Saturday - cool, sunny, ENE 5 - Due to the strong wind land birds were hard to come by on the local patch at Lade this morning, although the Cuckoos were active around the willow swamp. Spent most of the day gardening and planting out at the allotment in Lydd, but on the way home this afternoon we called in at the fishing boats for an hour staring at the sea.
Several locals were already well ensconced in comfy chairs, staring across a misty, bird-less sea and regaling one another with jokes and anecdotes from seawatches past. It was apparent that nothing much was happening - but then after 15 minutes, at 1530hrs, a flock of 11 Pomarine Skuas hove into view out of the murk, followed by 20 Grey Plovers, and powered up-Channel!
For the rest of the watch, there was nothing, such is the unpredictable nature of Pomarine Skua occurrences at Dungeness.
Sunday - cool, cloudy, NNW 2 - Dungeness - 0630-0830hrs - A much calmer day and as a consequence a few land birds were noted on the walk down to the Patch including several Wheatears, Willow Warblers and a singing Black Redstart. We joined a couple of Ashford birders in front of the Patch hide where up to 20 gorgeous Black Terns were feeding along the scum line and over the boil along with 100 Common Terns and a melee of gulls, while the second year Iceland Gull gleamed like a beacon amongst a motley collection of gulls on the beach.
An hour staring out to sea revealed seven Pomarine Skuas, an Arctic Skua, two Eiders, 15 Common Scoters, 20 auks, 30 Gannets and 12 Whimbrels moving up-Channel, plus three Porpoises and a Grey Seal. A decent return for so short a time period.
Lade - 1100hrs - A circuit of the local patch delivered a couple of hundred hirundines over south lake, mostly Swallows, but none with red-rumps. Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Cuckoo and Hobby noted, while the wader count on a falling tide on the sands comprised 180 Oystercatchers, 75 Barwits and 15 Curlews.
We returned to the local patch this afternoon to give the Swallows a further grilling. Infact, within the flock of 210 birds there were only five each of Sand and House Martins, plus 10 Swifts high over the water. Their routine was to feed over the lake for a while and then settle on power cables and wire fence lines on the shingle ridges, twittering away merrily and preening, a fabulous sight and sound. I ended up watching them for over an hour before, as one unit, they departed northwards to goodness knows where.
Bon voyage, you little beauties!