Friday, 13 September 2019

Quiet day

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, ne 3 - Nothing much to report on the local patch this morning apart from a trickle of Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins overhead, a Reed Warbler beside south lake, Stonechats and a Wheatear in the Desert and a few Chiffchaffs and Whitethroats in the bushes around the ponds. Around midday several Chiffchaffs were noted in the garden while Sandwich Terns noisily passed over the cottage throughout the day. A Blood-vein was the best of a mediocre catch in the garden moth trap.
  An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon with MC and TG delivered a few fishing Sandwich Terns and Gannets, plus singles of Manx Shearwater, Great and Arctic Skuas. There was little change to the birds around the reserve from the past few days (MC).

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Late summer migrants

Dungeness - warm, dry, sunshine/cloud - sw 2-4 - Spent the day guiding for guests from The Netherlands in humid weather conditions. We started on the bird reserve where thousands of Sand Martins and hundreds of Swallows streaming south and feeding over the lakes formed the bulk of passage migrants throughout the day. A late Swift went over Dengemarsh and likewise a Little Ringed Plover dropped onto ARC. Several Wheatears, Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were noted across the reserve, plus Raven, Buzzard and several each of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier. Two Black Terns were on Burrowes along with two Common Sandpipers, Redshank and four Black-tailed Godwits, while a mixed flock of several hundred Golden Plovers and Lapwings flew over the access road. Birds from Hanson hide included, Cattle, Great White and Little Egrets, two Garganey, two Ruff, Greenshank, 10 Dunlins, two Common Sandpipers, three Snipes and four Black-tailed Godwits.

                               Kestrel in the moat

  Moving onto Dungeness a circuit of the moat produced several Whitethroats, Black Redstarts and Stonechats, while a brief visit to the fishing boats delivered two Grey Seals, two Porpoises, Gannets, Sandwich Terns and a distant Arctic Skua.
  We finished the afternoon scanning the bay from Littlestone and Romney Tavern where thousands of gulls, terns and waders were present. While Sandwich Terns were nowhere near as numerous as early in the week over 500 were counted along with 50 Common Terns and several Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black-headed and Common Gulls, plus a single Arctic Skua. Waders included 200 Dunlins, 50 Sanderlings, 30 Ringed Plovers, 20 Barwits, a Blackwit, 20 Turnstones and hundreds of Knots, Curlews and Oystercatchers.
  A decent days birding for our guests then, that resulted in a tally of 92 species. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Bloxworth Snout

Lade - warm, dry and cloudy, sw 4 - A pretty decent overnight catch in the garden moth trap included a Bloxworth Snout, new for the trap site, plus either a Lesser Treble-bar/Treble-bar  awaiting confirmation.

                               L-album Wainscot

                               Bloxworth Snout, new for the Plovers trap site

  On the local patch 80 Curlews were counted going to roost off the bay, but we missed the majority already out on the shingle. Around the ponds a scattering of Chiffchaffs and at least one Lesser Whitethroat. Around 1,000 Black-headed Gulls roosting on north lake contained at least 10 Mediterranean Gulls.
  A 30 minute seawatch from the hide produced a steady trickle of Sandwich Terns and Gannets west, plus 10 Common Terns, Black Tern, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake and a Fulmar.

                                Avocet, Little Gull and Cattle Egret, ARC

  Moving onto the ARC where a Wryneck was seen along the track to Hanson hide (probably last weeks bird from over the road?), three Avocets were new in along with four Snipe, two Greenshanks,19 Dunlins, four Black-tailed Godwits, two Knots, Ringed Plover, Garganey, Cattle Egret and Little Gull. There was no sign of any Ruffs for the first time in weeks.
  We completed the Birdwatching Break for Clare and Peter on 105 species with a good range of waders, seabirds and passage passerines the highlights.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

2,000 Sandwich Terns!

Dungeness - warm, dry sunny morning, cloudy afternoon, light airs - We concentrated on the land first thing this morning where around the lighthouse, the moat and southern end of the trapping area a decent range of migrants included: a few Swallows and Sand Martins, 20 Meadow Pipits, six Black Redstarts, a Whinchat, 10 Stonechats, two Wheatears, two Lesser Whitethroats and 10 each of Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Also noted, a pylon Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker and our first nine Brent Geese of autumn over the sea. The warm sunshine encouraged Common Blue, Small Copper, Small Heath, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Peacock butterflies onto the wing, while Convolvulus Hawk-moth and a Willow Emerald dragonfly were admired from the Obs fridge.

                                Black Redstart

                                Small Tortoiseshell

                                       Convulvulous Hawk-moth


  Following a tip off from MC we moved onto Hanson hide where two, peachy juv Curlew Sandpipers were the pick of a host of waders, and the first of autumn. The guests enjoyed good views of a mixed flock of eight Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, two Greenshanks, six Ruffs, two Snipes, 10 Golden Plovers, 50 Lapwings, four Dunlins, Curlew and a Common Sandpiper. Also present, two Marsh Harriers, two Black Terns, an adult Little Gull, Water Rail, Great White and Little Egrets, Garganey and Little Grebe. On the walk back to the car we had protracted flight views of a Bittern moving between Tower Pits and Boulderwall.
  Over the road a juvenile Knot showed well in front of Firth hide along with two Common Sandpipers, five Dunlins and four Pintails. A few more flocks of Sand Martins and Swallows dropped
in as the cloud covered over and a Willow Warbler sang from scrub by Dennis`s hide. More common warblers and a brief burst of pinging Bearded Tits were noted from the ramp, plus Buzzard and Marsh Harrier.

