Tag Archives: Birds

Marston 2 visits in one day!

I saw on Twitter that Dave R had seen a couple of Whinchat at Marston so off I went for a look today, not been for a while so the visit was long overdue.

I had over an hour looking around from 8am and never saw much at all and so off I went to the hide as the rain had decided to arrive.

The view across the scrape from the hide was pretty quiet with about  a dozen Gadwall, same number of Mallard and a few Moorhen and Coot was all that was seen on or around the water during my initial scans. Then a nice looking Wigeon appeared from the back of the large island.

The skies were seemingly bereft of birds with only the odd Corvid and Wood Pigeon being seen. A few Blue and Great Tits were buzzing around the area close to the hide and soon a trio of Chiffchaff were seen up close, it looked to me like 2 juvenile and a tidy adult.

Another look across the water and I spotted a second Wigeon kipping all alone in the water, this bird eventually woke up and moved lazily towards the other bird at the left hand tip of the large island. Then some serious preening took place before another kip!

Just as I was leaving a group of about 30 teal dropped in, I then went home having enjoyed the time but sad I had not connected with a Whinchat, never mind next time eh?

I was at home and received a text from Dave R “Sorry mate Whinchat showing well now” – so what did i do? Yep off to Marston again to see if I could see my first Whinchat in a couple of years.

Met Dave and the man with the ‘special touch’ put me straight onto a single bird! We watched the bird from some distance doing the usual high perching showing its form off nicely for us both to admire.

In a tree a long way off a trio of Little Egret along with what we think was a Crow were perched. After Dave had left a Buzzard flew out of a neighbouring tree close to this tree and all bird flew up along with 2 Grey Heron also.

Dave had to go and I stayed for a little longer, the bird came a little closer, a lovely looking fit and healthy bird this one.

Am going to have to get to Marston open a more regular basis as we are now entering the Autumn the bird movements become more interesting don’t they?

Thailand calling!

Once again have been lucky enough to get to Thailand for our annual holiday. This time for 3 nights in Bangkok followed by 8 in Hua Hin which is a 3-hour drive south of the Thai capital.

I am always keen to study the many dykes that crisscross the airport and run parallel with the many runways when landing into Bangkok. First 3 species seen when landing at the massive Suvarnabhumi airport, were Asian Openbill, Black Winged Stilt and Little Egret. A few small waders were seen also but I was not able to identify them.

We were at the same Bangkok hotel that we have stayed at before which is on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. This time the birds seen in the grounds we less than previous stays there.

I saw Spicefinch (Scaly-Breasted Munia) along with a nest they were building. Little Heron was seen fishing in a Klong (canal) off the main river and the usual common species Common Myna, Tree Sparrow, Peaceful and Spotted Dove, Oriental Magpie Robin, a male Pied Fantail displayed well near the hotel spa but was not able to get the classic spread tail photo this time. Streak Eared Bulbul made the most noise high in the trees in the hotel gardens. As you would expect Little Egret were seen on a regular basis too.

Several Red Eared Slider Turtle and medium sized Water Monitor (around 1 metre in length) were seen in the water surrounding the hotel. In the air, a few Hirundine species were busy feeding but getting photos of and identifying these birds proved difficult for most of the holiday.

A half day tour of a Klong (Thai for canal) was planned and this was 1 of the 2 occasions my camera lens combo came out to play while in Bangkok. On the tour a trio of Littles’ were seen – Heron, Egret and Cormorant along with Common Myna, Spotted Dove and a lone Indian Roller and more Tree Sparrow. A pair of huge, nearly 2-metre-long Water Monitors were seen resting as we passed in the long-tailed boat.

When in Bangkok city doing the touristy things, without my camera I might add, I saw a few birds when at Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) Large Billed Crow, Olive Backed Sunbird, Black Collared Starling, Crested Myna, Ashy Woodswallow and a favourite of mine the Coppersmith Barbet.

After 3 nights we moved onto Hua Hin by car and had good views of the many birds in the Paddy fields south of Bangkok, loads of Egret and other species unable to identify.

The hotel we stayed in had acres of gardens that loads of birds around, Feral / Rock Pigeon, Tree Sparrow, White Vented Myna, Black Naped Oriole, Asian Koel was heard before seen and you really had to look for it, for a very loud and sizeable bird it is a little sculky species with a preference to hide from view when it can. A walk along the beach at low tide gave me nice views of a single Pacific Reef Egret (dark morph bird) and this was the only bird seen on the coast on this occasion.

On 1 of our walks we found a track leading from the road back towards the beach where some locals had their homes. Here we were soon on a lovely Indian Roller and even better after this bird had flown a group of 8 Hoopoe, the most I have ever seen at 1 location.

These birds came pretty close in the trees and on the wires once we stood still for a few moments enabling my best images of this wonderful species yet.

A good number of different mammals were seen around the hotel grounds but only managed a photo of a Pygmy Treeshrew below before it disappeared into the shrubs.

Another day and another walk in a different direction for me and Karen towards a small harbour area and pier lead to seeing a resting Pacific Swallow more egrets and a lone and rather distant lone Gull that was hard to identify unbeknown to me at the time another chance to see the bird would present itself, more on this later.

