Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Bitterns and Black Terns

Tower Pits - 0800hrs - warm, cloudy, N 2 - A wander around the back of the pits by the railway line produced several good flight views of a Bittern, plus a male `booming` away like the clappers from a thin reedbed where I could just about make out its contorted shape as it let rip. A Bittern was also seen from Screen hide. At least two Cuckoos were also on the go along with a host of Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers, Common and Lesser Whitethroats and a Blackcap. Two Marsh Harriers drifted over and a Hobby showed.

Lade - All quiet here apart from a few incoming migrants including 20 House Martins over the water, a few Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail winging inland. I`ve had several phones calls recently from local people enquiring as to what`s happened to "their" Swallow and House Martins during this latest of springs; we can only hope they eventually arrive in time to breed, if a little late...

  On a more positive note, juvenile Starlings and House Sparrows have been tumbling out of nest sites along the coastal housing strip these past few days and our garden has been full of them. They provide hours of entertainment as they beg for food from their parents and explore the garden with all its hidden dangers, such as the pond and windows.
Dungeness - An evening visit to the point to search for a Bee-eater seen earlier by DB drew a blank. However, on Burrowes three smart Black Terns were flying over the lake and landing on the islands in front of Dennis`s hide along with 20 Common and a Little Tern. Also noted Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Curlew and Cuckoo.

                               Little, Common and Black Terns

French Hippos!

Baie de Somme - warm, muggy, light airs - Monday morning kicked off with an early start, in the company of CP and MH, for a birding trip down to the Somme estuary at the wetlands and woodlands of Picardy.
  The fresh marsh, water meadows and farmland of Sailly Bray was our first port of call where the highlights were: four Bluethroats, four Black-winged Stilts and a White Stork, plus 10 species of singing warblers, including Marsh and Grasshopper Warblers. A flock of 20 Mediterranean Gulls on a sugar beet field also held two Wheatears, nesting Lapwings and Grey Partridge and, oddly enough, a pair of Little Ringed Plovers. Also noted in the general area, Great White Egret Shoveler, Teal, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Partridge, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Turtle Dove, loads of nesting Lapwings, Cuckoo, Blue-headed and White Wagtails, Mipit, Skylark and Stonechat. Singing Serins, Black Redstart, House Martins, Linnets, Swifts, more Turtle Doves, Marsh Warblers, Stonechats, Corn Buntings and Grey Partridges noted around the surrounding  farmsteads and countryside, and a Nightingale sang from small patch of scrub in the middle of roundabout on the outskirts of a village! The water meadows at Sailly Bray were a delight and would have satisfied a botanist for weeks, where Brown Hare and Roe Deer also noted. We could`ve spent all day just at this one site and during the three hours didn't see another person. A fantastic place and good to see plenty of birds such as Turtle Dove, Lapwing and Grey Partridge so easily, species that are in terminal decline here.

                                Sailly Bray marshes

                               Stonechats were commonplace

  We then moved on to a couple of wetland sites on the coast where more surprises awaited. At one a Savi`s Warbler sang and showed briefly from a reedbed stacked out with acrocephalus warblers, plus Bearded Tit, two White Storks, Cuckoo, Turtle Dove, Nightingale, Blue-headed Wagtail and Kestrel. At another, a tiny marsh hosted 18 nesting Black-winged Stilts, plus six Avocets, three Spoonbills, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Snipe, Greenshank, a male Whinchat and loads of Grey Herons, Little and Great White Egrets and White Storks; while back at the car, by a busy main road, Mark had located a singing Icterine Warbler in a hedgerow - phew! 

                                Breeding Black-winged Stilts

  Our final stop was in the magnificent Crecy Forest, a 12 sq mile block of mixed woodland made famous by the battle of 1346 AD and the effectiveness of the English longbow. However, by now it was mid afternoon, the storm clouds were gathering overhead and bird song was much suppressed; possible the worst time of day to visit a wood, but undeterred we checked a couple of plantations searching out our target bird and 14th warbler species of the day. At the second stop, in amongst the babble of Garden Warblers and Blackcaps we eventually heard and located a Melodious Warbler our second hippolais of the day, singing from atop a Silver Birch, which even afforded scope views.
  The rain eventually came ending another superb days birding in northern France, in great company, with many thanks to Chris for driving.   

                Avocets, Spoonbills and White Stork around the Somme wetlands

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Kentish Plover - at Dungeness, in Kent!

