Saturday 30 March 2013

Rye Harbour and Dungeness, 30/3/2013

07.00 hours, the M20, on our way to Rye Harbour, with grey / black sky, then a mile of chaos !
A sleet storm reduced visibility, sleet and slush on the road,  30mph, 8 police cars dealing with all the problems on the opposite carriageway.  Perhaps we should have gone home at this point !

However, M.S. and myself arrived at Rye Harbour at 08.00 hours, it is grey, but not quite as cold as yesterday ! !

In the car park,
Herring Gull, at his best, easy to 'not blow your whites' in this dull light and i love photographing Gulls !

We did not break our leisurely stroll as we passed the half dozen telescopes sheltering by the Lime Kiln Cottage from the cool wind, scanning the acres of birdless mud looking for the Kentish Plover. (not there).

Very little activity, nothing flying over

Wheatear, 1 male, only briefly seen

from the Ternery Hide

Mediterranean Gull, 4+
Sandwich Tern, c30
Oystercatcher, c12
Black-headed Gull, relatively few !
Grey Partridge, 2 very distant, in grass, poked there heads up briefly
Tufted Duck

probably no more than 6 pairs of Black-headed Gulls on the near island setting up their nest sites
including this one of a pair of ''odd coloured BhG's'', it's partner also had only a very slight tinge to the upper white neck. ? ? ?
Any explanation welcomed, i have no ideas ? 

We moved on to Dungeness, here the light was better but still dull, still equally cold !
In the gorse scrub by the lighthouse

Wheatear, 1 m, very illusive
Black Redstart, a pair,
Dunnock, 1

I did have a wander around the fishing boats at the point, lots of GCG close in, cormorants 'to and thowing', no Gull activity, no Glaucous Gull, just cold wind and a very grey sky !

No moaning !  It was a cracking day out !  Hour later start tomorrow !  Hope the weather gets better !

Friday 29 March 2013

Kent, 29/3/2013

A difficult day,

09.00 hours.

Grey sky, bitingly cold wind, occasional sleet showers.

M.S. and myself spent a couple of hours hoping to see the Peregrine Falcons
(and hoping the weather may get better).

on arrival I saw one peregrine briefly, fly by and then head out to sea !

A Raven flew over, but apart from the Jackdaws and skylarks, there was nothing else !

As we started our return to the car, 2 Peregrine flew over.

We resisted ''twiching'' the Kentish Plover and Bluethroat,
probably the best thing we did today ! !
and went for breakfast at Reculver instead !

the weather was worse here at Reculver, cold, cold wind !

An hour here was spent in the lee of the Towers sheltering from the wind and chatting to Mike H.
Up on the Tower, this Kestrel was doing the same ! it was cold !

We moved on, next to visit Oare Marsh, the light was now much better.
Very little of interest, to much water, best being a pair of Pintails.

A walk out to Dann's Dock, seeing only a pair of Stonechat, a Reed Bunting and 2 Grey Heron !

from the car, this Curlew

Lots of Fieldfare and a few Redwing in the orchards.
Out tomorrow, 6.30 hours sharp ! for the day ! It's got to be easier !

Saturday 16 March 2013

Morocco, the Atlas Mountains, Ourica Valley and Oukaimeden, 5/3/2013

Part 3     Day 6 (final day) of our trip 28/2 - 5/3/2013

We had stayed the night in Ait Ourir, (only 20 miles out of Marrakesh).
Today, we are going about 60 miles, to go up the Ourika Valley, with stops at different altitudes, up to Oukaimeden, a ski resort in the High Atlas Mountains, about 2600 metres              

After the poor weather of yesterday, big hopes for improvement today !

Daybreak, the weather was a bit dull, it was light rain !
Breakfast, packed up all gear except the cameras, last day !    (ready for the evening flight 20.00 hours).
Deadline time set for16.00 hours, to pack cameras and leave for airport.

With so much success in the desert on the memory stick, now today becomes '' got to be right day'' ! !

we head off towards Oukaimeden and in no time we are in the Ourica Valley, its stopped raining, its much brighter, looking good !

We stop off in a lay by, the weather is getting better, the light is reasonable, camels and donkeys pass here, the place is alive with birdsong

       Cirl Bunting
       Grey Wagtail
*** Common Bulbul
       Moussier's Redstart, (brief show)

      Then Jono hears the call of the Levaillant's Woodpecker ! ! ! !

*** Levaillant's Woodpecker

20 minutes, ''STUNNING'', what a start to the day !

We move on climbing higher, now above the treeline, in the mountains now, another stop at a lay by

*** Alpine Accentor, very brief views

we arrive at Oukaimeden around 09.30, it has snowed last night,we are just above the snow line !
There is a bit of grey in the sky, it did snow for a  bit, the wind was strong at intervals, it was an ever changing light exposure day !

We are early, there is very few people, but lots of birds ! ! !

We drove up to the top car park ! !

       Chough, 100+
*** Alpine Chough, 100+
       Raven, 2 + more
*** Crimson-winged Finch, 8+
*** Shore Lark (Atlas), 12+
*** African Chaffinch, 3/4
*** Rock Sparrow, small flock

and Mick found another Levaillant's Woodpecker ! ! !

This is how my day went ! !   (in photograph order)


Crimson-winged Finch

Shore Lark, Atlas

Levailant's Woodpecker


Alpine Chough


Alpine Chough

Crimson-winged Finch

African Chaffinch

Crimson-winged Finch

Shore Lark, Atlas, f

Rock Sparrow

14.00 hours, It's time to move on, we want to have another stop back at this morning's lay by in the Ourika Valley before the dash to the airport !

Back at the lay by, I spend a bit of time with the Common Bulbul

It's basically time to pack up !

I wander back to join the group, they have found the Moussier's Redstart ! ! !

what a superb bird to finish our trip with ! ! !

In the car, depart for airport, flight home, arrive Gatwick 22.30 hours.
A stunning 6 days in Morocco ! !