Saturday, 22 July 2017

Beautiful Marbled

Lade - warm, dry, cloudy, showers overnight, sw 2 - At 04.30hrs I staggered outside in a heavy rain shower to cover up the moth trap to protect the catch from the local spadgers. A casual glance into the trap revealed a small purplish moth and as I threw a towel over the top and staggered back to bed in a daze I began to ponder its identity.
  Several hours later I went through the trap recording Oak Eggar and Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, new for the year, and there on the final egg box was the unfamiliar purple moth. In my 1st edition Lewington guide Purple Marbled was the only moth that came close to it, but it certainly wasn't that, and I couldn't find anything to fit-the-bill in the new micro-moth guide.
  However, a trip to the Kerton Road Café soon cleared up the mystery, as there in the 2nd edition Lewington was our moth: Beautiful Marbled, a rare immigrant and only the 3rd for the Dungeness recording area. Thanks to DB and SC for confirmation and stats.
  The overnight rain had also grounded some waders on the local patch with six Common and two Green Sandpipers around the margins, plus Ruff and Greenshank on south lake island. Best of all though was a party of 16 Whimbrels overhead calling wildly and several more Greenshanks. Whilst counting the Curlews to roost on the Desert, amongst the 190 were four Whimbrels and three Bar-wits. At least 12 Little Egrets were fishing around the willow swamp.

                                Beautiful Marbled, a rare immigrant from central Europe

                                Little Egrets, Lade

Dungeness - A late morning visit to the bird reserve revealed many more passage sandpipers and shanks around the site including Wood and Curlew Sandpiper, plus Ruff, Blackwit and Snipe.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Portland Moth

Lade - warm, cloudy, showery, sw 2 - 0700hrs - With moth friendly weather conditions it was no surprise that one or two goodies had dropped into the MV overnight. The highlights were, new for the site, a battered Double Kidney, plus a superb Gold Spot, one of my favourite moths, along with yet another Plumed Fan-foot, our 10th Sussex Emerald of the summer (best ever total in 10 years) and several migrant Silver Ys and Dark Sword-grass.

                                Gold Spot, one of my favourite moths


                      
                                Sussex Emerald, 10th of the summer


St Mary`s in the Marsh - I then moved onto the Marsh to check CP`s MV which was bulging with moths including 42 Dusky Sallows and 55 Reed Daggers! The highlights of 42 species were a rare immigrant Portland Moth, plus Dark Sword-grass, Webb`s Wainscot, Blood Vein, Drinker, Gold Spot, Rosy Rustic, Coronet and Red Twin-Spot Carpet.


                                          Portland Moth
                                Drinker
                                  Rosy Rustic

Dungeness - A midday check of ARC revealed nothing new on the wader front with plenty of Dunlins, Lapwings and Little Ringed Plovers still present amongst hundreds of wildfowl, Coots and feral geese.
  The Kerton Road café was a hive of activity this afternoon as local moth`ers gathered to discuss the various moths; it became apparent that last night had delivered a bumper crop of rare moths to local traps. On show were Tamerisk Peacock, Mere Wainscot, Speckled Footman and a Ringed Border from Sussex. In the DBO fridge a Pale Shoulder trapped in Lydd was another rare immigrant.
  An hour at the fishing boats with the regular seawatchers delivered plenty of Gannets and Sandwich Terns offshore, plus two light phase Arctic Skus. Several Porpoises were also feeding offshore.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wader dump

Lade - 0700hrs - humid, overcast, sw 4 - The thunderstorms that swept up from the south missed this part of Kent completely last night, although lightening could be seen away to the west in the early hours. It was very windy yesterday evening so I elected not to run the MV, which was a big mistake as the wind dropped off during the night. However, a cracking Jersey Tiger on the summerhouse wall was ample compensation this morning.


                                Jersey Tiger, first of the summer

A brief walk out back delivered two Redshanks on south lake island, which is a little unusual, plus two Common Sandpipers around the margins and 15 Curlews overhead. Then news came through from the bird reserve of an overnight drop-in of waders...