Saturday - Lade - cool, dry, sunny, NE 2 - A terrific weekend of local birds, and how often does Cup Final day deliver the goods! It commenced with our first Whinchat of spring in Mockmill on Saturday. Also in the gully plenty more Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats, plus, at last, several singing Linnets, while the Stonechat juvs were out of the nest being fed by the adults. Unfortunately my bridge camera has been playing up, with the screen blanking out, making any pics at the moment a bit hit and mostly miss.
Dungeness - Friday`s Hoopoe showed again in the Dengemarsh Road area on and off through the day feeding mainly along the roadside verges and in the fields either side where we had brief views. At ARC we enjoyed better success with a Bittern flying over the car park and hunting frogs in front of Screen hide, plus a drake Garganey out on the lake. After the Cup Final a return to ARC in the evening where a Bee-eater had been found (many thanks to Gill for the call) drew a blank.
Rye Harbour - The Cup Final day bird fest continued with discovery of a cracking Terek Sandpiper on a pool on the Beach Reserve at Rye, (only the second during my time) which prompted a steady flow of twitchers to site throughout the afternoon. Also present amongst the breeding terns and waders was a Curlew Sandpiper in partial breeding plumage.
  For a superb suite of pics of the weekends rarities check out: www.ploddingbirder.blogspot.co.uk

Sunday - Lade - cloudy, dry, light airs - The cool overnight conditions made for a poor catch in the garden moth trap with only five common species recorded. On south lake a flock of 100 hirundines, mainly House Martins, fed low over the water on emerging insects and a Hobby zipped across the Desert.
Dungeness - On the walk back from the pits news came through from the bird reserve of an adult male Kentish Plover on Burrowes, discovered by Liz and Paul H. Unfortunately it decided to settle on one of the distant islands, although it gave good scope views from Dennis`s hide for the many local and visiting birders. I managed to get the bridge camera working again for a few dodgy record shots, but no doubt there will be plenty of good pics on line from the usual suspects with long tom lens.
  Kentish Plover is a species that has haunted me ever since moving down here in 2006, and this is the first Dungeness record during that time. I`ve lost count of the number of times I`ve checked the bay for this ghost from the past that formerly bred within a stones throw of Plovers. Was also good to bump into Adrian L and Andy T, a couple of old faces from the Bedfordshire birding scene of former years. 
  Also on Burrowes, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling and Little Gull. The Hoopoe was again seen at the end of Dengemarsh Road today, as was the Bee-eater this morning around the water tower, which prompted an influx of twitchers hoping to see the Mediterranean duo as well as the KP.

                                Kentish Plover, Dungeness RSPB

Friday, 18 May 2018


Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, E2 - The wind relented this morning affording a more accurate check of the breeding birds on the local patch. More singing Common Whitethroats were recorded, particularly in Mockmill where the Stonechat pair were feeding young, although Linnets were hard to come by. On south lake a Common Sandpiper almost got caught by a male Sparrowhawk and a few Mediterranean Gulls drifted over high calling.
St Mary`s Bay - A late morning walk along the promenade by the golf links produced singing Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, plus a passage Wheatear. On the foreshore a few Ringed Plovers and Dunlins while out in the bay up to 50 Common Scoters came and went in small groups.
Dengemarsh - A Hoopoe found by PB at Galloways earlier relocated to the verge at Dengemarsh Road this afternoon. When I arrived it had just been disturbed, but showed briefly in flight on the Army ranges opposite Springfield Bridge a little later. This may well have been last months bird that was initially seen at Midley before doing a tour of the Marsh between Brookland and Burmarsh.
The only other news today concerned a Garganey on Hayfield 3.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

White Spot

Lade - cool, cloudy, NNE 5 - A cool breezy day delivered a small flock of Swifts and Swallows over the Willow Swamp, plus five prospecting Common Terns over south lake. All the usual warblers and Cuckoos still in place, but yet again very few Linnets on site.
  The garden moth trap was surprisingly good with the first White Spots of the spring and something of a Dungeness speciality, plus Light Brocade and Blood-vein also NFY.

                                White Spot, Plovers

Dungeness - A guided walk for RSPB around the circular trail centred mainly on plants as the strong wind kept many passerines in cover; although Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Sedge, Reed and Cetti`a Warblers were either seen or heard. On Burrowes, 12 Curlews, five Turnstones, three Barwits, five Ringed Plovers, two Redshanks and two Dunlins were the pick of the waders, where Wigeon, Shoveler, Egyptian Goose and plenty of Common Terns also noted. At Dengemarsh, Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret, Hobby, Pochard, Swifts, Cuckoo and `booming` Bittern.
Littlestone - A scan of the beach this evening revealed several hundred each of Oystercatchers and Curlews, 20 Barwits, 15 Grey Plovers, 10 Ringed Plovers and 10 Dunlins.

