Thursday, 2 October 2014

Chats, Chiffs & porpoises

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - The warm night continued to yield a trap full of common autumnal moths, but with little quality apart from a Red Underwing on the summer house door.

                                Red Underwing, Lade

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Spent the day showing Lou, a guest from north Kent, around the peninsula in balmy weather conditions more akin to summer. After a brief look at the sea which produced a few Sandwich Terns, Gannets, Brents and singles of Guillemot, Med Gull and Arctic Skua we moved onto the land which was full of birds. Chiffchaffs were everywhere, we must`ve seen 50 between the Britannia and the Obs with at least a dozen in the lighthouse garden. Robins too were common place along with a clutch of chats: 15 Stonechats, six Black Redstarts (including two stunning, singing males) and singles of Common Redstart, Whinchat and Wheatear. Around 50 Mipits and Pied Wagtails were grounded on the edge of the Desert with a trickle of others overhead, plus Skylarks, Linnets, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. Several hundred House Martins made for an impressive sight flying around the chimney on B station.

                                Black Redstart, Dungeness

                                Mediterranean Gull adult, Dungeness

RSPB - Moving on to the bird reserve the Cattle Egret showed well amongst the cows at Boulderwall along with a large mixed flock of Mipits and Yellow Wags, and at least four Great Whites were noted across the site. On Burrowes a juv Little Stint was a surprise find while a male Peregrine performed to order in front of Makepiece and even landed and took a bath! All the usual wildfowl, gulls, grebes, Cormorants, egrets, Lapwings and four Snipe noted, plus Tree Sparrows in the car park scrub. From Springfield Bridge a rush of raptors with three each of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel enjoying the midday thermals bouncing off the shingle, plus Raven, Kingfisher and Yellow Wagtails.
Next stop Hanson hide where three Black-necked Grebes, six Ruff and four Blackwits were amongst the usual ducks and plovers, and more Chiffchaffs from the Willow Trail.

                                Cattle Egret, Boulderwall

                                Peregrine bathing, Burrowes

Dungeness - We finished off with an hour at the fishing boats and a flat calm sea that yielded few seabirds apart from several passing Sandwich Terns, Med Gulls and nine Brents, plus a close Guillemot. However, the main spectacle was a count of at least 21 Harbour Porpoises, some feeding close to shore, and two Grey Seals.
In summary, a cracking day in the field with 82 species of birds, the highlights being the chats, a Cattle Egret, a bathing Peregrine and not forgetting those porpoises.

Guillemot, Dungeness                                                              

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