Lade - cold, clear, sunny, nw 4 - A sparkling morning was tempered somewhat by a bracing north-westerly airflow delivering a strong smell of something unsavoury to the coastal strip. On south lake the Slavonian Grebe was unusually showy amongst the massed ranks of Coots out in the middle, while the roosting ducks were crowded in the shelter of the willow swamp making the most of the sunshine. Two Great White Egrets were at the far end of north lake.
ARC - 1500hrs - A passerine flock in and around the sea buckthorns was of interest due to the variety of species on offer, just common tits, finches, thrushes and the like, plus Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Down at the pines a redhead Smew remains within a Coot flock on ARC.
This morning I decided that and it was high time my Swarovski optics (20 year old bins and 10 year old scope) that are used daily were sent off to Austria for some TLC, so I dropped them off at Hythe Camera Shop and dug out my 40 year old Optolyths. I used them this afternoon and, oh dear, what a difference; its a bit like driving an old Cortina when you`ve been used to a modern car. Still, the agent reckons the optics will come back looking like new, within two months...
Weekly Summary - Anyone considering a trip down to the coast this weekend should be assured a classic winters day birding around the Marsh with Saturday looking the best day weather wise, being cold, sunny and dry with light airs.
With high tide being around 3pm a good starting point would be the RSPB reserve where large numbers of winter wildfowl are on the lakes, particularly Burrowes, including a few Smew, Goldeneye and Pintail. The Long-eared Owl continues to roost in the willows behind the discovery pond, and showing well. At Dengemarsh, Hooker`s reedbed is the current hotspot for Bitterns, Kingfisher and a pair of highly elusive Penduline Tits, plus one or two Dartford Warblers in the dry scrub anywhere from the viewing ramp to the Corral; please note that the Return Trail is off limits due to flooding. Check the fields and pools at Boulderwall for raptors, (including Hen Harrier seen today) egrets, plovers and wildfowl and the bird feeders for Tree Sparrows. Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Cetti`s Warbler and Bearded Tits have been seen around the site and across the road on the ARC.
Elsewhere, Lade south has a Slavonian Grebe; Scotney pits, Black-necked Grebe and Bean Goose; fields near Cheyne Ct wind farm by the A259, c30 Bewick`s Swans; Hythe sea front, Purple Sandpipers on the sea defence blocks; and at Pett Level, Glossy Ibis and White-fronted Geese.
The afternoon at Dungeness, on the high tide, should yield a few seabirds offshore such as auks, divers, Kittiwakes and Gannets, while the weeks star turn, a 1st winter Glaucous Gull was today patrolling the foreshore between the lighthouse and the fishing boats. And if gulls are your bag, there`s the `resident` Caspian to enjoy and the chance of a few more if Mick and Richard are down with their gull bait.
Good birding wherever you go.