                       Grizzled Skipper and Small Copper from yesterday, Trapping Area

Monday, 14 May 2018


Lade - cool, sunny, N 4 - A nippy morning with a brisk wind out of the north keeping the temperature down. Swifts have been in short supply this spring so it was good to see a small flock feeding on emerging insects over south lake along with a few Swallows. Out on the herb-rich storm ridges scores of Starlings and House Sparrows were plundering invertebrates from the turf and flying back to housing nest sites along the coastal strip.

                                Broom is now replacing the yellow of gorse

                                Reed Bunting singing from dry scrub

Dungeness - An afternoon visit in blustery conditions was notable for the large number of Common Terns on the islands, but unfortunately a Herring Gull has already settled on the shiny new `tern` raft. Most of yesterdays waders had moved on although a flock of nine Whimbrel dropped in alongside the terns and two Curlews. Other waders present included several each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover.

                                Whitethroat perched in front of the Visitor Centre

                                Common Terns and Whimbrels, Burrowes

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Red-backed Shrike

Saturday - Lade - cool, cloudy, rain later, light airs - 0700hrs - With Dungeness shrouded in fog, and the fog horn moaning mournfully, I opted for a circuit of the local patch to check on the breeding birds. The only new species located was a pair of Ringed Plovers nesting on the beach, which brought the total count for the site up to 50 species. Also noted on the bay this weekend several small flocks of Grey Plovers, Sanderlings and Barwits, most of which were in breeding plumage, plus a Common Sandpiper on north lake.
Sunday - Dungeness - cool, dry cloudy, SW 3 - A superb mornings birding commenced on the beach opposite Jarman`s where a pair of Wheatears, Mipits, Skylarks, Pied Wagtails and Stock Dove all showed signs of breeding locally. From the seawatch hide (0945-1115hrs) a slow trickle of east bound seabirds included two Arctic Skuas, a Bonxie and a Pomarine Skua (1022hrs), plus two Red-throated Divers, a Manx west, a Fulmar and a few auks, Gannets, Common Terns and Common Scoters. A few more skuas were reported throughout the day.

                                Meadow Pipit with caterpillars for young nearby

  On the bird reserve there was a decent variety of waders scattered across the islands on Burrowes that included five Curlews, four Dunlins, four Barwits, six Grey Plovers, six Turnstones, two Whimbrels, two Sanderlings, two (red) Knots and 10 Ringed Plovers. Also present a Little Gull, two Little Terns and plenty of prospecting Common Terns. At Boulderwall a Great White Egret and two Hobbies.

                                Red-backed Shrike, now a rare spring migrant

As news came through of a Red-backed Shrike on the Desert near Long Pits, found by RW & GP, we were soon on site along with a good turn out of locals where the female shrike eventually posed atop a dead willow. A rare bird these days and most welcome in what has generally been a poor spring for land birds. Whilst there a Whinchat popped up briefly to become our first of the year, another migrant that is well down in numbers this year. Also reported today a Redstart in the lighthouse garden, a Spotted Flycatcher at the northern end of Long Pits and this afternoon a Honey Buzzard over Littlestone (MH) that probably flew over our cottage, but I missed it!


Friday, 11 May 2018


Dungeness - cool, sunny, SE 3 - Didn't have much time to spend in the field today, just a couple of hours at either end, but being as the wind was in a favourable direction seawatching was the obvious choice, and it may be the last hurrah for any Poms this spring. However, the short period I was on site proved to be slow going with just the usual terns, auks and Gannets, a few Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Whimbrels, plus two each of Red-throated Diver, Arctic and Great Skua. A few Pomarine Skuas were in the Channel today, although by the sound of it most sightings were distant and four passed the point this evening.
  The only other news of note today concerned two high flying Bee-eaters in off the sea heading north (OL).

