Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Gales and Gulls!

07.15-08.20 From the sea watch hide:  with AJG, WNW7-9 with absolutely no expectations and we weren't to be disappointed. 
Brent Goose: 35 E
Common Scoter: 5 W
Fulmar: 17 W
Gannet: 11 E  2W
Kittiwake: 1 W
As we left the car park DW called us to say he had found a good a good candidate for a Baltic Gull in the Gull roost at The Point. The bird was to far away for any decent pictures, had we tried to get closer the whole roost would have flushed. While discussing the bird we spotted yesterdays 1w Iceland Gull flying along the beach. We watched for a few minutes from the fishing boats then it flew towards The Point, while waiting for it to return 3 Sandwich Terns lingered off shore and 8 Turnstones were on the tide line.
I joined MH at the sea watch hide to try and relocate the Gull to no avail, but I did see the first Swallow of the year come in off. I joined SB in Dennis's hide where he immediately spotted probably the same Swallow over Burrowes, where also up 6 Goldeneye could be seen. 
This afternoon I joined CT and MH for a couple of hours at The Patch. The wind had now increased and it was difficult walking against it along the front of the power station, though from the shelter of the hide it was reasonably comfortable. Unfortunately the only notable bird there was a partially leucistic Common Gull.
 1W Iceland Gull at the fishing boats.

Partially leucistic Common Gull over The Patch

Monday, 30 March 2015

A Better Day!

A better day today after the abysmal weekend started at the sea watch hide 06.45-09.00
Thanks to AJG for collating the numbers.
Brent Goose: 106 E
Common Scoter: 28 E
Red-throated Diver 13 up
Gannet: 41 around
Kittiwake: 6 W
Mediterranean Gull: 10 W (8ads, 2 1w)
Sandwich Tern: 1 W
Guillemot: 2 on
Meadow Pipit: 3 in
A wander around the trapping area found c15 Chiffchaffs and 3 Common Snipe of note.
Early afternoon from Brickwall Farm, the 2 Tundra Bean Geese, 2 Cattle Egrets, 2 Great White Egrets, 2 Little Egrets, a Bittern, a Grey Heron and several Marsh Harriers. Good to see that the wardens are pumping water into Hayfield 3 which was drying out. Even with that disturbance there was another Great White and Little Egret there, also 2 Redshank, a Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit.  It seems surprising that the water level in the main lakes does not appear to be dropping at all though. 
On Scotney the drake Scaup still present, also 2 Brent Geese and a Barnacle Goose were the only other notable species. 
In 20 minutes mid afternoon at The Point, 14 Guillemots and a Kittiwake flew west. While there a message that there was an Iceland Gull at The Patch got through to me despite the phone signal problems on the beach.
A few minutes later from the shelter of the hide the 1w Iceland  Gull could be seen, back on head down into the rising wind. It did move around a little until a Great Skua came through, which spooked it along with all the other gulls and was not seen again. While there the first Common Tern of the year was over The Patch and beach and a 1w Caspian Gull put in a brief appearance. 
 1w Iceland gull at The Patch

 1st Common Tern of the year at The Patch
 1w Caspian Gull at The Patch

Friday, 27 March 2015

Egrets again!

06.15 at the seawatch hide, AJG was already there and once again the sea failed to impress. Very little has been passing this week, but today there was even less! We left the hide early and looked around the bushes seeing at least 3 Firecrests along with several Chiffchaffs
An hour sky watching from the garden was enlivened when the Gulls went balistic, instead of the hoped for Kite it was just the local Raven upsetting them.
Early afternoon walk around the Hayfields was also disappointing, a single Ruff, 3 Redshank, a Curlew, A Dunlin and 2 Shelduck on Hayfield 3. When I arrived at Dengemarsh Hide I found MH and PT inside. I spent a pleasant hour watching 4+ Marsh Harriers performing and 3 Black-tailed Godwits while MH told us the same jokes he told us yesterday and the day before! 
 From opposite Brickwall Farm the Tundra Bean Geese could be seen albeit with difficulty through the heat haze. As Galloways was open I had a look there but as usual it didn't fail to disappoint. Back at Brickwall Farm the 2 Cattle Egrets performed admirably around the farm, enticing me to take yet more pictures of them.
A late visit to Hanson  found several Chiffchaffs, 2 Firecrests, 2 Cetti's Warblers and 2+ Water Rail by the track, on the lake 5 Goldeneye and c50 Shoveller were of note.
The Egret roost tonight produced 18 Little Egrets, The Cattle Egrets and just 1 Great White Egret.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Dead Duck!

