Monday 22 June 2015

Turtle Dove - Grove Ferry, Kent

Had a few hours spare today so decided to go try and find a  Turtle Dove as I had not seen one well for a number of years. Grove Ferry NNR is a reliable location each summer, for these dainty birds, so off I went.

Nothing was doing at first. But after a walk around the reserve on my way back I struck lucky. At least 2 individuals were purring away on the left hand side of the path, as you exit the reserve, at the Grove Ferry end.

One showed really well to just 15 feet for a few seconds, but long enough for me to nail a good shot. It sat up ok further back, partly obscured by foliage, providing superb scope views. I had forgotten just how smart these birds are up close. I hope I manage to catch up with them more often from now on.              


Yesterday was my Dad's 80th birthday! We had celebrations planned for Friday at my house and 17 of us were going away Saturday night. Twitching was not not high on the agenda. It was only when we got home after lunch time on Sunday (yesterday) that I checked Birdguides for the first time over the weekend and discovered that what is possibly my most sought after bird, a Terek Sandpiper, was at Church Norton.

It was 2pm by the time I decided to go for it. Shaun was up for it and he needed the Hudsonian Whimbrel too that was still on site although acting a lot more elusively as time has gone on.

The journey was good and the bird was playing ball, that was until we checked Birdguides when we were just 20 minutes away to read the dreaded "No further sign" message. Sure enough on arrival we were told it had not been seen for an hour, but the Whimbrel had been seen around half a mile along the coast. We headed off for that, found a small group of birders who had seen it, but it was currently out of view in long grass. After 15 minutes of staring at movement in long grass, I checked Birdguides. The Terek was back! Shaun stayed to look for the Whimbrel and I speed marched back to where I had been standing just 20 minutes earlier.

Our chances looked even bleaker when I got back to be told I had missed it again as it had just flown out of view. Noooooo. I called Shaun, who had still not seen the Hudbrel and told him to stay there. I was now really up against the clock. It was Father's Day and we had a meal planned for 8pm!! I must leave by 5.45pm. I have thirty minutes max. ten minutes passed, nothing. Then, boom! The shout goes up that it's just flown in onto the shingle bank in front of us (80 yards away). What a cracker! I immediately called Shaun and as it rang a text arrived from him, he'd seen the Hudbrel. It was all falling into place. I enjoyed excellent scope views of the smart little wader, as did Shaun when he mad it back after 15 minutes or so. We really were jammy. It could have easily been very different with neither bird seen. I wonder what will turn up next at Church Norton? A Stilt Sandpiper would be nice.  

Again no photography prizes to be won here!  

Hudsonian Whimbrel Twitch

June is certainly living up to its tag of mega month. It can be a frustrating time for em with family birthdays taking priority to twitching, meaning I missed the Black Eared Wheatear (ouch/!) and to be honest I probably wouldn't have ventured to Bardsey Island (north Wales) via Lee Evans Boat tours inc. anyway for the bunting that I cant even spell.

So what have I seen in between birthdays, parties and a wedding. Well, having seen the Hampshire Greater Yellowlegs with Shaun about 3 weeks ago, I found myself just up the road at Church Norton (West Sussex) about 10 days ago as I luckily had a days leave to take so pre booked the day for some birding. Luck was on my side when the day before a Hudsonian Whimbrel was found. My partner is crime on this occasion was Lee Brown. New to the birding scene, he has seen a few megas, including 2 this day, yet he's still not seen a Razorbill!

Via Twitter I got very early news at 5.10am that the bird was still there. We had to wait for Lee to do the school run and then we were off. 2 and a quarter hours later we were parking up and making the shirt walk to the reserve. The bird was showing immediately. The tide was out so we had prolonged views as it fed on the mud with some other less rare Whimbrel, allowing us to compare the difference. Unfortunately the bird was too far out for any pics.

We were somewhat against the clock as Lee needed to be back so we hot footed back to the car to drive the 40 minutes to Titchfield Haven for hopefully better views of the Greater Yellowlegs than I had 2 weeks previously. We did. We had cracking scope views as it constantly fed just 50 yards in front of us for 10 - 15 minutes, before deciding it was time for a sleep. It was time for us to head home.