Saturday, 21 April 2018

Nightingales

Park Wood, Appledore - warm, dry and sunny - Had to go to Ashford early this morning so on the way home called in at Park Wood for a couple of hours. With the canopy far from closed the ground flora was in fine fettle with the intoxicating smell of bluebells reminding me of my childhood spent in the Chiltern`s beech woods pre Red Kites. Along the southern fringes of this fine old woodland with its ancient purlieu, in contrast to a very modern vineyard, butterflies on the wing included orange tip, green-veined white, speckled wood and a gorgeous brimstone. Scanning across the canopy, over a hazy Low Weald, revealed a couple of Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and our first Hobby of spring.




  Across Park Wood at least three Nightingales sang intermittently with one briefly showing as it moved through dense cover. Garden Warbler was new for the year, but apart from the ubiquitous Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps the only other summer migrant was a lone Willow Warbler. However, Nuthatches were in good voice along with Treecreepers, the two woodpeckers, Jay, Goldcrest and common tits, finches and thrushes.



Lade - A late afternoon check of the local patch revealed the two Long-tailed Ducks still on south lake, plus a Ring Ouzel on the Desert along with a Wheatear and five Whimbrels that dropped in and out briefly.
 

Friday, 20 April 2018

An influx of Red Kites

Dungeness - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - An early morning wander around the point delivered a small fall of Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats, several Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a Common Whitethroat. Two Wheatears were in the Desert and a Black Redstart sang from the power station corner near the Obs. There also seemed to be an increase in Chaffinches in the bushes and a single Brambling flew over calling.
  The sea resembled a mill pond where plenty of Harbour Porpoise were in view. The seawatchers reported it slow going, although a small passage of Little Gulls and Bonxies moved through later (PB).

                                Willow Warbler at DBO
 
  Plenty more grounded Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats were noted around Dengemarsh whilst surveying for Cetti`s Warblers. Marsh Harrier, Cuckoo, Common Buzzard, Swallows, Stonechat, Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail were also seen, plus flight views of a Cattle Egret heading towards Galloways.
Lydd - I called in at the allotments late morning and whilst walking to my plot noticed a large flock of birds `kettling` skywards. To my astonishment they were Red Kites, 16 to be precise! As I rushed back to the car to grab my bins another bird flew over about 100 feet up being terrorised by two Herring Gulls making it 17. Scanning the flock again also revealed three Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk. As I tweeted the news out other local birders began to pick up the flock as it moved across the Peninsula, while a phone call from BD told of half a dozen over Lade. Two House Martins were also new for the year around the adjacent housing estate where there is a small colony.
  Back home sitting in the garden having lunch and the HGs alerted me to yet another Red Kite drifting northwards along the coastline. Judging from others seen at Littlestone, New Romney and Scotney there could easily have been up to 30 Red Kites over today. Other reports of Red Kites along the south coast came in from Beachy Head to Kingsdown.
  As for the origins of these birds, well that`s anyone`s guess. Most likely they originated from the burgeoning Chilterns/Thames Valley population which have also colonised the North Downs, but alternatively birds seen coming in off the sea could be `proper` migrants drifting over from France en-route to northern Europe to breed.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Warblers

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - A superb morning to be out and about around the peninsula surveying breeding birds. By midday the temperature reached a ridiculous 21C! Warblers were the order of the day with 10 species noted, although not in any great numbers. At the back of Lade north two singing Corn Buntings and a calling Red-legged Partridge were of note, while a single Wheatear was on the Desert. No change on the lakes with the Long-tailed Ducks still on station. At the ponds our first two Grass Snakes of the season and plenty of active Marsh Frogs.



                          Sedge Warblers were the most obvious of the tribe this morning

                               Grounded Whimbrels from the Access Road

Boulderwall - After breakfast I continued on the Cetti`s Warbler survey (minus Barney who was suffering from the heat) checking out the Gun Club and Tanner`s Pools area where another five singers were added to the tally. A Yellow Wagtail flushed from amongst the sheep was about the only passerine of note. Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Teal, Wigeon, Little Egret, Green Woodpecker and a flock of nine Whimbrel grounded by the Access Road were noteworthy. Several more Grass Snakes and a Weasel also seen, but I managed to miss three Hawfinches which briefly landed along the track by Dengemarsh before flying off eastwards.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