 Brent Geese moving East from the sea watch hide this morning!
A Grim 2 hours 07.00-09.00 from the sea watch hide in rain driven by the SW wind.
Brent Goose: 151 E
Teal: 8 E
Common Scoter: 46 E
Red-breasted Mereganser: 2 W
Red-throated Diver: 2 E   2 W
Great-crested Grebe: 14 E
Fulmar: 23 E    4 W
Gannet: c10 o/s
Oystercatcher: 4 E
Sandwich Tern: 3 around
Mediterranean Gull: 1ad
Auk sp: 1 E
A sad end to this Teal, flying into the anti predator fence round Dengemarsh Flood! 
When the rain stopped at around midday 2 Chiffchaff flew across the field in front of Plodland disappearing into a neighbours garden. 
At Galloways a Wheatear by the guard house, several each of Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Reed Bunting and a pair of Stonechats by the track.
The 2 Cattle Egrets still by Brickwall Farm, the 2 Egyptian Geese opposite and a Raven over.
At Springfield Bridge a mixed flock of Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails. In Hayfield 3 a single Ruff, 8 Dunlin, 3 Curlew and 2 Shelduck. On the way back a Teal flew from Galloways across the field straight into the perimeter fence, presumably breaking its neck as it was dead when I reached it.
 Chiffchaff on the power station perimeter wall this afternoon.!
Mid afternoon at The Point a Firecrest in the Lighthouse garden(at least 17 around today per DBO) a Chiffchaff on the perimeter wall, 5 Wheatears and a Black Redstart on the shingle opposite Spion Kop.
One of five Wheatears on the shingle opposite Spion Kop!
Late afternoon at the ARC 4 Goldeneye, a red head Smew, c100 Shoveler at least 3 Marsh Harriers. Chiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers singing in the Willow Trail.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Garden Tick!

Arriving at the car park by the power station at 07.00 I met AJG who had alraedy spent a fruitless cold hour sea watching.
We had walk around the trapping area, southern Long pit, Station Gorse, Lighthouse and West Beach. We managed c30 Chiffchaffs, c20 Meadow Pipits, c20 Chaffinches, 1 Snipe, 2 Black Redstarts and another at the observatory.
With the onset of the rain I spent most of the rest of the day doing domestic stuff.
Following late afternoon call from MH I added Egyptian Goose to the from the garden list, as 2 of them were feeding in the fields in front of Plodland.  

Monday, 23 March 2015

Brents on the move.

An uninspiring sea watch on yet another cold grey morning. 
06.30-07.30 from the sea watch hide
Brent Goose: 48 E
Common Scoter: 2 E   3W
Red-breasted Merganser: 2 E
Fulmar: 2 E
Gannet: 9 E   3 o/s
Harbour Porpoise: 10+
A quick stop at Cockles bridge saw a both Great White and Little Egret and a pair of Red-legged Partridges.
 Red-legged Partridge becoming increasingly scarce on the peninsular.
The 2 Cattle Egrets were in the usual fields around Brickwall farm, but no sign of the 2 Tundra Bean Geese, while looking for them  a flock of c150 Brent Geese flew east. Round the hayfields 17 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 6 Redshank, 2 Ruff, 3 Lapwings , 3 Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit flew over. From the Hookers viewing ramp another Great White Egret, 2 Egyptian Geese, 2+ Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and Cetti's Warblers
Turnstone at the fishing boats.
Another sea watch 15.00-16.00 from the fishing boats:
Common Scoter: 2 E
Eider: 3E ad drakes
Red-throated Diver: 11E  2W
Turnstone: 5 on beach
Mediterranean Gull: 1 W  ad
In the gull roost North Thames  Herring Gull G1FT.
This evening 24 Little, 5 Great White and the 2 Cattle Egrets came into roost on the reserve. While watching them c1,000 stratospheric Brent Geese moved east. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Where's the Sun!

