Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Spring Migrants & Another New Bird for Stour Valley

22nd April at Grove Ferry 

♂ Garganey & Common Tern

I only had a small amount of spare time on Sunday morning the 22nd April and hearing that there was a ♂ Garganey viewable from the Ramp at Grove ferry made up my mind where to go.

I bumped into some of the Stour Valley regulars , Chidders , MW & SM and had decent scope views of the ♂ Garganey which was being kept company by 2 Common Terns , whislt we were chatting Chidders picked out a RED KITE flying over the Feast hide and on checking my records i was very happy to add this to my Stour valley bird list.

23rd  April at Stodmarsh


Yesterday 23rd April i headed to Stodmarsh to look for migrants and hopefully see the Jack Snipe at Marsh hide , whilst parking up i heard a Nightingale and then a Garden Warbler , i had no luck seeing the Nightingale but managed a brief view of the Garden Warbler , there was plenty of Blackcaps on view in the car park & on route to the Marsh hide.

Sedge Warblers were very vocal & often seen doing their parachute flight display , Cetti's Warblers gave brief views whilst Chiffchaff were less shy.

1 of 2 Greenshanks.

I eventually reached the Marsh hide and there was only one other birder in there  who kindly informed me there was no sign of the Jack Snipe so far but there is a Common Sandpiper & 2 Greenshanks ' , i instantly saw one of the Greenshanks more or less in front of the hide , however the Sandpiper was distant on the far pool left of the hide , i had a look and through the heat haze it certainly looked good for Common Sandpiper , later on with less heat haze you could clearly see it was in fact a Green Sandpiper  (light & distance can certainly play tricks on id sometimes).


I had no luck with the Jack Snipe but i really enjoyed the birds that were there, other birders arrived and between us we picked out some good birds including a distant Red Kite , 2 Wheatears (good spot MH) , plus lots of Sand Martins , House Martins & 10+ Common Swifts , there was also several Swallows.


Common Swift.

Sand Martin's

On my way back i also got lucky and saw my first Hobby of the spring and the Little Owl was once again back in it's favoured area on the farm buildings.


Little Owl.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Black Winged Stilt ........ at Stodmarsh

Black Winged Stilt.

On Friday the 13th April i headed out to the Marsh hide at Stodmarsh to try and see the Black winged Stilt that had first been seen the previous afternoon.

On my way past the Alder wood i could hear plenty of Chiffchaffs and as i continued my walk i heard my first Sedge Warblers of the spring.

I eventually reached the Marsh hide after battling through the very muddy path and soon joined several familiar faces and instantly saw the Black winged Stilt in all it's glory in front of the hide, There was also 5 Water Pipits on & off  through out my time here.

Superb long red legs.

This is a new bird for my Stodmarsh (Stour valley) bird list and what a cracker , they bred in Kent last year at another site but i think this bird is just having a brief feed up and rest before continuing it's journey.

Having a feed.

Plunged head straight in.

I really liked how the BWS fed by plunging it's head straight into the water ,which it did several times.

The BWS also spent sometime having a preen, where you can appreciate it's lovely long red legs and delicate bill.

When having long legs come in handy.

Delicate bill gets the job done.

Black Winged Stilt.

I watched the BWS for quite sometime and then decided to try and see the Ring Ouzel that had been seen earlier that morning at the Grove Ferry end of the reserve (Thanks Marc.H. for the info) , i joined up with BR and after checking Middle Drove we located 165+ Fieldfare in some distant trees , we then walked a little way along a track and flushed a ♂ Ring Ouzel which was then followed by a ♀ Ring Ouzel which both alighted on top of a bush.

♀ & ♂ Ring Ouzel.

Then amazingly a 3rd bird joined them , another ♀ Ring Ouzel making 3 Ring Ouzel's all together.

2 ♀ Ring Ouzel's

Digi scoped ♂ Ring Ouzel.

Really enjoyed watching these birds , i saw my first ever Ring Ouzel on this reserve many years ago so a little bit of nostalgia was nice.

On my way back i once again saw the Little Owl in it's favoured area near the Alder wood.

Little Owl.

A walk around the Alder wood produced several Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Treecreeper collecting nest material .

I also bumped into the friendliest Robin i have ever met.

Friendly Robin.

A brief look from the Reed bed hide didn't produce much other than several Great Crested Grebes , Mute Swans & Cormorants.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

American Bittern at Carlton Marshes in Suffolk

American Bittern photo by Paul Rowe

On Monday 9th April i travelled up to Carlton Marshes in Suffolk with RR and our target bird was the American Bittern which was first seen over the weekend.

We arrived at about 8.10am and made our way around to the area other birders were waiting to see this surprise find , by the time we got there and set up our scopes it was approx 8.30am and then we heard a shout and i instantly saw the American Bittern flying past us and eventually dropping down out of sight into the vast reed bed.

