Dungeness - 0745hrs - cold, cloudy, drizzle, nne 3 - A horrible morning to be out in the field with the northerly airflow making it feel more like February. Joined the local seawatchers for an hour on the concrete road from where earlier a couple of Poms had been reported. All the usual terns and Gannets were milling around just offshore along with half a dozen porpoises feeding close to shore. The up-Channel passage wasn't really happening, although we did have 2 Arctic Skuas and several flocks of mostly distant Commic Terns with one group of 5 venturing close enough to be confirmed as Arctics. Best of all though were singles of Marsh Harrier and Hobby in off the sea with the falcon whipping up over the shingle bank and hacking inland at breakneck speed; cracking stuff, it always gets me going watching one of my favourite birds arriving on these shores, to think how far they`ve travelled to get here, over rain forests, deserts and seas, and all to be greeted by 7C and drizzle!
Dengemarsh - A quick tour of the flood and hayfields in the hope that some waders had dropped in was soon dashed as singles of Barwit and Whimbrel were the only migrants on offer. A scattering of Lapwings, Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers, Shelducks and a drake Garganey were also present and, joy upon joy, the first Greylag goslings of the season on the lake. The Bittern was also `booming`.
Dungeness - 0945-1130hrs - Another session from the concrete road, in the drizzle, but this time from the comfort of the Jokers`s car yielded very little apart from a crippler... Two more Arctic Skuas were logged through plus 10 Common Terns and singles of Red-throated Diver, Barwit and a Merganser going west. However, at 1045hrs bird of the watch was something I have not seen before in all the hours spent staring at the sea off Dungeness - a coasting adult male Montagu`s Harrier. Luckily it was only about a hundred yards off shore and low down just over the waves, battling into the head wind, so it took a good 3-4 minutes (a luxury in seawatching terms) to round the point. Why it did not head inland is a mystery, and luckily the local gulls didn`t cotton on. Anyhow, what we saw was an elegant, grey harrier with smeared black wing tips, a small white rump patch and the clincher, when viewed through the `scope, a single black upper wing-bar. Needless to say it was new for the burgeoning Marsh year list (179) and the second decent raptor this week; perhaps a Honey Buzzard tomorrow...
New Diggings - 1730hrs - News came through from SB of a Red-rumped Swallow over Burrowes that by the time I arrived was relocated over New Diggings within a largish hirundine and Swift flock. We watched it from the causeway road as it hawked insects over the pit, a smart bird and the second rarity of the day bringing the Marsh year list neatly onto 180.