Friday, 23 September 2016

Chiffchaffs and Swallows

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Everywhere we went today Swallows and House Martins were on the move in large numbers. Likewise, Chiffchaffs, with at least 30 around the ponds at Lade, but not a sniff of a `stripy`.
Scotney - No sign of the Spoonbills here but plenty of feral geese, Wigeon, Shelduck, diving ducks, gulls and the like. Out back up to 10 Yellow Wagtails, Linnets, Pied Wagtails, Mipits, Wheatears, Reed Bunting, Raven and a Common Buzzard.
Midley - A run out to the drying barns and nearby feeders delivered a Yellowhammer, five Tree Sparrows, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a few Mipits but little else.
Greatstone Beach - From the Tavern viewpoint on an incoming tide a decent selection of shorebirds included 150 Knot, 500 plus each of Curlew and Oystercatcher, 200 Sanderling and Dunlins, 50 Barwits and five Grey Plovers. The tern count was 320 Sandwich and 10 Common, while offshore a flock of 100 Wigeon and four Grey Seals noted. Hundreds of Swallows heading south along the beach and the waders flying to roost provided a superb spectacle for Lew.
Dungeness - We finished the bird tour at the fishing boats with a seawatch where the usual Gannets, terns and Arctic Skuas performed offshore, plus 10 porpoises.
  Over the two days 94 species of birds were recorded with the highlights being the hirundine migration and the two Ospreys.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Ospreys and House Martins

Dungeness - 0830hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw 2 - With Lew down from north Kent for a couple of days birding we kicked off in spectacular style as well over a thousand House Martins sat atop and swirled around the working lighthouse, with hundreds more martins and Swallows along the beach and over the power station; infact, there was probably nearer 2,000 hirundines in the general area, a terrific sight, viz mig at its best. In the bushes a few Chiffchaffs, Stonechats, Robins, two Black Redstarts and another cracking male on the power station fence, plus a Wheatear opposite Jarman`s, Mipits overhead and five Kestrels. Whilst at the Obs we jammed in on a recently trapped Firecrest, always a delight to see in the hand.
  A half hour scan of the sea from the hide delivered more hirundines streaming south, several Arctic Skuas, Gannets and plenty more Common and Sandwich Terns, porpoises and a seal.

                               House Martins swarming around Dungeness light

                               Chiffchaff and Firecrest, DBO

RSPB - We spent the rest of the day on the bird reserve where along the access road Tree Sparrows, five Whinchats, four Stonechats, Common Whitethroats and Blackcap were noted. Burrowes held seven Great White Egrets, three Little Stints, three Ruffs, 11 Snipe, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover amongst all the usual eclipse ducks, grebes, gulls and the like. On the raptor front a Hobby snatched a hirundine over the lake, while several Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and up to 10 Kestrels noted. On ARC, 200 Golden Plovers, Lapwings, another Little Stint, Grey Plover, two Snipe and 10 Chiffchaffs in the bushes by the willow trail. Also noted around the reserve, Green Woodpecker, Cetti`s Warblers, Wheatears,Yellow Wagtails and a constant stream of southbound hirundines of all three species.

