Sunday, 18 March 2012

Early Wheatear


Wandering to the Ramp at Grove just after 5.30 this morning listening to the dawn chorus I could see the sky becoming clear and a bright sunny day was in store. The first of at least 6 Cetti’s Warblers burst into song as I made my way along the entrance track with Song Thrush, Blackbird, and Robin all in song plus the calls of Greylag Geese, Wigeon and Teal all adding to the sound track. A couple of Fieldfare called and later in the morning a flock of 30 were seen along Middle Drove. I was watching one of 8 Marsh Harriers seen today when at 5.45am a Barn Owl appeared over Baillon’s Pool and headed down the path towards me before turning back and being lost to view behind the Feast Hide Bushes.
male Marsh Harrier
Joined shortly after by Roger Lawrence we could not re-locate the Owl. We managed to connect with the pair of Garganey as they flew over the hidden pool and landed back on the pool in front of the Ramp before settling down and going to sleep. Now joined by Chip Shop Chris and Mark Chidwick we did a complete circuit of the reserve noting all the usual suspects on the duck front with Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall as well as 10 Wigeon, 3 Shelduck and 3 Tufted Ducks. Harrison’s Hide was fairly quiet but looking good for a wader to drop by while Linnets are moving back on to territories with at least 8 birds seen plus a couple of pairs of Long-tailed Tit. A few snipe were on Harrison’s but the bulk, 12, were at Marsh Hide. Highlight was when I located a cracking male Wheatear in the fields behind Harrison’s then the 2nd calendar male Hen Harrier passed out of the reserve towards Seaton, also a single Canada Goose took a similar path.
male Wheatear too fast for the shutter settings??

male Wheatear
At Marsh Hide there were the 3 Garganey still (2 drakes) as well as 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ruff, 5 Redshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Little Egrets and 4 Pied Wagtails. The only Bearded Tit of the day was a male on the corner by Newbons Farm, a welcome sight anyway and other than several singing Song Thrushes the Alder Wood was devoid of any migrants. Four Jays flew over the lake at Stodmarsh near the Reedbed Hide whilst another two were along the river. Seeing Norman McCanch along the Lampen Wall he informed us of a Crossbill he’d had fly over and along the river there were at least 5 singing Chiffchaffs. The two adult Glossy Ibises were again on the Water Meadows by the river path but were into the sun making photography very hard work.
two adult Glossy Ibises
Two Kestrels were noted as were 2 Grey Herons and meeting Brendan along Harrison’s Drove we re-located the Wheatear from earlier. Back at the Ramp a Bittern dropped into the reeds in front of us while 3 Common Buzzards and 3 Sparrowhawks were also seen and on leaving there were 4 Greenfinches in the Paddock ( a rather scarce bird these days!). Brendan and I had a quick stop at Collard’s as we left hoping for a Sand Martin but, without success although we did see a Common Crane, sadly though this was just a stuffed fluffy toy on Barry Wright’s dash. No sign of any Wheatears at Sandwich on the way home but, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were on show and some close Starlings near the Chequers Pub.

Skylark Dickson's Corner

Starling Ancient Highway
And on arriving home my Turaco's were letting me know they were hungry by calling from thier "feed me" perch.
White-cheeked Turaco


  1. Another great set of pics Martyn, to get the Wheatear in flight was nice work :-)

  2. Pure fluke Alan, just lucky with this one.