Monday, 20 November 2017

Goldcrests

Lade - mild, cloudy, drizzle, sw 3 - A grim old day weather wise was considerably enlivened by a fall of Goldcrests. Despite the wind picking up through the day they seemed to be everywhere from the back garden, to the willow swamp at Lade pits, the scrub around the bird reserve car park and the Willow Trail where there was also a Firecrest amongst a large passerine flock.
  From Hanson hide a decent show of waders included 300 Lapwings, 30 Blackwits, 20 Dunlins, five Redshanks and two Snipe. Also seen around ARC, four Great White Egrets, 12 Pintails, two Goldeneyes, a Kingfisher, Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler. From the access road Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Stonechat and a flyover Cattle Egret by Boulderwall.
  A brief look at the beach this afternoon in grim light revealed all the usual waders, plus a late Sandwich Tern.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Winter`s coming...




Lade - cold and cloudy, light airs - Having run the garden moth trap this week several times and only caught a couple of Black Rustics I reckon its time to pack it away `til next spring. While we`ve had 11 new species of macro for the trap site, numbers have been down on previous years. However, there were one or two local goodies in the form of Beautiful Marbled and Mocha while we had a record number of Sussex Emeralds come to light in summer.
  With mid-November traversed it feels like the run-in to winter down here, whatever that means now as going on the past few that doesn't seem to mean any `proper` cold weather anymore. Indeed, wandering around the shingle on Friday scores of plants were still in flower, dragonflies and bees were on the wing and a Red Admiral was supping on the garden buddleia. However, a few Goldeneyes have arrived along with increasing numbers of wildfowl on the local gravel pits.
  Elsewhere around the peninsula this weekend a second Cattle Egret turned up on the bird reserve while several Dartford Warblers were still present at the point.
Walland Marsh - This afternoon I joined CP for the monthly harrier count out on the Marsh in perfect weather conditions, cold and still with a stunning sunset (phone pic above). A superb count topped out at a fantastic 26 Marsh Harriers coming to roost, but yet again no sign of any Hen Harriers. Other raptors noted in the area included three each of Buzzard and Kestrel, a Merlin and Peregrine, plus 91 Mute Swans in the oil-seed rape, 200 Lapwings, 10 Golden Plovers, 20 Linnets, 86 Fieldfares, 20 Reed Buntings, 10 Meadow Pipits, a Great White Egret, Stonechat and calling Cetti`s Warblers and Water Rails.
  Worryingly the Marsh continues to be plagued by a lack of water and as a result not a single duck was noted. The reed bed is now bone dry and we could really do with a good drop of rain this winter.



Thursday, 16 November 2017

Dartford Warblers

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, light airs - A circuit of the point this morning was largely uneventful apart from the continued presence of at least three showy Dartford Warblers (if only I had the camera back) in scrub around the Britannia/Sanctuary area. A succession of mild winters has meant that this species is doing well in southern England at the moment with a post breeding dispersal of juvenile birds most likely accounting for some of our sightings. As the Dartford Warbler is also a partial migrant some birds may be from further afield on the near continent. Several others were also located in the Kerton Road triangle today (OL).
  Other land birds were, up to eight Stonechats, 10 Goldfinches, two Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A flat calm sea yielded a few close Gannets, Med Gulls, Kittiwakes and Guillemots.
  This afternoon I checked out the foreshore at St Mary`s Bay for Snow Bunting without success. The usual variety of waders were on the beach, including 10 Grey Plovers.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Cattle Egret

Dungeness - mild and cloudy, light airs - Weather conditions were ideal for a guided walk for 17 visitors to the RSPB this morning. A typical selection of late autumn birds were on offer during the two mile circular route, mainly concerning wildfowl on the lakes which did include 20 Pintails and three Goldeneyes on Burrowes; we await the first Smew of winter... Overhead, at least 500 Starlings were noted hurtling inland in various flock sizes, plus a few Goldfinches and singles of Brambling, Skylark and Siskin. A huge flock of 2,000 or more Lapwings and Golden Plovers included 30 Blackwits as they swirled over the fields at Boulderwall after being disturbed by Marsh Harriers.
  Several Stonechats were seen around the trail where we had particularly good views of Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff and Long-tailed Tits. Kingfisher, Cetti`s Warbler and Water Rail were noted at Hooker`s reedbed, two Great White Egrets and the long-staying Cattle Egret from Dengemarsh hide, plus Snipe, Kestrel, Green Woodpecker and two Dunlin.
  In summary, a pleasant enough circuit of the bird reserve during which 65 species of birds were noted, plus many flowering plants still in bloom and flying insects including a Common Darter.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Winter thrushes

