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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Cooling Marshes

Occasionally whilst birding you have really good days where you can do no wrong and the bird’s line up for your viewing pleasure, Saturday was a very good day it has to be said.

It was patchy fog which soon cleared to reveal a stunner of a day on the North Kent Marshes, as I have said before it is one of those magical places to be when the sun shows itself at dawn, just love the wildness of the place and the birds it attracts.

Couldn’t locate the Little Owls from the off but starting the usual transect gave no indication of the good birds to come, there all good birds I know but some being scarcer and less seen do give you a kick.

First up were 2 Short Eared Owls, one flushed which promptly flushed another before both did a few circuits and then plunge dived into long grass.

One of the first 2 Short Eared Owls, a pity there hazy

At least 9 Bearded Tits were heard/seen before I did the return leg, having marked the 2 SEO who had not moved from the position last seen, I then walked up another in cover around half a mile away which promptly flew around me before again dropping down into long grass.

3rd Shortie

It’s been a while since I have seen 3 Short Eared Owls here, in the past winters yes, when the Rough Legged Buzzard was present but hopefully seeing 3 was a sign of a good winter coming for them.

In the meantime I had also seen Common Buzzard, Peregrine and brief views of a Merlin scattering all the waders as it flashed past.

Moving on and glancing back at one of the Fleets distantly showed a Great White Egret standing in the shallows, always good to see this ever increasing Egret. Both myself and Paul keep checking the Cows and Sheep for Cattle Egret but none as yet although I understand they have been in the area.

Great White Egret

Whilst recording the Greylags a Raven was seen, unusually on its own, used to seeing them in pairs, after this I eventually reached the river.

A single Common Scoter sped by with 3 Great Crested Grebes also seen fishing before hearing a call of a trilling Finch/Bunting overhead, the mind went blank, as it does at my age, before the call eventually registered – Snow Bunting.

The last time I heard these was in Scotland 2014 with the boys so great to catch up with one, presumably the same one that was seen east of here by Chris or Frank. Managed to get a couple of record shots as well as it turned and came back over me, that was hard enough as it wouldn’t fly straight. A F5.6 200-500mm is not designed for a small relatively close Bunting, out of 20 shots, 2 were in focus, there are times when I wish for my old F4 300mm as the auto focus was a lot sharper and quicker.

Snow Bunting

After this walking back to the car I unbelievably kicked up another Short Eared Owl, admittedly I was looking for this one as I have had one in this area before, pretty sure given the distance covered in the walk and noting where they went down, that these were all separate Owls.

No 4

So all in all 4 Short Eared Owls, not a bad morning, photos were hazy with the early morning fog but can’t complain given the quality and number of birds seen.

Also saw this coming up from Southend way, presumably a Transport Plane

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