Friday, 18 August 2017

Arctic Skuas v Sandwich Terns

Lade - 0700hrs - cool and cloudy, w 5 - A brisk wind made for largely passerine free birding on the local patch this morning. However, there was plenty of `big bird` activity with a flock of 30 Common Terns begging to be grilled on south lake, until they suddenly rose skywards like helicopters as a juvenile Peregrine tore in. But the falcon only had eyes for the much slower Curlews that had just left their roost on the Desert, although once again it failed as the `safety in numbers` factor kicked in.
All the usual egrets and herons were around the margins including two Great White Egrets.
  After dropping the car off at the garage in Lydd I walked back to ARC and checked the shingle ridges from Hanson hide where only a few Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Redshanks were present. At least two Garganey were amongst the eclipse ducks and plenty of Sand Martins hawked insects over the lake. Trudging back home across the Desert several Yellow Wagtails and two Wheatears noted.
  This evening we checked out the bay on a rising tide where a flock of 150 fishing Sandwich Terns inevitably attracted the attention of three Arctic Skuas that came in low over the water. The terns were finding fish with every plunge dive, while the skuas were most successful with their surprise attacks, particular on the juvenile birds - at one stage a skua chased a tern along the beach and over the toilet block! As always a highly entertaining spectacle.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A fall of Curlew Sandpipers

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, rain, sw 4 - 1000hrs - With rain around dawn the omens were good for some grounded migrants this morning, although I didn`t expect such a large fall of waders to be on the cards. Curlew Sandpipers were most prominent with at least 50 on ARC and Burrowes, all adults in various plumages from russet to pale grey and many shades in between. This is without doubt the largest number of Curlew Sandpipers in my time here, but by early afternoon most had departed as the weather improved.

                                Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlins

                                Wood Sandpiper

                                Mixed wader flock from Firth hide

   The flock of waders in front of Firth also included 35 Dunlins, 30 Ringed Plovers, three Blackwits, three Common Sandpipers, two Little Ringed Plovers, plus singles of Green and Wood Sandpipers, Little Stint, Turnstone, Redshank and Ruff. Also on Burrowes hundreds of Sand Martins, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Yellow-billed Teal and on our second visit in early afternoon, two Black Terns. As we were checking the waders a juvenile Sparrowhawk nipped in low and flushed the flock whilst attempting to grab a Dunlin. It then tried for a Pied Wagtail and missed, before moving onto  Sand Martins and failed again. This bird has a lot to learn in the hunting stakes.

  Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - note white neck collar, stout all black bill, inner primary panel and black and white tail

                                Juvenile Sparrowhawk

  On ARC around noon eight Curlew Sandpipers, five Dunlins, seven Avocets and two Garganeys amongst the wildfowl and Coots.
  Together with CP we checked out the front fields at Scotney where 20 Curlews and two Whimbrels were present along with 150 feral Barnacles and hydrid Snow Geese.
  Finished off with an hour at the fishing boats this afternoon with PB and TG where a steady passage of Common and Sandwich Tern was underway, plus three Little Terns and a few Gannets and Kittiwakes

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Yellow Wagtails

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny - Light airs to start the day with the wind picking up from the west through the morning.  A steady overhead passage of around 50 Yellow Wagtails was the main birding feature throughout the day.
Dungeness - 1000hrs - A guided walk for eight guests around the circular trail on the bird reserve delivered the expected overhead passage of Sand Martins, common scrub and reed warblers (including several Lesser Whitethroats) Whinchat and Wheatear. On Dengemarsh four Great White Egrets, 70 Golden Plovers, two Snipe, four Green Sandpipers, Greenshank, Ruff and Redshank were the highlights. Despite ongoing digger work on Burrowes, 10 Ringed Plovers, two Little Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins and a Turnstone noted in front of Firth, plus Common and Green Sandpipers, and Common Terns feeding young from Dennis`s hide.
  A late afternoon visit to ARC  yielded a Garganey and Little Ringed Plover from Screen hide amongst the usual wildfowl. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Lade waders

Lade - 0730hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - With thunder and lightening out in the Channel during the early hours, followed by some hefty showers it was no surprise that a sprinkling of passage waders had been grounded around the margins of south lake and the muddy patch amid the willow swamp, Wood Sandpiper is an infrequent visitor here, infact I can only recall three others in almost 12 years, so one this morning was good news. Several Common and Green Sandpipers, Redshank and Greenshank were also present.
  Other birds of note included two Great White Egrets, a Black-necked Grebe, Kingfisher, juvenile Green Woodpeckers and several Willow Warblers.
  A late morning visit around the pond in hot sunshine resulted in a flush of common butterflies, mostly Common Blues, plus several Migrant Hawkers, Broad-bodied Chasers and Hummingbird Hawk-moths.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Juvenile Cuckoo

