Thursday, 15 March 2012

Brents, 1st Wheatear & Iceland Gull

Dungeness - 0700hrs - misty, hazy sunshine, mild s2 - As the viz was poor decided to flog across the shingle by the boats looking for passerines of which a single Black Redstart noted plus several Mipits, Skylarks and Reed Buntings in song.
At 0800hrs joined TG in the hide for an hours seawatching just as a large flock of Brents cut across the Point. Over the next hour had 2,300 Brents moving up-Channel in various size flocks clipping the Point just offshore with some of them just below the seawall; how many we missed in the murk or cut behind us is anyones guess. As always a terrific sight and sound as these wintering geese head north to breed. Also noted during the watch a trickle of Gannets, Kitts, Common Scoters, Common and Black-headed Gulls (TG also had Sandwich Terns, Med Gulls and a variety of ducks earlier).
On the bird reserve no sign of yesterdays Black-necked Grebes from the causeway road, but 3 redhead Smew on ARC.
Royal Military Canal - 1000hrs - Met Karen from the National Trust to discuss a bird survey I`m carrying out this spring along the canal from Appledore to Warehorne. Good to see plenty of water on the Dowels where a large flock of migrant Common Gulls held 30 Med Gulls. During the course of the recce, in glorious sunshine, a good number of Yellowhammers noted, plus Long-tailed Tits, Bullfinch, 20 Redwings, 10 Song Thrushes, singing Cetti`s Warbler and Chiffchaff, Buzzard, 1pr Sparrowhawks, Kestrel, Little Egret and a flock of 250 Brents overhead following the line of the Low Weald eastwards (wonder how many have departed today...).
On the way back from Ashford checked out the fields around Lydd where a pair of Little Owls noted on the chicken sheds at Caldicott. On the bird reserve the Garganey at Boulderwall proved elusive, but year ticked BP (well, the sun was shining!) and managed to jam the Wheatear, my first of the year, near the return trail; spring has officially arrived!
Dungeness - 1600hrs An adult Iceland Gull was found in the roosting gulls by the boats this afternoon by a visiting birder, and kind of expected considering how many there have been elsewhere of late. Just managed to get there in time before it flew off towards Lade. A stunning full adult and the first of its kind for ages and a cracking end to yet another great day on the Marsh. A Caspian Gull was also in the roosting flock.

Brent Geese on the move - one of the great birding spectacles of spring at Dungeness. The pics just don't do the event justice as the flocks also make an evocative babbling contact call. Throughout the morning over 4,000 moved eastwards

                                          Royal Military Canal, Kenardington

                                          Adult Iceland Gull, Dungeness

2nd winter Caspian Gull, Dungeness

ps: A large tortoishell butterfly was noted in the garden at the Kerton Road Cafe this afternoon.

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