Dungeness - 0615hrs - overcast, drizzle, cool, nw 2 - Despite the wind swinging round to a northerly vector I was determined to do a seawatch this morning as, after all, it is the end of April and shouldn't there be waders, skuas and terns on the move? Of course there should, but just not yet...(me thinks they`re going up the Bristol Channel, at least the terns and godwits as loads have been reported in the Midlands) Lasted 30 minutes before boredom set in with just 2 Gannets and a Fulmar noted. Barney agreed, so we set off for the bushes in a fine drizzle. Expectations rose when we bumped into a birder who`d heard via twitter that there`d been a "big fall at Portland", well that's that then, must be birds out there somewhere; after all, it was a clear night with rain at daybreak and a low cloud base, perfect for a mass drop-in at Dunge, surely..
Anyhow, a Black Redstart was singing from the power station with another in the lighthouse garden along with several skulking Chiff/Willows, Blackcap and Whitethroat. A few more Whitethroats and Chiffs en-route to the moat where a Redpoll zoomed over and what looked like the back end of a Firecrest disappeared into a bush near Lloyd's. Managed to miss a Whinchat in the moat but decided to move inland on the premise that nothing much more was going to emerge until the rain stopped.
ARC - A quick look at the south end from the causeway road delivered a decent clutch of waders with 3 Blackwits, 2 Whimbrels, 2 Oystercatchers and the moulting-into-summer-plum Spotted Redshank; very nice, just a shame there isn`t a bit more of this type of habitat elsewhere around the peninsula...
Lade - Couldn`t find yesterdays Ring-necked Duck, but it could still be lurking in a reed bed somewhere on site. Anyhow, there were plenty of birds about with a number of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the willow scrub, plus Cetti`s, Sedge and Reed Warblers all going for it in the swamp and Whitethroats in the gorse. Spent a bit of time checking out a large flock of Swallows hawking insects over north pit, along with several Sand Martins and 10 Swifts. Two Whimbrels flew over calling, a Yellow Wag likewise, plus while 4 Med Gulls and 2 Shelducks on the water.
On the walk back a cursory scan of the fence line beside the gorse scrub revealed the bird of the morning, a cracking male Whinchat (173), a migrant that has declined to the extent that it can be easily missed during the spring.
Back home I checked the moth trap which had a single insect, but it was new for the garden, a Brindled Beauty! Whoopee, doo, I was so flummoxed at actually catching a moth I had to ask DB to confirm the id, which she kindly did, while also commenting on how pale it appeared.
Littlestone - Plenty of shorebirds here including an increase in Barwits (at long last) to about 100, many in summer plum and one which allowed a close approach. Ringed Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and Oyc also noted.
ARC - 1500hrs - An afternoon return to the pits in heavy hail showers delivered hundreds of hirundines (mostly House Martins), 3 Great White and 2 Little Egrets and a year tick Lesser Whitethroat (174). More overhead waders included 2 Greenshanks, 4 Whimbrels and 10 Barwits.