Friday, 19 January 2018

Weekly summary

Lade -cold, dry and sunny, light airs - A stunning morning with bright sunshine throughout and plenty to see on the local patch. A single Long-tailed Duck remained on south lake among a range of wildfowl including nine Goldeneye, 150 Shoveler and 20 Wigeon, plus two redhead Goosander that touched down for ten minutes before heading back towards the bird reserve. The Slavonian Grebe, however, was not seen but could still be lurking in the reeds somewhere across the site. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker were all noted, while the wintering Dartford Warbler briefly popped up atop the gorse scrub by the tunnel. Walking back along the beach numerous dogfish, sea mice and cockles were washed up from the recent stormy weather and six species of shorebirds were noted on the sands.

                               Common Gull, Lade sands

  Elsewhere today, the wintering Smew and Black-throated Diver were reported from the bird reserve and two Bean Geese were seen at Scotney among the Greylags. On Walland Marsh 42  Bewick`s Swans were counted earlier in the week near Cheyne Court, but not viewable from roads, with 30 odd flying in to roost on ARC pit at dusk most evenings. White-fronted Geese have also been mobile between the Dengemarsh and Scotney area and a Glaucous Gull has been coming and going on Burrowes. The wintering Long-eared Owl/s have not obliged this week.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Blackbird singing at dawn

Lade - cold, sunny, w 5 - A bumpy old night as gale force winds rattled up the Channel, but nowhere near as strong and wet as forecast. At this low point of the winter it is always good to be reminded of warmer times ahead and those glimmers of coming spring. Foxglove and mullein rosettes are sprouting on the shingle ridges, while one day last week a bumble bee broke cover in a sheltered spot by the ponds. Yesterday a `tumbling` pair of Ravens at Dengemarsh suggested that their breeding cycle was well underway and this morning in the half-light of dawn I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Blackbird singing from the garden fir trees. Even though it only sang a half-hearted lament for ten minutes or so it was real treat; spring is just around the corner.
Dungeness RSPB - A guided walk for a U3A group from Lewes this morning, around the circular trail, produced all the expected wintering species including a Black-throated Diver on Dengemarsh and a pair of Smew on Christmas Dell pool. The group also had particularly good views of several Marsh Harriers, Goldeneyes and Great White Egrets, plus Buzzard, two Egyptian Geese, Green Woodpecker and Fieldfare. A Dartford Warbler was also noted in gorse scrub at Dengemarsh, while a flock of 20 Curlews showed well on the Boulderwall fields. Once again the roosting Long-eared Owl proved elusive behind the Dipping Pool.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Waders and raptors

Dungeness - cold, sunny, nw 5 - Spent the day in the field guiding for Lizzie from Sheffield. We started off at the point where the 1st winter Glaucous Gull put in a brief appearance at the Patch amongst a mass of gulls over the boil. A male Peregrine and Kestrel both showed well perched on the power station superstructure sheltering from the rasping north-westerly wind. Unsurprisingly, due to the wind direction, there were few seabirds on offer from the fishing boats, but persistence paid off and we eventually had decent views of a handful of Guillemots, Razorbills, Red-throated Divers and Gannets. Several Kittiwakes fed closer to shore amongst the gulls, while the regular Caspian Gull was at the puddles.
  We then moved on to Lade for the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe, where also Goldeneye, Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier noted. On the bay, from the Varne boat club, a host of waders comprising nine species were duly logged, including a flock of 30 Black-tailed Godwits.
  At Dengemarsh hundreds of Golden Plovers showed well on the fields, plus Black-throated Diver, Raven and Linnets from Springfield Bridge. Also noted the Boulderwall Tree Sparrows, Smew and Glaucous Gull on Burrowes and at least three Marsh Harriers to roost in the Oppen Pits.
  A decent days birding for our guest during which we recorded a typical range of wintering birds with waders and raptors the highlights.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Bewick`s Swans

Lade - mild, dry, sunny, w 3 - After yesterdays washout it was good to get out and about in the sunshine. We had a quick look at the local pits where the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe were both on south lake and the Dartford Warbler was chattering occasionally in the gorse scrub.

                                Bewick`s Swans (from the archives)

Walland Marsh - We then spent the rest of the day searching for Bewick`s Swans at some of their favoured haunts across the flatlands for todays national co-ordinated survey. This winter so far numbers have been low and all I could find was 42 (a flock of 36 and another of six) well away from the road in fields at the back of the wind farm. Also noted around the Marsh, 25 White-fronts, thousands of Golden Plovers and Lapwings, hundreds of Fieldfares, several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers, 100 Linnets and 50 Skylarks in game cover, 10 Tree Sparrows and five Corn Buntings.

