Monday, 24 October 2016

Pheasant and a Swallow

Dungeness - 0730-0930hrs - mild, cloudy, e 3 - A circuit of the point delivered a few grounded migrants such as Goldcrests, Blackbirds, Chiffchaffs and Robins in the bushes, plus Redwings, Fieldfares, Song Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Mistle Thrush and a Woodcock in or around the moat and a Firecrest in the Obs garden. During conversation with DB he commented on the first Dungeness record of Grey Squirrel, noted in his garden this morning.

                                A late Swallow

                                Pheasant, a rare sighting in these parts

RSPB - At Boulderwall a Swallow flew around the barn and settled on the roof, while it was good to see that the Tree Sparrows had returned in force after their sojourn out on the Marsh. On Burrowes a Blackwit remained in front of Firth hide, plus all the usual wildfowl, egrets and a count of 520 Cormorants around the lake. Bird of the day though was a cock Pheasant strutting around the car park, the first I`ve seen here in ages. Very quiet over the road on ARC with only a handful of ducks and egrets on the shingle islands from Hanson hide, although a mixed passerine flock from the willow trail attracted a few Goldcrests and a Firecrest.
  On the weather front, yet again the rain forecast for today failed to materialise. I cannot recall seeing the peninsula so parched for late October, there isn't a drop of moisture on the shingle ridges with the plants desiccated to a crisp.

Sunday, 23 October 2016


Lade - cold, sunny, e 5 - 0900hrs - The past couple of mornings have witnessed virtually no overhead visible migration on the local patch, apart from four Swallows today, along with the delights of a rasping easterly blow. However, in the shelter of the wind around the willow swamp a few grounded Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were found, while beside north lake the scrub held a large mixed flock of tits, crests and Chiffs that contained a Treecreeper, which was new to the site for me. Unfortunately, despite waiting for half an hour there was no further sign or (importantly) sound of the creeper, as in these parts it could just as easily have been a Short-toed version. Also noted, two Kingfishers, three Marsh Harriers, Water Rail, Green Woodpecker, Cetti`s Warbler and the usual ducks and grebes.

                                Hedge Accentor, Lade

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Russian`s are coming

Dungeness - 0730hrs - cool, cloudy, n 2 -There was a decent overhead movement of passerines this morning dominated by thousands of Starlings (how very apt, considering events in the Channel today) streaming in from the east in variable sized flocks; we must`ve had c5,000, but the finally tally should be more than double that (see DBO website). Hundreds of common finches, Skylarks and Mipits were also on the move, plus smaller numbers of Siskin, Redpoll and Brambling. As for thrushes all six species were recorded including a single Mistle Thrush overhead and a grounded Ring Ouzel in the moat where also a few Chiffchaffs, Stonechats, Goldcrests and Robins, plus a House Martin and two Swallows over the power station. Raptors through the morning included five Kestrels, three Sparrrowhawks, two Buzzards and a Short-eared Owl over the Desert. Quality was provided by an all too brief appearance of a Great Grey Shrike near the Obs that flew off high to the south.

                                Mopping up last nights road kill

Around noon the main point of interest was provided by the Russian flotilla of warships that moved through the English Channel en-route to the eastern Mediterranean. News soon got round on social media as hundreds of ship-watchers descended on the Estate to witness the spectacle. The aircraft carrier was spewing out smoke as it steamed past the Ness and you could easily discern the planes and choppers on the flight deck.

                                Russian warships off Dungeness

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Incoming Starlings

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cool, cloudy, n 3 - Ordinarily with a northerly airflow I wouldn't attempt a seawatch, but with guests to guide even a duff watch down here can produce riches for land-locked birders, and so it proved. An hour from the hide produced the spectacle of several hundred Starlings coming in off the sea, plus a drake Eider and a Bonxie westbound. The usual array of Gannets, Brents, Common Scoters, auks, gulls, Sandwich Terns, Porpoises and a Grey Seal also kept the interest ticking along. As for grounded migrants it was largely quiet (yet again), apart from a Black Redstart on the power station wall, 10 Blackbirds in the lighthouse garden, a Wheatear opposite Jarman`s and a scattering of Robins. Overhead a few Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Mipits, Skylarks, more Starlings, the odd Reed Bunting, Siskin and Redpoll was about all we could muster.
Scotney - The roadside fields were loaded with 200 Goldies, 100 Lapwings, five Curlews, a Ruff, 120 Barnacle Geese and five hybrid Snow/Emperor types. On the lake around 500 Wigeon, plus a Raven and Sparrowhawk over.
Tower/ARC - We finished the morning checking the bushes down to the pines where a few Chiffchaffs, Cetti`s Warblers, tits, Reed Buntings, another Sparrowhawk and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was the best on offer. Several Marsh Harriers were active from the Screen hide and a couple of hundred Starlings flew in off the sea.
  A steady three day bird tour delivered 101 species for Ray and Stuart and we all agreed that the large Fieldfare flock on the canal was the most memorable event, closely followed by the fishing Cormorants and egrets on Burrowes.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Cormorants and egrets

