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Monday, 30 June 2014

Juvenile Cuckoo

I came across this juvenile Cuckoo quite recently at Cliffe RSPB whilst looking for the Stilts, its not that often that you see a juv let alone get pretty close to it.

Eyeing the Fly

Whilst waiting for the adults to feed it, which were Reed Warblers from the brief glimpse I got of them, it was quite obvious that it had a voracious appetite.


Any passing insect, including the Bee above was viewed with relish, I suspect that both adults, given its size, had a hard job satisfying its hunger,calling was constant.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cliffe RSPB

June 24th

With another spare day I thought I would have a crack at the Black Winged Stilts that bred at Cliffe, although recent news has been pretty negative.
Forever the optimist I thought that if I did a full circuit, the circular walk going up to the sea wall, back down by the Black Barn, I must see one of them.

I had picked a glorious morning and even at a relatively early hour I was searching for Dragons and Butterflies, Comma’s and Ruddy Darters were seen along the path, however I was here for the Stilts so started to scan the islands.

As expected just by the noise alone Black Headed Gulls and there young were everywhere with a small colony of Common Terns, intermingled here and there were Avocets, no Stilts though.

Even walking on main path, Black Headed Gulls were diving

All the way to the Sea Wall I scanned every bit of perimeter vegetation, Redshank, heaps of Avocets, 6 Ringed Plover and 2 flyover Curlews were seen.
The regular Spoonbill was also seen roosting.

Arriving at the sea wall produced first 1 then 2 together Sandwich Terns flying onto the Reserve; it was a rising tide so no doubt going to roost.

Sandwich Tern

Marbled White

Moving on and I came across the odd sight of a Tortoise sitting on the sea wall, first thought was how did it get up there?
Unfortunately someone must have placed it there as I realised that it was dead. Riddled with insects you wonder at how it got out here and the story behind it, unusual.

Unfortunately dead

Moving on , by now I had picked up around 20 Marbled Whites along the Sea Wall along with Small, Essex and Large Skipper seen also, Ruddy Darters were everywhere, scanning again produced no Stilts.

I then headed down the path towards the Black Barn, Emerald Damselflies were seen, still not sure which one but presume normal Emerald rather than Scarce, any help appreciated on the photos, how do you split them?

Normal Emeralds or Scarce?

By the time I had arrived at the first mound, I had picked up 3 singing Corn Buntings, 1 along the sea wall with 2 along the straight path.

Plenty of birds were seen searching for the Stilts but there is so much vegetation present they could easily be tucked away somewhere out of the way, still I would have expected to have seen an adult bird.

Moving on and I scanned from the 2nd mound, again negative but the pools were absolutely teeming with wildfowl, Pochard and Tuftie broods quite numerous, also the Black Swan, I suspect this is the same bird that we saw on our winter surveys on Hoo.
At the last Pool I scanned the back of the islands, again negative but did pick up a roosting Whimbrel amongst the Lapwings.

Avocet coming off the Thames to roost

A very enjoyable visit and I met a few Birders along the way, opinion seems to be divided on the Stilts, some are saying predated and others still here but in deep cover.

Hopefully it is the latter.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Short Toed Eagle

During the week I at last got the chance to venture forth and undertake some Birding that is not Peregrine related, I am not complaining it’s just refreshing to have a change now and then.
With news circulating that the Short Toed Eagle was still present in Ashdown Forest I headed down that way early morning after getting precise directions from Bradders (Thanks).

Arriving at the Long Car Park I followed other Birders heading out along the path, great habitat soon produced Wood Lark, Tree Pipit and a family of Stonechats.
I also noticed that many had upped the pace and were striding out along the 800 metre walk( what did they know?) so I tucked in behind them for less wind resistance and matched them all the way, Birders we met coming from the site confirmed not seen yet. The pace increased, I was in a good position in case I had to slipstream.

Arriving at the viewing site showed about 40 odd people looking with Shaun, Mart and Jono present as well, all 3 were twitching before work it seems, like I have said before they are a bit touched.

With the camera still in the bag I settled down with the boys and scanned around, 30 minutes later a shout went up from behind us and there it was coming across our line of view.

Complete panic ensued as we all went for cameras, basically I made a right cock up of it, wrong settings but can’t complain with the views I got through the Bins.
Closer than any of the views that I have had of them in Spain or Bulgaria, it was a stunning looking bird and the views shortly after, when it landed in a tree through the scope, were just as good, especially of the head.

Dodgy photos of it, they don't do it credit, it is a stunner.

The boys went shortly after and I stayed, the advantages of retirement kicking in, after this I had a wander round, it’s good to see birds like Tree Pipit and Wood Lark, just don’t get to see them enough, also forgot how musical Wood Lark song is.

Tree Pipit

Wood Lark

Looks like Shaun and Mart have found a mirror again and are checking there hair.

Eventually I headed back home after adding a couple of Common Buzzards and a Hobby, a thoroughly good morning and I suspect that if it stays, I may well head down there again for another crack at it.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014


As expected have been very busy of late in regard to London's Peregrines and have had little time to post let alone do some birding.

However I did come across the scene below albeit a bit distantly showing 5 Crows absolutely going at it hammer and tongs.
From what I could work out it was 2 pair having a territorial dispute and a single Crow probably hanging around to see what happened, even a Magpie joined in.

One of the pair was permanently pinned to the ground whilst it received a fearful bludgeoning from the other Crow pinning it down with the 2 mates having a scrap as well.
It could be also that the bird pinned down was sick and Crows being Crows had tried to finish it off, unfortunately I never saw the outcome.