Thursday, 4 March 2010

Reunion in Kent.

On Tuesday I arranged a day out with David, an ex-RHS work colleague, who has moved to Kent to restart his life again. Our day started at Oare Marshes where I  met David, his wife June and most unexpectedly Rob, one of their sons, who has got the birding bug. 
With a nearly clear blue sky and not a breath of wind we headed out along the sea wall and scanning the bushes around the car park produced Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits. The mudflats were littered with Redshanks but our attention very quickly turned to a pale ghostly shape quartering over the inland marsh.
The direction of the sun and the flight path of the Barn Owl failed to provide a very close encounter but we watched this individual for over half an hour as it searched for a meal and I managed a few record shots.
Our eyes soon returned to a search of the sky over Sheppey and we soon latched onto several Marsh Harriers and possibly a Buzzard. Bearded Tits were often heard as we wandered slowly but never showed themselves. At the sea wall hide we added Avocets (40+), Shelduck, Cormorant, a female Sparrowhawk mobbing a Harrier plus the usual Gulls. 
The East Flood held the expected Mallard, Tufted Ducks, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Shovellers, Coot, Moorhen, Redshank, Lapwing, a single Ruff, a dozen Common Snipe and masses of Golden Plover (pictured above). The waders took flight as a Peregine flew fairly high over the marsh heading westwards without stopping to hunt for a meal. On the western side we added Greylag Geese, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Kestrel plus Starlings, Dunlin and Pied Wagtails.
David & Rob.
After consuming our packed lunches we headed inland towards 'Stodders' and my hosts stopped on the edge of an area of farmland to enable me to scope out two Whooper Swans (tick for 2010) distantly amoungst a group of Mute Swans but no sign of any Bewick's. Our afternoon was spent at Grove Ferry.
Scanning from The Mound we found the usual Lapwing, Wigeon, Teal and Mallard on the pools but no other waders. The chat soon got around to our chances of finding a Bittern and scanning with the scope along one of the furthermost reed banks I located the camouflaged 'head up' shape standing partly hidden by the reeds.
This digiscoped image has been heavily cropped but you should be able to make out the browner shape of the Bittern just off centre-right. It soon started moving and then disappeared from view. During our leisurely stroll to two of the hides we heard both Water Rail and several Cetti's Warblers. A number of sightings of Marsh Harriers, mainly males and just when neither of us had our cameras ready a fly past by another Bittern!
 
Unfortunately this was all I could manage as it disappeared to our left in the fading light. My day in Kent ended at David's new home with a fish pie supper which was greatfully appreciated after a glorious day out on the Kent marshes in good company before I made my way home in the dark.  FAB.

14 comments:

  1. What a great day out Frank and it must have been good to catch up with David again. And Tuesday's weather was glorious...

    I'm not at all jealous of your Barn owl and bittern.... great to have captured them too :D

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  2. Hi Frank,
    What a day you got mate! Well done, you got to see a lot of species and a tick with the whooper swan.... I'll be happy if you could send a bewick's around here ;-) Well done on the bran owl and the bittern.. They were far away but you managed to get nice pictures of them!

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  3. Grat post and awesome shots of the Barn OWl in flight.

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  4. I never cease to be amazed at the great variety of birds you get to see! Your photos are terrific, and I do so enjoy your blog (a lot). Mona

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  5. Sounds like you had a really lovely day out and got some great photo's too thank you for sharing them.

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  6. Bitterns and Barn owls - Doesn't get much better than that!

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  7. SUBLIME shot...all these magnificient birds together....Fabulous!
    Sharing experiences with dear friends....Fantastic!!!!

    Have a happy weekend!!!
    ciao ciao elvira

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  8. Must've been exciting to see that Barn Owl flying! Nice flight capture!

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  9. Well done Frank, great to see the Bittern and the Barn Owl.

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  10. Tricia. Yes, it was great to catch up with David in an area he knows so well and to add a couple of species to this years list.

    Eileen. Cheers. Would have been nice if it came a little closer.

    Chris. Well at least you posted a pic of the Whooper...I was over half a mile away!!

    Mona. Thank you. I'll be happier when I can capture a few more species to post for you. I love the photo you blog also.

    Shaz. I'm glad you stopped by to enjoy my day out.

    Warren. Bittern was always a possible but a day flying Barn Owl was a delightful bonus.

    Elvira. Nothing better than sharing these magical moments.

    Shelley. It was totally unexpected and we were mesmerised for quite a while.

    Roy. Cheers my friend. Hopefully I'll be better prepared for the Bittern next time!

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  11. Looks like you had a great day out Frank. I enjoy watching Barn Owls as they explore the local dykes and ditches. At least they are easy to see as they fly at about eye level though sometimes it can be a near miss when driving as they cross the road at windscreen level. Having said all that I've never managed to photograph one yet.

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  12. John. Those are the times you wish you had four hands..two to drive and two to take photo's! I'm sure your chance will come before long.

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  13. Love the flight shots of the Barn Owl Frank.

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  14. Angie. It was a BONUS to see one on such a calm day.

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