Lade/Dungeness - cold, sunny, nw 2 - Spent the day in the field guiding for Trevor and Janet. We kicked off at the Tavern viewpoint where the expected 10 species of waders were located on the sands, plus five Sandwich Terns.
  From the seawatch hide at the point there were plenty of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Mediterranean Gulls offshore and around the Patch, plus a few Common Scoters, auks and a Bonxie rounding the headland. On the land a Peregrine was perched on a pylon and we had reasonable views of two Dartford Warblers in scrub by the Britannia. Also noted, up to 10 Blackbirds, four Stonechats, Pied Wagtails, Mipits, Goldfinches, several small flocks of inbound Starlings and a Kestrel.
  Moving onto the bird reserve we had stunning views of a Green Woodpecker from the access road along with more Blackbirds and Stonechats. On Burrowes all the usual wildfowl, gulls, grebes and Cormorants as well as a variety of migrants overhead from Dennis`s hide that included 100 Starlings, 10 Goldfinches, five Fieldfares, Buzzard, Redwing, Brambling and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Elsewhere around the reserve Snipe, Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret, Pintail, Cetti`s Warbler, Water Rail, Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest were all noted.
  We finished the day from Hanson hide with a glorious sunset. A superb days birding, in great company, during which time we rattled up a respectable 83 species seen or heard.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Avocets

Lade - mild and damp start, bright and sunny later, NW increasing - A circuit of the local patch was notable for two Avocets that flew over south lake calling before settling down on the back island. The now `resident` four Great White Egrets were scattered around the margins while three redhead Goldeneyes remained on the lake. Kingfisher and Reed Bunting were noted around the willow swamp and a total of 500 Starlings came in off the bay.
  Checked the beach this afternoon, in a rasping wind out of the north-west, but it was a case of similar fare to yesterday.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

2 Great Northern Divers, and much more...

Lade - mild and cloudy, occasional drizzle, light airs - With an old birding pal from Dunstable down for the weekend we kicked off proceedings on the local patch. The usual range of wildfowl were noted, including three Goldeneyes, plus at least four Great White Egrets.
Dungeness - After breakfast we headed for the point where the Grey Phalarope that`s been around since Wednesday was still present on the sea between the two hides, feeding along the scum line coming off the Patch. Also of note a juvenile Little Gull and several Mediterranean Gulls. A seawatch produced a steady flow of Gannets and Kittiwakes, plus two Mergansers and a few auks.
  As the rain stopped we wandered back towards the Britannia and up popped a stunning male Dartford Warbler and sat atop a bramble branch in full view for several minutes; if only I had the camera available...
  Moving onto ARC and all the usual birds from Hanson hide included Great White Egrets, Marsh Harrier, 10 Pintails, five Snipe and a Blackwit. With news from DW of two Great Northern Divers on the sea we returned to the point where the divers were drifting slowly west. This is the first time I can remember seeing two such divers together.
  After a spot of lunch we checked the beach on an incoming tide from the Romney Tavern viewpoint where we bagged all 10 species of waders plus three Brent Geese and five Sandwich Terns. Moving back to the bird reserve at Boulderwall the Tree Sparrows were noted on the feeders while the long-staying Cattle Egret showed well in the field by Cook`s pool. Burrowe`s held the usual wildfowl and gulls.
  We finished the day off back at the fishing boats checking the gulls and another scan of the sea in fading light. In summary a superb days birding for my old mate Rob during which we rattled up 85 species with the highlights being Great Northern Diver, Cattle Egret, Grey Phalarope, Little Gull and Dartford Warbler.
  Now, that would`ve been a great day in Bedfordshire!