Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Winter wildfowl, Poms and a Newt

Dungeness - 0815hrs - mild, sunny, se 4 - With a fabled south-easterly blow in progress we tried the point this morning, initially from the hide and then from the fishing boats, but only lasted an hour as the light was horrible and little was on the move apart from a steady flow of auks and distant Gannets, plus two skuas that given the distance and light were unidentifiable. However, the highlights were four Eiders, three Mergansers, 25 Brents and a Med Gull.
Lade - On the local patch there was an increase in Pochard and Wigeon numbers from the weekend, while Goldcrest and Chiffchaff noted in the willow swamp.
ARC - The torrential rain of late has put paid to the islands in front of Screen and Hanson with only the top of the Cormorant island showing, which did have a Blackwit hunkered down on it. There were few ducks on the water visible from the hide due to the wind direction but did included five Goldeneyes and a fly past redhead Smew, my first of the autumn. There were plenty of ducks in the south-eastern corner sheltering from the wind, plus a smart Slavonian Grebe and a Great White Egret from the causeway road.
Called in briefly at the VC where large numbers of Shovelers had moved onto Burrowes. The two Cattle Egrets were reported again from Dengemarsh and there were more Goldeneyes on the lakes; winter is a coming...

                                Little Egret at sea off Dungeness

Dungeness - 1440hrs - With cloud cover approaching it was a return to the fishing boats for another hour of seawatching, which this time was much better with a steady flow of at least 200 Kittiwakes streaming through, some of them close to the splash zone, plus six Mediterranean and five Little Gulls, 20 auks, 10 Gannets, 23 Brents, 25 Wigeon, five Common Scoters and singles of Red-throated Diver, Shelduck, Little Egret and Curlew. On the skua front five juvenile Pomarines clipped the point (including one along the beach which I nearly missed!), plus an Arctic Skua and a small, dark job at some distance that I didn`t really get much time on which was either Arctic or Long-tailed. So, all in all, a very profitable hour, and I heard later that a Leache`s Petrel was also seen just before lights out (DW).
Also on the shingle foreshore 30 Goldfinches and two Skylarks.
Plovers - Our old cottage is full of nooks and crannies and every autumn around now we find newts in our bathroom looking for somewhere to settle down for the winter. I nearly stood on the little fella below, but managed to rescue it before Mrs PT`s cat got in on the act, and relocate it to a safe area underneath one of the garden log piles. Juvenile Smooth Newts have to survive out of water for anything up to four years before they become sexually mature enough to breed back in the pond; whether or not this one will reach that stage, only time will tell, but what a smart little beast it was.

                                Smooth Newt, juvenile, Plovers bathroom

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