Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rye Harbour 27th Jan 08

There were several species reported around the Dungeness/Rye Harbour area that I thought I'd give it a go this weekend.
My targets were as follows:
Long-tailed Duck at Scotney GPs
Scaup at Rye Harbour LNR
Shorelark at Rye Harbour LNR
We left later than planned and only arrived at around 1:00pm despite constant badgering of my parents. We met Phil at Scotney and I knew he had seen the duck earlier in the morning from a phone call. After a quick scan I had it and got the scope on it, I got great views of it ( a female) but foolishly forgot to get a record phone-scoped video! Anyway, it was a great bird and well worth the detour (which ended up slowing the trip down by almost an hour (because of problems getting there, instead of it being a 15 minute trip. I was shocked when Phil said he saw about a hundred White-fronted and Bean Geese half an hour before I arrived, both potential lifers!
We soon moved on to Rye and Phil and I went ahead, eager to catch a glimpse of the Shorelark. We soon got Stonechat (08 bird for me) and when we reached the red roofed hut that the Shorelark was meant to be around, we soon found the flock of Skylarks it was meant to be hanging around with, but unfortunately it wasn't there and after a good 15 minutes we pressed on, concerned with the ever decreasing number of sunlight hours left.
There were Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers flying round, both two more year birds in the bag. Other than this there was not much of note other than large numbers of Gulls on the sea.
We asked several people whether they had seen the Shorelark or Scaup and all of them said they hadn't seen the Shorelark and all but one said they hadn't seen the Scaup. One man, however said he had seen a drake and a female on the Long Pit and a Ferruginous Duck! At first I was delighted and hastily made my way over there with Phil, leaving mum and dad behind half way there. As we walked and saw Meadow Pipits and Stonechat, I thought about the Ferruginous Duck and was convinced something fishy was going on. This is not really the time of year for them and, if it was one, it was likely to be an escape.
On one of the pools on the way there was a Redshank (08 bird) and some Shelduck. When we got to the Long Pits we scanned the Pochards and Tufted Ducks but there was no sign of either any Scaup or a Ferruginous Duck (though there was a female Tufted Duck with a very white vent, which may have confused the man). There were some displaying Goldeneye (two males and two females). A birder came up and asked us for help with orientating himself, half way through what he was saying a Barn Owl flying past! Quite near us too, it flew away and out of sight, by then the man had left and it came back again then flew round the back of the open barns (its presumed home) and we followed it, we got some more good views as it hunted and later on I spotted it sitting on a concrete box, it sat there for five minutes as I filmed it with my camera phone held up to the scope then flew off and that was the last we saw of it. By then it was getting very dark and we headed back, a Song Thrush sang.

The video is higher quality after around 20 seconds.

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