30 May 2011

Monday 30th May

I personally do not want this spring to end, so far it has certainly been a fantastic one and to be honest if I do not record anymore scarce/rare birds on the patch until hopefully the autumn I (although nice) wouldn't be to bothered. Its quite strange sometimes you feel it could be a good year and this is one of them, and I think it really started to show when the quantity of Common Buzzards started to arrive, and from there on the rest has just followed. Last spring was pretty rubbish with horrid north/easterly winds mainly dominating, but this year has more than made up for it. Today I couldn't get out on the early morning shift and I eventually arrived at 9:45am, at first it felt pretty quiet but soon got going with the first juvenile Whitethroats on show, on arrival I decided to cover the area by the paddocks and how lucky that turned out to be, at 10am, I saw a large Pipit sp heading over the paddocks which then landed into a large area of long grass, straight away I went over but couldn't relocate it and then at 10:10am, I heard the bird calling overhead, seeing and hearing these birds abroad I knew straight away it was a TAWNY PIPIT (97), the adult bird then landed in a nearby field where I managed to see it for about 30 seconds before it headed off calling in a south/easterly direction. This is only the 2nd ever record for the patch and the first since the 28th April 2008 some 13 years ago, it was just unfortunate it was a little to far away for a photo shot. Other bits noted were 22 Whitethroats, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 Hobby, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 150 Swifts, 30 Swallows, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrels, 2 Jackdaws, 15 Corn Buntings, 65 Linnets and 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Saturday 28th May

This week has certainly been a bit on the frustrating side and to go with it some horrible blustery winds, today was no exception with a brisk westerly making birding once again a bit on the difficult side, even so I still managed to record 40 species. I started off at 4:50am and finished at 7am then returned for a couple of hours this afternoon, the best highlight was a Turtle Dove (96) which was the first this year, apart from that it was pretty much as usual with other bits including 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 20 Swifts, 10 Swallows, 2 House Martins, 2 Grey Partridges, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Corn Bunting, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 10 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Linnets, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 1 Jackdaw, 7 Ring-necked Parakeets, 5 Skylarks, 5 House Sparrows, 35 Starlings and 15 Stock Doves. There was also a nice obliging Fox which showed very well near the paddocks. A nice finish to the day was watching the European Cup Final between FC Barcelona v FC Barcelona (if you know what I mean), is that side classy or what) and they thoroughly deserved the 3-1 win.

Wednesday 25th May

Male Emperor Dragonfly
Hooray I'm once again back with the land of the living, I have been out of the birding scene for the last few days due to a nasty spell of Tonsillitis, I am gradually on the mend but it was certainly a shock being away from the patch which seemed like ages,today was interesting with another record of Raven west at 10am, also 3 late Wheatears in the paddocks. At 10:40am, I had a distant male type harrier sp, heading west but I didn't get a lot on it, Phil text me to let me know of a strange looking Montagu's Harrier sometime before so I presume it was the same bird. Also recorded was 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 8 Whitethroats, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1Chaffinch, 1 Pheasant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Green Woodpecker, 10 Long-tailed Tits, 15 Linnets, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, 20 Magpies, 7 Skylarks, 30 Swallows, 1 House Martin and 10 Swifts, there was also 4 Emperor Dragonflies and 4 Hares.

Friday 20th May

I met up with Dave Gilbert and between us we watched the area for several hours, there wasn't to much excitement but we did record some late spring migrants which included 1 Willow Warbler and 1 White Wagtail, on the raptor front there was 3 Common Buzzards, 6 Hobbies and an interesting record of 9 Kestrels all of which headed west. Other bits noted were 1 Cuckoo, 20 Whitethroats, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 Reed Warbler (still singing in the allotments), 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 40 Swallows, 40 Swifts, 2 House Martins, 1 Chaffinch, 16 Long-tailed Tits, 20 Jackdaws (quite an interesting record for May), 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, 1 Pheasant, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Corn Bunting, 7 Skylarks, 7 Linnets and 15 Magpies.