Dungeness - cool, cloudy, nw 2 - 0900hrs - A brief seawatch from the hide delivered good views of an Arctic Skua clobbering Sandwich Terns, distant Gannets, two Brents, a Mediterranean Gull and a Grey Seal. Several more Med Gulls were at the Patch amongst the melee of gulls. The land was quiet apart from a mixed flock of tits, Chiffchaffs, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a calling Yellow-browed Warbler in the Trapping Area.
Lade - A check for the Osprey on the lakes drew a blank, but Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, roosting Curlews and plenty of wildfowl and grebes all noted. The bay revealed a few Sanderlings, a Barwit and Oystercatchers also sitting out the high tide.

                                Feeding frenzy, Burrowes

                                Black-tailed Godwit

RSPB - We spent the rest of the day on the bird reserve where the main spectacle on Burrowes was a flock of 10 Great White and 13 Little Egrets in company with 100 fishing Cormorants, plus an assortment of gulls and Grey Herons. The mud in front of Firth hide attracted a Blackwit, three Dunlins, two Golden Plovers and singles of Snipe and Grey Plover, amongst a host of Lapwings, gulls and dabbling ducks. From Makepeace, Goldeneye, Rock Pipit, Peregrine and an exhausted House Martin which kept landing on the hide flaps were the highlights.

                                Exhausted House Martin

                                Bittern, Dengemarsh

Dengemarsh was notable for several Marsh Harriers, more Snipe, a Ruff and good views of a Bittern, plus Bearded Tits and Cetti`s Warbler heard from the viewing ramp. We finished the day from Hanson hide where more wildfowl, Lapwings, Dunlins and Marsh Harriers were logged.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Boreal wanderers

Kenardington - 1300hrs - cool, cloudy, w 3 - After picking up two of our regular visitors (Ray and Stuart) from Ashford we headed for the peace and tranquillity of the canal. The wayside habitat hereabouts often yields one or two species that are difficult to locate on the arable wastelands, such as Yellowhammer and Song Thrush, and so it proved to be. However, the main event was the spectacle of a 500 strong flock of Fieldfares plundering a hawthorn bush laden with berries complete with much chacking, terrific stuff. Also noted along the canal side banks a few Redwings, Blackbirds, Stonechats, Pied Wagtails, Mipits, Linnets, Chaffinches and Goldfinches, plus Kestrel and Buzzard soaring over the grasslands.

                  Kenardington, one of the most scenic parts of the Marsh                               

                                Fieldfares, Royal Military Canal

Around the Marsh - Crossing the flatlands we called in at the Midley feeders where the Tree Sparrows showed well. From the range road at Lydd we nailed two Little Owls by the watch towers, a Green Woodpecker and more Mipits, while further along by the guard hut at Galloways four Corn Buntings sat atop a clump of elders. From Springfield bridge a few ducks and grebes were on the water and a trickle of Skylarks overhead. After a natter with PB we headed down to the point for brief views of a male Ring Ouzel and a Sparrowhawk at the southern end of the Trapping Area to complete a tidy afternoons birding.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Owl and an Osprey

Dungeness - 0800hrs - mild, showery, sw 3 - We slogged across the shingle from the lifeboat station to the Obs and back via the Desert, where a flushed Short-eared Owl was the only bird of note. Overhead passage was negligible with just a few finches and Mipits on the move. Grounded migrants were absent.
Lade - 1000hrs - The Osprey, which has been hereabouts for at least a week, was sat on the wall mirror with a flock of Magpies. The Osprey was also noted at several other sites across the peninsula today, including the bay where it was seen to take a flatfish.