                                Common Lizard, Scott hide

                                Osprey - a rare sight, perched at Dungeness

Ospreys - Passage Ospreys have a hard time down here, mostly from the numerous gulls and corvids that keep them on the move. While I`ve seen them just about annually I have never seen one here perched before, until today that is. Our first Osprey sighting was at 1500hrs when one came in over the water tower heading towards us on the return trail. Everything got up over ARC, along with roosting gulls on the shingle as it eventually passed over our heads towards Dengemarsh. With gulls and two Marsh Harriers for company we watched it disappear towards Rye.
  About an hour later another different bird came in over Lade (it probably flew over Plovers!) as we were sat in Hanson hide and after being `greeted` by a crow plonked itself down on one of the power line cross-trees on the Desert. We then moved round and parked by the railway gantry for a better look and, predictably, it  wasn't long before we were joined by the armed power station police checking us out for terrorists! Luckily I knew one of them and we were soon chatting away and showing them our quarry through telescopes, both the cops having never seen this magnificent raptor before.
  When we left site at 1715hrs the Osprey was preening and looking settled on its artificial `tree`.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Lade - humid, hazy, light airs - 0700hrs - Plenty of grounded migrants on the shingle ridges this morning comprised chiefly Mipits, at least 100, plus a supporting cast of 50ish Reed Buntings, Linnets and two Wheatears. The willow swamp by the ponds was alive with birds and it took an hour to check through the 30 or so Chiffchaffs to make sure a Yellow-browed hadn't dropped in overnight. Also in the mix Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Reed Buntings, a Greater pecker, two Spotted and one Pied Flycatcher.
ARC - The willow trail held decent numbers of Chiffchaffs and several Blackcaps, a couple of Cetti`s Warblers, a Water Rail and the usual tits. Speckled Wood butterflies were also enjoying the autumn sunshine. From Hanson hide 150 Golden Plovers and Lapwings, three Ruffs, two Snipe and all the expected wildfowl, while the Cattle Egret put in a brief appearance.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Lesser Whitethroats

Lade - mild, cloudy, ne 2 - Yet again, despite perfect overnight weather conditions, the moth trap failed to deliver with just 30 macros of 11 species. However, new for the year was a cracking Frosted Orange and a couple of L-album Wainscots.

                                Frosted Orange and L-album Wainscot

Dungeness  - 0800hrs - We worked the northern end of Long Pits where the bushes held a good number of Chiffchaffs, several Blackcaps, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, plus a large tit and Chaffinch flock. A Common Redstart was lurking in the willows down the spine, along with more Chiffchaffs and a few Reed Buntings, while singles of Whinchat and Stonechat were noted on the edge of the Desert. The Rosy Starling continued to tag along with the Starling flock near the Obs and two Black Redstarts flitted on and off the power station fence.

                                Lesser Whitethroat, a bird of great beauty

ARC - Not much on the islands in front of Hanson this morning apart from Lapwings, five Snipe and all the usual eclipse wildfowl, although by mid-afternoon it had attracted a host of Knot from the beach at high tide and a Cattle Egret. The walk down to the pines was notable for more passage warblers, including up to 10 Lesser Whitethroats feasting on sweet, juicy blackberries, one of the smartest warblers around. Also noted a Peregrine on the water tower, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the power line poles, Kingfisher, Water Rail and Great White Egret from Screen hide.

                                Two sleepy Spoonbills

Scotney - The two long-staying Spoonbills were asleep on the causeway by the farm entrance pit along with a range of feral geese, gulls and ducks. On the grass by the main lake more feral geese, plus a few Curlews, Lapwings, Goldies, Dunlins, Ringed Plovers, a Whimbrel and a flock of 200 Wigeon on the water.
Fishing Boats - 1430-1530hrs - A pleasant enough hour watching Common and Sandwich Terns milling around offshore was enlivened by a Guillemot on the water, close views of an adult pale phase Arctic Skua and a Balearic Shearwater.

                                Guillemot off the fishing boats

Lydd in Bloom 2016 - Came as a bit of a surprise when we received 1st prize in the Lydd in bloom  coastal business category, presumably for our roses, window boxes and hydrangeas, which sadly are all now well past their best.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Rose-coloured Starling

Dungeness - warm, dry, cloudy, n 2 - 0730hrs - A few more migrants about the place than of late with hundreds of hirundines and Mipits along the beach between the lifeboat station and the lighthouse, plus 10 Wheatears and five Yellow Wagtails grounded and a Merlin chasing pipits. A few Goldfinches and Grey Wagtails drifted over calling, while at least 20 Chiffchaffs and five Common Whitethroats were in the bushes around the point and the southern end of the Trapping Area. A brief look at the sea revealed the usual Sandwich Terns along the shore, a few Gannets and porpoises and two Arctic Skuas chasing the terns.

