Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Another busy month, but a few outings locally produced some great sightings for me, and it's been good watching the autumn arrive with its beautiful colours and returning birds. The following are some of the highlights.

Early in the month I had to go up to London, so took the chance to pop into what used to be my local park in Dulwich. Pleased to see wildlife that used to be so familiar up there and so rare down here.

I've just thought - Sheppey would be a good place to introduce Red Squirrels as the competition from greys would be minimal!

I've also been up to Elmley a couple of times. The Lapwings are more evident now - beautiful birds :

But what seems to have brought people in this month are the Long-eared Owls - regular sightings, with one, half-hidden in the wooded area just past the carpark, becoming a fixture for many days. It certainly proved a challenge for photographers, all looking for manual to try and penetrate the foliage.

Up at Oare the Godwits have been there in large numbers and I managed to catch a Stonechat and a large group of Bearded Tits

Took a trip out to White Horse Wood Country Park which was very quiet except for a large flock of Goldfinches which settled sometimes in the trees like brightly coloured autumn leaves.

Locally the Brent Geese are back along the shoreline - these at Minster :

And yesterday I saw my first Redwing of the autumn not far from my home :

It's a wonderful time of year despite the very changeable weather and just great to be out and about.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Random thoughts from September

September has been a busy month for me, but not so much for walking or birdwatching unfortunately.  I have been out a few times, so I've compiled some of the moments I particularly enjoyed. 

I went to Standen for the first time earlier this month. It's a lovely place to wander round, with beautiful views across the surrounding countryside, and it was good to see Robins out and about.

I had short outings to Oare and Elmley too. The highlight at Oare was the Great White Egret which I caught flying away - a brief sighting.

At Elmley I saw a rather bedraggled Small Copper and watched a group of Meadow Pipits having fun around a small scrape.

At Capstone Park, a 'tame' Heron posed for me.

At Cliffe Pools, I saw what I think is the dully named, but rather beautiful Wall Brown.


I love visiting all these places - there is always something to see. But there is plenty to watch in the garden at home too - and occasionally something spectacular like this surprise visitor. 

One final image I like from this month :

Not a bad month really given how little time I had!

Monday, 1 September 2014


Inspired by the visit of Robs Birding - see his blog, I decided to take a trip to the RSPB reserve in Dungeness. It was a day when the weather couldn't make up its mind - but it was mild and stayed dry despite ominous clouds looming in the distance. 

On the drive up to the Visitor Centre I saw Grey Wagtails and a Wheatear, which obligingly posed on the boardwalk by the track.

I decided just to follow the trail round, calling in on each hide as I went. I was being divebombed by dragonflies the whole time, with the occasional Red Admiral on the hedges, and to my great delight, a Clouded Yellow - so vivid - but it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. There were lizards too, darting for cover around the boardwalk.

There were one or two Great Crested Grebes easily visible from the hides.

One had a juvenile with it calling for food - sometimes the adult obliged and other times it headed off with its catch with the young one in hot pursuit.

There were no 'new' birds as I went round, but lovely views of Cormorants and Lapwings and of the surrounding countryside.

I was even pleased to see a Robin, as they've been hiding for a while.

There was a group of birdwatchers walking round at the same time. A guide was pointing out a Sparrowhawk somewhere in the distance. I couldn't see it at all, and some of the group seemed doubtful as to whether they had seen it or not - but dutifully recorded it on their lists. I didn't.

When I arrived back at the centre, one of the RSPB guides called out that there was a Glossy Ibis circling overhead. I rushed back out and saw it in the distance - it was really just a silhouette against a cloudy sky, and it flew further away quite quickly. If he had not been pointing at it and identifying it, I would not have seen it, but the silhouette is quite distinctive. Is that one for the list? I haven't ticked it, just recorded how I saw it. It was exciting to be there when it happened, but it didn't feel like a real sighting of it.

It was a great day though - Dungeness is a surreal place with a unique landscape and a tranquil feel to it - a lovely place to walk.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Kingsborough Manor Community Woodland

This is a wonderful place I've just discovered. It constantly surprises me how many places there are to enjoy walking and discovering new natural wonders. At the moment it was a little quiet on the bird front, though there were House Martins skittering around and above the treetops, a Green Woodpecker's distinctive call from the woods or beyond, and other secretive small birds occasionally heard but not seen in the deep foliage.

But there were butterflies and dragonflies galore! And a blanket of berry-laden bushes and trees for them to flutter and dart around and settle on so I could take their photos. Here are just a few of those I saw, including (I think) Migrant Hawkers, Speckled Woods, Red Admirals and Commas :

With the vast number of berry bushes there are bound to be more birds here soon - and I will be back to watch them.

Friday, 22 August 2014


A cloudy morning by the beach, the tide well in, gave me a chance to observe one of my favourite birds - the Turnstone. This is just a short photographic record of them.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A little of everything at Elmley

Another glorious morning - which may be the last for a while according to the forecasts - so I headed over to Elmley NNR.

It was quiet along the track up to the barn, but there was a Kestrel hovering. It seemed to have a jess - or maybe just some vegetation caught on its leg?

I also saw three Little Grebes (one on its own near the track and two together up nearer the hides), but they were doing their usual trick of diving and vanishing, so I only got a quick snap of one, festooned with pond weed :

There was much activity up at the yard, with adult and juvenile Swallows on the buildings, wires, and swooping around.

Shortly after the gate a Stoat rushed across the track, gone in a flash. Approaching the first hides, a small flock of Lapwings came into view - but they did not settle at the scrapes - just carried on into the distance. By no means the numbers seen earlier in the year (and difficult to capture in a pic), but still great to see.

The scrapes were quite quiet, but there were a few dragonflies and butterflies around the hides, and close to the reeds, a young Avocet feeding.

On the way back some Coot chicks emerged from the reeds alongside the track.

Throughout the morning there had been raptors visible in the distance, but on the track back to the entrance two Marsh Harriers suddenly appeared and circled for a minute or two above the car :

It was a 'typical' morning at Elmley - wonderful as ever.