Friday, 20 May 2022

Avocets

Dungeness - cool, overcast, heavy rain, dry later, SW2 - A shocking day of weather with rain throughout until around 2pm and far from ideal for guiding for two guests from Sussex. However, we eventually connected with all the Dungeness specialities: Wheatear, Black Redstart, four species of breeding waders, Marsh Harrier, Bittern and the like. At one stage, late morning, the temperature plummeted to 10C, but thankfully it warmed up enough to enable at least five Hobbies to hawk for insects over Hookers, where a Cuckoo and Kingfisher were also noted. Two Avocets dropped in on Hayfield 2 while the only Common Terns we saw all day was a pair briefly on Burrowes. A mid-afternoon passage of 100 plus Swifts and a few House Martins was noteworthy considering how few have come our way this spring. Despite the weather we ended the day with 72 species of birds.


                                  Avocet and Redshank, Hayfield 2

                                 Sea Kale in full flower

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Garden Moths

New Romney - heavy overnight thunderstorms, muggy - Perfect conditions then for moths coming to light with 13 species here in the garden trap, including Peppered Moth, Angle Shades, Common Wainscot and, new for me, Clouded Silver a species I didn`t get at Plovers on the shingle. There appears to be an influx of migrant Striped Hawk-moths currently underway with several turning up in local traps, including the one below just down the road from me; thanks to Sean C for the tip-off. 

                                  Striped Hawk-moth

                                 Peppered Moth

                                    Angle Shades

Elsewhere, bird wise these last couple of days there hasn`t been much change locally. I had a Cattle Egret on Cook`s Pool yesterday, while a small `funnel` of 20 screaming Swifts was of note over NR; the days when they were in their hundreds being just a distant memory.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Purple Heron

Dengemarsh - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - 0530 - 0830 hrs - With the forecast south-easterlies failing to materialise I elected for another early morning session on the bird reserve. The Barn Owl was again active around Boulderwall and, as usual, flew over the road to hunt the rough ground around the Tower Pits where Bittern and Cuckoo were both calling. In the still air Reed Buntings, Whitethroats, Cetti`s, Sedge and Reed Warblers were everywhere, while a female Bearded Tit fed two fledged juveniles in a Cook`s Pool reedbed. 

                                   Purple Heron over Hookers

                                 Purple Heron, by David Scott

From the ramp a Bittern `boomed` and Marsh Harriers came and went; and then at 0630hrs a Purple Heron broke cover from a Dengemarsh reedbed and flew towards ARC where it briefly landed in front of Screen hide (SM). It then flew towards Burrowes and back towards myself and Dave S where we hurriedly took a couple of flight shots and watched it drop into the wetland behind Hookers by the Lydd track. A superb bird that brought back memories of the summer of 2010 when a pair successfully bred at Dungeness.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Spotted Redshank

Dengemarsh - mild and cloudy, SW 2-4 - 0515 - 0800hrs - An early morning sortie to check the  wetlands for yesterday evening`s Purple Heron drew a blank on that front, but did afford regular `booming` and flight views of at least two Bitterns (one with several primary feathers missing on its left wing) and plenty of Marsh Harrier activity from the ramp. A Spotted Redshank dropped in on Hayfield two where a suckling herd has recently been introduced. On Hayfield 3 a trio of well grown Lapwing chicks was good to see, plus two Redshank chicks along with two pairs of Shovelers and Shelducks and a Great White Egret. Also noted across the Marsh: Pochard, Teal, Bearded Tits, Corn Buntings, Yellow Wagtail and Cuckoo. 


                                 Corn Bunting, Springfield Bridge

                                  Skylark at dawn

                                  Bittern over Hookers

                                  Spotted Redshank, Hayfield 2

                                 White Ermine

                                 Ruby Tiger

Considering how humid it was last night the garden moth trap was a little disappointing with just four  species of macros present, including Ruby Tiger and White Ermine.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

House Martins

New Romney - warm, dry and cloudy, E3 - This weekend I left the car in the driveway and walked out from home for some early morning birding in the Marsh countryside around the town. There were no real surprises but it was good to see a few House Martins building their mud nests under eaves on a nearby housing estate. Reed Warblers have moved in en-mass with marginal reedbeds along all the local sewers having a singing male every 50 yards or so, and while most proved tricky to actually see I did manage to snap a few pics of one yesterday with the old bridge camera; Lesser Whitethroats, Garden and Cetti`s Warbler were all included in a suite of nine species of warblers across the Romney area.


                                 Reed Bunting and Warbler, New Sewer


                                 Marsh Frogs, Dengemarsh Sewer

Interestingly while Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Yellow Wagtail are present in small numbers south of the town around Belgar Farm they appear to be absent from the Hope Lane loop. Also noted during my perambulations: Dabchick, a Mallard with eight ducklings (two down from a week ago), Grey Heron, several Buzzards, Kestrel, Cuckoo (two sites), Raven over, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swifts over, Skylarks, Linnets and Yellowhammers.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Bitterns

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, SW 2-4 - An early morning breeding bird survey around the old patch produced all the usual protagonists, plus a `booming` Bittern again. On the main body of the reserve there are at least three, possibly four `boomers`, one of which could be nipping over to Lade from the Tower Pits/ARC area for a crafty `boom`, or it may even be a fifth bird... Cuckoos were noticeable by their absence, although the wind did pick up as the morning progressed making for difficult viewing and listening. A light passage of Swifts passed overhead, while a Spotted Flycatcher showed briefly by the ponds. 

                                  Sea Kale in flower


                                  New murals on the VC wall

                                  Sedge Warbler in full song by Dennis`s hide

Checked out the Patch mid-morning where four Mediterranean Gulls and two Common Terns were amongst a couple of hundred gulls loafing on the beach. On the bird reserve, a Cattle Egret on Cooks Pool, plus Dunlin, Turnstone and Common Sandpiper on Burrowes and more Swifts over. Elsewhere today, several more Spotted Flycatchers and a Common Redstart were noted in the Trapping Area/Long Pits, while a pair of Dotterels in a field north of Old Romney had, unfortunately, departed by the time the local cavalry arrived.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Spotted Flycatcher

Dungeness - 0515 - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, W 1-3 - A cracking still morning that got increasingly windier as the day progressed. I managed an hour in the seawatching hide first thing, but little was moving apart from a few Gannets, Sandwich Terns and Mediterranean Gulls. Around the old lighthouse, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Whitethroat and Linnet were all noted in song. Moving onto the top end of Long Pits where it was just the usual scrub warblers and a migrant Spotted Flycatcher, my first of the year. Across Dengemarsh there was plenty of breeding activity from scrub and reed warblers, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Lapwing, Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall and Pochard. Also noted: a Hobby at Hookers, a Greenshank on hayfield 3 and several Yellow Wagtails, two Great White and a Cattle Egret and a Barn Owl at Boulderwall.

                                 Rear view of Spotted Flycatcher, Long Pits

                                 Yellow Wagtail, Hayfield 3

A midday check of Romney Warren delivered a singing Cuckoo, Blackcaps and Reed Warblers, while all was quiet in the spinney at Dunes Road. A check of the bay on a falling tide from Littlestone delivered the usual Oystercatchers and Curlews, plus two Sanderlings in summer plumage.