Lade - 0645hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - With not a breath of wind it was the perfect morning to walk Mockmill. En-route a Tree Pipit went over calling along with a few Yellow Wagtails, a Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and a Sedge Warbler in the cattery scrub. In the sewer scrub small numbers of Common Whitethroat, Sedge and Willow Warblers, Blackcap, 4 Whinchat and a Stonechat. On the walk back along the edge of south lake thousands of House and Sand Martins were swarming over the water, dipping down to drink, and settling on the bank side willows, a truly breathtaking spectacle.
Dungeness RSPB - 0900hrs - We met up with 14 members of the Bedfordshire Bird Club in the car park for their autumn migration meeting, and while many of yesterdays warblers and flycatchers had shipped out in last nights clear spell there was still much for the group to enjoy around the reserve; the only disappointment being a shortage of waders due to high water levels. However, during the circuit we noted Greenshank and Whimbrel over calling, plus Common Sandpiper and 4 Snipe. The scrub opposite Firth yielded a clutch of Willow, Cetti`s, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat, plus 4 Lesser Whitethroat near Christmas Dell. Several Marsh Harriers drifted over while on Dengemarsh two Great White Egrets, 5 Whinchat, Bearded Tits, Raven, Swift and masses of hirundines on the move were the highlights. News came through concerning the relocated Red-backed Shrike in scrub at the end of the return trail and the group all enjoyed good views of what has now become almost a true rarity down here. Several Clouded Yellow, Small Copper and Common Blue butterflies were also on the wing.
Back at a packed car park for lunch, in humid weather conditions, we were treated to an unprecedented passage of at least 20 Common Buzzard and one Honey Buzzard crossing the peninsula.
ARC - After lunch we moved `over the road` where 2 Spotted Flycatcher and a Common Redstart performed to order on overhead wires near the car park. From Hanson 2 Black-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, Ruff, 5 Garganey, 5 Black Tern and 2 Sparrowhawk were the highlights amongst hundreds more hirundines, common wildfowl and Lapwings, while the Glossy Ibis showed from Screen hide.
Dungeness - Moving onto the fishing boats for an afternoon seawatch turned out to be a more productive hour than I expected with a trickle of Sandwich and Common Terns, Gannets, gulls and 5 Arctic Skua, several of which approached close to shore. We also had good views of half a dozen Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal munching on a large flatfish. A steady passage of Swallows was also in progress, while Wheatear and Meadow Pipit were noted.
Over the weekend we rattled up 108 species with a memorable list of drift migrants including Wryneck and Red-backed Shrike and the spectacle of thousands of migrating hirundines.
In summary a great weekends birding amongst long standing friends, as well as catching up on a bit of gossip from the old county.