Monday, 18 September 2017

Chiffchaffs and waders

Lade - cool, cloudy, nw 2 - Chiffchaffs seemed to be all over the place this morning with birds scattered across the site and in garden shrubbery. On south lake a Ruff, several Common Terns and the usual flypast of hundreds of Greylags. Around 300 Curlews flew to roost on the Desert along with 20 Barwits, 10 Knots and five Redshanks.
Birdwatching Break - Picked up Clare and Peter from Ashford just after midday who`re down from London for a three day break.
Kennardington - We headed for lunch beside the canal followed by a walk east towards Warehorne. The bushes were alive with flocks of Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs and single figures of Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Goldcrest. Also noted, Kingfisher, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Little Egret. Butterflies in the sun traps included Comma, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood.
Scotney - On the front fields the usual mixed Barnacle Goose flock, 60 Curlews, 10 Barwits and a Ruff. Also five flyover Avocets, 20 Wigeon, Yellow Wagtails, Linnets, Sand Martins and Swallows.
Dengemarsh - From Springfield Bridge plenty of Lapwings and Golden Plovers on the islands,  several Marsh Harriers over, a Hobby hawking dragonflies, a Great White Egret, four Ruffs, five Snipes, a Sedge Warbler, Yellow Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Linnets.
We finished the day at ARC where three Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper were amongst 20 Dunlins and all the usual wildfowl and Lapwings.  

Friday, 15 September 2017

Red-necked Grebe

Friday - Dungeness - Cool, sunshine and cloud, w 2 - A wander down to the Patch delivered a juvenile Little Gull and Yellow-legged Gull over the boil. On the beach several Sandwich and Common Terns amongst a mix of Black-headed, Herring and Black-backed Gulls. Plenty of Gannets and terns offshore, although mostly distant with Arctic Skuas, and at least one Bonxie, chasing the terns. Black Redstarts have been thin on the ground this summer so it was good to see a flock of five, plus a Robin, feeding along the shingle bank by the sea defence blocks, where also a few Mipits and a Wheatear.
  On Burrowes this afternoon a juvenile Red-necked Grebe showed distantly from Dennis`s hide. Also over the lake two Black Terns and the long staying Little Stint from Firth hide.

                                Black Redstart, Dungeness

Lade - The Osprey was seen again late morning from the aerial ramp over Kerton Road pit. On north lake a Black Tern and Black-necked Grebe. There were several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests in Plovers garden this morning.

Saturday - Lade - cool, cloudy, nw 2 - A nippy start to the day with few moths in the garden MV totalling a meagre 12 species. The island on south lake however was far more interesting with a party of Common Terns and two each of Ruff and Redshank. Yet again there were few ducks on the waters but plenty of grebes and a Black Tern over north lake. The passerine count was, as expected, pitiful with a score of Swallows and Sand Martins over the Desert and a just a few Chiffchaffs in the willow swamp. However, spectacle of the day went to the 800 or so Greylags that noisily flew over the site heading towards the bird reserve.

                                Standing room only on south island

                                Two Ruffs

                                Greylags over Lade

Dungeness - Had a run out this afternoon where the juvenile Red-necked Grebe (rare here) was still over the far side of Burrowes from the viewpoint by Dennis`s hide. There was very little else of note on Burrowes though apart from four Great White Egrets, five Pintails, three Ruff and a Ringed Plover.
At the point a brief seawatch from the boats was terminated by a heavy rain shower, but little was on the move apart from four Wigeon down Channel and a steady trickle of hirundines out. The usual Gannets, Sandwich Terns and Arctic Skuas were performing offshore.
The Osprey was seen again today across the peninsula and four Spoonbills dropped onto Dengemarsh late afternoon.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Meadow Pipits

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, sunny, nw 3 - A chilly start to the day with little notable passage apart from a trickle of Meadow Pipits and a few Sand Martins. Some of the Mipits were grounded and feeding along the main track beside the Desert - a classic September migrant. On south lake six Redshanks and a Ringed Plover on the island and a Grey Plover over calling.

