Lade - 0800hrs - cool, cloudy, w 2 - A late start, but with a warm after glow having savoured QPR`s 2 - 1 victory over Wigan last night, in the company of the Greatstone Joker, to whom I send my sincere apologies for being such a negative bugger when 1 nil down - I should have had more faith.
Anyhow, back to the morning after. The weather appeared to be more like spring like with the blasting westerly of the past week finally relenting and there was even a few moths in the garden trap, of which Pebble Prominent was new for the year.
Trudging across the shingle towards south lake a Greenshank went over calling, while many of the breeding passerines were enjoying the light airs and singing from perches or song flighting. Two Common Sandpipers flitted over the water and a large party of feeding Swifts was checked for any white rumps or bellies (well, you can dream...). Cuckoos were active around the `mirrors` where a Mistle Thrush and Green Woodpecker were perched, and a Marsh Harrier got the treatment from a pair of Lapwings over by the airport. Good news on the breeding front, at least for wildfowl, is that the place was alive with cootlets, moorlets, grebelets, ducklings and goslings, why this should be I do not know. Perhaps its a combination of higher that normal water levels in the willow swamp preventing predator/human access, while Mink are no more and there are fewer corvids due to the activities of a local shoot.
Anyhow, on the walk back I learnt a salutary lesson in observation skills when a brood of ducklings with mum and `dad` emerged from bankside vegetation on south lake. My thought process went something along the lines of: "Mmm, that`s an early brood of Tufteds... let`s take a pic for the blog...loads of TDs on north lake, none with juvs tho... cos its way too early... don`t normally see TD ducklings before the end of June... mmm, strange that.."
Now, dear reader as the pic below shows that aint no brood of Tufted Ducks, it is, of course a duck Mallard with her ducklings, but with a drake Tufted Duck in attendance!
With a high pressure weather system building I confidently predict a rarity rush for the second half of the month, particularly as some bloke from North Downs & Beyond has pitched up at Dunge and joined the rarity hunters! So bring on the "rares" I say - Squacco Heron, Red-footed Falcon, or a pratincole would be nice, better still a Roller or maybe a Broad-billed Sand, perhaps with a Spotted Flycatcher or Turtle Dove as a bonus.
Birdwatching Break - Picked Stuart up from Ashford for a three day stay at Plovers at midday.
Faggs Wood - On the way home we did a circuit of the wood and even though it wasn`t the best time of day still managed five each of singing Nightingale, Garden and Willow Warblers in the birch scrub, plus Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Jay, Greater pecker and Long-tailed Tit. The main ride was full of wild flowers, including wild strawberry, plus the day-flying moth, speckled yellow.
At Warehorne Bridge we noted Lesser Whitethroat, three Buzzards, Pied Wagtail, Linnet and Whitethroat.
RSPB - This afternoon we certainly encountered the full gambit of spring weather with hail, rain, black cloud, sunshine and rainbows. All the usual breeding birds were located: Marsh Harrier, `booming` Bittern, Beardies, Dabchick and the like, plus close views of Reed, Sedge, Cetti`s Warblers and Whitethroat. The Hayfields were devoid of waders, although there were plenty of Shelduck, Bhgulls, Little Egrets and common wildfowl. A 1st summer Little Gull flew over New Ex while Cuckoo, Hobby and Whimbrel seen from the access road. Best of all though was a flock of 13 Sanderlings that flew over Burrowes and briefly landed on the only available island in front of Makepiece hide before heading off north.
Lydd - An evening sortie for farmland birds around Lydd, following a heavy downpour, proved successful with six Corn Buntings, two Little Owls, Stock Dove, Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail and Kestrel. Finished off at Springfield Bridge where nine Dunlins were on the flood, plus 29 Carrion Crows perched on fence posts. The Bittern was `booming` regularly and two Marsh Harriers flew to roost at dusk.
A good start to the Birdwatching Break with 68 species noted, despite the rain.