Thursday 19th May

Wow what a day when I saw this morning that we had some overnight rain I was semi- confident on having a good day but nothing can really predict how crazy this birding hobby can really be. I started at 9am and due to a meeting finished just before 12. I started off going straight into the allotments which in the passed has produced some wonderful shrike encounters, unfortunately this didn't happen today but I did record a singing Reed warbler which was a new year tick, but it did seem to my surprise to be very quiet in fact walking around the rest of the area produced (although nice don't get me wrong) 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 9 Whitethroats, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Chaffinch (a May rarity here), 20 Swallows and 30 Swifts, I then decided to spend my last hour raptor watching a decision I certainly do not regret. At 10:18am I saw a small raptor species coming in from the west heading slowly over the cemetery, at 10:20am the bird was showing over the garden of rest and to my sheer delight it turned out to be an adult female RED FOOTED FALCON I watched the bird very well in the scope for a further 3 minutes before it headed off at 10:23am, in a south/easterly direction. But also at 10:23am, I heard a EUROPEAN BEE-EATER which was somewhere above my head, I made a decision to leave the Red foot and try to locate this bird it was obviously close but I still couldn't see it as it continued to call, eventually at 10:30am, I saw the bird heading west by the paddocks, what an amazing few minutes you certainly cannot right off any day at this time of year even if it feels dead. The Red-footed Falcon was my 3rd for the site but only my 2nd ever adult female which was last seen strangely on the 18th May 1992, this continuing a superb year for the raptors. Finishing off the day was 2 Grey Partridges, 7 Linnets, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Jackdaw and 10 Skylarks. I went home a happy man.

Wednesday 18th May

At long last I have managed to update my website, since the 14th May people who live in Ramsgate and Broadstairs and use Sky Broadband have lost all connections due to someone hitting a main line, I still don't have a working phone but at least (well at the moment my internet is back working). On another note It's amazing that I get quite a few visitors to the blog site from Liverpool itself, so firstly I would like to thank everybody involved who was connected with Liverpool Football Club for making mine and the family's day extremely special, you certainly treated us like royalty from start to finish and afterwards in the hospitality lounge, it was truly an unforgettable experience and I look forward to coming up on the invite in the new year for a special 3 course meal, before watching one of the big games. Many thanks also to my Dad who over the years due to his many football contacts (Non League to Premiership level) has managed to get me FA Cup final tickets to watch the Reds whenever they have appeared at Wembley also for some of the league games. For an example I will always remember when My dad and I (young teenager then), had a football dinner with Graham Kelly then big chief of the FA, and the great Malcolm McDonald and Pat Jennings who stated to me look son it's not always what you know in this game it's who you know, my word how that is certainly true.

Anyway getting away from that side of things I didn't record very much birding wise today in fact very quiet at best was 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 5 Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, 70 Swifts and 30 Swallows.

Tuesday 17th May

I covered the area from 9:00 - 11:30am, and it started to get good just as I was beginning to leave, best of the bunch was another sighting of a Raven which showed very well as it headed off slowly east over the garden of rest at 11:20am, it has certainly been a very good year for this species most unexpected I must say. Also around the same time 3 Common Buzzards headed west at 11:25am, and a Cuckoo flew overhead towards the paddocks, unfortunate I had to go but others recorded were 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 7 Whitethroats, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 25 House Martins, 25 Swallows, 50 Swifts, 1 male Pheasant, 1 Corn Bunting, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel and 2 Green Woodpckers.

Saturday 14th May

After such a great few days I was back on the patch where I was joined by Dave Gilbert. Between us we recorded our first Cuckoo of the year, also 180 Swallows, 180 Swifts, 7 House Martins, 2 Common Buzzards west, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 12 Whitethroats, 2 Reed Buntings and 1 Yellow Wagtail.

Thursday 12- Friday 13th May (40th Birthday Special)
The great day with a lot of hidden extras the personalised tour was excellent.

Wow what a fantastic couple of days I have just had, we stayed over in a lovely hotel in Liverpool on the 12th but the main surprise was probably one of the best, as shown below you don't get the chance everyday to get behind the scenes of the beloved club of your dreams, and what an experience it was. A tour of Liverpool Football Club on the 13th was not expected, so many thanks must go to my wife Anne, her brother Clive and Caroline his wife to be, for organising such a superb surprise. I am also very lucky in that I was brought up in a strong football household with my dad currently Margate Football Club Secretary (25 years +++), who over his reign has managed to get to know and deal with many professional football contacts, the late Sir Stanley Matthews, Brian Clough, Terry Yorath (ex Wales Manager), Neville Southall and many many more which I have also met and had dinner with, even today people at the highest level (including premier league) and continues to do so, more on this later, luckily he knows the Liverpool secretary and what a god send that was. I have supported Liverpool for 34 years and as a true supporter watched them on many occasions including Cup Finals, away and home games so this meant a lot, anyway here are some pictures of that great day.

Me on the left with my Brother in Law Clive holding up the great man himself Sir Bill Shankley who I believe was the greatest football manager of all time.
Like many of the greats over the years touching the Anfield sign to bring luck before entering the pitch.

The superb playing pitch with the Kop in the background.
Sitting in the Kop from the left my wife Anne, me, Clive and Caroline.
In the Liverpool dressing room.
European Trophies Under the old rules of 1968-2009, Liverpool being 5 times European Champions are the last club to keep the original European Cup Trophy, the others which already hold such are, B. Munich, R. Madrid, Milan and Ajax. Due to the new ruling even if another team i,e Manchester United reach that fate they will only recieve a copy along with a handshake (shame).
18 time Winners. Say no more
A touching Memorial for the people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Disaster.
Another touching Memorial this time Liverpool v Juventus.

