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Red Kites and Dunlin

After missing out on three great local birds on the patch over the last few weeks - 2 Little Tern, 3 Avocet and 1 Wood Sandpiper -  (damn you work!) and having today off I headed out to Manor Farm to see what goodies were out there waiting for me. 

Manor Farm


I actually arrived mid morning (Bubs needed dropping at school and I had to go buy her a Rainbows uniform), the sun was beating down and as I wandered over the Manor Farm fields the bubbling, scratchy call of House Martins and Barn Swallows calling over my head, had me anticipating what new migrants would be in since my last visit.

It wasn't long until the first interesting bird of the day literally dropped in near my feet (actually about 3 feet away) a stunning summer plumage White Wagtail (the non resident subspecies of Alba Wagtail), a good sign of things to come maybe?

Red Kites and Dunlins


Wandering down the slope to the bridge for my first view of the water and it was clear that a small party of Dunlin was in residence, in fact 5 were feeding in front of the Bridge itself, surely another good omen of something exciting being about.

On my first scan things were a little disappointing, there were only a few Little Ringed Plover scurrying along the shore in search of a small morsel and the odd Common Redshank offering it's piping display call, but then the waders all took to the air, the 5 Dunlin disappearing off towards Stony Stratford the Lapwings and LRP's huddling at the far West end. A scan of the sky didn't offer me a solution at first and then I spotted it a stunning chestnut backed, fork tailed beast of a raptor my first Red Kite of the year was speedily passing through the farm.

As the Kite disappeared off into the distance (flying quickly below a soaring Common Buzzard) the remaining waders returned to their foraging , another scan revealed a lone Common Sandpiper picking it's way over the detritus of the shore line and two Oysercatcher hunkered down on one of the islets. Realising there was little else on offer here I headed off around the lakes disturbing briefly a Little Egret from its roost.

Eastern End


Approaching the tailing piles at the eastern end of the pits I was greeted by the wonderful sounds of warblers, the scratchy warbles of a host of Common Whitethroat and the jumbled disjointed song of the Sedge Warbler, the distant tumbling, melodic song of the Willow Warbler could be heard intermingling with the repetitive song of the Chiffchaff, all the while above me the smallest of our hirundines the Sand Martin could be seen flitting between the lakes and the sandy piles of rock.

Northern Path

Following the Northern path, along the river Ouse, glanced up upon hearing the screeching of Common Tern and spotted in their ranks the translucent wings of an accompanying Arctic Tern.

The pools here contained some interesting, if not earth shattering, birds, 2 male Pochard, still hanging around since winter, swam in amongst the resident Tufted Ducks, a lone Little Grebe (my first of the year) dived in and out of the short tufted reeds and grasses that edge the water, and the two summering Common Shelduck remain swimming.

Along the river more songs of Sedge warbler, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler could be heard now joined by Blackcaps, but the butterflies and Hoverflies were now taking over my watchful eyes. Orange Tips and Small Whites, joined by the garish Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock completing the tribe.

Nearing the Aqueduct I noted another song similar to the Sedge Warblers I'd been hearing but much less disjointed, more melodic even, a few moments waiting and the sleek brown visage of a Reed Warbler put in an appearance in amongst the then band of reeds along the River Ouse.

Old Lock

Passing through the cattle creep I headed up past the old lock, finding more and more warblers as I wandered, more Whitethroats and blackcaps, more Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and then a lone Garden Warbler (my first on the patch bringing the patch total to 116 and 99 for the year) singing its far more tuneful version of the blackcaps song. 

The heat was picking up and I watched as a pair of Grey Herons thermalled up into the sky, and spotted below them either a second (or more likely the same) Red Kite and a lone Sparrowhawk.

Ending the day with a total of 64 species I was pretty pleased. - I will add some of my images when I find the time, but for now the words will have to suffice.

Date: 27/04/2015
Distance: 4 Miles
Time: 3 Hours 26 mins

Full Species List


Species Count Comments
Greylag Goose 1
Canada Goose X
Mute Swan 3
Common Shelduck 2
Gadwall X
Mallard X
Eurasian Teal X
Common Pochard 2
Tufted Duck X
Common Pheasant 2
Little Grebe 1
Great Crested Grebe 2
Grey Heron 5 Including 2 thermaling
Little Egret 1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1
Red Kite 1 Potentially 2
Common Buzzard 1
Common Moorhen X
Eurasian Coot X
Eurasian Oystercatcher 2
Northern Lapwing X
Little Ringed Plover 5
Common Sandpiper 2
Common Redshank 4
Dunlin 5
Common Tern 11
Arctic Tern 1
Feral Pigeon X
Common Wood-Pigeon X
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Eurasian Green Woodpecker 1
Common Magpie X
Eurasian Jackdaw X
Rook 2
Carrion Crow X
Sand Martin 2
Barn Swallow X
Common House-Martin X
Great Tit X
Blue Tit X
Long-tailed Tit 2
Eurasian Treecreeper 1
Eurasian Wren X
Willow Warbler 3
Common Chiffchaff 5
Sedge Warbler 5
Eurasian Reed-Warbler 1
Blackcap 6
Garden Warbler 1
Whitethroat 7
Robin X
Blackbird X
Mistle Thrush 1
Starling X
Dunnock X
Grey Wagtail 1
White Wagtail (alba) 1
Pied Wagtail 1
Meadow Pipit 1
Reed Bunting X
Chaffinch X
Goldfinch X
Linnet 2
House Sparrow 2


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A Catch up on Manor Farm

A Catch up on Manor Farm
A Catch up on Manor Farm
It's been an age since I have managed to write an update here (to be honest it's been a while since I managed to sort through my photos and I like to post lots with each new post here), so today I will update you on all that has happened since my last post, there are new patch birds, lots of summer migrants and a few butterflies.

Manor Farm 20-03-2015


After nearly a month of not having he energy, will or inclination to head out onto the patch (Tendonitis in my shoulder and neck is causing me to not want to carry gear around), I finally decided that I would make the effort and venture out once more, spring is most definitely in the air, blossom is appearing on the trees and the migrants have already started to make an appearance at Manor Farm (well according to emails anyway).

Kents Garden Birds

While visiting my dad in Margate I decided to spend some time looking at and photographing the birds found in his humble urban garden, he gets a lot more birds, in physical numbers, than I do (years more feeding), and a heck of a lot more species.

This is just a brief post to highlight the species and offer up a few of the photos I took there. The below is the list I saw (not in any particular order), followed by the photos (mainly parrots as I don't get them near me).

A Trip to Sheppy

A Trip to Sheppy
A Trip to Sheppy
While visiting Margate over half term, Toby and I joined Nana and Granddad in a trip to the Isle of Sheppy (and Elmley Nature reserve you'll already have seen my picture of the week yesterday which was from this trip). 

It was to be a day of birding and looking for Owls and raptors (we left the girls to go to the cinema, bubs doesn't do well in cars, a bit like her older brother).lareg

Arriving around 11 we were due to stay as late as possible (dark, although Elmley now closes at 5!) in the great hope that the wintering short-eared owls would put in an appearance.

Photo of the Week #34

Little Egret at Sundown

Photo of the Week #34 is from my visit to the Isle of Sheppy (actually at Elmley Nature Reserve), the white of the Little Egret really stands out against the pink coloured water. The colour was caused by the setting sun.