Dungeness - 1000hrs - A guided walk around the RSPB circuit for four guests from north London this morning was notable for waders. Oddly enough it was Dengemarsh that stole the show with a roosting flock of 22 Redshanks and 18 Ruffs on a tiny muddy island opposite the hide, plus several Green and Common Sandpipers. On Burrowes a Greenshank and Blackwit showed well along with Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and several Dunlins. There was more of the same reported over the road on ARC.
  Also of note, two Sandwich Terns amongst the Common Tern colony, Marsh Harriers, Little Egrets and plenty of Sand Martins moving through. Masses of common grassland butterflies, damsels and dragons were on the wing in the sheltered reaches of the Return Trail.


                                Greenshank and Blackwit on passage

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Gannets

Dungeness - 0730hrs - warm, dry, sunny, e3 - We joined DW by the seawatch hide for a scan of the sea where at least 200 Gannets were busily feeding offshore. Our largest seabird is a given at any time of the year here, but infrequently in these kind of numbers and as always a marvellous spectacle when seen plunge diving on high for fish.
  Closer to shore smaller, mixed flocks of gulls and terns were mopping up whitebait just below the  surface and included in their ranks at least two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls, two Kittiwakes and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull. Several Porpoises were also in on the feast of fish, while a party of Sand Martins struck out for France and beyond.
Lade - The wind picked up this afternoon followed by cloud cover and high humidity. A check of the lakes delivered 11 Little Egrets and a juvenile Marsh Harrier of note, while there was little bird activity on the bay, but plenty of kite surfers enjoying the strong wind.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Ruddy Shelduck

Lade - 0730hrs - warm and dry, E3 - We had our first sighting of two freshly fledged juvenile Marsh Harriers flapping confidently over the main reedbed on south lake this morning. These first few weeks away from the safety of the nest site will be some of the most testing of their lives as they learn to become independent. Thankfully the weather conditions are good and there is plenty of potential prey on offer, so hopefully they`ll pull through.
  Common Terns still seem to be fishing successfully on the waters, a few Sand Martins drifted over and a Common Sandpiper flitted along the near margin on bowed wings.

                                Ruddy Shelduck, ARC


                                Red Underwings, Hanson hide

                                ARC from Hanson hide

ARC - Called in at Hanson hide around midday only to discover a Ruddy Shelduck hunkered down on one of the shingle islands. It appeared to be an adult female that was seen earlier on Dengemarsh. Almost every year in mid-summer this species turns up locally, either around the bird reserve or Scotney and more often than not on Lade Bay at low tide. There is an established population of feral Ruddy Shelducks in the Netherlands, and the general consensus is that `our birds` originate from that quarter, a case of post-breeding dispersal. However, as with many of the wildfowl tribe which are widely kept in (and escape from) wildfowl collections, you can never be sure.
  Elsewhere, at least two Golden Plovers had joined 200 Lapwings on the islands, plus 10 Dunlins, 10 Little Ringed (juvs still alive) and two Ringed Plovers. As the picture above testifies conditions for waders on ARC are spot on this summer, and what with major island construction work due to start soon on Burrowes, the more secluded ARC pit is favourite to harbour one or two goodies.
  The now expected Red Underwing moths were clinging to the outside of the wooden hide soaking up the warmth with at least six present.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

First Golden Plover

Lade - warm, dry, cloudy - The muggy weather conditions over the weekend have been conducive to good moth catches in the garden MV. Another Plumed-fan Foot, several more Rosy Footman, Garden Tigers and Sussex Emeralds being the highlights among 40 species of macros. Grassland butterflies such as Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady and Hedge Brown have also drifted over into the garden during the afternoons.

