Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hip, Hip, hoopoe

One of the birds I've seen a lot of abroad but not in the UK is the hoopoe. I've been for one about 3 times but dipped. Not only is that annoying but it is also a cracking bird, so exotic looking compared to many of our British birds.
One has been cropping on bird guides in North Kent for a few weeks, and apparently has been there since November. Had to be done. Destination was a small town called Snodland and the bird was showing either on the golf course or in a field near a vets. I got on site about 7.45 and met two other birders. One was pleased as he had just seen it, although in doing so he flushed it away from the putting green near the car-park!!! Well, at least it's not left. The next hour was spent in the company of two or three other birders combing the area and its two or three favourite areas. One of these was a large area of lawn behind a very large house. A comprehensive scouring of this from the scrub nearby did result though in a very posh lady coming out and giving myself and another birder a good bollocking - i think she was getting a bit fed up of birders either going into her garden (which we weren't) or peering onto her property. We retreated.
Eventually after another 6 birders turned up and we all scoured the birds apparent favourite place behind the vets house it finally gave itself up. Only for about 5 minutes though, when it popped out from cover and behaved in a very hoopoe-like manner, probing the grass for worms. Then it retreated back from whence it came leaving more arriving birders to scour the countryside for it.

This still left me a good part of the day though, so next stop was about 45 minutes away in Ramsgate Cemetery! A Hume's leaf warbler has been resident there since Xmas or so, just inside the gate. He weather wasn't brilliant by the time i got there - cold, overcast, windy. No other birders around but only a few large trees for it to lurk in. After about 10 minutes it started calling, a very precise and clear two-note call. It took a bit longer for it to show itself though, and it was never great views but you could make out the eye-stripe.

Last stop was down to Sandwich Bay, only a short hop along the coast. There had been 2 shore larks reported as well as firecrests, neither of which i have seen yet this year. What i didn't realise though was that it is a private estate and it costs £7 to get in!!! Never mind eh...
With no clear maps it took a bit of finding to locate the pub by which time rain had set in. A 20 minute wait though and it cleared over so i walked across the gold course to the beach. A short search got me onto 2 quite flighty birds in the wind along with a pair of ringed plovers. As i was leaving i got a brucie bonus of a pair of grey partridge in the nearby fields. I spent 45 minutes or so in a wood where i was told the firecrests were but with no luck, so as another rain storm was approaching i called it a day.
All round, not bad.One lifer, the hoopoe and 3 year ticks. Life list now up to 330 and year-list up to 167 (or 170 if you count the cackling goose, ruddy shelduck and sibe cc).