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Groppers, KPs and an Icky

Guines Marsh - Cool, cloudy, W 3 - It was an early start for a day trip under the water to the Pas-de-Calais with CP, MH and PB. A short drive from the Chunnel terminal and we were soon birding at this superb marsh complete with a circular boardwalk and a variety of wetland habitats ideal for warblers, of which we noted an astonishing 11 species. Fluty Blackcaps and babbling Garden Warblers sang from cover, metronomic Chiffchaffs from tree tops and Cetti`s Warbler from thickets. Reed Warblers chattered, Sedge Warblers sallied forth, Whitethroats scratched from brambles and a lone Willow Warbler delivered a distant cadence; but the best was yet to come on the far side of the circuit.
  We were surprised by three early and secretive Marsh Warblers singing their variable songs from deep cover, in complete contrast to a very close and showy Grasshopper Warbler that `reeled` from open reed stems for over half an hour allowing unparallelled scope views, and a few pics too. Further along the trail an Icterine Warbler burst into song, although evaded detection in the dense willows.
  Also noted here and at another site nearby: a flyover White Stork, several Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, several Cuckoos and Turtle Doves, Nightingale, Willow Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper, plus Musk Rat, Roe Deer, Brown Hare and a small moth (below) which I think is Common Carpet.  

                               Common Carpet?

                                Grasshopper Warbler, Guines Marsh

Guines Forest - It was late morning by the time we hit the woodland and things had quietened down a bit on the bird song front, although a male Redstart did show between bursts of singing around its nest site in a barn. We also had brief views of a Honey Buzzard over the canopy, several Common Buzzards, a Yellowhammer, Lesser Whitethroat, Nuthatch and a pair of Grey Partridges in an adjacent field. The floral display around the woodland rides was spectacular with a terrific show of Lady Orchids.

                               Lady Orchid

Oye-Plage - Moving onto the coast and the species list for the day rattled along nicely. From the hides highlights included nesting Avocets and Sandwich Terns, seven Spoonbills, Wigeon and White-fronted Goose, a colour ringed Mediterranean Gull, another Gropper, Cuckoo, Whimbrels, Barwits, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Yellow and White Wagtails and three Little Terns.

                                Kentish Plovers on the beach

  Our final port of call was the beach where five Kentish Plovers were scattered amongst holidaymakers wandering to and fro. Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Grey Plovers, Turnstone and Dunlin also noted, plus 20 Little Terns along the shoreline, but not yet on their breeding site.
  Another superb days birding in the Pas-de-Calais in great company during which we notched up 108 species including 12 species of warblers, and many thanks to Chris for driving.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Garden Moths

Lade - warm, dry,  sunshine and cloud, SW 2 - The moth trapping season here at Plovers has got off to a slow start this year with few moths, and mostly zero catches; until last night that is when the weather conditions were more suitable. Cloud cover and light airs following a hot day did the trick with 25 moths of 10 macro species including a Toadflax Brocade, a localised speciality of the herb-rich shingle ridges associated with the Dungeness National Nature Reserve.

                                Tawny Shears and Toadflax Brocade

  The recent warm spell has produced a spectacular floral display across the NNR as the Broom  replaces the Gorse as the predominate colour yellow. Vetches are out in great clumps along the old railway line along with spikes of Foxglove and carpets of snow-white Sea Campion. On the still waters Marsh Frogs have found their voices, while the reedbeds are filling up with the song of Reed Warblers and Cuckoo. Huge spawning Carp can also be seen flopping around in the shallows.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Black-tailed Godwits

Dungeness - 0700 - 0830 hrs - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Joined MH, CP and SC for a seawatch scanning across a flat calm sea with light so hazy it was difficult to discern the horizon at times. A steady passage of Commic Terns was underway amongst the fishing Sandwich Terns. A few distant Gannets, six Common Scoters, six Little Terns, two Fulmars, 50 Barwits, 30 Sanderlings, 10 Whimbrels and five Grey Plovers also noted. And then, from the east two flocks of 90 and 80 Black-tailed Godwits flew down-Channel, a most unusual record for Dungeness and something I`ve not witnessed before.
  An evening visit for a couple of hours yielded up to four Arctic Skuas milling around offshore chasing terns and sat on the sea. A few Gannets, auks and Kittiwakes went past while down at the Patch 150 terns comprised mainly Common and Sandwich, plus at least 20 Arctic Terns. An immature Glaucous Gull was on the beach behind the Fish Hut (DW).
Lade - 0930hrs - Nothing new here apart from another flock of 50 Black-wits high over the peninsula heading west.

Monday, 7 May 2018

A view from the tower

Dungeness - hot, dry and sunny, NE 2 - 0700-0830hrs - A poor seawatch by Dungeness standards, in hazy light conditions, revealed singles of Bonxie and Arctic Skua, several small parties of Barwits and Whimbrels, four Manx, five Little Terns, two Common Scoters, a few Gannets, a Fulmar and passing Commic Terns amongst the fishing Sandwich Terns.
 A couple of Pomarine Skuas were reported this morning, while down Channel at Splash Point several small flocks were logged during the late afternoon/early evening heading our way (ME).