Another cold dismal spring day on the peninsular. From the sea watch hide 07.05-08.05:
Common Scoter: 2 E
Red-throated Diver: 12 E     2 on sea
Great-crested Grebe: c40 on the sea
Gannet: 19 E
Merlin: 1 in being harassed by the gulls while chasing a Chaffinch in.
Oystercatcher: 4 E
Mediterranean Gull: 1 on sea
Harbour Porpoise: 4+
A check of the Gull roost at The Point found nothing of note, though a Black Redstart was by the New Lighthouse and large female Peregrine put all the gulls up.
A wander up to the pines was grim in the strong east wind, avian interest was limited to a few dabblers in front the screen. By 10.30 I gave up for the morning.
This afternoon I walked around the hayfields and Dengemarsh. At Springfield Bridge the Alba Wagtail flock had risen to at least 20 birds including a spanking White Wagtail, on hayfield 3 just 1 Ruff, 6 Redshank, 6 Ringed Plovers, 27 Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit was new in. While trying and failing to photograph a Bearded  Tit I almost trod on a Jack Snipe, not sure who was most surprised. From the empty hide a Great White Egret and 2 Little Egrets, 2+ Marsh Harriers and a Raven over. On the north bank c200 Wigeon and 2 Tundra Bean Geese among a few Greylags. Making my way back to Springfield Bridge 4 Curlews and 30 Lapwing flew over and another Great White Egret dropped into Hayfield 3.
 Late afternoon at Brickwall Farm the Cattle Egrets were showing very well, a pity about the poor light though.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Egrets and Gypo's!

Egyptian Goose over Dengemarsh Flood.
On the way to Springfield Bridge this morning under clear skies and keen wind, a Raven was pulling bits off a dead fox by Brickwall Farm in the next field the 2 Cattle Egrets were strutting around. From the bridge the mixed flock of Alba Wagtails, Pipits and Reed Buntings were at the far end of the field as a tractor was working the field. 2 Great White Egrets were chasing one another around Dengemarsh, an adult male Marsh Harrier was seeing off a young male and a flock of 20+ Golden Plover flew through. As I walked down to Hayfield 3, 2 Egyptian Geese flew over and dropped into the flood (seen earlier at the observatory per DW) joining 2 Little Egrets, 3 Ruff, 6 Redshank, 26 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plovers and 2 Lapwings. From Dengemarsh hide 6 Little Egrets sheltering under the north bank with 100+ Wigeon. walking down to Christmas Dell a Peregrine flew over flushing 3 Curlew from somewhere in front the hide. Further down the path to Scott hide 21 Dunlin and 2 Redshank flew into Hayfield 1, no doubt flushed from 3 by the Peregrine. From Scott Hide c150 Shoveler sheltering from the wind , also several Cormorants flew across carrying twigs into the breeding island.
 Redshank and Dunlin on Hayfield 1
Curlew over Christmas Dell
Early afternoon DW and GH were parked c25 yds up the road from Plodland checking the Gulls in the newly ploughed field. As I joined them DW pointed out an adult Mediterranean Gull among many Black-headed and Common Gulls. The gulls suddenly flushed, while searching for a raptor a Woodcock flew across the field. Can I put in on the from the garden list as I was only 25 yds away?
A visit to the Gull roost at The Point found few Gulls there but plenty of tourists.
This evening at the Egret Roost 26 Little Egrets, 7 Great White Egrets and the 2 Cattle Egrets came in to the accompaniment of Cetti's Warblers, also seen there a red head Goosander, a Black-necked Grebe and 3+ Marsh Harriers.

