Sunday, 18 December 2016

Gulls, ducks and harriers

Lade - misty, grey and grim - An odd weekend weather wise with the fog lingering at Lade for much of Saturday while Dungeness was bathed in bright sunshine from mid-morning onwards. Looking out to sea the fret soon rolled back in as the sun set, but not before Mick and Richard had attracted several 1st winter Caspian Gulls to a feast of fish offal and popcorn at the fishing boats. New for me was hearing a recording of a vocalising Caspian Gull as it fought for food amongst the throng, a distinctive high-pitched rasping note and quite different from Herring Gull. For a listen check out PB`s Youtube link from yesterdays blog post:
On the beach opposite Jarman`s Barney flushed a Snipe.
                                Barney in the mist, Lade

                                1st winter Caspian Gull in the sun, Dungeness

                                Grub up!

  Sunday dawned mild, still and misty, perfect for counting wildfowl on the lakes where there was much to log. The highlights were 140 Shovelers, four Goldeneyes, a Great White Egret, an adult Caspian Gull and a Slavonian Grebe, the first of the winter. Also noted around the willow swamp, several Chiffchaffs and Reed Buntings, two Marsh Harriers, a Water Rail and a showy Cetti`s Warbler. Back along the beach and the sands were smothered in a bio-mass of thousands of gulls and hundreds of waders, an impressive spectacle made even more surreal by a sea fret hanging over the distant tideline.

                                Slavonian Grebe, Lade

                                Oystercatcher on the sands

  This afternoon I joined CP for the monthly harrier roost count at our usual site on Walland Marsh. En-route the Bewick Swan flock was just about viewable from the lane near Horse`s Bones Farm, while the hedgerows down to Midley were alive with hundreds of winter thrushes including Blackbirds, Mistle and Song Thrushes. Around the roost site plenty of Lapwings and more winter thrushes were seen, plus a few Golden Plovers and Snipe, 180 Mute Swans, up to four Common Buzzards and two Kestrels but little Marsh Harrier activity, which was reflected in the roost count of just six birds, a mixture of females and immatures. However, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew through on its way to roosting elsewhere (probably on the ranges) and a hooting Long-eared Owl flew over the reedbed where Water Rails, Bearded Tits and Cetti`s Warblers were heard. As we left site 15 Bewick`s Swans flew in to roost on the reservoir, evocatively honking away, and rounding off another good birding session on the Marsh.

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