On Tuesday we decided to go to Reculver and have a look around the caravan park. We didn't see too much out of the ordinary. With a westerly wind the bushes on the East side were teeming with Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. On the South side the berry bushes were being demolished by Redwings passing through. A couple of Curlew were also seen flying from the fields behind the caravan park. We then moved on to the towers to see if anything was passing by on the sea, we saw Brents, Wigeon, Gadwall and 2 Swallows come in off the sea. After this we moved to Shuart to check the bushes on the way to Plumpudding. From Shuart up to the embankment we saw the usual suspects in the bushes along with a Kestrel hovering over the fields. We stopped in a gap in the bushes to allow a dog walker pass and stalking the fields was a Ringtail Hen Harrier. After walking the track a bit further we saw another Harrier, this time it was a female Marsh Harrier. At Plumpudding we bumped into Derek and he hadn't seen too much apart from 2 Snow Buntings feeding on the beach. After checking the bushes with no luck of finding anything other than the Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Goldfinches moving through. We then moved on to the sea wall keeping an eye on the shingle to find the Snow Buntings, no luck with them but we did come across a pair of Shorelarks! Having not seen them yet this year this was a great bonus. I didn't have too much luck with getting a good picture but I didn't want to disturb them as they must have just come in and were feeding up. Walking along the sea wall didn't provide too much else and as we arrived at the shingle ridge I twisted Dad's arm and said that last year I had Snow Bunting and a Brambling and it was enough to tempt him. Unfortunately we didn't see either of these birds but we did find a Mealy Redpoll in amongst a flock of about 100 birds consisting of Goldfinches, Linnets and Mipits. We were pretty sure but after consulting others throughout the day we were convinced. Just after this a Chinook flew over our heads coming from inland and that was a spectacle in itself but then a Short-Eared Owl flew out of the grass in front of us and dropped down the other side of the sea wall and out of sight. All of this was in the space of 5 minutes too!! We also added Rock Pipit in Coldharbour (or as I like to call them now....Ripit) After this we headed towards the embankment to walk back to Plumpudding but nothing apart from more finch passage. I said to Dad shall we give Plumpudding one more go and he agreed and this provided us with a Great Grey Shrike! We were standing talking to Derek, Matt and Anne and out the corner of my eye I saw something hovering above the bushes that looked grey with a black bit on the head but I couldn't find it again, so I asked if they hovered and the answer was yes so we all checked the bushes finding it sitting on top of one, although only a brief view it was a hell of a lot better than the view I had at Newlands Farm. It then went on to a bush by the railway line giving good scope views.
On Thursday with news of young Mr Hook heading our way we decided to go to Reculver again but no where near the excitement of Tuesday. We did find the Snow Buntings showing very well and we refound the Ringtail Hen Harrier. Good company but a disappointing day for birds.
Friday was spent at Hemstead Forest looking for all kinds of Crossbills, mainly the Two-Barred. There were more birders than birds though I think! We stayed all day picking up Common and Parrot Crossbills and then we decided enough was enough and went back to the car. Sitting in the car devouring the sandwiches that were calling my name I looked at my phone and a text from Mike said "2 car" and then it suddenly clicked that it was supposed to say "2 bar!" so we rushed back and waited 10 minutes and it appeared! 2 lifers in one day! A pair of Brambling were also noted flying over.