25 – 27 August Beachy Head

 

A well-timed weekend visit to Beachy Head, staying with Laurence P.  We birded the entire headland over the two days and covered c22 km on foot.  Pretty careful and concentrated bush bashing revealed great numbers of common migrants but the highlights were 2 Honey Buzzards, moving east two hours apart.

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The above adult Male bird went straight over our heads a couple of hours after the below bird  (looks ad female) had been picked up as a speck in the distance. Both heading east and gaining height, probably in order to cross the channel on a perfect day for it.

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Totals were as follows; 23 Common Redstart, 1 Black Redstart (juv), 13 Whinchat, 18 Wheatear, 9 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 19 Tree Pipit, c60 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Alba Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 8 Meadow Pipit, 44 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 8 Lesser Whitethroat, 100+ Common Whitethroat, 33 Blackcap, 12 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler & a Reed Bunting. Around 2000 hirundine were seen and along with them, 10 Swift.

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The below juv Pied Flys were particularly settled and I watched them feeding in the hedgerow behind the pub regularly whilst we skywatched on the sunday. A particular favourite of mine and I especially like them like this, preferring autumn plumage or spring females to black and white males.

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A few waders were heard and seen, all flyovers including a Wood Sandpiper at night on our way to the pub! 3 Dunlin, During the day singles of Golden Plover and Ringed Plover were also noted fly overs.

 

19 – 28 August

A trip to Oare Marshes with Rich and Dante was succesfull in that we caught up with two returning American birds – the Long-Billed Dowitcher was present, although distant amongst a group of Golden Plover on the East Flood (a new bird for me). Also present was the returning adult Bonaparte’s Gull which I saw in 2015 aswell.

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After Oare we visited a Kent Honey Buzzard site and after 20 minutes of scanning we had mediocre views of what seemed to be a male and a female – based on size alone really as the birds were completely silhouetted.

The week was spent birding Walthamstow Marshes and the Waterworks in the mornings before work.  Highlights were 2 gounded Tree Pipits on the 22nd,(rare here and my first for a couple of years on the patch, the eventualy moved on south calling) 3 Whinchats on the 23rd aswell as a couple of Wheatears and yellow Wagtails over and present on most days. Common Warblers still coming through in no great numbers.

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David Bradshaw found a Spotted redshanks on the now well-drained Lockwood on Saturday. another was found shortly after! First on the patch for a few years and new for my patch list.  I was down visiting Laurence P at beachy (and seeing some great birds, more on that later…) and i was convinced they woudn’t stay however upon my return I broke free from the tropical temperatures in my flat and caught up with them, and David.

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We will regain access in the mornings during the week soon and I will be up there every day. it looks fantastic.

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1 – 15 August

 

A few times a month my strange (non birdy) job takes me to rural Norfolk, near ten mile bank which is over the Ouse from Welney WWT.  Over the years I’ve found a few nice birds there, highlights being a flock of six Common Cranes one winter, an out of place Hawfinch over one spring and things like Brambling, the occasional Hen Harrier and fields full of Yellow wags on passage.

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With abit of fieldcraft and abit of luck I got close to this (first year?)  Kingfisher at the bottom of a standard fenland ditch on my lunch break recently. I spent probably 15 mins getting close and 10 mins shooting and watching through bins as the bird changed position, perch and stretched its wings.

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This photoshoot came at an interesting time, especially shooting pictures of a Kingfisher – quintessential ‘Nature Photographer’ species. I had just read the recent British Birds article about birder-photographers.  (and spent some of the earlier part of the year cursing ‘no bins’ camera heads in hides in Hong Kong)  I often think about how using a camera as part of my birding affects it, I think its generally a good thing; It can be sort of used as a scope, It can allow me to appreciate commoner species more… it prolongs the experince and makes the birding more visual. Getting into position for photography and taking in a close up wader for example is indulgent in a great way (if the bird doenst mind) and akin to looking at an amazing living illustration in a bird guide… More on this another time.

Fast track to today in London, a visit to the patch before work and a fairly disappointing session although almost all the commoner warblers present.

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Willow Warblers, Common and Lesser White throats , below.

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The below male Kestrel is half of the local pair and may be the reason why the cow field has not yet yielded its annual Whinchats so far.

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After work a quick circuit of the Lockwood turned up 2 Greenshank, an adult and a juv (pictured below) a Juvenile Little ringed Plover, c10 Common sandpipers and my first Wheatear of the autumn. Showing 7/8 primaries in the closed wing and buff panel mid wing sort of points to Greenland but perhaps too early?. dunno.

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Strangely, this Kingfisher allowed me to get fairly close this evening. There are 3/4 birds hanging around, the others I suspect are first year birds. This and last weeks shots are the closest I’ve been to this species for a prolonged period, funny its happened within a week. Nice though.

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Lockwood to be Drained? :)

There are plans to drain the Lockwood Reservoir. This is a dream come true for all of the regular patch watchers at Walthamstow…however there is currently no access during working hours due to a gravel track being laid around the top edge.  Draining hasn’t begun yet but fingers crossed it will soon and they will get the track out the way. I think it WILL get some decent waders. A brief visit last night with water levels higher than I’ve ever seen I had a Redshank, c18 Common Sands and a tame adult Dunlin, with David B adding Turnstone and Greenshank to that the previous evening – Not bad for Walthamstow. Hopefully much more to come before work on the Lockwood is refilled in December.

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