                                Two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers

                                Lapwing and Common Sandpiper

  We finished the day in some style checking the bay for waders, terns and gulls from Littlestone, being as it was low tide. Thousands of birds were spread across the mud and sand where a mammoth tally of 2,000 Sandwich Terns was very much a minimum count; most were on the deck, with hundreds over the sea where the fishing was easy and attracting at least four Arctic Skuas. Other significant counts included, 200 Common Terns, 200 Knots, 200 Dunlins, 30 Ringed Plovers, 20 Barwits, 15 Turnstones, 10 Blackwits, `hundreds` of Oystercatchers and Curlews, plus two Shelducks, three Sanderling and a Mediterranean Gull.
  All in all a pretty decent days birding with a wide range of species topped off with a staggering count of terns.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Waders and egrets

Dungeness - warm, dry and cloudy, sw 2 - We commenced a Birdwatching Break for Clare and Peter this afternoon at Scotney where the usual range of wildfowl, gulls and feral geese noted, plus c50 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Curlews, a Mistle Thrush and Sparrowhawk.

                                Juvenile Ruff

                                Juvenile Moorhen

                                Cattle Egret

   Moving onto ARC where a host of waders and egrets were present in front of Hanson hide, occasionally being spooked by up to four different Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk. Waders included 186 Golden Plovers, 150 Lapwings, 10 Dunlins, four Ruffs (including a smart juv), four Ringed Plovers, four Black-tailed Godwits, two Redshanks, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover. Also, Cattle and Great White Egrets, five Little Egrets, plenty of Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and a Garganey, plus hundreds of Sand Martins, 10 Common Terns and two Black Terns over the lake. 
  We finished the afternoon at the fishing boats where nothing much was happening apart from some close Sandwich Terns and Gannets, two Common Scoters up and a distant Arctic Skua. On the land several Wheatears, a Skylark and a flock of Linnets and Starlings.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Feeding frenzy

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, n 3 - After a chilly night it soon warmed up and turned into a gorgeous autumnal day - but not for land birds. They were few and far between this morning across the peninsula with only a handful of Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats, Meadow Pipits and a Black Redstart on the power station wall of any note, while a Grasshopper Warbler was ringed at the Obs earlier. However, there was more action on the sea out from the Patch where a couple of hundred gulls, terns, Gannets and several Arctic Skuas were in action feeding on a shoal of sprats.
  It was a similar picture passerine wise at Lade with a just a few common warblers in the bushes around the ponds. The small area of gravel and mud in the Willow Swamp did, however, attract a Greenshank, Wood and Common Sandpipers, six Little Egrets and two Grey Herons. There was no change to the wildfowl and grebe numbers from last week on the lakes, while Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel soared behind the `mirrors`.
  An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon delivered more of the same from this morning with plenty of gulls, terns and Gannets fishing offshore, plus 20 Kittiwakes, a Little Gull, four Curlews, a Guillemot and up to ten Arctic Skuas. Grey and Common Seal and five Porpoises also enjoyed the feeding frenzy.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Short-toed Eagle!

Romelaere, St Omer - warm, dry and sunny, sw 3 - Well, well, well, I was expecting a quiet day birding in northern France with Chris Philpot when at midday a large raptor hove into view from the north as we were watching Marsh Harriers. I immediately called "Osprey", until that is I got onto it in the scope and it banked around looking a whole lot different: a large eagle-like raptor with pale grey and white underparts, contrasting dark head with a broken necklace band, a whitish band around the upper rump onto the belly, darker wing tips on the underside and a banded tail. As the bird approached and flew overhead we both called, "Short-toed Eagle"! I then fumbled around with the bridge camera to get off a few shots, of which only the one below was of any use, albeit in silhouette.
  Over the course of the next three hours we watched the bird at some distance and into the light, so mostly in silhouette, soaring on flattish wings and at times appearing to hang in the strengthening wind, sometimes dangling its legs; when gliding the carpals were pressed forward as in the pic below.
Other raptors seen through the day included five Marsh Harriers, several Common Buzzards, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Hobby.

                                Short-toed Eagle over Romelaere

  Moving onto less unexpected fare, yet still of interest was a colony of five pairs of Cattle Egrets with 15 well grown juveniles in willow tree nests. When we visited site back in April none were present in the mixed Cormorant/Little Egret tree colony, which means the Cattle Egrets must`ve colonised after the others had finished breeding, probably from June onwards.
  Other birds noted on the reserve: White Stork, Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Kingfisher, Whimbrel, Jay, Marsh Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swifts, hirundines and mixed tit and Chiffchaff flocks with Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats.
  A superb day out that will live long in the memory for the snake eagle, and many thanks to Chris for driving.

                                Cattle Egret colony, Romelaere