Dungeness - 0830hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw 2 - With Lew down from north Kent for a couple of days birding we kicked off in spectacular style as well over a thousand House Martins sat atop and swirled around the working lighthouse, with hundreds more martins and Swallows along the beach and over the power station; infact, there was probably nearer 2,000 hirundines in the general area, a terrific sight, viz mig at its best. In the bushes a few Chiffchaffs, Stonechats, Robins, two Black Redstarts and another cracking male on the power station fence, plus a Wheatear opposite Jarman`s, Mipits overhead and five Kestrels. Whilst at the Obs we jammed in on a recently trapped Firecrest, always a delight to see in the hand.
A half hour scan of the sea from the hide delivered more hirundines streaming south, several Arctic Skuas, Gannets and plenty more Common and Sandwich Terns, porpoises and a seal.
RSPB - We spent the rest of the day on the bird reserve where along the access road Tree Sparrows, five Whinchats, four Stonechats, Common Whitethroats and Blackcap were noted. Burrowes held seven Great White Egrets, three Little Stints, three Ruffs, 11 Snipe, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover amongst all the usual eclipse ducks, grebes, gulls and the like. On the raptor front a Hobby snatched a hirundine over the lake, while several Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and up to 10 Kestrels noted. On ARC, 200 Golden Plovers, Lapwings, another Little Stint, Grey Plover, two Snipe and 10 Chiffchaffs in the bushes by the willow trail. Also noted around the reserve, Green Woodpecker, Cetti`s Warblers, Wheatears,Yellow Wagtails and a constant stream of southbound hirundines of all three species.
Ospreys - Passage Ospreys have a hard time down here, mostly from the numerous gulls and corvids that keep them on the move. While I`ve seen them just about annually I have never seen one here perched before, until today that is. Our first Osprey sighting was at 1500hrs when one came in over the water tower heading towards us on the return trail. Everything got up over ARC, along with roosting gulls on the shingle as it eventually passed over our heads towards Dengemarsh. With gulls and two Marsh Harriers for company we watched it disappear towards Rye.
About an hour later another different bird came in over Lade (it probably flew over Plovers!) as we were sat in Hanson hide and after being `greeted` by a crow plonked itself down on one of the power line cross-trees on the Desert. We then moved round and parked by the railway gantry for a better look and, predictably, it wasn't long before we were joined by the armed power station police checking us out for terrorists! Luckily I knew one of them and we were soon chatting away and showing them our quarry through telescopes, both the cops having never seen this magnificent raptor before.
When we left site at 1715hrs the Osprey was preening and looking settled on its artificial `tree`.