Thursday, 10 March 2016

A Red Letter Day

Lade - mild, overcast, light airs - Perfect weather for a wander across the Desert to Mockmill searching for Dartford Warblers on the gorse ridges. Two Stonechats, a Snipe, singing Cetti`s Warblers and Reed Buntings were logged, plus distant Marsh Harriers over Airport pits, but no sign of the elusive scrub warbler. On south lake 200 Teal was a noteworthy count for the time of year amongst lesser numbers of the usual Coots, grebes and diving ducks. Around the ponds myriads of midges dancing over the willows attracted a couple of Chiffchaffs, and even the Blue and Great Tits were drawn to the feast, snapping up insects with great aplomb. A Med Gull and Goldeneye were present on north lake.
  Walking back beside south lake the local Herring Gulls kicked off big style along the coastal housing strip. I expected to see a pond-dipping Grey Heron getting a ritual hammering as it flapped back towards the lakes, or maybe a Sparrowhawk hunting the garden bird feeders, but neither hove into view.
  And then way up in the ether I spotted a distant bird with a stiff-winged flight action coming in off the bay. My first thought was Peregrine as they can appear to be `flappy` in the absence of wind; however, as it came closer and lower I was astonished to see that it was a Fulmar! Now, you expect Fulmars on a day like yesterday at Dungeness with a raging southerly blow, but not heading inland in flat calm conditions. Anyhow, the said bird must`ve got wind of the welcome party below as it quickly gained height, circled over north lake and then headed back out to sea where it belonged. I`m assuming the gulls thought the Fulmar to be a threat as they soon stopped yelping when it disappeared.  
  This is my first record of Fulmar on the local patch (I`ve not even seen one in the bay before) thanks to those adorable Herring Gulls... 

                                Black Swan, Greatstone Beach

                               Sandwich Tern, Lade

  This afternoon we walked down to the Tavern to scan the beach on a falling tide. The most obvious bird was a Black Swan sat on the sands by the tideline, having already been seen at Dungeness earlier; this long-distance migrant was yet another new bird for the local patch, well kind of...
A Sandwich Tern flew in and settled amongst the gulls on the sands at the Lade end and would have been new for year, if only I was keeping such a list, while at least 10 Med Gulls were present with others calling overhead.
  The wader count was as follows: Oystercatcher - 480, Ringed Plover 25, Grey Plover 2, Knot 75, Sanderling 350, Dunlin 150, Barwit 15, Curlew 260, Redshank 5, Turnstone 18. All 10 species present and correct, but no doubt I missed a few more at the Littlestone end of the beach.

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