Friday, 20 March 2015


Another thoroughly dreary and cold day on the peninsular saw me at The Patch just after 07.00, where many 100s of Gulls were milling around the boil with another 1,000+ on the beach. I sat in the hide going through them but found nothing of note. (DW found a 1w Caspian Gull there late afternoon) There were at least 4 North Thames ringed Herring Gulls among them, also Great Black Backed Gull JZ202. After an hour the penetrating cold in the hide forced me to move. At the observatory 1+ Woodcock and a few thrushes were flushed from the moat just before I arrived. 
 JZ202 colour ringed Great Black Backed Gull
On the New Diggings a Black-necked Grebe was the highlight among the Coot and Tufted Duck. Over the road on the ARC 5+ Goldeneye were the pick of the bunch among the Shoveler and small number of Wigeon.
The staff have made a good job of repairing the track to the visitor centre so it was a pleasure to drive down Dennis's hide, despite the gloom and cold caused by the eclipse happening above the solid cloud cover. From the hide several 100s of Shoveler, a red head Smew, a Great White Egret and 2 Marsh Harriers were of note. Also there 100+ Gulls roosting on the submerged islands but nothing of note among them.
This afternoon on Hayfield 3 a Green Sandpiper briefly and 2 Ruff, 5 Redshank, 11 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plovers including the colour ringed individual, 2 Lapwings, a Great White Egret and a Little Egret, it surely can't be long before a Garganey drops in. On the way to Scott hide several singing Cetti'sWarblers, a Green Woodpecker and a Bearded Tit of note.
Back at Springfield Bridge 2 White Wagtails and a Rock Pipit of note among a flock of Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings, while watching them a Bittern flew across Dengemarsh and a pair of Marsh Harriers grappled.
The 2 Cattle Egrets were in the fields around Brickwall Farm and a Raven fed on a dead Fox there.    
 Late afternoon at Scotney a flock of 29 White-fronted Geese flew in high from the south over the ranges, they circled the main lake for a few minutes before disappearing out towards Walland Marsh, looking at the the wing of one of them they may have run the gauntlet of the French guns. A few minutes later 4 more Whitefronts and a Barnacle Goose flew in high from the south and settled on the lake, also on there a Black-necked Grebe now reaching summer plumage.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Return to winter!

07.20-08.20 from the sea watch hide in a cold drizzly northerly wind.
Brent Goose: 54 E
Red-breasted Merganser: 5 E
Great-crested Grebe: 7 off shore
Red-throated Diver: 2 E
Gannet: 7 E
Oystercatcher: 1 E
Harbour Porpoise: 3+ o/s
An abysmal watch this morning, not surprisingly  I was on my own. 
It was definitely a day for doing those jobs that needed doing in doors.
 Yesterdays brief 1w Caspian gull
North Thames G3KT in the roost yesterday

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Colour ringed Ringed Plover!