                                Garden Tiger


                                Hedge Brown and Marbled White in the garden

Bird Reserve -  This afternoon I called in at Hanson hide where a decent collection of waders was present on the shingle islands including Greenshank, Blackwit, Golden Plover (my first of the autumn), six Dunlins, 10 LRPs with juvs, Lapwings, Oystercatchers and a Ringed Plover. On Burrowes more of the same, plus Common Sandpipers and a Sanderling that dropped in briefly.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

First Whimbrel

Dungeness - 0730hrs - warm, dry, sunny, e 2 - A wander down to the Patch yielded little apart from juvenile Mediterranean, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls amongst several hundred of the latter and Herring Gulls on the beach. With the power station outage the boil was becalmed as a barge and associated tugs carried out work on the inlet/outlet pipes and cardinal buoy. Offshore a few Gannets, Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns drifted by.
  Juvenile birds seemed to be everywhere on the land with Skylark, Mipit, Pied Wagtail, Starling and at least one Wheatear opposite Jarman`s. On the power station wall a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was soaking up the morning sunshine.
  An afternoon visit to the fishing boats for a one hour seawatch was as flat as the sea, although a Whimbrel passing overhead calling was our first of the autumn.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

First Willow Warbler

Folkestone - 0800hrs - wet - We were on grandparent duty in Folkestone last night and following 14 hours of rain, during which time around an inch fell, the clouds cleared and the sun broke through. The sheltered garden which backs onto a thickly wooded railway embankment was soon alive with tits, Blackbirds, Robins and Dunnocks looking to feed, plus a fresh, yellowy Willow Warbler, my first of the return passage.
Lade - Back home by mid-morning the northerly airflow had lowered the temperature somewhat and a search of the water and willows yielded very little apart from a lone Common Sandpiper on the margins of south lake.
ARC - On the way home from the allotment (first pick of runner beans) we called in at Screen hide where there was plenty to see amongst a myriad of wildfowl, grebes, Coots, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Lapwings and Common Terns, including yesterdays Curlew Sandpiper, plus two Dunlins, several LRPs, a Blackwit, Common and Green Sandpipers. During an hour on site several different sub-adult/adult Marsh Harriers came and went, but there was still no sign of any juveniles out of the nest yet, although I guess there`s still time.
  A check of the bay from the Tavern, just in case a stray yellow-billed tern had decided to cross the Channel, delivered a flock of 15 Sandwich Terns, c500 Black-headed Gulls, the usual Oystercatchers and Curlews and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull amongst the Herring Gulls.
  Out in the bay the S&R chopper was plucking a windsurfer from a choppy sea.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Egyptian Goose

Lade - muggy, overcast, sw 4 - A blustery morning and still no rain, as yet. Two Egyptian Geese flying over south lake was a site first; not very exciting as they now breed locally on the bird reserve and at Brett`s and Scotney pits. The Green Sandpiper was still present and plenty of Common Terns continue to fish the lakes for fry.
  Called in at ARC where an adult Curlew Sandpiper was the highlight along with four Dunlins, 100 Lapwings, a Blackwit and eight Little Ringed Plovers, including three recently hatched chicks. On Burrowes two Common Sandpipers were in front of the visitor centre and a Ruff had been seen earlier from Firth. Pulses of Sand Martins streamed through and two well grown Common Tern chicks were being fed on one of the islands. Several Marsh Harriers noted around the site.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Egrets and moths

Lade - muggy and overcast first thing, sunny by midday - 0600hrs - With perfect overnight weather conditions (humid, cloudy and still) it was no surprise that the garden MV was rammed with moths this morning. Plumed Fan-foot, a former vagrant and recent colonist to the south-east was a surprise catch and new for the site. Small Blood-vein, two Sussex Emeralds, Chinese Character, Poplar  Hawk-moth and Rosy Footman all added to the variety.

