Sunday, 31 August 2014

Marvellous Mockmill

Lade - 0600-0900hrs - mild, cloudy, w 2 - A superb late summer morning with light airs and ideal conditions for walking Mockmill Sewer, a slither of marsh and scrub running south from the lakes into the Desert. As we crossed the storm beaches with Sand Martins fizzing by it was immediately apparent it was going to be a good session - you could just smell the birds! Crossing the main track and striking out across the Desert the first of many loose flocks of Yellow Wagtails were encountered; in total there must`ve been at least 150 grounded with another 50 moving over in the hour I searched through `em, most of which were juvs but also some spanking adult males too. Some of the Sand Martins pitched up on the shingle and atop scrub amongst hundreds of Starlings and House Sparrows feeding on emerging insects. Other grounded migrants on the shingle ridges included five Stonechat, three Wheatear and Stonechat and several Mipits.
As we approached Mockmill a Tripit went over calling, the first of the autumn. In the sewer bottom, with not a breath of wind, passerines were everywhere and over the next two hours I estimated there to be at least 50 Common Whitethroat, 20 Sedge Warbler, 10 each of Reed and Willow Warblers, eight Lesser Whitethroat, five each of Blackcap and Garden Warbler and two Cetti`s - and that was just the warblers! Also present were 10 each of Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Stonechat and Whinchat, five Wheatear, Robin, Dunnock, Wren and Blackbird.
Scanning across the airport fields a cracking ringtail Hen Harrier headed towards Lydd while three Marsh Harriers, two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel were also noted.
I never made it round the lakes and willow swamp so goodness knows what else was about.
On the walk back to Plovers a call from PB alerted me to the spectacle of hundreds of House Martins perched on the top rim of the water tower. This place never ceases to amaze me.
The moth trap was again low in species with only Angle Shades and Canary-shouldered Thorn of any note. Yellow Wagtails continued overhead throughout the morning while Willow Warblers and Whitethroats drifted through the garden fir trees.

                                        Angle Shades, Lade

                                "This beats seawatching any day"

                                Sedge Warbler, Mockmill

Dungeness - An early afternoon visit with family and a circular walk down to the fishing boats noted a steady movement of terns feeding offshore and an Arctic Skua. Two Wheatears and five Yellow Wagtails were on the shingle by the lighthouse and five Whinchats posed on scrub behind the Sanctuary. Whilst taking tea in the café two Common Buzzards drifted over the peninsula.

                                Whinchat, Sanctuary

Lade - A late afternoon Honey Buzzard came in off the bay and headed inland causing the local gulls to go into meltdown. On a falling tide, in warm sunshine and superb light, the beach was alive with shorebirds and gulls. Pick of the waders were 32 Redshanks and singles of Grey Plover and Curlew Sandpiper, plus two Arctic Terns amongst 50 Commons and 100 Sandwich Terns loafing on the mudflats. A trickle of hirundines pushed on south and 20 grounded Yellow Wagtails fed around the rotting sea kale.
Another terrific days birding on the local patch, which as usual I had to myself. I think this has to be one my best days for sheer numbers of warblers and chats.
NB: There was plenty more of a similar ilk to be had across the NNR today judging from Twitter, including an influx of Turtle Doves, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Great White Egret, several Honey Buzzards, Montagu`s Harrier, a Black Kite (?), plus the return of an old favourite, a Glossy Ibis on the bird reserve.
Happy days.

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