Lade - 0830hrs - Cold, overcast, w 4 - At least once a week I like to give the local patch a thorough going over which usually takes most of the morning once all the nooks and crannies are explored. Must confess to not holding out for much of a session as we trudged across the desert towards Mockmill Sewer into a nippy old westerly. However, once in the shelter of the scrub and with a little help from my canine friend birds started to appear. The sewer bottom was partially flooded after the recent heavy rains so it was no surprise when 3 Snipe broke cover and further on a Woodcock and Water Rail. Several Song Thrushes, Redwings and Blackbirds were noted in the scrub plus 2 Stonechats and 4 Dunnocks.
The fields towards the airport were covered in Lapwings, Curlews, Stock Doves, Woodpigeons, Starlings and Common Gulls, while several Marsh Harriers quartered the rough grassland and a Common Buzzard sat atop a straw stack on lookout. The only small birds were a couple of Linnets and singles of Skylark and Reed Bunting. The reedbed behind the `mirrors` held more Water Rails (I couldn't begin to guess at the winter population here), 2 Cetti`s Warblers, 2 Grey Herons and a Little Egret. All the usual diving duck on south pit included 2 Goldeneyes and not much else. Moving on to the willow swamp and more Water Rails, a tit flock, 2 Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and 2 Fieldfares.
A scan of north pit from the causeway at first revealed nothing more that the usual diving ducks, 12 Wigeon and 6 Goldeneyes but as we worked our way round a diver came into view at the far end. Having only bins it took closer views before confirming it was a Black-throated Diver (note peaked forehead, level lower mandible, black and white neck and pale rear flank patch) my first of the year. Whilst watching the diver 2 Great White Egrets and a flyover Bittern were noted.
The final section of the walk took us along the beach, where as it was low tide there was little of note apart from distant Curlews, Oystercatchers and sandpipers, plus a dead Guillemot on the tideline.
All things considered a decent mornings birding.
1400hrs - Returned to the pits with the scope this afternoon and managed a few digi-pics in poor light of what was an adult Black-throated diver in winter plumage.
ps: Two Waxwings were reported from New Romney today (MH) with another in Dymchurch.