Lade - mild, cloudy, sw 3 - Another dry, spring-like day with occasional sunshine. We worked the local patch where a couple of new signs had been erected on the causeway between the two lakes. After tweeting the conundrum out it seems that others had been found at Long Pits and ARC, but nobody locally has any idea who put them up and what for, so the mystery continues...
Birdwise it was pretty much of a muchness with up to 2,000 Coots, ducks and grebes on the lakes with only 2 Goldeneyes of any note. Several Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzard and Kestrel noted plus the usual vocal Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers around the willow swamp, and the highlight of the morning a flock of 30 Greenfinches.
As depicted below Barney is back on fine form after his teeth extractions. This morning he flushed a rather large brown rat that duly went to ground in a patch of reeds, which was a sensible move on the rat`s part as Barney hates getting his feet wet!
RSPB - A quick look at Burrowes revealed the usual Goosanders and Smews on the lake, plus 2 Yellow-legged and a Caspian Gull from Makepeace hide. The roosting Long-eared Owl continues to attract a steady flow of admirers to the discovery pond sallows.
The Missed List
Its that time of year again when we start looking back at what birds we missed during our birding sorties around the Marsh in 2015. So far 209 species have been accumulated, which is quite a bit short of the 225 species high of five years ago, not that I`m complaining as there have been some amazing highlights, more of which in a later post.
However, there`s always the chance of something new before the year is out, like a Waxwing flock drifting south or a scarce water bird on the gravel pits, such as Red-necked Grebe or Long-tailed Duck; and despite a fair bit of seawatching this year we never did connect with a Velvet Scoter. Other omissions from the seabird list included Rosy Tern, Long-tailed Skua, Sabine`s and Glaucous Gulls, although the latter could yet still put in an appearance at Dungeness.
Anyhow, it was a poor year for waders, mainly due to high water levels on the pits, with no Pec or Buffy Sandpipers, or even a tricky little `peep` to mull over. Golden Plover flocks were searched for Dotterel, without success, and will we ever find our poster bird - Kentish Plover on the sands at Lade, it`s now ten years and waiting...
Missed raptors, for the third year running, included Osprey, and while there were several we just weren`t in the right place at the right time as they rarely tarry here due to mobbing by gulls. Monty`s and Black Kite were also absentees. To finish off the dipped non-passerines, Bee-eater eluded us, as did Tawny Owl, but no surprise there.
As for passerines there were quite a few we missed, typically brief flyover types such as Woodlark, Serin, Lap and Snow Bunts, plus Water Pipit, Gropper, Golden Oriole, Great Grey Shrike, Short-toed and Common Treecreepers, Barred and Wood Warblers, none of them easy down here and several that put in an appearance when we were off the Marsh.
Aquatic Warbler is another one of those target species, along with Kentish Plover, that nags away and remains absent for another year. The location is right, so is the habitat and there are no shortage of birders searching for them. I guess both species are in such steep decline on their continental breeding grounds that with each passing year the chances of finding one just gets slimmer and slimmer.
Whilst on the subject of absentees, this was the first year we didn`t record a Turtle Dove on passage on the local patch at Lade during the spring or autumn. No surprise really as there was only a handful of breeding birds reported on the Marsh farmland.
But by far the biggest omission in 2015 was Grey Partridge. Numbers of this once common farmland bird have simply collapsed. Despite searching all its old haunts locally, and around Walland Marsh, I could not find a single covey, pair, or singing cock bird, nothing. Sad times indeed for this quintessential farmland bird.