Another slow, cold sea watch this morning 06.10-08.10 from the sea watch hide, with BB and AJG who kindly collated the numbers:
Brent Goose: 241E
Shelduck: 1E
Teal: 2E
Shoveller: 13E
Common scoter: 12 E
Red-breasted Merganser: 3E
Red-throated diver: 14E
Oystercatcher: 22E
Peregrine: 1 around
Mediterranean Gull: 5 around
Black Redstart: 1 around 
The ARC and New diggings from the causeway yielded 3 Goldeneye of note among the small numbers of wildfowl that remain. Even the Marsh Harriers were keeping there heads down in today's bitterly cold northerly wind.
The main lake at Scotney saw little of note just the usual common wildfowl. The 2 Cattle Egrets were still frequenting the fields around Brickwall Farm.
Colour ringed Ring Plover. Yellow over Green over pale Green.
This afternoon still 2 White Wagtails among the mixed flock of alba wagtails and Reed buntings. On Hayfield 3 2 Great White Egrets, a single Little Egret, 2 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, 2 Mallard, 4 Redshank, a Lapwing and 4 Ringed Plovers one of which was colour ringed. At the moment it looks like it possibly may be one from the Chichester harbour scheme.
Late afternoon at the fishing boats a 1w Caspian Gull briefly but nothing off shore.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Few Migrants!

After a drizzly start a beautifully warm spring day on the peninsular.
06.45-09.30 from the sea watch hide with AJG who collated the numbers:
Brent Goose: 752 E
Shelduck: 3 E
Pintail: 8 E
Wigeon: 3 E
Teal: 5 E
Common Scoter: 15 E
Goldeneye: 2 E
Red-breasted Merganser: 2 E
Red-throated Diver: 17 E
Fulmar: 2 E
Gannet: 44 E
Great White Egret: 1 in just before I arrived!
Oystercatcher: 31 E
Grey Plover: 1 E
Knot: 2 E
Dunlin: 17 E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 19 E
Curlew: 1 E
Whimbrel: 1 E
Mediterranean Gull: 3 E
Sandwich Tern: 2 E
Meadow Pipit: 1 in
Alba Wagtail: 1 in
At the observatory a Firecrest and a Chiffchaff put in a brief appearance in the garden. A walk around the trapping area and Long Pits found 4 more Chiffchaffs, 9 Meadow Pipits over and a few Reed Buntings.
 Hayfield 3 looking good for migrant waders, surely a matter of days before the first Garganey drops in.
 One of 2 White Wagtails at Springfield Bridge
A wander round the hayfields this afternoon found 2 White Wagtails with a mix flock of Pied Wagtails and Reed Buntings at Springfield Bridge. On hayfield 3 a Little-ringed Plover, 4 Redshank, 2 Shelduck, a Great White Egret and a Little Egret.
Part of a flock of 340 past the fishing boats this afternoon.
The highlight of an hour at the fishing boats this afternoon was a flock of 340 Brent Geese, 3 Shelduck and 5 Common Scoter!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Harbour Porpoises!

Another very slow sea watch in a very cold Easterly 5-6, fortunately trying to count the Harbour Porpoises popping up and down kept some interest going.
08.00-09.15 from the sea watch hide.
Red-breasted Merganser: 1 E
Red-throated Diver: 4 E  2 on sea
Great-crested Grebe: 52 on sea
Fulmar: 2 E
Gannet: 3 E
Oystercatcher: 5 E
Turnstone: 1 on concrete road behind hide.
Black Redstart: 2 behind hide
Pied Wagtail: 4 behind hide
Meadow Pipit: 1 behind hide
Harbour Porpoise: 4+

The Patch from the hide found nothing of note.
Black-headed Gull: c1,000
Common Gull: c50
Herring Gull: c500
Lesser B.B.Gull: c30
Great B B Gull: c 150
Cormorant: c60
 Turnstone on the concrete road behind the sea watch hide.
 Meadow Pipit on the perimeter wall.

A check of the Gull roost on The Point found this Yellow-legged Gull of note among the commoner species.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

East Wind!

A bright sunny morning on the peninsular was deceptive as the wind was bitingly cold. With nothing passing off shore I had a wander around the beach. A Hare flushed in front of me and disappeared among the sea containers, the male Rubicola Stonechat was still present on the Gorse as was 3 Black Redstarts and a Wheatear, 2 Skylarks, 4 Meadow Pipits and 5 Pied Wagtails were also present.
The red head Goosander and 3 Goldeneye could be seen on a wind swept ARC from the causeway. The 2 Cattle Egrets were in the fields south of Brickwall Farm. At Scotney the drake Scaup was by the double bends per GH.
This evening at the Egret roost, 26 Little Egrets, 3 Great White Egrets and 2 Cattle Egrets came in to roost.

