ARC/Tower Pits - mild, cloudy, sw 3 - For a change of scene we wandered down to the pines and along the back towards Lydd by the railway line. Several Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and at least one Firecrest were present in tit flocks, while the sea buckthorn held a dozen Song Thrushes and Blackbirds and a Reed Bunting. There was precious little else on the farmland apart from loads of corvids and a few Common Gulls. On the margins of the pits Cetti`s Warbler, Water Rail and a Great White Egret over was about it. From Screen hide the usual wildfowl and a couple of Marsh Harriers.
Walland Marsh - A herd of 15 Bewick`s Swans was noticeable in a field by the wind farm and viewable with care from the busy A259. The hedgerows around Midley were full of Fieldfares and from Brookland to Lydd we noted 5 Kestrels and 3 Common Buzzards.
Burrowes - Called in to pay homage to the roosting Long-eared Owl in the sallows behind the discovery pond along with a steady flow of visiting owl disciples.
Summary: Anyone planning a trip down to the Marsh this weekend should be assured a wide range of wintering species. Offshore at Dungeness the usual Gannets, Kittiwakes, auks and Red-throats are almost a given, while there`s always the chance of a scarce duck, diver or skua; this week has also noted both Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters, plus a Leache`s Petrel. If gulls are your bag then you`re in for a treat as Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls are present most days on the beach by the fishing boats, and if identification is a problem (and when isn't it!) then Saturday afternoon normally witness the gull aficionados on site with their buckets of fish offal and bread to entice the brutes into camera range.
On the bird reserve the usual Great White Egrets are still around the site (although some have temporarily decamped to Brett`s marina this past week) plus Smew on Burrowes and of course the Long-eared Owl. In the Visitors Centre there is an optical display this weekend and you may even be able to find a Christmas gift in the shop.
Elsewhere, as already mentioned, small numbers of Bewick`s Swans are scattered around the Marsh, up to 4 Purple Sandpipers have been noted on the sea defence blocks on Hythe sea front and a Glossy Ibis is present at Pett Level.