Another flight shot.

It was great to see it so quickly and i had great views of the American Bittern seeing the distinctive wing pattern through my scope .

Unfortunately my camera was still in my bag as we had only just got there , i wasn't to worried as i always  go on the mantra that seeing the birds distinctive features come before getting a photo and i would surely get another chance to get a photo.........

Wrong , we were there for another 5 & half hours without so much of a sniff of it , thank goodness we saw it when we did , this was a lifer for RR and a welcome year tick for me (i saw the Martin Mere bird ).  

American Bittern photo by Paul Rowe.

Although we never saw the American Bittern again whilst we were there we still saw some good birds such as a distant Barn Owl , several Marsh Harriers food passing plus 2 Swallows which were my first of the spring, we also saw Chinese Water Deer .

Many thanks to Paul Rowe for letting me use his great photos of the American Bittern , very much appreciated.

Special mention to the SWT BROADS staff for their fantastic organization of this successful birding trip , they have a fund raising page at :

Saturday, 7 April 2018

New bird for my Oare Marsh bird List

♂ Common Redstart.

News of a ♂ Common Redstart in the horse paddock at Oare Marshes yesterday morning the 6th April  made up my mind where to go this morning.

I only had limited time today so headed straight there and after parking up it only took me a few minutes to locate the really smart looking ♂ Common Redstart.

Black face mask with white stripe above.

I was the only birder there looking at it when i got a phone call from MW asking me if i had seen it again, MW had first found it at 7.10am , i thanked him for the news and he informed me he had seen a Spotted Redshank & Little Owl as well this morning.

In flight.

The Common Redstart was often spooked by cars driving past but soon returned to the area at the back of the paddock along the hedges and fence posts , it spent most of the time on the ground feeding.

Lovely red tail.

I was joined by MW and other birders and we all enjoyed some great views of this brightly coloured bird and checking my notes this is the 1st Common Redstart i have personally seen at Oare Marshes.

♂ Common Redstart.

I had enough time left to walk around past the hide on the East flood and look for the Little Owl and sure enough it was sitting out in the open and was a welcome addition to my year list.

Distant Little Owl.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Bluethroats & Firecrests & A Wandering White Stork all in Kent

19th March 2018  Dengemarsh Gully

White Spotted Bluethroat.

On Sunday 18th March 2 Bluethroats were seen at Dengemarsh Gully Dungeness and they were still present on the 19th so i decided to head down to have a look.

I joined the handful of birders at the sluice with the windmill and soon had my first look at the delightful ♂ White Spotted Bluethroat and i managed a couple of photo's before it flew out of sight down the gully.

I decided to try my luck with the 1st winter Bluethroat which was showing by the concrete blocks and although i saw it quite well it was a bit to far for photos .

 1st winter Bluethroat after eating at juicy worm!!

I spent a couple of hours here before heading off to the Rspb reserve for a warm up and some lunch , whilst i was there news came through that there was now 3 Bluethroats and then that changed to 4 BLUETHROATS at Dengemarsh !!!!!!!

I headed back there and went straight to where the 1st w Bluethroat had been seen earlier and i am pleased i did , this bird came ever so close to me and showed fantastically well.

1st winter Bluethroat

Standing proud

Running fast

1st winter Bluethroat.

I then joined a couple of other birders looking down from the Gorse bank and the ♂ WS Bluethroat was also showing well along the waters edge.

♂ White Spotted Bluethroat

Red in tail

Lovely markings

♂ White Spotted Bluethroat.

Checking my photos from earlier this morning my first thoughts were i could have seen 2 different ♂ Bluethroats as the photos do show dark bill and paler supercillium on this mornings bird compared to yellow on bill and whiter supercillium on this afternoons bird .

However on reflection this mornings bird could have had mud on the bill and the light conditions could have made the supercillium look darker than it was ??!!

Other birders are certain they had 4 individual  Bluethroats , however i can only be 100% certain i saw 1 ♂ White Spotted Bluethroat & 1 1st winter Bluethroat.

However many there were or were not i really enjoyed watching them and was pleased to add them to my Dungeness bird list.


I also saw 2 + Firecrest which are absolutely delightful birds to see and worth the trip on their own. I also saw a Raven fly over the Gully plus a Fox run through between the concrete blocks.

Stunning birds.


18th March 2018  Beltinge

White Stork

News of a White Stork in a field at Beltinge on Sunday morning had me heading over there for a look , and sure enough there it was .

It had a Black ring on it's upper right leg and a Green ring on it's upper left leg , the number on it's Black ring was 1269 and Chidders did some great research on this bird and it transpires it was from a reintroduction scheme in Sweden.

There is much more information on Chidders blog:

White Stork trying to keep warm.