A slow watch!

Another fairly slow watch this morning in the company of AJG and BB.
06.00-09.15 From the seawatch hide:
Brent Goose: 1205 E
Common Scoter: 66 E
Red-breasted Merganser: 4 E
Red-throated Diver: 39 E
Fulmar: 2 E
Gannet: 44 E
Oystercatcher: 12 E
Dunlin: 2 E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 3 E
Kittiwake: 2 E
Mediterranean Gull: 1 E
Auk sp: 26 E
Thanks to AJG for collating the numbers.

A bitterly cold afternoon found the Cattle Egrets were still in the sheep field in Dengemarsh Road and the elusive Slavonian Grebe was still on Dengemarsh.
Late afternoon 220 more Brent Geese passed the fishing boats, 2 Wheatears, 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Stonechats including the stunning male rubicola were on the beach.  

Friday, 13 March 2015

Iceland 5th-10th March

 As soon as DW, GH, PB and myself picked up the hire car from the airport we drove the short distance to Keflavik where the White-winged Scoter was quickly located among a few Common Eiders, Red-breasted Mergansers and Black Guillemot. We then did another short drive round the bay to Helguvik Harbour, unfortunately security would not not allow us in, so we had to view the harbour from the top of the surrounding cliffs  where we were confronted by literally 1,000s of Common Eiders to trawl through with our scopes to find a drake King Eider which we eventually did, but the views were not really satisfactory. 
White-winged Scoter
Black Guillemot.
From Helguvik we drove to Reykjavik Harbour to hopefully see the Glaucous-winged Gull which hadn't been seen for a few days. We also failed to find it in the poor weather and failing light so made our way to our base at Grunadfjadur.
 DW scanning The Patch at Grundarfjordur sheltering from the wind and snow.
I managed to drive off the road and get stuck! Many thanks to the local police for pulling us out.
The weather was mainly atrocious heavy snow, strong winds every day and appalling light for photography, but the birding was brilliant particularly for white winged gulls. I have never seen so many Fulmars tens of thousands of them, wherever you looked out to sea or around the mountains they were wheeling around.
 Feeding by the fish factory sluice.

 We saw this King x Common Eider hybrid in the same place last year.
 Borealis Common Eider.
Up to 15 Harlequins were seen every day at Grundarfjordur.
A flock of 400+ Snow Buntings could be seen around the town.
All the images below were taken at Grundarfjordur unless stated otherwise.
 Iceland and Kumlien's Gulls
Adult Kumlien's Gull

 2w Kumlien's Gull
 Adult Kumlien's Gull
2w Kumlien's Gull
Adult Glaucous Gull
 Herring x Glaucous Hybrid?
Herring x Glaucous Hybrid?
2w Iceland Gull (Stikkisholmur) 
We also connected with a Gyr falcon here and drove back to Grundarsfjadur in a white out with nil visibility at times, at least DW managed to keep the car on the road, which was more than I did.
 1w Iceland Gull
Herring, Glaucous, Iceland, Kumlien's and a Thayer's candidate.
This gull was spotted the previous day by DW while I was looking at Eiders.
 Thayer's Gull?

White-tailed Eagle seeing off a Raven.
 This hybrid in Reykjavik Harbour was no compensation for the Glaucous-winged Gull.
On our last full day we ended up back at Reykjavik Harbour trying for the Glaucous-winged Gull again to no avail. We did see a Brunnich's Guillemot, Great northern Diver and a summer plumaged Black Guillemot.

 In the last hour before our flight home we went back to Helguvik harbour where 2+ Blue Fulmars showed very well among the 100s of Fulmars, 2 King Eiders were also found.