Friday, 10 January 2014

White-fronts & Weekend forecast

Dungeness - 0900hrs - mild, light airs, sunny - Perfect weather conditions this morning for another go at the Hume`s Leaf Warbler in the trapping area. Together with the Joker and Marshman as soon as we arrived at the south-west corner we heard it calling; to my ears its sounds like a truncated, high pitched Spotted Redshank, `ch-wit`. After several bouts of calling we eventually had good views from the main track as it fed at head-height in a bramble patch, basically a greyish version of Yellow-browed, but with that distinctive call.

                                White-fronted Geese, Scotney

Scotney - A text from PB alerted us to a flock of nine White-fronted Geese on the grass opposite the double bend at the Sussex end of the pits, which were still in situ when we arrived, but not for long, and were the first of the winter on the deck. The pits and grass leys were full of birds including the feral Barnacle flock, hundreds of Lapwings, Golden Plovers, gulls and common wildfowl, plus the wintering Long-tailed Duck.
Lade - 1500hrs - Flogged across the shingle to the rough ground behind the `mirrors` and a stake out for owls in perfect weather conditions; a long shot, I know, but you`ve got to try, and no there weren`t any. All we could muster up was a couple of Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel on the raptor front while Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers called from the reedbed.
Weekend Forecast - Anyone looking for a decent days` winter birding need look no further than the Romney Marsh, particularly as the weather looks set fair this weekend; and on Sunday morning there`s even that rare beast, a south-easterly wind forecast.
  Based on the past few days the following route should deliver the goods:
Dungeness - Check the gulls on the foreshore (high tide 0700hrs Saturday) first thing for up to seven Caspian Gulls amongst legions of commoners, plus Kittiwakes a chance of Little Gull and all the usual divers, auks etc on the sea. Next stop the south-west corner of the trapping area for the Hume`s Leaf Warbler, having first familiarised yourself with the call - and don't forget your wellies.
Scotney - The wintering Long-tailed Duck favours the Scotney Court Farm end. Check the geese on the grass as nine White-fronted and two Bean Geese were seen today, although did not stick. Loads of gulls, wildfowl and waders on the grass.
Camber Sands - Nip into Sussex for four Snow Buntings on the tide line seen at the bistro end of the beach today.
Lydd - En-route to the bird reserve divert along Caledcote Lane for the wintering Bewick` Swans flock.
Dungeness RSPB - All the usual wintering wildfowl here including Smew and Goosander, Black-throated Diver on New Diggings, Black-necked Grebe on Burrowes, plus Raven, Peregrine, Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Bittern and up to eight Great White Egrets around the site. Check the fields at Boulderwall for the Glossy Ibis which is best seen from Firth hide going to roost anytime between 1530-1615hrs.
Also locally there have been two Short-eared Owls at Littlestone golf links and a Red-crested Pochard on Lade south while both Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver were noted briefly on Burrowes and Scotney respectively this week.
Good birding, and if you bag that lot, well done - and buy a lottery ticket!

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