                                Mipits remain a numerous passage migrant

An afternoon visit to north lake delivered flight views of the Osprey heading towards Lydd and a Black Tern over the lake. There was a few Chiffchaffs in the willow scrub but little else of note.
News from Dungeness concerned a Grey Phalarope still present along the foreshore and a Red-necked Phalarope briefly at Scotney.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Grey Phalarope & Leach`s Petrel

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, sunny, w 4 - Following strong overnight winds and heavy rain a check of the lake for any storm-blown seabirds drew a blank. A Black Tern amongst 20 Commons on north lake was about the best of it, plus 500 Black-headed Gulls. On south lake the small, diminishing island attracted two Ruffs, a Redshank and Ringed Plover. Around the willow swamp several Chiffchaffs noted while 20 or more Sand Martins struggled in the wind over the waters. On the walk back several Magpies were mobbing a Short-eared Owl on the Desert, our first of the autumn.
Dungeness - Checked ARC for seabirds but there was nothing much doing here apart from a lone Black Tern over the lake. From Hanson hide two Pintails, a Garganey, Ruff and Dunlin were the only birds of note amongst the usual wildfowl and Lapwings.
  A guided walk for nine visitors was hard going in the strong wind. Around the circular route five Wheatears and a few common warblers was the sum total of small migrants such was the wind effect. At Dengemarsh two Ruffs, two Great White Egrets and Marsh Harriers were the highlights. On Burrowes a Little Stint, several Dunlins and Ringed Plovers noted while we finished on a high as the Osprey flew over towards Kerton Road.

                                Grey Phalarope, Dungeness fishing boats

                               At times it was close!

Spent a couple of fruitful hours at the boats this afternoon where the highlight was a very showy Grey Phalarope that performed like a good `un just offshore and flying up and down the foreshore. My bridge camera pics don't do it justice, although there should be some crackers on the DBO and Plodding Birder blogs. It was an odd sort of a seawatch with a big sea running and for most of the time just a trickle of Sandwich Terns and distant Arctic Skuas going down Channel. Also noted three Common Scoters and a Red-throated Diver on the sea, Little Tern, Grey Plover and Little Gull through, and just as I was leaving a Leach`s Petrel that flew west and was then swept back into the bay before it could round the point!

Monday, 11 September 2017


Dungeness - cool, showery, w 5 - Another unsettled day with showers rattling through on a blustery wind off the Atlantic. However, yesterdays Wryneck was still present in the same patch of scrub on the southern edge of the Desert. It showed briefly, feeding low down on the turf between a sheltered arm of gorse. A brief look at the sea yielded the expected terns, Gannets and an Arctic Skua.
  After counting ducks on New Diggings a quick look at a windswept Burrowes revealed an Avocet, two Common Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, two Great White Egrets and the long-staying Goldeneye.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Bedfordshire Bird Club

Dungeness RSPB - warm, dry, sunny, light airs to start, windy and cool from midday - Spent the day with old birding friends from Bedfordshire. We kicked off on the bird reserve where we had a decent clutch of passage warblers, chats and the like before the wind increased. Around the car park scrub and Return Trail we noted 10 Wheatears, five Whinchats, two Stonechats, two Common Redstarts (including a stunning male) and a host of Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Reed Buntings, Great Tits, Green Woodpeckers, Goldcrest and Linnets, plus Greenfinch, Yellow Wagtails and Mipits overhead.
  Plenty of Marsh Harriers and Kestrels were noted throughout the circuit, plus Hobby and Merlin at Boulderwall, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and superb views of an Osprey catching a fish at Dengemarsh. Also from the hide two Cattle Egrets, a Spoonbill, Ruff, 10 Snipe, Great White Egret, Kingfisher and hundreds of Sand Martins. On Burrowes five more Great White Egrets, a Goldeneye, Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers and Dunlins.

                                Cattle Egrets and Spoonbill on Dengemarsh

                                Osprey with fish, Dengemarsh

After a spot of lunch we moved across the road to ARC where the Osprey was seen again over Kerton Road pit; also further views of Hobby and Merlin scattering the hundreds of Sand Martins over the lake, plus 25 Blackwits, 10 Dunlins, Dabchick, Black Tern, Garganey and Pintail amongst scores of wildfowl and Lapwings.

                                Pintail from Hanson hide

NNR - We finished off at the point where we tried for the Wryneck on the Desert, but due to the strong wind it was a no show. At the fishing boats the usual procession of Sandwich Terns and Gannets offshore, plus five Arctic Skuas. A call from DW alerted us to a juvenile Caspian Gull in the puddles by the parking area, so we joined the army of long-tom locals and took a few pics of what was a highly vocal individual.
  It had been an enjoyable days birding with the landlubbers from Bedfordshire and I hope they all had a safe journey home.

                                Juvenile Caspian Gull, Dungeness

Friday, 8 September 2017

Rained off

Dungeness - wet and windy all day - In showery conditions first thing we did a circuit of Long Pits where the only migrants of note in the bushes were a few Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Out on the Desert a couple of Wheatears and several Meadow Pipits, plus a trickle of Swallows south. On the way back home, in heavy rain, I stopped at Kerton Road around 0900hrs and was surprised to see one of the Ospreys flying across the Desert towards ARC.
  The rain set in throughout the day but relented just before lights out when a visit to the local patch delivered another Osprey sighting of a bird flying towards Greatstone, presumably to a roost site somewhere down the coast...