On the same walk, we saw an Albino Chinese Softshelled Turtle sticking its snout out in a pond at the Hua Hin train station. On the way back to the hotel I climbed a bank to look into a reservoir to see if there were any waders around, a Common Sandpiper flew away as soon as I hit the peak of the bank and then away to my right a Little Cormorant dropped in between a Little Egret and a Water Monitor and for a few seconds they all posed looking in the same direction before the monitor glided into the water.

Back at the hotel and happening most evenings I saw large groups of Hirundines, unsure of species but I am thinking Germains’ Swiftlet passed over the hotel heading inland. As night-time fell the same avian routine played as over the hotel grounds, about 10 Black Naped Oriole would appear, gather and then move to their roost inland, Asian Koel would start to call and make presence known by their loud call. White Vented Mynas would begin to group again to head to a roost which I think may well have been in the centre of Hua Hin at a major cross road where they lined up on hoardings, power cables etc. making on hell of a noise. Also at this time 2 to 4 Asian Pied Starlings would appear on the same section of hotel roof before disappearing again to roost.

I was to be waken up each morning between 5.40am and 5.45am by an Asian Koel calling incredibly loud from the same tree outside our hotel room door.

I had seen at a previous stay at the hotel in 2009 a single Spotted Owlet in the gardens at night time and was hoping to see this lovely little species once again and was not disappointed when coming back to the room early 1 night; as we had an early start the next day on a tour; I saw a bird on a lantern in the hotel grounds that illuminated the paths.

I headed straight back to the room set up the camera and flash and off out again I went and got a few pleasing images in the 8 minutes I had with the obliging bird before it headed to another part of the grounds to feed.

The next day was a ¾ day tour of Phetchaburi area with the family and friends we were on holiday with and this time me camera & lens combo was with me, good job too because at one temple I saw a pair of Red Collared Dove were nesting in an ornate chandelier at the entrance to the temple and I got a couple of shots of one of the birds when I was on the ground looking for nesting materials.

Didn’t get to snap any more birds on the day but saw a few Crested Treeswift on top of a hill where the royal palace of King Mongkut of Siam of ‘King and I’ fame (the Yul Brynner film) once resided. We then went onto the Khao Luang Cave temple complex and saw little birds but plenty of macaque monkeys, they were all after food and we were told not even to look at them as they took this as a threat and could attack!

Next real birding day was a day out with friend Neil to Sam Roi Yod National Park about an hour from Hua Hin where we were stopping. First port of call was the Bueng Bua visitior centre where there is a large boardwalk over the reed beds to enable better views of the birds in this environment, sadly when we got there only about a ¼ of the boardwalk was open for some reason but this did not stop us seeing a few birds and lifers in the 90 minutes we had there.

Lovely place this that I can imagine throws a lot of birds up at different times of the year, we saw a few lifers Western (Purple) Swamphen, Bronze Winged Jacana and Plain Prinia. Also seeing Lesser Whistling Duck, Little Cormorant, Greater Coucal (I think!), Blue Tailed Bee-Eater and few Purple Heron were about in the reeds, with 1 bird allowing me to get pretty close.

We then moved onto the southern HQ of the national park and met a local guide Lamai to take us on a walk to the nearest beach. Sadly the tide was such a long way out that the hope we had in seeing Malaysian and possibly Kentish Plover up close was dashed. I managed a few images of some Plovers but at the time of writing I am not confident enough to say with species the birds were, more research needed, Redshank and Black Winged Stilt and Curlew were seen.

Me with Lamai, looks like he has been around a bit judging by his birding book below!

Walking back from the beach we had encounters with Chestnut Headed Bee-Eater, Spicefinch and saw a Common Kingfisher for a few seconds as a Great White Egret took off from a small pool.

The rest of the holiday was in Hua Hin and just revisiting the hotel grounds, and previous sites mentioned to see if anything different was around.

I went back to the area I had seen the only Gull species during my holiday and luckly the bird was closer than before it was in with a few Little and Pacific Reef Egrets feeding, also seeing close up a lone Pacific Swallow. I now think this is another lifer for me a Caspian Gull.

I have said earlier that I got my best ever Hoopoe photos but on a walk around the hotel I got down to about 12 feet from a Hoopoe that was happily feeding on what it could find, you tell me which Hoopoe photo’s are the best.

As good as all this was in my time in Thailand the best for me was to come on the last night when due to having an early start to head home, up at 5.30am, this meant an early night and gave me the chance to see if the Spotted Owlet could be seen again, the kids and some adults went to bed at about 10.30pm, others went to the hotel bar, me I went to fetch my camera and flash unit!

I walked around for about 35 minutes seeing nothing and was about to head home when a bird appeared from the thick vegetation surrounding the edge of the hotel grounds, “brill!” I said to myself and then had about 30 minutes with not 1 but 2 Spotted Owlets and even managed a shot or 2 in the dark of them perched closely together.

All in all 61 species seen, at least 12 seen but unable to ID and also ending up with 6 lifers, if you think any species incorrectly named please let me know.