Sunday, 14 January 2018


Lade - mild, dry, sunny, light airs - A weekend of benign weather with the overcast skies of yesterday giving way to glorious sunshine today and light winds throughout. With a poor weather forecast for the coming week I decided to tackle the shorebirds this weekend, spending ages counting and recounting the waders on flood and ebb tides between Lade car park and the Varne slipway to come up with a more or less comprehensive count, or at least best endeavours: Oystercatcher 855, Curlew 483, Ringed Plover 12, Grey Plover 28, Knot 36, Sanderling 258, Dunlin 506, Barwit 42, Turnstone 20 and Redshank eight. There was also many thousands of gulls present, including a few roosting Kittiwakes and Mediterranean Gulls, plus several Shelducks and two Brent Geese.

                                Gannet corpse, Greatstone beach

  The gravel pit lakes continue to hold two Long-tailed Ducks and a Slavonian Grebe, up to 14 Goldeneyes, an increase in Shovelers to 160 and a couple of Shelducks. A Dartford Warbler continued to be elusive in the gorse scrub by south lake while Cetti`s Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Water Rail and Kingfisher were all noted across the site.
Dungeness - Yesterday morning a brief look at the sea yielded thousands of Guillemots, Razorbills, Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants plundering the fish shoals along with plenty of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Red-throated Divers and at least one Bonxie.
  On the bird reserve a pair of Smew were on Burrowes while the Black-throated Diver was still on Dengemarsh lake.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Two Long-tailed Ducks

Lade - mild, cloudy, light airs - I`ve suspected for a while that there may have been two Long-tailed Ducks on site at the same time, and this morning it proved to be with both birds together on south lake. Cannot remember seeing two before on a gravel pit lake, so a pretty unusual record. The Slavonian Grebe was on north lake while the Dartford Warbler was chattering away in the gorse scrub just south of the tunnel.

                                Two Long-tailed Ducks, south lake

                                Slavonian Grebe, north lake

Dungeness - Nipped into the bird reserve to see the wintering Long-eared Owl which for once was showing well at roost behind the Dipping Pool and drawing quite a crowd of birders. Elsewhere, a pair of Smew were at Christmas Dell and the Black-throated Diver on Dengemarsh.  

                                Long-eared Owl, Dipping Pool roost

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Gravel pit delights

Wednesday - Lade - mild, dry and sunny - 0800hrs - At last, a decent day of weather with plenty of welcome sunshine and light airs. A stroll around the local patch delivered good views of the Dartford Warbler in the gorse south of the aerial, although I understand that by midday it was even more obliging, posing on a wire fence and atop the scrub. The Long-tailed Duck was more tricky to see, diving constantly on south lake, while the Slavonian Grebe was in the reedbed by the wall `mirror`.
Dungeness - From the causeway road a redhead Smew and a Black-necked Grebe on ARC and a pair of Goosanders on New Diggings continued what was to become a memorable day for wildfowl and grebes. On the Boulderwall fields a Brent Goose, 10 Curlews, Great White Egret, Buzzard and Stonechat, plus several Tree Sparrows on the feeders.
  A guided walk for seven guests around the circular trail was notable for a pair of Smew on Christmas Dell pool, four Ruff on Burrowes and a Black-throated Diver in front of Dengemarsh hide, presumably the recent ARC bird. Also noted several Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, Great White Egrets, Goldeneyes and thousands of Lapwings and Golden Plovers in the sky above the reserve.
Scotney - With news from PB concerning a rash of goodies at Scotney this afternoon the view from the double bends was completely different from my last visit a few days ago. Two Red-necked Grebes were asleep on the lake amongst 20 Pintail and hundreds of common diving duck and Wigeon, while on the roadside field two Tundra Bean Geese and 30 White-fronts stood amongst a mixed flock of Greylag and Barnacle Geese.
  A brilliant days birding comprising 13 species of ducks, seven of geese, five grebes and a diver across the gravel pits at Lade, Dungeness and Scotney.
(A belated post due to our Broadband being down yesterday)

                                Black-throated Diver and Smew, Dungeness RSPB

Thursday - cold, grey, drizzle - Orlestone Forest - After yesterdays glorious weather today it was back to the gloom of Mordor, complete with a steady drizzle but thankfully without the orcs. Not exactly the best conditions to check the woods, but nothing ventured nothing gained and all that... However, during the course of the morning in Faggs and Longrope Woods the expect woodland birds noted, including two woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Jay and Tawny Owl. There was no sign of the king-of-the-finches or Lesser pecker.
  On the way home a scan from Warehorne bridge overlooking the canal delivered Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher, and back at the coast I joined CT in the Hanson where a Firecrest showed well in front of the hide.