Monday, 18 March 2019

Stonechats

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, w 2 - Joined MC in the seawatch hide briefly where a steady flow of Gannets and Red-throated Divers were coming and going, plus a few Sandwich Terns up-Channel. On the land, when the sun broke through, some welcome spring bird song was music to the ears; mostly of Dunnock, Chaffinch, Wren and Great Tit, but also one or two of Meadow Pipit and Linnet. Two Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest skulked in the lighthouse garden and at least four Stonechats were active in surrounding scrub, two of which were soon trapped by JTM, the male being a rubicola type. Several more Firecrests filtered through the bushes in the moat and a Wheatear was on the shingle outback.


                               Stonechat, DBO

                                Foxes sunbathing, Lade wall `mirror`

  At Lade around noon three Chiffchaffs sang around the ponds along with a Cetti`s Warbler, while a Great Spotted Woodpecker tapped away on a dead branch. A trickle of `mewing` Mediterranean Gulls passed overhead again and more Chiffchaffs could be heard in back gardens hereabouts. Several more Stonechats were noted on the Desert and on the Kerton Road triangle.
  This afternoon on the sands, 50 Sandwich Terns present along with the usual Black-headed and Common Gulls, Curlews, Oystercatchers and ten Ringed Plovers.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

First Little Ringed Plover

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w3 - After a torrid week of stormy weather with strong to gale force winds throughout, today heralded a more spring-like feel with sunshine and an absence of a blasting wind more conducive to migrant hunting. However, it felt odd to tramp around the local patch without Barney this morning who`s been laid up with a strained leg.
  First off I checked out the Kerton Road quarry where six Shelducks, two Redshanks and four Mediterranean Gulls were on the northern island. Singing Skylark, Mipit and Reed Bunting added to the spring atmosphere while a Wheatear flew across the main lake, the first for the local patch. A flat area with puddles of water attracted four Ringed Plovers and a single Little Ringed Plover (new for the year) before being flushed by a passing Kestrel.
  The walk back towards the lakes yielded two more Wheatears on the Desert, one of which kindly posed for a piccie or two, and a pair of Med Gulls mewing overhead. On south lake still six Goldeneyes and 30 Teal, plus singing Chiffchaffs, Cetti`s Warblers and Reed Buntings around the willow swamp. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Green Woodpecker and Stonechat also noted.



                                One of three Wheatears on the local patch this morning

                                    `White arse`

Walland Marsh - This afternoon I joined CP for the final harrier count of winter at our usual watchpoint out on the Marsh. The wind had picked up a bit and a few hail showers rattled through under glowering skies, but eventually 10 Marsh Harriers came to roost, while the egret roost count was 12 Great White and five Little. Also in the general area four Buzzards, two Ravens, Bearded Tit, Cetti`s Warbler, Reed Buntings and a Barn Owl, plus plenty of vocalising from a number of Water Rails as dusk fell.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Chiffchaffs

Lade - overcast, mild, drizzle, SW 5 -  Another day of strong winds and drizzle throughout made for difficult birding conditions. There seemed to be an overnight arrival of Chiffchaffs with at least five in the willow swamp, two in the garden and others around the bird reserve, most of them in song. Six Goldeneyes remained on south lake along with a pair of Shelducks. A check of the bay from Littlestone revealed eight species of waders with 25 Ringed Plovers suggesting birds on the move.
  Very quiet on the RSPB reserve today (unless large gulls and Cormorants are your bag) with no sign of either the Smew or Black-necked Grebe. The Ruff flock is still present, plus a few each of Goldeneye and Great White Egret and all the usual common wildfowl.
  The four Cattle Egrets were in the field by the allotments from the Lydd Road this afternoon while I could find no sign of the Whooper Swans in the rape-seed fields. A notable 200 Fulmars were logged past Dungeness this morning (per MC).

                                Common Gull, Burrowes

Thursday, 14 March 2019

White-fronted Ruff

Dengemarsh - overcast, showers, W 5 - In a moment of madness and for a change of scene we walked the gully this morning in blustery weather conditions with rain at times. Needless to say it was a case of slim pickings with the only passerines being a few Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Chaffinches, two Stonechats and a Firecrest. However, the stony field by Hayfield 3 attracted a flock of 30 Lapwings along with two Redshanks, a Golden Plover and 12 Ruff, one a cracking white-fronted male. Also on the hayfields and flood several Shelducks, Shovelers and Teal.
From the bridge 50 Wigeon, two Egyptian Geese, a Goldeneye, two Marsh Harriers and a Great White Egret.

                                White-fronted Ruff

                                Dengemarsh Gully

On the way back to the reserve the 4 Cattle Egrets were in the field next to the allotments and the pair of Whoopers Swans amongst the Mutes from Cockles Bridge. The first Little Ringed Plover of spring was on Burrowes from Makepeace hide (MC).

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Storm Gareth

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, SW 7 - Gale force winds courtesy of named Storm Gareth swept up-Channel this morning whipping the sea into a frenzy. As is often the case seawatching is rarely brilliant in such conditions although a 90 minute watch from a draughty seawatch hide did deliver three Bonxies, one quite close. Also noted plenty of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Cormorants, auks, 100 Brent Geese, 10 Fulmars, five Common Scoters, three Red-throated Divers, two Sandwich Terns and a Mediterranean Gull.

Monday, 11 March 2019

First Sand Martins

Dungeness - cold, dry and sunny, NW 5 - Following a weekend away in Dunstable it was good to get out and about again today despite the blustery wind. At the Patch two Mediterranean Gulls were the only interest amongst the gulls on the beach and over the boil, while a male Peregrine took shelter on a high perch in the lee of B station. There was very little action on the sea with just the usual Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Gannets and auks offshore. In the lighthouse garden at least one Brambling and a Reed Bunting amongst a flock of ten very tired looking Chaffinches in the bushes.

                                Scrub clearance, ARC

  On the bird reserve around midday our first two Sand Martins of the year battled into the wind over ARC from Hanson hide. The Cattle Egrets and Whooper Swans were still on station in the fields along the Lydd road where also Little and Great White Egrets noted, while the drake Smew and Black-necked Grebe were reported from the pits around the main circuit.

Friday, 8 March 2019

No change

Lade - mild and sunny, light airs - At least the morning was pleasant enough, but the wind and rain soon moved in this afternoon. Singing Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and Chiffchaff around the local patch were the highlights, plus displaying Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier, six Goldeneyes on south lake, 30 Teal around the willow swamp and a calling Mediterranean Gull over north lake.
  Elsewhere across the peninsula today there was no change with Smew and Black-necked Grebe on the bird reserve and the Cattle Egrets and Whooper Swans at Boulderwall and Cockles Bridge respectively.