First Whitethroat

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - The warmest day of the year so far with the temperature hitting 19C by early afternoon. After a third attempt at running the garden moth trap a single Common Quaker became the first of the season. Out back a Whitethroat in Mockmill was our first of the spring. Plenty of Sedge and Cetti`sWarblers, Chiffchaffs, Mipits, Skylarks and Linnets around the site and the Long-tailed Ducks were still on south lake. Passage migrants continue to be thinly represented with hardly any Swallows through so far and not a single House Martin.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - An hour at the fishing boats with PB, MH and SG this afternoon was pretty slow going on the seabird front with a close Little Tern being the highlight. Sandwich Terns were much in evidence while further out a Bonxie and a few Gannets moved up-Channel. There continues to be good numbers of Porpoises feeding offshore.
  Elsewhere today a Serin paid a brief visit to the point and a Hobby was seen over Dengemarsh.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Skuas and ducks

Dungeness - cool, dry, clear, SSW 3 - 0625 - 0825hrs - An entertaining seawatch from the hide this morning resulted in some quality seabirds in the shape of 25 Bonxies, 10 Manx Shearwaters, two Velvet Scoters, six Eiders, a pair of Garganey and a Black-throated Diver, most of which passed within or just outside the cardinal buoy as they migrated up-Channel, except for the Manxies going west. There was also a decent supporting cast of Gannets, Common Scoters, Sandwich and Common Terns, Fulmars, auks, Red-throated Divers, plus 10 Arctic Skuas, two Little Gulls, 20 Whimbrels, two Teal and a Mediterranean Gull. No doubt many more were noted during the morning. For a fuller picture refer to the DBO Website.
Lade - After breakfast we headed out over the local patch where the highlight was a `reeling` Grasshopper Warbler in Mockmill along with 10 Sedge and two Cetti`s Warbler, a pair of Stonechats, our first Cuckoo and plenty of Linnets. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record the two Long-tailed Ducks remained on south lake. Several parties of Whimbrels were seen and heard passing overhead throughout the day.

                               Shelducks, Lade sands

  An evening visit over the bay to scope the sands was notable for that curious phenomenon of light and tide which occurs every so often where bye the coast of France appears to be much closer and more obvious than usual, as were the ships in the Channel. Birdwise, just the usual Sandwich Terns, waders and gulls including a pair of Shelducks and five Ringed Plovers. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Harbour Porpoises

Dungeness - 0730hrs - mild, sunny, SW 2 - A hazy start to the day from the seawatch hide where it was much slower than yesterday, but still with a trickle of common seabirds such as Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Eider, Brents, Arctic and Great Skuas. At the Patch just a couple of Common Terns and 50 immature gulls. Harbour Porpoises have been very much in evidence this past week and this morning at least 20 were performing just offshore.
  On the land a Black Redstart on the power station wall, several Swallows inbound, a handful of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the lighthouse garden.

                                Blackcap, lighthouse garden

                                Dunnock, Lade

Lade - A late morning circuit of the local patch found seven Cetti`s Warblers in song, plus the Long-tailed Ducks and four Goldeneyes still on south lake. Several groups of Swallows moved quickly through and the first Reed Warblers were singing from the main reedbed. Other migrants noted included Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. Several Marsh Harriers and
Buzzards were soon thermalling over the Desert in warm sunshine.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Common Scoters on the move

Lade - The weekend weather has been dominated by fog rolling in off a cold sea which pretty much put paid to any birding yesterday morning. Walking around the local patch was a weird experience as there were migrants present with a scattering of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs singing from back gardens and a Tree Pipit over calling, a passage migrant I now don't expect to see/hear every spring. Also heard overhead Yellow Wagtail, Brambling, Siskin and several Mediterranean Gulls.
  An afternoon visit yielded our first Lesser Whitethroat of spring in scrub behind the `mirrors`, while the Long-tailed Ducks were still present today.
Dungeness -Thick fog all Saturday morning didn't clear until midday, but an afternoon visit with the family off the boardwalk produced a good number of Porpoises off shore, of which one or two were breaching, plus a few passing Gannets, terns and an Arctic Skua.
 Sunday morning heralded much better visibility with a light south-westerly airflow clearing the mist. An early seawatch was notable for a large movement of Common Scoters which numbered up to 1,000 by the time I left site. Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, auks, Common and Sandwich Terns were also steadily trickling past the hide, plus our first three Little Terns, along with 10 Little Gulls, 12 Shelducks, three Eiders, a Shoveler, two Black-throated Divers, five Red-throated Divers, 100 Brents, three Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie. Two Swallows went out and a Peregrine made a sortie over the sea from the power station.
  On the land, Wheatear and Black Redstart on the power station wall and a brown Merlin on the beach by the new lighthouse.