Friday, 13 February 2009

Mid-Feb snow

Red-legged Partridge prints

Pheasant in the garden snow

Just a modest amount of overnight snow was enough to bring in an excellent array of garden birds. Green woodpecker, Reed bunting, Goldfinches and a large Yellowhammer and House Sparrow flock have spent most of the day feeding in the garden. And, to great relief , all the all 5 Partridges are present again. It would appear than one bird has decided to roost (and also feed) away from the rest of the flock.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Partridge calling

The talk of the village is where have the Partridges gone - there is now just one remaining with the other five now disappeared for for a couple of days. Our one remaining Partridge still dutifully patrols the garden and at dawn calls in vain from the top of our chimmney for his missing flock. This bird had a near escape with a fox this morning and we had seen previously the local black Cat taking an interest too. Maybe the other Partridges know when good times are nearly at an end and have moved on to pastures new.

Fox on the run

Just managed to catch this fox sniffing around the garden whilst we were having breakfast (so we all managed to see it). Our one remaining Partridge (more about that later) was in the garden at the same time and pushed itself tight to the ground and froze.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Winter garden Reed Bunting

A welcome addition to the annual garden list was this male Reed Bunting. Historically we always find a couple of Reed buntings in February. And so with 20+ Yellowhammers feeding daily in the garden it was nice to find this first bird of the year. With luck it will stay around, and in the coming weeks we can watch its black glossy summer plumage reappear. With little disturbance, (boys at school!) this bird came right up to the window decking. I find they can be quite docile, the last to fly when the Sparrowhawk is around. Images shot through double glazing (so, sorry they're not very good).

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Grey Seal - Dungeness

This Grey seal loafed off the beach yesterday afternoon at Dungeness. We've seen the odd Seal throughout the winter and I wonder if this is the same individual as the one which visits Rye harbour regularly to? These pictures show the long 'roman' nose that distinguish it from Common Seal.
On what was a sunny and calm (at sea) afternoon we also saw one Porpoise accompanying Kittiwakes and Little Gulls feeding inshore.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

February snow

February 2nd gave us the first real snow in Kent for sometime. We may have had 2 ins - far less than most of the South East and London. By today most of the snow had thawed and gone. We've started the month with a record count of 25 Yellowhammers feeding in the garden and the ever faithful 5 Red legged Partridge spending most of the day in the garden too.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Dungeness - Guillemot and Gulls

'Summer' plumaged Guillemot - apparently some adult birds have this plumage by autumn and will indeed revisit breeding sites at this time to. This bird with a noticably lighter and chocolate brown plumage to its northern counterpart may be the southern race of Guillemot. I need to check this out at the Bird Obs for certain ID.

A late January trip down to Dungeness point by the fishing boats seemed like a good idea to complete a few spare hours on a Saturday afternoon. Blessed with strong sunshine but also a bitterly cold easterly wind, I thought I'd photograph some of the commoner Gulls and perhaps keep an eye open for 2 rarer gulls that were in the area. On the beach and looking out across the channel the sea had quite a swell on it. There were many thousands of Guillemots and Razorbills viewable, some feeding quite close in but many on the move mostly heading west. Both Auks displayed many contrasting plumages with many adult Guillemots already having striking summer plumages.
Little Gulls patrolled the shoreline and behind them, on the shingle, were many commoner gulls feeding on the local fishermens' overcatch.

2 or 3 Little Gulls were following the shoreline unperturbed (as my camera by the strong sea spray)

Juvenile Great Black backed Gull - fairly common amongst the larger Gulls at Dungeness

These local Herring Gulls are known not only to follow back incoming fishing boats from a trip, but also follow the fisherman driving their vans back to the beach to despatch their over-catch back to the sea.

Adult Great Black-backed Gull easy to spot amongst the Herring Gulls

A flock of 13 Grey-lag Geese pass the point heading east, I can only guess if these are local birds or possibly from across the channel, pushed on by the extreme cold weather now upon us.

Adult winter Kittiwakes - one of many gulls happy to scavenge along the shoreline

Adult and first winter Kittiwakes at Dungeness point

..and a single first winter Kittiwake followed by a fine adult, all plentiful by the fishing boats at Dungeness