Sunday, 25 February 2007

Blackwater and Bransbury Common

At late start to Rhinefield, where at midday was much quieter than it is in the evening. At least 2 Firecrests were around the car park showing well with Treecreepers. The Arboretum was very quiet with no Hawfinch, Crossbill, Siskin nor Brambling showing. However a male Bullfinch worked its way around the bushes and a brief possible Lesser Spotted Woodpecker dashed across.

(c) Ashley Howe - Treecreeper at the Blackwater Arboretum

The rest of the day was spent at Bransbury Common where we waited hours for Short-eared Owls to appear. Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Buzzards were numerous. A Barn Owl showed particularly well. It was geting late so we decided to leave. We flushed a Tawny Owl back to the car. Then I located a bird hovering high over a distant field. Fortunately it was a Short-eared Owl and then quickly disappeared out of view.

Apparantly 3 Short-eared Owls appeared from our original viewpoint about 3-4 minutes after our departure. And 3 more Tawny Owls were calling around the car.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Sonning Eye GPs

17/02/07 - Lee and Mick visited the Lesser Scaup a few weeks ago now, and i still hadn't seen it. So I dropped in today to finally connect with it. Although it was at quite a range on the ain sailing lake by the main island. However on approach there was no sign of the bird and consequently could not be relocated amongst the Tufted Ducks and Pochard.

A Red Kite was seen opposite the entrance to the Sailing Lake where it flew up river.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Rye - Dungeness - Oare - Sheppey

Another saturday based in Kent. We started at Rye Harbour NR for roosting Long-eared Owls. With heavy rain and strong winds it was understandable why we couldn't locate any around the Narrow Pits area. We left shortly after soaking wet.

Next to Dungeness RSPB where at least 5 Smew were on show (2 drakes) amongst plenty of Ruddy Ducks. The weather was also bad here with even stronger winds. At least this place had hides which allowed Lee and I to focus abit on photographing approaching wildfowl. We left at about 11:00am.

(c) Ashley Howe. Drake Ruddy Duck approaching the hide. More photos

Oare Marshes started off very poorly, there was no sign of any Twite nor the Red-necked Grebe although both had been seen this morning. However the Great Northern Diver was present on the Swale which meant a long walk. This resulted in Merlin, Hen and Marsh Harrier. When we returned to the East Flood the Long-billed Dowitcher had returned and a single Jack Snipe was also there.

(c) Ashley Howe. Finally we have managed to see the wintering Long-billed Dowitcher. More photos

The weather was gradually getting better and by the time we arrived at Capel Fleet the sun was shining and the winds had dropped dramatically. The Rough-legged Buzzard showed well at range and about 30 Corn Bunting were in the vacinity. About 20 Marsh Harrier, a Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, 3 Bewick's Swan, Green Sandpiper and 2 Barn Owl were viewable from the raptor viewpoint throughout the late afternoon.

(c) Ashley Howe. Marsh Harrier coming into roost from the raptor viewpoint. More photos

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Farnham - Bingley - Farndon - Hoveringham

An all round successfull day. At first light we connected with the Pacific Diver at Farnham sailing lake like most other birders this weekend did. It showed at range and refused to come any closer than 100 yards.
The juvenile Pacific Diver at Farnham GPs representing the first for the Western Palearctic. (c) Ashley Howe. More photos

Secondly, the American Robin at Bingley. At first was elusive until about midday it decided to show itself to the crowds. Eventually it did show well for all to see.

1st winter American Robin after it had been elusive all morning and by midday, decided to show itself. (c) Ashley Howe. More photos

Because of traffic around Bradford and Leeds, it took us 2 hours to get back onto the A1(M) and the light was beginning to run out. We managed to get to Nottingham with an hour of light remaining, where the Waxwing occasionally showed distantly for most of the time. Until it came to Rowan Berries in a front garden. It too, eventually showed amazingly.

A wary individual Waxwing occasionally coming to Rowan Berries in the late afternoon. (c) Ashley Howe. More photos

Hoveringham Gravel Pits was right around the corner, so of course we gave the American Wigeon a try. Light was fading quickly and we had about 15 minutes to locate the bird at range. Thankfully Lee did.