                                Meadow Pipit, one of hundreds on the beach this morning

1300hrs - A juvenile Rosy Starling found in a Starling flock by TG necessitated a return to the point this afternoon. The flock was fairly mobile as they moved between the Obs and the power station pylons, occasionally dropping down to feed on the turf, and conveniently perching on overhead wires by West Beach to allow a couple of record shots. Rosy Starlings are rare in these parts and this was only my fourth since moving here almost 11 years ago. A typically pale juvenile individual with contrasting dark wings and yellowish base to the bill, and a welcome bit of quality at last.

                                Rosy Starling juvenile, Dungeness

Lade - More Chiffchaffs continued to move through the peninsula this afternoon with at least 30 birds around Lade and in the garden. This evening, whilst walking Barney, I watched one come to grief in the talons of a Sparrowhawk.
  Conditions seemed perfect this evening for moths, being still, humid and overcast, so on went the mv...

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Egrets and a Bittern

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, n 2 - Following two days of enforced inertia due to the wind and rain normal service was resumed today. A scattering of Wheatears and Whinchats remained on the Desert with a trickle of Mipits, Yellow Wagtails and hirundines moving overhead, but there was only one or two Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap in the willow swamp bushes.
Dengemarsh - Mrs PT joined us for a circuit of the marsh this morning where every harrier was carefully scrutinised following yesterdays sighting of a juvenile Pallid Harrier;  several Marsh Harriers, two Common Buzzards, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were noted however. We also had protracted flight views of a Bittern at Hooker`s, a Garganey on the lake amongst hundreds of Teal, Wigeon,  Pintail and feral geese, Bearded Tits, a Whinchat on the fence by hayfield 3, a Cattle Egret and Great White Egret in Boulderwall fields, 20 Knots and four Grey Wagtails overhead, six Wheatears on the battery sheds along Dengemarsh Road and our first Clouded Yellow butterfly of the autumn by the Corral. Throughout the walk a steady trickle of Yellow Wagtails, Mipits, Reed Buntings and hirundines passed overhead, so all in all a productive couple of hours.
Galloways - Further scanning for raptors from the range road delivered very little apart from a few more Wheatears.
ARC - A scan from the causeway road on the way home delivered three Avocets on the island, a Black-necked Grebe on the water another Great White Egret on the margins.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Warblers, chats and waders

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, ne 2 - A pretty decent couple of hours birding the local patch delivered a scattering of Wheatears, Mipits, Yellow Wagtails, two Whinchats, Black Redstart and a Skylark grounded on the Desert, while hundreds of hirundines, mostly House Martins, crowded onto the power lines twittering away merrily. Around the willow swamp at least ten each of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, plus several Reed Warblers, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, a Kingfisher and a brief glimpse of a Water Rail on the bare mud now showing around the margins. A Golden Plover flew over calling forlornly, two Marsh Harriers quartered the back fields and a steady flow of Sandwich Terns came off the bay. On south lake a flock of 30 Wigeons was noteworthy.

                               A parched Desert

                                Hirundines preparing to head off south

   Considering how humid it was last night the only downer was the lack of moths in the garden trap with a paltry 15 species of macros present, including Square-spot Rustic, Lunar Underwing new for the year, plus Chinese Character and Snout.

                                        Lunar Underwing

ARC - 1130hrs - There was plenty of interest on offer from Hanson hide with a large flock of Golden Plovers and Lapwings on the stony islands. Within the throng were 10 Barwits, six Blackwits, six Snipe, two Grey Plovers, Knot, Ruff and Greenshank, several Pintails and a Garganey. Also present, a Great White Egret, two Marsh Harriers and a Kingfisher, plus hundreds of hirundines on the move. More common passage warblers were in the bushes around the car park and along the willow trail.

                                Godwits and Greenshank

                                Juvenile Knot

                                Grey Plover and Lapwing

Greatstone Beach - 1400hrs - On a falling tide the sands was packed with gulls, terns and eight species of shorebirds. I didn't have too long but a count of 120 Barwits was notable along with 250 Sandwich Terns and a Black Tern.
  Another superb day of migrants across the Dungeness NNR.