Monday, 9 December 2013

Looking Back........................to 1994

This week its 1994… Having been interested in Birds from a very young age and joining the Y.O.C aged about 9 and being led by the aptly named John Wren, little did I know there were rare visitors to our shore that would involve long distant drives and heart in mouth moments when realising you may miss your target or the elation of seeing something so wonderful, “Twitching” is something I still was to learn about. The birding scene went out of the window a bit in my early teens when music, fishing and other activities grabbed my attention followed by motorcycles and girls in my later teens. 1990/1991 was when I started to get the birding bug again and I was in 1992 that my girlfriend of the time suggested I go out with her friend’s husband who was also a bird watcher. As it happened he was part of the Thanet Group RSPB and so my weekends became the time for birding and until late 1994 that my Twitching was to take off and I went for the Grey-tailed Tattler in Scotland with Craig Sammels, Dave Allan and Dave Gilbert. Sadly the Tattler was taken by a Sparrowhawk on the day we were driving up and hence my first big “Dip”. From then on I mostly birded with Dave and Craig and we twitched whenever possible until 1999/2000.
So to 1994 and the first rarity I was to see was a bird that had been supressed from the year before but, luckily, was still performing well into the new year and that was a Black-bellied Dipper at Kearnsey near Dover on January 1st.
Dipper in Kearnsey Dover    photo unknown

Dipper in Kearnsey Dover    photo unknown

Next up was a Serin in King George XIV Park in Ramsgate on 20th and ten days later a Ring-billed Gull at Greatstone Dungeness on 30th January and an Iceland Gull on the beach by the fishing boats at Dungeness.
Ring-billed Gull Greatstone Dungeness  photo by Mike McDonnell

Iceland Gull Dungeness   photo Mike McDonnell

 A trip away to Wales with Thanet RSPB was followed by a detour (with gentle persuasion from me) on the way home to Fen Drayton in Cambridge for a Spotted Sandpiper that was being seen regularly, we connected on April the 4th.
Spotted Sandpiper Fen Drayton Cambridge  photo by Rob Wilson

Spotted Sandpiper Fen Drayton Cambridge  photo by Mike McDonnell

On May 28th I went to see a Melodious Warbler at Margate Cemetery that had earlier been reported as an Icterine.
Melodious Warbler Margate Cemetery  photo by Mike McDonnell

On the fifth day of June it was a trip to Dungeness for a very rare but also very dull looking Thrush Nightingale and this bird remains my only record of the species.
Thrush Nightingale Dungeness  photo by Mike McDonnell

A trip to Norfolk the following week is where I caught up with Stone Curlew for the first time at Wheeting Heath on the 10yh and of course, a visit to Titcwell on the 11th for Sammy the resident Black-winged Stilt couldn’t be ignored. Also on June 11th we had excellent views of a Great Reed Warbler at Cley Marshes.
Stone Curlew Wheeting Heath Norfolk   photo by Tony Collinson

Black-winged Stilt Titchwell Norfolk  photo by Mike McDonnell

Great Reed Warbler Cley Marshes Norfolk  photo by Rob Wilson

Great Reed Warbler Cley Marshes Norfolk  photo by Rob Wilson

Back in Kent and my second Marsh Sandpiper was seen in the same spot as last year’s bird, on the Radar Pool at Cliffe.
Marsh Sandpiper Cliffe Pools Mike McDonnell

The next “Mega” was a short trip on the Yamaha XJ650 to Sandwich bay and a Lesser Grey Shrike on3rd August, a bird that showed very well behind the Observatory along Worth track, it ended up staying 28 days.
Lesser Grey Shrike Sandwich Bay  Mike McDonnell

Lesser Grey Shrike Sandwich Bay  Mike McDonnell

Lesser Grey Shrike Sandwich Bay  Mike McDonnell

Back to Cliffe on the 28th for a Buff-breasted Sandpiper and in September along with Steve Darling and Steve Blasket we twitched a juvenile Woodchat Shrike at Stanford-le-hope in Essex on the 17th.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cliffe Pools   Alan Clarke

Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cliffe Pools   Mike McDonnell

Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cliffe Pools   Mike McDonnell

Woodchat Shrike Stanford-le-hope Essex  Alan Clarke

A holiday I Norfolk with the girlfriend was booked in October and as we were staying near Titchwell the planned route was the M11, however the day before leaving news broke of a Red-flanked Bluetail at Great Yarmouth Cemetery so on the 19th we took the A12/A14 route through Essex and Suffolk and I connected with my second and still a Mega rare Red-flank.
Red-flanked Bluetail Great Yarmouth Norfolk   Alan Tate

Red-flanked Bluetail Great Yarmouth Norfolk   Alan Tate

November saw me once again at Cliffe in north Kent where I was able to connect with another first, a smart Short-toed Lark and I even went to see the Greater Flamingo that had now joined the resident Chilean Flamingo.
Short-toed Lark Cliffe Pools   Mike McDonnell

Short-toed Lark Cliffe Pools   Mike McDonnell

Short-toed Lark Cliffe Pools   Alan Clarke

Greater Flamingo Cliffe Pools   Mike McDonnell

Another Mega was to come in Kent in November when a bird at Seasalter that been identified as a Tawny Pipit for a week was re-identified as the much rarer Blyth’s Pipit, I saw this bird on 26th November.
Blyth's Pipit South Swale Seasalter  Mike McDonnell

Blyth's Pipit South Swale Seasalter  Mike McDonnell

A morning off work and another trip out for the Yamaha came on the 13th December when a Blackpoll Warbler showed up at Bewel water in East Sussex just slightly outside the Kent border, despite the fact the reservoir straddles the two counties.
Blackpoll Warbler Bewel Water East Sussex  Alan Clarke

Blackpoll Warbler Bewel Water East Sussex  Mike McDonnell

Blackpoll Warbler Bewel Water East Sussex  Mike McDonnell


The year ended with Dave, Dave and Craig, with the long journey to Burghead in Scotland where we crashed and burned with the unfortunate “dipping” of the Grey-tailed Tattler. We also failed to see any Golden Eagles but we did stay at a fantastic B&B near inverness. The next morning, the 3th we travelled down to Musselburgh where we again missed out on the Surf Scoter that had been there but we did see the star bird of that day, a fantastic Forster’s Tern.
Forster's Tern by Steve Young taken in Bangor Wales in 1995

Forster's Tern by Steve Young taken in Bangor Wales in 1995

1 comment:

  1. HI Martyn. a good read keep it going. what camera was used?(from AA)

    ReplyDelete