                               Little Egrets and Grey Herons, Lydd

Lydd - Spent the rest of the morning atop the `Cathedral of the Marsh` in roasting weather conditions on the RSPB Heronwatch. At least 14 nests of Grey Herons and five Little Egrets occupied three sites across the heronry with most of the activity right under the tower in the Holm Oaks on the corner of Dennes Lane. A steady procession of visitors made the long climb up the tower staircase to view the herons and egrets and surrounding landscape, including the staff from Dungeness Bird Observatory!
  Also noted good numbers of Starlings, House Martins and Swallows hawking insects, plus distant Common Buzzard, Hobby and Kestrel.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Passage terns

Dungeness - warm, dry, sunny, NE 3 - 0700-0900hrs  - Joined CP and JJ for a seawatch where yet again it was slow going and without any skuas. However, terns were in evidence with a steady trickle of Common and Sandwich, a party of five Little Terns, two small flocks of Arctic Terns and a single spanking Black Tern in full breeding plumage, my first of the spring on a seawatch this year!
Also through 50 Barwits, 20 Sanderlings, 10 Oystercatchers and five Whimbrels. By 0900hrs it was time to go as the parking bays filled up and tourists poured onto the Estate.
  Early evening from the fishing boats and a few more terns through plus two Pomarine Skuas at 1830hrs. Several Wheatears on the foreshore.
Lade - Very few passage migrants seen this morning apart from a couple of Wheatears on the Desert. Small Coppers were soon on the wing and a flighty Grizzled Skipper in the Cattery hollow was my first of the spring. An afternoon visit yielded a party of ten Whimbrels overhead and a few Swallows over south lake.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Rye Harbour

Lade  - warm, dry and sunny - 0700hrs  - A cracking day of warm spring weather with plenty of bird song in the light airs of early morning including Lesser Whitethroat and Corn Bunting behind the `mirrors`. Ten Wheatears scattered across the site, plus a trickle of Yellow Wagtails and Swallows over.

                               Black-headed Gull and Wheatear, Rye Harbour

Rye Harbour NR - Spent the afternoon at this superb reserve which was packed with breeding activity from hundreds of Sandwich and Common Terns, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls, plus 28 Little Terns on Flat Beach. Passage waders included 15 Barwits, 10 Whimbrels, 10 Dunlins, five Greenshanks, two Turnstones and a Common Sandpiper, plus breeding Redshank, Oystercatcher, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and Avocets. The drake Red-breasted Merganser was still on site and is now in full breeding plumage. A scattering of Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails, a White Wagtail, Skylarks, Meadow Pipit and Cuckoo also noted. On the walk along the foreshore a flock of 50 Arctic Terns flew towards Camber.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Singing Firecrest

Dungeness - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - We started off at the point where a large gathering of visiting birders were clustered around the seawatch hide. A steady trickle of regular seabirds was underway but mostly very distant including two early Poms (PB), Arctic and Great Skuas. A Black-throated Diver went through along with a few Manx,Whimbrels, Little and Arctic Terns, Kittiwakes, Common Scoters and Fulmars, but all way out in the glare. A Grey Seal swam close to shore and at 10 Porpoises showed on the flat calm sea.
  On the land at least 20 Wheatears scattered across the peninsula, plus two Black Redstarts singing off the power station complex, Peregrine on the pylons, Lesser Whitethroat in the Moat and a few inbound Swallows and Yellow Wagtails.

                                Plenty of Wheatears present this morning

Lade - Whilst breakfasting in the garden a singing Firecrest put on a fine show all morning until mid-afternoon. Most of the time it was singing from the fir trees, where it attracted a second bird, and once or twice was seen to feed around the pond. Trying to photograph it with a bridge camera was another matter however and I soon gave up and just enjoyed cracking close views of one of my favourite birds. Several Holly Blues were also on the wing today, while Whimbrel, Yellow Wagtail and Swallow all went over the cottage calling.

