Tuesday, 28 January 2014


Monday 27/01/14.

A rare day off and a trip to Kent with Bill Last for two of arguably the prettiest Leaf Warbler's there are. A Pallas's Leaf Warbler in Folkstone and a long staying 'Is it, ain't it' Hume's Leaf Warbler in Ramsgate Cemetery.



First stop was the Pallas's Warbler, it was located in a small wood in Folkstone and the actual site was a little difficult to find. Parking on Horn Street by the cottages just past the junction of Underhill Road and taking the footpath South East along the footpath towards West Road. The wood was on a steep slope and the going was very wet underfoot. Four other birders were onsite and we were greeted with the usual "It was showing really well 20 mins ago".



The site has tall Pine trees and we were surprised to find out that the bird was frequenting the tops of these. It was a neck breaking two hours before we had secured good views of the bird. The best viewing is up on the top of the bank with your back against the barracks fence. This brings you almost up to the level of the trees. After leading us a merry dance with fleeting glimpses, it finally dropped out of the Pines and rushed around a Sycamore giving us great views. The wood was dark, the bird was fast and the Sun was not playing ball. The photos I did obtain are simply record shots. There are some really nice photos of the bird and some more directions here http://www.freewebs.com/folkestonebirds/



On to Ramsgate and the Hume's Leaf Warbler. Parking in the entrance to the Cemetery, off Cecila Road, just East of the junction with Dumpton Park Road. We entered the cemerety expecting the bird to be quite easy. The truth was it was far from it. Reports have always said "Showing well" and "Calling" but on this occasion the bird was doing neither. However, we did have the pleasure of the incessant calling of Ring-necked Parakeets.

After a couple of hours we had had no success. Not a whiff of a sighting and not a whisper of the diagnostic call. After @rbnUK on twitter shared a very nice video of the bird with Lee Evans and I, it was clear the bird was indeed a Hume's Leaf Warbler and not a Yellow Browed Warbler as first thought. I can honestly see why it was first reported as YBW as it is on the brighter side for a Hume's and the duller side for a YBW. While waiting we did have two flyover Ravens and are very interested to hear if these were rare for the area?.
After much walking around and a few phone calls to friends for insider location details, we decided to take one more walk behind the Chaple in the avenue of Pines. Halfway down the avenue my attention was taken by a distant Pine on the Western boundary. A fleeting glimpse of a tiny bird fly catching and returning to the perch it left before flitting off again. I shouted, well shouted is probably a little exaggerated, anyhow I got Bill's attention and no doubt his blood racing, and we were off.
So pleased to find the tiny fleeting glimpse was indeed what I thought it was and indeed the bird we had spent a lot of time looking for. Eventually the bird started to call which was a delight to hear and would have helped us locate it in the first place.


Finishing off with another Raven photograph fairly similar to the first. Some days with all the best will in the world, its difficult to get the stunning images we are all after. Light, weather, distance, the type of bird all play a big part. That to me this is what is so great about photography. You never know what images you will get if any and how they will turn out.



Saturday, 25 January 2014


Saturday 25/01/14, I guess, will not be remembered for the amount of sunshine that delighted the South East Coast of England. Heading out first thing in foggy and dull conditions, although it was a late start for me, to Martlesham Heath in Suffolk for perhaps the most beautiful winter wonder to grace our shores. The wonderful Waxwing, a great bird that this winter, has been extremely hard to come by.


Seven Waxwing's were present in the small square of shops next to the Douglas Bader public house. The grid ref for the site is TM243 453, the best postcode I found is IP5 3SL should the bird remain and you fancy a trip to see them.

The same Sorbus aucuparia trees (Rowan/Mountain Ash) were harbouring a couple of our winter Thrushes. These being a confiding Fieldfare and a rather shy Redwing.

Nice to see a friend, John Pringle, at the site with his camera gear, snapping away. I just love to see people with the passion, the urge to be out from dawn with the camera, in all weathers, just hoping for that cracking shot. You can always see John is passionate. No doubt he will have some great photos to share from today's adventure.

Next place on the agenda was Landguard. Its a great place and I have seen some really good rarities here over the years. It's the point near Felixstowe and the best road name to put in your Sat-Nav is View Point Road. My target species here were Snow Bunting and Mediterranean Gull.


The Mediterranean Gull is in my opinion one of the most stunning gulls we see along our coast line on a regular basis.

The last species that I was really keen on seeing was Snow Bunting and it wasn't long before I caught up with them and they didn't disappoint. The only thing that may have made this day a little better for photography would have been an appearance from the Sun. Still it was another great day out with some real smart birds.
Roll on the next birding trip. Happy Days!


Sunday, 19 January 2014



Having a call from a friend on Friday night, plans were soon put into place and a trip to the Norfolk/Suffolk border was on the cards. Target birds were going to be Rough-legged Buzzard, Glossy Ibis, Long-tailed Duck and Purple Sandpiper.

7am and I was being picked up, the smiling faces of Mike Illet and Bill Last were awaiting me. The journey began by heading to Waveney Forest and the 'Mound'. The mound being the viewing platform for the performing Rough-Legged Buzzards. The "Mound" wasn't quite what I was expecting and didn't give any more height than standing on the average chair.

Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine falcon were soon picked up by Bill, he also clocked a bevy of Bearded Tits flying across the reeds in front of us. (Actually, I'm sure bevy is not the correct word, but I kind of like it). A bird was located on one of the distant posts and it looked so pale, surely a Rough leg?. After much watching and deliberation we came to the conclusion that this bird was indeed the very pale Buzzard that's been frequenting the area.

After a further 30 mins of waiting Mike Illet had picked up a bird that he was adamant was interesting. Watching and waiting it finally took to the air, his interest was justified as the views revealed a beautiful Rough-legged Buzzard. The views were fairly distant but at what we and most would class as decent. Eventually both birds were seen so we made our move to the next destination.

Next destination was Oulton Broad for the Glossy Ibis that's been present for some time. A brisk walk down to the viewing platform and there the bird was. Glossy Ibis now being a regular British bird. Will be good to see what occurs with the sightings and breeding of these birds over the next 15 years, sure they may become common place. Only managed an iPhone/Scoped photo as the weather was poor and the bird was distant.

Next stop a whistle stop tour of Ness Point for Purple Sandpiper. I had seen Purple Sandpiper at Brixham when I was there for the White-billed Diver (details and photos in previous blog) but always a joy to see. Then on to Covehithe Broad to see the Long-tailed Duck. Seeing the bird right in front of us I frantically got the scope ready for a pic and the second my iPhone was in the adaptor and pushed onto the scope the duck was off and flew to the most distant part of the lake.


Thought that Elmley may well produce some Owl's. The place is great, has lots of birds and of course a long walk too. The walk is always worth it but in my experience, not always the best for photographic opportunity due to the massive expanse the birds have. This adventure, however, did prove me wrong.

Great views of many birds but the highlights indeed being the Owls. Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl were just fantastic to see. It never matters how many times you see Owls, everytime takes your breath away. The evening sun tonight was just adding to the ambiance.
The Short-eared Owl was seen along the track where the area opens up on the right as you walk down towards the hides. They have been scarcer this year than in many others due to the warmer winter we have experienced.

Another great little bird to catch up was Stonechat. Three individuals, two male's and a female. Again the Stonechat photo is distant with iPhone and scope.

A great end to a great day. Below are a few more owl photos for those that are never bored by the beauty that is.......