So overall not a bad time in Thailand once again – here’s to the next time best get saving!

Same words with many different images can be found here >> stevenesbitt.co.uk

Not a bad week in Lincs.

Mon 24th.

It kicked off on Monday afternoon, when news came through of a black stork at Dunsby fen. Arriving about five, I had just missed it, it had flown off from its favourite spot. There were plenty of birders around and people began to spread out down the fen in search, though access away from the road is very limited. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I connected with the stork. Trev Lee had been working in Northants and detoured this way home. Only a few birders were looking now, (the ones that still needed to see it, I bet the others were celebrating at home and going through their brilliant photos!). We decided to walk alongside a hedgerow to see if we could get any better views of the dyke, when all of a sudden there it was, flying low, right in front of us looking monstrous. It must have been there all along, close to where people were standing. We lost views as it flew behind trees but were well happy. Never did see on the deck. It later roosted in a tree for the night. 

Tues 25th.

Checked a couple of local sites. Denton res was quiet, nothing of note, really. Saw a marsh harrier hunting near Syston. At Marston a juvenile peregrine was over the area for fully ten minutes. 16 curlews, 4 green sands and a grass snake seen.

Weds 26th.

Went over to Freiston shore for the evening. On Tuesday Richard Doan had found a very rare marsh sandpiper here. He only had it for a matter of minutes in the morning, obtaining photos and video. It was seen again later in the day.There was no further sign on weds. I watched the res from about 6:30pm to dusk, enjoying plenty of wader action in the nice light, before a heavy shower. Best birds were 2 curlew sands, (one wearing a yellow flag, but I couldn’t read it), wood sand, spotted redshank, 26 greenshank, ad med gull, ruffs, common sands.

Fri 28th.

I had planned a full dayer at the wash, heading back to Freiston again rather than the more popular Frampton. What a good decision that was. The reservoir was the first place to check again, it was nowhere near high tide and only a few waders were on it compared to the other evening; 2 wood sands and a curlew sand, several common sands etc. Then I noticed it!…. it was the marsh sand! A lovely little wader, with a very quick feeding action. I managed a record shot on the phone, through the scope. I only had it for about ten minutes, after taking the initial photo I observed the delicate wader through bins and scope. My plan was to take more pics but I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been pre-occupied with getting photos of a bird, only to look back and think ‘hold on a minute, I havn’t really watched that bird at all. Anyway it flew off after a while and, as far as I can tell hasn’t been again since. I felt really lucky, but then I was the only one there.

Later, a trek to the Witham mouth, where lots of curlews and whimbrels gathered. Surprisingly few waders really, just after high tide. About 150 sandwich terns fished and rested on the rocks along with a red-breasted merganser. A couple of green sands were on the shooters pool. Taking the sea wall route back, all the remaining puddles and ditches were checked incase the marsh sand was there, no luck but an early whinchat was feeding from along one of the fence lines.

Two new birds for my Lincolshire list, only my second sighting of both of them in the UK.



After being in the doldrums for a while, Marston has picked up a bit of late. A few waders have made things interesting, though the scrape just will not drop sufficiently to draw birds in. The level falls a bit during hot weather but the moment it rains, fills up again. There have been up to five green sandpipers. On the surrounding fields maxima of 18 curlew and 50 lapwings can be seen. The oystercatchers have one surviving chick which is doing well.

Pied and yellow wagtails are around in numbers, both look to have had a good breeding season in the area with many juveniles recorded. They sometimes gather on the turf fields in the evenings, my best count being c85 pied and c50 yellows. A couple of grey partridges were the first I’ve seen for a bit.

A turtle dove came to drink from the scrape one evening, what a joy! A barn owl (or two) shows occasionally late on. Odd hobby and red kites regular. Last week the Lake Windermere ringed greylag goose PZB put in an appearance for the first time since Feb. Heaven knows where it gets to.

On the 20th I was watching a buzzard when a small falcon came into my bin’s field of view. Merlin! Wow! I watched it for a good few seconds thinking to myself ‘am I sure?, its bloody early!’, but yep,   it’s jizz, behavior and appearance left me in no doubt. It was lost to view as it went over the fields, putting up a small bird, twisting and turning. It was an all brown bird, juvenile or female.

Yesterday evening I stopped off at Barkston picnic site and walked along the river towards Syston. A field was being ploughed and lots of gulls had homed in on it. I had been expecting them in the area as lots have been seen at nearby Kilvington. They were fairly distant but four yellow-legged gulls were picked out amongst the many lesser-black backs, common and black-headeds. I had been hoping to add ylg to my Marston account for the year so headed off there. On arrival I was gobsmacked-loads of gulls were loafing on the car park field. This was a great treat, they stayed here resting and preening until it was almost dark, before heading off in the direction of Kilvington Lakes. At least nine yellow-legged gulls accompanied around 650 lesser black backs. Interestingly a couple of little egrets flew in and joined the gull flock.

Trev Lee arrived to watch the gulls and we finished with a look in the hide, it was almost dark but we could see some bats flying. They were quite large and appeared to be moth catching above the poplars and over the fields.