                                Plumed Fan-foot - new to the Plovers trap site

                                Small Blood-vein - an occasional visitor

                                Rosy Footman

On the local patch the lakes were full of waterbirds, chiefly Coots, Mute Swans, grebes, Pochards and Tufteds, but also plenty of Common Terns and a few Sandwich Terns. Two Great White Egrets flew over the willow swamp while four Little Egrets and three Grey Herons fished along the edge of the main reedbed. A Green Sandpiper paused briefly on south lake island, while Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard were soaring over the airport fields.
  Called in at Hanson hide around midday where Teal numbers had increased since my last visit a week ago. Hundreds of Lapwings, ducks and Coots were loafing on the many wader friendly islands.
Had a brief scan over Boulderwall fields for the Cattle Egret that`s been around for a few days now, but without success.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

New Forest Folk Festival

Plaitford, New Forest - hot, dry, sunny - Just back from five days at a sweltering folk festival on the northern outskirts of the Forest on the borders of Hampshire and Wiltshire where the afternoon temperature hit 30C every day. Just right for sitting around, drinking, singing, dancing, scanning for soaring raptors and watching some brilliant live acts, along with our great friends from Greatstone, Stan, Kaz, Dan and Bonny, who help to set up the festival grounds; actually there was a little bit of work involved as well in the shape of research for a forthcoming article in Countryman magazine on the festival, plus a couple of guided walks.

                                Plaitford Common

  The countryside around the camp site was full of woodland birds with Nuthatch, Treecreeper, two woodpeckers, Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Siskin, Crossbill, Tawny Owl, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk all noted, plus Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail along the River Blackwater. On Plaitford Common the heathland habitat delivered the expected Dartford Warblers, Woodlark, Common Whitethroat and Stonechat, while a Golden-ringed Dragonfly was seen flying over boggy ground. Raptors were the highlights though with Common Buzzard and Red Kite regularly overhead, along with two good views of Honey Buzzards, one soaring over the site, the other early on Sunday morning coming down to hunt frogs and the like along the River Blackwater!


                                Weird festival goers!

                                Joe Broughton`s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble

                                Show of Hands

  As for the music, old favourites Show of Hands headlined Saturday night and were as ever superb, as was the full-on, and new to me, Joe Broughton`s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble (all 47 of `em!) on Friday night. I particularly liked the Ric Sanders Trio (Ric of Fairport fame), the Broadside Boys from Suffolk and festival stalwarts Richard Digance and Matt Black, while Pentangle and the Acoustic Strawbs also went down well among many others.
  The New Forest Folk Festival is now in its sixth year and with only around 1,500 people in attendance is small enough to be compact and friendly. We shall certainly be going again next year.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Returning waders

Dungeness - warm and windy - Called in at Hanson hide this morning where a decent selection of waders was on show. Returning birds included 50 Lapwings, two Dunlins, a Common Sandpiper and a smart blackish Ruff, plus breeding Redshank, an Oystercatcher with young and six Little Ringed  Plovers. Also noted, two Marsh Harriers, a Yellow Wagtail, singing Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers.
  Whilst at Lade pits a pair of Eurofighter Typhoons came across the Marsh very, very fast! Over the airfield they flew and out along the coast; according to Pat who was home at the time, rattling the cottage windows as they went!
  On the way back from the allotment this evening we called in at the Screen hide where a Peregrine temporarily flushed the Lapwing flock and a Barn Owl was hunting the fields by Tower Pits. Six Blackwits dropped in, as did the black Ruff, while hundreds of Sand Martins skimmed the lake.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Summer doldrums

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, nw 2 - Birdwise we`ve hit one of the quietest times of the year with bird song starting to decline as the breeding season takes its toll and migration at a virtual standstill. However, having said that I did notice the first migrant Sand Martins and a juvenile Yellow Wagtail locally this weekend. Also, three Common Buzzards went down the coast yesterday and two today, all of which got the full treatment from the local Herring Gulls.
  Whilst sorting out the camping gear in the garden this afternoon, for the forthcoming New Forest Folk Festival, we were royally entertained by a flock of Starlings feeding young and bathing in the pond.



                                Starlings in the garden



                                      Burnished Brass and Toadflax Brocade
 
  The moth trap has been busy with daily new species for the year including White Satin Moth, Toadflax Brocade and Burnished Brass, which I don't see very often, plus masses of Brown-tail moths. Marbled Whites have started to drift over in the garden from the NNR where good numbers of Small Skippers are now on the wing, plus a few Essex Skippers and another hatch of Small Coppers.