Lade - cool, cloudy, nw 3 - These past couple of mornings we`ve stuck to the local patch as I can`t see much point in going to a crowded Dungeness over a Bank Holiday weekend, particularly as a north-westerly airflow renders any seawatching pretty pointless.
Yesterday, as quarrying activities were suspended for Good Friday, we poked around in Kerton Road pit where there was evidence of breeding Ringed Plover, Shelduck, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Skylark and Mipit. A Greenshank over calling was our first of the year, while out on the Desert a couple of grounded Wheatears and a pair of Stonechats were noted.
This morning, under a glowering dark sky that threatened rain, but failed to delivered yet again, we continued our breeding bird survey. Reedbeds that were silent yesterday, today harboured a host of chattering Reed Warblers as the vanguard took up temporary residence following an overnight drop-in. The wonders of bird migration also delivered at least eight Wheatears perched atop scrub on the Desert, an almost unprecedented number for spring.
Around the site 15 singing Sedge and five Cetti`s Warblers were belting out their territorial songs amongst a scattering of Linnets, Dunnocks, Chaffinches, Wrens, Blackbirds and Reed Buntings. A pair of Oystercatchers had settled to breed on scaffold island, while good numbers of Great Crested and Little Grebes were already on eggs. Several pairs of Teal and Shoveler lingered, but it remains to be seen if they stay to breed. Having seen my earliest ever Whitethroat a fortnight ago, there has been no sign of any since; still, early days and all that. Finally, there was evidence of 41 species of birds breeding hereabouts, although that figure should rise slightly as the last few migrants drift in by the month`s end.
Passage migrants noted this morning included several Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, Swallows, Sand Martins and oddest of all a Snipe flushed from Mockmill by Barney. The beach on a falling tide delivered several hundred each of Curlew and Oystercatcher, 50 Knot, 20 Dunlins, 20 Sanderling and 12 Barwits.
Working in the garden this afternoon several Med Gulls and a single Yellow Wagtail flew over calling.