Lade cold, dry and sunny, e 3 - Another superb bright winters day, although tempered somewhat by the `beast from the east`. A circuit of the local patch failed to produce anything new.
For anyone contemplating a visit to Dungeness this weekend for wintering birds the weather looks set fair and you should be assured of a wide range of species across the peninsula. At the point two Iceland Gulls have remained faithful to the Patch for several days amongst a blizzard of gulls (including Meds, a Little and Caspian) along with a drake Eider. Offshore there`s the usual auks, divers, Gannets, Kittiwakes and one or two Bonxies to contend with, although sea duck remain scarce.
On the RSPB reserve the wintering Ring-necked Duck is still on the pool at Boulderwall along with the usual Tree Sparrows on the feeders in the old farmhouse garden. Slavonian Grebes have been noted on New Diggings and Lade, but are mobile, as have one or two redhead Smews (first `white nun` of the winter on New Excavations today) and Goosanders. Around the bird reserve Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit (viewing ramp), Water Rail (Scott and Hanson hides), Bittern and Kingfisher (Dengemarsh and Hanson hides) are all present along with good numbers of ducks, gulls and Lapwings.
Scotney continues to be the place for geese with a few Tundra Bean and Pink-footed Geese amongst larger flocks of White-fronts and Greylags, either on the roadside fields or out back behind the farm. The back pits have more wildfowl and a Black-necked Grebe, plus a large Corn Bunting flock and a couple of Lapland Buntings in a stubble field and the chance of a Peregrine or a ringtail Hen Harrier.
Elsewhere, around 50 or so Bewick`s Swans have been feeding on fields near Horses Bones Farm, Lydd and sometimes come to roost on the ARC lake, while down at Hythe several Purple Sandpipers remain faithful to the sea defence blocks at either Stade Street or opposite the Hythe Imperial.
And finally I`ve had a few birders asking after Barney of late. Well, I`m pleased to report that he is fit and healthy and enjoying these crisp mornings.