Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Ice ice baby

A cold and frosty start this morning for the final patch walk of the year. Despite the absence of the Richards' Pipit since Christmas day good quality birds are still around with Dartford Warblers present on White Dyke and by Lookers', Jack Snipe on White Dyke, and SEO's putting on a late afternoon show at Lookers'. Other bits and bobs included 221 Lapwing on Horse-eye, 123 Wigeon at Mappins, 6 Snipe on Down, 10 Teal and a drake Shoveler near Chilley Farm, 16 Golden Plover south of the A27 roundabout, Sparrowhawk on Down Level, Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, and Kestrels all over the place, and my final bird of the year a Barn Owl hunting the fields on Down Level just outside Downash.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

P is for plastic

...or in this case White Ibis, in all probability (to avoid offending anyones sensitivities). As I was in the area I dropped in to the wildfowl refuge at Sevenoaks to take a look at this bird which has been around for about a month now. If nothing else it is very striking and provided a useful tactical solution to avoiding the shops!
Birding over the Christmas break has been excellent. On Christmas Eve I walked the Seven Sisters with the dog and managed to see the resident Peregrine, Fulmar, and a Greenshank once I got into the Cuckmere. A brief foray out on the levels on Christmas day produced good views of the Richards' at Lookers' and a ringtail Hen Harrier. On the 28th the Peregrine were both seen on Horse-eye along with a ringtail and the Lookers' Dartford Warbler before I headed off to Pett where the Lesser Yellowlegs was seen well (though more distantly than for some) along with 2 flyover Bewicks'.
Yesterday (29th) I had an afternoon out with Dad and had excellent views of the RLB once we moved round to the forest side to get better light, as well as promenading SEO's, male Marsh Harrier, ringtail Hen Harrier, and Kingfisher  back on the levels. Earlier in the day the Peregrine pair were on Down along with a ringtail and a Water Rail was squealing at Horse-eye Green. So finally to today when I took a quick spin over Down Level last thing (Lookers was crowded!) seeing Peregrine, Marsh Harrier (the one with the buff upperwing coverts), 3 Chiffchaff, and Kingfisher.
Other bits and bobs over the break have included a butterfly spp in Waitrose car park Hailsham on Christmas Eve (utv's!), Mink on the levels on 29th, and Red Fox on Down Level today.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The winter solstice

Huzzah! From today the evenings start to stretch out again, so with the intention of spending a fair amount of time on the patch today I walked from White Dyke to Lookers and then back via Marshfoot lane. The weather was fairly inclement today with gusty wind and intermittent showers. White Dyke produced a new Dartford Warbler calling in the scrub near Mappins, initially I suspected this would be the Lookers bird relocating itself however when it appeared on top of a bush it was a more bulk typical drab 1st winter type than the adult bird seen recently. Other birds of note today were the Richards' Pipit (although only in flight) between Horse-eye farm and Lookers, 2 Hen Harrier, 6 Marsh Harrier including an adult male although not including an all dark individual seen on the 13th and 14th, the resident Peregrine (the female with a small prey item) and Buzzard, Cettis' near Horse-eye Green, and a single Water Pipit on Down Level.
Although none were seen today the SEO remain in the area and I am now confident there are at least 6 having seen 4 together in the paddocks just north of Lookers on Friday (19th) which didn't include either the very pale or very dark individuals that have been in the area. The Richards' Pipit has been more reliable over the past week showing well on occasion (including the 13th when I was on site) so most people who have visited have managed to get to grips with it and the all dark Marsh Harrier referred to above was seen briefly on the 13th and distantly on the 14th. Also on the 14th was the Robin pictured left predating what appears to be a Fen Raft Spider. Other residents on show over the past week have included Raven, Little Owl, Kingfisher and Water Rail. Thrush numbers seem to be falling as most of the bushes have been stripped although there are still numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare present.
On the mammal front the frosty 14th produced a Weasel watched hunting on the ice covered ditches near Lookers', frustratingly it kept weaving in and out of the reeds and avoided my attempts to capture an image unlike the Mink seen on the 13th and 14th which is pictured at the head of this post!
Finally further afield the Rough-leg was still present the last time I looked (13th) while the Rock Pipits at Birling were being showy in the car park the same morning.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Wols and Webs

Shorties are still the bird of the moment and look like they will be with us for the winter. Three plus have been present all week and were still putting on a show this evening (12th) in what I would consider to be less than ideal conditions, windy and showers. On Down Level this afternoon 11 Shoveler, 8 Wigeon, and a single Teal, all on the scrape, a single cream cap, and a separate flock of 40+ Teal flying over. On Horse-eye in addition to the SEO's another 6+ Wigeon, ad fem Hen Harrier, Merlin, 2 Marsh Harrier, Cetti's, Goldcrest, Little Owl, and the extremely vinous Dartford Warbler was again in the hedgerow and brambles south of Lookers'.
Last Sundays WEBS count (in the rain) on Down Level produced 2 Shoveler and 26 Teal on the scrape. Raptors comprised the resident pair of Peregrine who were perched up on the foot-bridge mid-level before heading off hunting, 2 Buzzard, ringtail Hen Harrier, and Marsh Harrier, while other bits included Water Rail. The Richards' Pipit failed to put in an appearrance when I looked for it later in the day although the Harriers, SEO's, and a male Kingfisher provided ample compensation.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Its Dicks again

Monsieur Richard had failed to put in an appearance all week (including yesterday afternoon when I was in the field) but was back again in the roadside fields south of Lookers cottage when I arrived this afternoon (6th) at 12.45 although then disappeared again and was not seen after about 14.00. It has been a long time since I last saw a Richards' and the jizz which is described as upright would almost better be described as stretching up especially the way the head and bill look like they are straining to reach forward and up.  Also today 5+ SEO, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier, and 2 Merlin one of which was watched relentlessly pursuing a Mipit which eventually managed to evade capture. The Rough-leg was still present this morning at Jevington.
Yesterday afternoon (5th) the Dartford Warbler was still in the brambles south of Lookers' cottage, Ringtail Hen Harrier on Manxey Level, and Merlin and Marsh Harrier were on Down Level.