Dungeness - 0730hrs - warm, dry and sunny - A walk around the peninsula in warm sunshine, light airs and not a soul about was pleasant enough if lacking in birds. A couple each of Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail and Mipit was about all we could muster opposite Jarman`s. In the lighthouse garden a Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat in the moat and a few Sand Martins out. The Patch was quiet and a few terns and Gannets drifted passed offshore.
  On the way off the estate a juv Cuckoo flew over the road opposite the Fish Hut and landed on overhead wires. Within in a minute it dropped down into the scrub and flew back up with what looked like a large caterpillar. This is the first Cuckoo I`ve seen since the adults left a month or so ago.

                                Juvenile Cuckoo with prey, Dungeness

                                Latticed Heath, an irregular visitor to the garden MV

Lade - The garden MV was loaded with common moths this morning with a Latticed Heath being the best of the bunch. Nothing much on the local patch today apart from a few Willow Warblers.
With high tide around 4pm a sea swim in the bay was most welcome this afternoon, complete with Sandwich Terns plunge diving nearby.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Scarce Bordered Straw

Saturday - 0730hrs - mild and cloudy, n 2 - We were joined by CP for a circuit of the local patch this morning where most of the passerine activity was in the scrub around the ponds. Approximately 50 birds were milling about feeding and flitting through the bushes, the majority Willow Warblers, but also plenty of Sedge and Reed Warblers, a few Common and Lesser Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff and a family of Cetti`s Warblers. A roving tit flock was also present including 20 Long-tailed Tits.
  Two Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were noted around the willow swamp where also Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Little Egrets, Grey Heron and the usual grebes with young. A Great White Egret was on south lake while a trickle of Swifts, Sand Martins and a Yellow Wagtail passed overhead. An afternoon visit to the beach produced 300 Sandwich Terns, 300 Oystercatchers and 180 Curlews.
  Just after 11pm Pat and I sauntered down the beach to watch the celestial light show that occurs every summer about his time - and we were not disappointed. Over the course of an hour shooting stars from the Perseid Meteor Shower were visible every five minutes or so careering across the ether. The wind was light and the moon-over-the-water dappled with striated clouds, while distant ships passed by in the night, all to the backdrop of the raucous calls of Sandwich Terns, fabulous stuff.

                                Scarce Bordered Straw, new for the Plovers trap site

                                Juvenile Robin in the garden this afternoon

Sunday - Warm dry and sunny, n 2 - 0700hrs - An immigrant Scarce Bordered Straw was a new moth for the garden last night, which was no great surprise as other traps hereabouts have been recording them of late. Silver Y and Dark Swordgrass completed the migrant trio. A southward circuit of the Patch around Kerton Road pit in glorious warm sunshine delivered a few passage Yellow Wagtails and Mipits, plus two Wheatears and a family party of Stonechats by the quarry entrance. The homeward leg of the walk along the beach was notable for six Ringed Plovers, a Wheatear and several Med Gulls on the sands.
  Working in the garden today, Whimbrel, Hobby and Yellow Wagtail flew overhead, while `our` Robin fledglings picked off invertebrates from the newly cleared borders. Several visits from a Sparrowhawk through the day to the bird feeders resulted in a Collared Dove and Starling down, while a Woodpigeon narrowly avoided death as I disturbed the silent assassin just as it was about to deliver the Coup-de-gras.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Willow Warblers

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - Good weather conditions for a drop in of warblers produced mainly Willows with at least 50 across the patch and in the garden. The biggest concentration was at the ponds with about 20 flitting through the willow scrub. A scattering of Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and a Garden Warbler also noted. A Great White Egret landed briefly in the middle of south lake and a Kingfisher zipped around the willow swamp. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Green Woodpecker also present.

                               Great White Egret, south lake

                                Willow Warblers are always a challenge to photograph

                               Sunbathing Foxes under the 30` mirror

                               Great Crested Grebes are having a good year

Dungeness - 1000hrs - A circuit of the bird reserve yielded a few waders, mostly on Dengemarsh where four Ruffs, two Green and one Common Sandpipers, Redshanks, Dunlin and Lapwing. On Burrowes the southern cluster of islands in front of Makepeace are now complete, while 15 Golden Plovers, Dunlin and Little Stint were roosting on the new islands to the right of the hide. Also noted across the site two Great White Egrets, three Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Hobby, Kestrel and despite the increasing wind there were more Willow Warblers in scrub around the trail. A couple of thousand Black-headed Gulls were on Dengemarsh and feeding behind the plough towards Lydd.

                               Southern cluster of islands from Makepeace hide

                                Digger pontoon