the first of three Short-eared Owls appeared and we spent a couple of hours until the light faded watching  as they quartered the golf course on the hunt for prey. Although they never came too close, (a lot of people in the area out enjoying the sunshine) it was great to see them flying around the golf course completely oblivious to the golfers on the course. (Why is it they tolerate golfers walking by them within a few metres but will not let a photographer get within 50 metres ???) It's my first encounter with these Owls for a while now and its always a good day when you can sit watching them hunting on a late sunny afternoon from the comfort of your car.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Prince of Wales Pier Dover (21/02/15)

Armed with 5 loaves of Asda smart price bread at only 40p a loaf, I turned up on the Prince of Wales pier last Saturday morning (21st) hoping to entice the Glaucous Gull into performing for the camera. Tim Gutsell arrived a few minutes after me and a little later Phil Smith who found the Gull earlier in the week came for another look. I saw it more or less straight away but being right on low tide it decided to roost up on the hover port apron and no amount of bread was enticing it from its slumber. (too much bread earlier in the week I think) We waited for a couple of hours and eventually the Glaucous Gull was tempted and gave us great views as it muscled in on the frenzy of Herring Gulls that were attracted by the easy pickings. Great Black Backed Gulls were seen as were Herring and Black Headed Gulls but noticeably absent were the presence of any Kittiwakes. Only other birds of note were a couple of Rock Pipits seen aptly enough on the rocks by the hover port apron. 

Click on images for full size.

Glaucous Gull

Black-headed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black Backed Gull

Glaucous Gull

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Reed Bed Hide at Stodmarsh.

  A couple of hours were spent on Friday and Saturday morning, (6th and 7th) sitting in the Reed bed hide waiting to see if anything would appear in front of the camera. Some good sunny spells were enjoyed but a strong North Easterly gale blowing straight into the open hide windows made it a little enduring at times. Several Marsh Harriers were seen, at one time 8 birds were counted in the air together, (5 females and 3 males) with a female bird coming close enough to the hide to get a few images.

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Three raptors flew towards the hide, 2 Marsh Harriers turning west and flying off towards Collards, but a smart looking Common Buzzard carried on and passed directly over the hide before also turning westward and off towards Collards.

Over the two mornings I had 3 Bittern sightings but a little too far out for any pictures, and surprisingly given the strength of the wind, a flock of 40 + (at times) Bearded Tits were on each morning for an hour or so, feeding in the reeds just to the right hand side of the hide. It was a struggle trying to focus on them as the reeds were swaying as much as 5 or 6 foot each way in the wind with  the birds having to jump to another reed stem as the reed head hit the water. Good fun whilst they were in range but facing head on into the icy wind with the hide windows open made for watery eyes and numb fingers.

Three blog postings in a fortnight, if I keep this up I will be up for Blogger of the year 
ha ha.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Another trip to Dungeness (02/02/15)

Checking the weather forecast, Monday 2nd February promised unbroken winter sunshine, (which for once was right on the money) so I planned an afternoon sitting back in the Scott hide at Dungeness to see if I could get a few images of the Smew in better light. The drake was seen straight away and periodically came into the reed fringes to fish for what must be an abundance of Perch that inhabit the pit. I could only find one of the five female birds I saw on my previous visit, but she was obliging, on occasions venturing into the area right in front of the hide and nowhere near as wary as the drake.

Click on the images to see full size.

I saw a Firecrest that flew past the hide window and into a bush to the left of the hide, a Kingfisher or Kingfisher's were continually present but too far out for the camera, (not like the ones at Grove) but a couple of Grey Herons passed the hide windows as they came into roost on the pit late into the afternoon.

If you have not been to see the Smew they are well worth a look, especially if you have a camera.