Lake District - 1-8th August - Having had no phone/broadband line of late, due to a combination of being away up north and the usual crap service from BT getting round to fix the problem, which as per usual was a corroded overhead cable atop a telegraph pole.
Anyhow, a family trip to the Lake District based at the small village of Backbarrow in the southern lakes was a great success. The contrast in weather (wet) and landscape (hilly, lakey and verdant) to the dry flat lands couldn`t have been greater. Birdwise it was pretty quiet in the oak woods without birdsong, but roving flocks contained plenty of Willow Warblers, one or two Redstarts and Marsh Tits, which seemed to be everywhere. The Grizedale Forest yielded more common woodland birds including a few Redpolls and Siskins and one group of five Crossbills. We did well for raptors though with Buzzards and Sparrowhawks common place, plus two sightings of Goshawk in Grizedale and singles of Osprey and Red Kite in the Kent valley.
The fells were full of Ravens, plus small numbers of Mipits and Wheatears and a Peregrine on the Scafell Massif. The only place we saw Dipper was on the river Leven at Backbarrow while Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and Goosander were noted at several locations.
A trip to Walney Island was memorable for the vast numbers of shorebirds, including 100 Icelandic Blackwits, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. Breeding Eiders were still present as were Little and Sandwich Terns, both of which failed to breed successfully this year, and huge numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls which nest on the island.
Probably the most memorable birds in Lakeland were the House Martins, they seemed to be everywhere with colonies in most villages, farmhouses and out buildings. Smashing little birds, and far more numerous than down here.
Oh, and one Border Terrier had a great time in his native habitat amongst the fells.
Saturday 9th August - Back home and a scout around the bird reserve delivered a decent selection of passage waders including eight Greenshanks, Wood Sandpiper and Ruff from Makepiece Hide, plus a Black-necked Grebe.
Sunday 10th August - Lade - mild, cloudy, rain showers, s 6 - The monthly WeBS count found most of the ducks, Coots and grebes sheltering amongst the islands due to the increasing, gale force wind. Hundreds of Sand Martins and 50 Swifts were feeding low over the water.
Dungeness - 1045-1245hrs - A two hour seawatch from the boats in the company of MB in squally showers and strong winds proved profitable with the highlights being two Sooty Shearwaters down-Channel along with three Manx, five Fulmar, 12 Common Scoter, Bonxie, Arctic Skua, Arctic Tern and a steady procession of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns. Several large flocks of Swifts headed south in appalling conditions, low to the water, and I wondered how many of them didn't make it across.
We had a surprise visit from Peter and Sandy Smith from Bedfordshire this afternoon and spent a very pleasant couple of hours catching up on news from the old county.
Monday 11th August - Heavy showers, sw 6 - The unsettled weather continued with a blustery wind whipping in some hefty downpours during the morning. An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon produced very little apart from a few Swifts going out and three coasting Whimbrel. There was movement of terns and Gannets, but way out in the Channel.