Wednesday 11th May

Firstly I have some very bad news, today is my 40th birthday yes I know I can't quite believe it myself, but I will just have to live with it, the next couple of days I will not be watching the patch as supposedly there is a big treat in store for my 40th, whether or not I'm jumping from an aeroplane at 9,000 ft is anyone guess but I will keep you informed, what I do know is that tonight a big party has been planned with more guests than I can cater for lets hope they don't want to stay over. Today I wasn't out for long as I wanted to spend the day with the family, so I only did a couple of hours in the morning which produced just 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Whitethroats, 3 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 1 Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtails and a few Swallows.

Tuesday 10th May

Working duties took charge today so I watched the area from 5:20 - 9:05am, within this time I recorded 42 species including 2 Spotted Flycatchers (first for the year), also 1 Hobby, 10 Whitethroats, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Wheatears, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Swallows, 2 Swifts, a rather smart and late male Reed Bunting, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Kestrels, 22 Jackdaws (interesting late records), 4 Corn Buntings, 1 Pheasant, 3 Skylarks, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Ring-necked Parakeets, 1 Goldfinch, 15 Linnets, 7 Long-tailed Tits, 15 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 House Sparrows (wow), 15 Starlings and 25 Magpies.

Monday 9th May

So far even having a healthy total of 90 species for the year I still need some missing spring migrants, these include Wood Warbler (scarce), Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Pied Flycatcher (getting late), Black Redstart (where have these gone in the last 2 years) and Spotted Flycatcher. Today I got none of the above but it was still fairly good in another glorious hot and sunny day, lets also hope these southerly winds continue for the goodies. The main highlights included 3 Hobbies, 1 Whinchat, 1 Wheatear, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Yellow Wagtails, 12 Whitethroats, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 4 Swifts, 10 Swallows, 3 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels, 6 Corn Buntings, 1 Pheasant, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker, 30 Linnets, 6 Skylarks, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Jackdaws and 25 Magpies.

Sunday 8th May

By the end of July last year I had recorded 84 species, so far this year I have recorded 90 so I have a good feeling about 2011, today was hot, humid but relaxing there wasn't any more year ticks, and I couldn't cover all of the areas due to finishing off yesterday's survey work, but between 10:40am - 12:30pm, the patch did produce 2 Common Buzzards east at 11am, 2 Hobbies, 1 Peregrine south, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels, 1 White Wagtail west, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Whitethroats, 1 Chiffchaff, 9 Wheatears, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Swift, 1 House Martin, 10 Swallows, 1 Chaffinch, 7 Jackdaws, 1 Corn Bunting, 6 Skylarks, 3 Grey Partridges, 1 Green Woodpecker, 5 Linnets and 1 Cormorant west.

Saturday 7th May

My plans slightly changed overnight when I received a call offering me some private survey work, unfortunately the terms and conditions were to good to resist so I eventually arrived on the patch at 2:30pm, where straight away I went to the area I had yesterday's male Red-backed Shrike, I gave it about 45 minutes without any luck even venturing over to Garlinge where the bird flew to. Even if I had to leave again at 4pm, it was pretty good with a female Redstart (new year tick) by the cement works, and a Raven which was originally in fields by the paddocks being heading off west. Other bits noted were 5 Whinchats (good spring total), 4 Wheatears, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 8 Whitethroats, 8 Yellow Wagtails, 6 Swifts, 10 Swallows, 6 Grey Partridges, 2 Corn Buntings, 10 Linnets, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Kestrel and 1 Jackdaw.

Friday 6th May

May glorious May, traditionally it should be the best month of spring for the scarce/rarer birds providing the weather is right, and today was one of those. I had a full day to myself which is pretty rare in itself so I took advantage of this, and apart from the odd hour or two away from the site I covered the patch from 5:20am - 7:00pm, which certainly did paid off with an excellent total of 53 species, this is just 4 short of the overall record, including another 3 more for the year list. For me I will start with the best bird of the day and this was a cracking male Red-backed Shrike which is only my 4th ever male for the site, the bird certainly took me by surprise (and vise versa) as it was sitting in bushes by the main entrance to Manston Road Waste Council Tip at 6:30pm adjacent to the cemo, unfortunately it showed all to brief and decided to head off in a north/westerly direction towards Garlinge Recreation Ground, but I will certainly try over that way tomorrow. The day as a whole got off to a good start with an adult female Montagu's Harrier which headed south over the paddocks at 9:30am, also 1 Raven west, and a very good cemo record of 2 Bar-tailed Godwits heading north. The best of the other bits included 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Hobbies, 1 Peregrine, 4 Wheatears, 2 Fieldfares still present by the paddocks, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 21 Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 22 Swifts, 22 Swallows, just a single House Martin, 16 Jackdaws, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Cormorant west, 1 Grey Heron south, 1 Pheasant, 45 Corn Buntings, 40 Linnets, 2 Grey Partridges, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 10 Ring-necked Parakeets, 1 Goldfinch, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Long-tailed Tits and 8 Skylarks, lets hope it continues its been a cracking start to the month.

