Thursday, 7 January 2016

White-fronted Geese

It has been a bit of a mixed start to the new birding year. There have been some good birds about and the numbers of geese and wildfowl have increased significantly but on the other hand the weather has been awful, particularly for photography, and the number of waders still seems to be low. Today, Wednesday, gave us the first decent weather of the year so we headed off to Dungeness to get a few year ticks.

First stop was Pett Level to see if we could find the Glossy Ibis for Dave. We gave it a good try but it did not seem to be around. Fortunately I had stopped off on the way back from Canterbury a few days ago and managed to see it again, in near zero visibility and driving rain. No pictures but I might be glad of the views by the end of the year.

Picture of the Pett Level Glossy Ibis taken on the 17th December

We saw some good birds around Dungeness but most were distant or hard to photograph. A Long-eared Owl, but it was buried so deep in the bushes that you could barely see it. Redhead Smew, Slavonian Grebe, Tree Sparrow, Cetti's Warbler, and Shag, which are apparently unusual at Dungeness.


It was interesting to compare these three with a Juvenile that we had seen at Hill Head On Monday.

Juvenile Shag - Hill Head

The tree sparrows are also great to see. There are still plenty at Boulderwood Farm, at the entrance to Dungeness RSPB, but the numbers seem to be a lot lower than a few years ago.

Tree Sparrow

Great White Egret

On the way home we stopped off at Scotney Pit. We scanned a few hundred geese looking for anything unusual. It looked as though it would be just the usual Greylags and Barnacles until we picked up a flight of four birds that appeared to be different. We had just decided that they were White-fronted Geese when a farmer gathering sheep put a few thousand geese into the air. I thought that we had lost the opportunity of a picture but then we realised there were a lot more of them in the area. I think we saw just under forty of them but there may have been more. The most I have ever seen together in the past has been three or four.

White-fronted Geese in Flight

Showing the prominent black body markings

Greylags with a small flock of eighteen White-fronted and three Brent Geese at the back

The Barnacles were also flying. This picture showing a small group including a couple of the Barnacle/ Emperor Crosses.

Barnacle Geese

Other pictures taken this year -  A return visit to the Yellow-browed Warbler gave us some good views but it was still difficult to get a decent picture.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Fortunately a small flock of Long-tailed tits gave some better opportunities.

Long-tailed Tit

And, the visit to Titchfield Haven may have been disappointing in that we did not see the Penduline Tits but we did get some other birds.




To finish off a couple of shots of Red-breasted Mergansers taken in a short break in the rain at Widewater. Still very dull though.

Red-breasted Mergansers

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