                                Firecrest singing in Plovers garden

Burrowes - Called in at Burrowes this afternoon where a few passage waders such as Barwit, Whimbrel and Greenshank were on the islands, plus a Little Gull. Otherwise pretty quiet elsewhere on the reserve with Hobby, Great White Egret and Cuckoo of note.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

`Missing` shorebirds

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - After the excitement of yesterdays seabird passage it was a return to more mundane fare today commencing with a circuit of the local patch. Pretty much all the breeding birds are now on station, although hopefully there should be a few more Whitethroats to come. Several Cuckoos were actively flying over the reedbeds, checking on the Reed Warblers no doubt, while a Sparrowhawk took a Starling off the shingle ridges. On the passage migrant front, Swift, Swallow and Yellow Wagtail all noted flying over, plus five grounded Wheatears on the Desert. As the shingle warmed up so a few Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and a Kestrel hit the thermals. Once again there were few waders on the beach at the Lade end, so I decided to go in search for the `lost` shorebirds.
Littlestone - Found `em! Yes, they were all on the foreshore at low tide opposite the old lifeboat station: 210 Oystercatcher, 180 Curlew, 55 Barwit, 40 Dunlin, 20 Sanderling, 15 Knot, 8 Ringed Plover. Was also good to see a few House Martins flying around the traditional colony on the Gothic house.
ARC - Very quiet here this afternoon, in contrast to yesterday, with just a couple of Little Egrets and a Hobby of note.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Manxies, skuas and terns

Dungeness - cool, cloudy, SSW 5 - 0730-1000hrs - With a southerly airflow there was only one place to start this morning. The seawatch hide was full, so we decamped to the Patch hide for shelter where the guests enjoyed superb close views of 15 Bonxies and 18 Arctic Skuas on the move up-Channel (more were seen throughout the morning, plus nine Pomarine Skuas, all of which were very distant PB). However, seabird of the watch was Manx Shearwater with a steady down-Channel flow of up to 100; infact a record count of 400 plus was eventually recorded throughout the day (see DBO website for details). Also noted two flocks of 20 and 30 Arctic Terns, 10 Fulmars, 50 Common Scoters, 20 auks, two Little Terns, two Red-throated Divers and a steady trickle of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns and inbound Swallows.

                                Bonxie making light of a rough sea

Moving onto the bird reserve where a flock of nine Barwits showed well close to the access road by Cook`s Pool, while further along the track a Spoonbill roosted on Tanner`s Pool. An adult Little Gull was still on Burrowes amongst more Arctic Terns, hirundines and Swifts, plus Greenshank, Turnstone, Barwits, Ringed Plover and Redshank on the islands in front of the VC.
  A fine mornings birding to end the three day bird tour for Clare and Peter, during which time we rattled up a respectable 105 species with the highlights being the seabirds and waders.


                                Bar-tailed Godwits showing well by Cook`s Pool

On the way back from Ashford I called in at ARC where 100 more Arctic Terns and two Black Terns had been brought down by the rain, plus hundreds of Swifts and hirundines. At Lade north this evening 30 Arctic Terns briefly dropped in, making for a fine end to a classic early May day at Dungeness.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Bar-tailed Godwits and Wheatears

Scotney - cool, sunny, W 5 - A breezy but dry, sunny day and a treat to be out and about guiding after yesterdays deluge. A terrific session here for the guests with a large mixed flock of around 150 Barwits and Whimbrels on the front field, plus Redshank and Common Sandpiper around the lake margin. Out back up to 30 Yellow Wagtails put on a fine show along with a supporting cast of Corn Buntings, Wheatears, Skylarks, a Peregrine perched atop a pylon, a close Buzzard and a Little Owl. On the pits, 20 Avocets, two Little and one Great White Egret, Greenshank and Egyptian Goose.

                                One of many Yellow Wagtails seen today

  We called in at Galloways where Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Sedge Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Wheatear, Raven and Kestrel were all noted.
Dungeness - A circuit of the reserve delivered 30 more Bar-tailed Godwits, three Dunlins, Teal and Shoveler on the islands at Burrowes, plus hundreds of Swifts and hirundines overhead; Great White Egret, a flyover Spoonbill, three Hobbies, Cuckoo and several Marsh Harriers at Dengemarsh; a pair of Wigeon at Tanner`s Pool and plenty of common warblers, Linnets and several more Wheatears along the trail.   

                                Bar-tailed Godwits on Burrowes

Lade - Our final port of call this afternoon was the local patch where more Barwits and 20 Curlews were on the bay from Romney Tavern. On south lake the usual ducks and grebes, plus three more Wheatears on the Desert. We could find no sign of the long-staying Long-tailed Duck though, so I assume that it has finally departed northwards.
   In summary a fine days birding with the highlights being the Bar-tailed Godwits, many in their breeding finery; the Scotney Yellow Wagtails; Hobbies hawking mayflies over Hooker`s reedbed and Wheatears just about everywhere we went.