Thursday 5th May

It was certainly a bit more quieter today but at least I recorded another year tick when a Whimbrel headed east at 10:10am, Dave Gilbert also watched the area and between us we recorded 3 Fieldfares which are getting to be quite regular here in May, alongside a couple of June records, there was also 1 Whinchat, 6 Wheatears, 6 Blackcaps, 13 Whitethroats, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Tree Pipit west, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Swallows, 1 Swift, 10 House Martins, 8 Corn Buntings, 11 Jackdaws, 6 Skylarks, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Pheasant, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Kestrel, 36 Ring-necked Parakeets and 15 Linnets.

Wednesday 4th May

Long-tailed Tit
I am a great believer of good things come to those who wait (sounds a bit like a tv commercial I know!!), but today was exactly that. I started off at 5:20am and finished at 11:15am, when other duties prevailed, the morning certainly got off to a good start with 2 Ring Ouzels in the garden of rest followed shortly after by 2 Whinchats in the paddocks. There was certainly a bit of quality around when a Male Marsh Harrier was also noted heading east at 6:30am, but the highlight of the day without any doubt was a BLACK KITE which headed south/east at 9:30am over the cemetery/paddocks, but originally I saw this bird coming in off the sea when conducting a raptor watch, admittedly at first all I noticed was a long distant raptor sp heading my way which was getting mobbed by a few gulls, but after about 5 minutes of waiting it finally gave its identity, as it flew low over the cemetery/paddocks, I took a record photo shot of the bird which was pretty rubbish, but watching it through the spotting scope was superb, eventually the bird headed off but it was a delight to see. Other raptors today included 13 Common Buzzards, 1 female Merlin south, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels, and in total 2 Marsh Harriers. Other bits also recorded were 1 Tree Pipit west, 6 Wheatears, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 15 Whitethroats, 4 Chiffchaffs, 6 Blackcaps, 10 Swifts (first this year), 45 Swallows, 2 House Martins, 1 Reed Bunting (late record), 3 Grey Partridges, 7 Jackdaws, 20 Ring-necked Parakeets, 15 Linnets, 3 Meadow Pipits, 8 Skylarks, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Tuesday 3rd May

Once again due to other commitments I arrived late at 12:25pm and left at 2:25pm, but what a superb couple of hours it was, soon after arriving I recorded 13 Common Buzzards heading very slowly west at 12:35pm, and this was soon followed by a further 17 birds coming in from the east at 12:40pm, and then a further 8 birds also from the east at 12:45pm, at 12:50pm, all of the birds joined up together (not for the first time this year), and in total there was 38 Common Buzzards circling high above the cemetery for 10 minutes before heading of west. The day didn't end there when at 1pm 3 Ringed Plovers (2nd record for the site) were seen heading south, quite incredible considering up to a few weeks ago I had never recorded this species here since I started watching the place 20 years ago. Due to the buzzard interest I didn't cover the cemo or allotments so others noted around the paddocks were 1 Yellowhammer west, 5 Wheatears, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroats, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Fieldfare (late record), 2 Peregrines west, 60 Swallows, 7 House Martins, 3 Kestrels, 2 Grey Partridges, 3 Meadow Pipits and 2 Corn Buntings.

Monday 2nd May

It was another very difficult day in blusterly north/easterly winds I covered the area a bit late today from 11:35am - 1:00pm, but it did produce a few good birds including 1 Whinchat which I didn't record last spring, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Yellowhammer, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Whitethroats, 4 Wheatears, 70 Swallows, 2 House Martins and a Hobby which was quite interesting to watch trying to catch a Skylark, in 15 missed attempts the bird finally gave up a poor result for such a skilled hunter.


alan woodcock said...

Hi Steve,your Blog makes great reading,good birds and numbers most days.

Warren Baker said...

I agree with Alan Steve. I always look forward to reading your posts - just to what turns up next!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Steve, What a fantastic birthday present!! I have been a fan since the mid to late seventies, unlike you I have only seen them once, poor I know. Congrats on your 40th and the blog makes great reading, you find some exciting birds there.
Cheers Al

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