Sunday, 16 December 2018

Harrier count

Lade - warm, dry and sunny  - After yesterdays shocker of a day with heavy rain and a cutting easterly wind, this morning could not have been more different with warm sunshine and light airs that even enticed a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly onto the wing by the ponds. Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler all noted around the willow swamp.
 There was no sign of the Red-necked Grebe for the second day running on north lake; infact, most of the Great Crested Grebes had deserted the pits having probably moved onto the bay taking the Red-necked with them. Pochard numbers were up though with 210 counted but only three Goldeneyes.
  On the bay at low tide hundreds of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and Sanderling.
Walland Marsh - Joined CP out on the Marsh this afternoon for the monthly roost count where 11 Marsh Harriers came in to roost, including two cracking adult males, with another half dozen in the general area. We also noted a record count of seven Great Whites and six Little Egrets flying off to roost nearby as the sun went down. Other birds of note included: five Buzzards, a Merlin, hundreds of corvids, Starlings, Lapwings and Golden Plovers, five Snipe, Water Rail, Skylark, Mipit, Cetti`s Warbler, 50 Linnets, three Corn Buntings and six Ravens, plus a large flock of winter thrushes, mainly Fieldfares, at Midley on the way out.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Cattle Egrets

Lade - cold, cloudy, E 2 - Although the wind had relented somewhat from yesterday it was still a nippy old morning with the temperature hovering around 4C. Despite spending an hour scouring north lake for the Red-necked Grebe it could not be found (presumably tucked up in a reedbed) but showed well enough out on the open water during the afternoon visit. There was no sign again of the Hume`s Warbler.
  A brief seawatch from the point delivered the usual auks, Gannets, Red-throated Divers and Kittiwakes offshore, plus at least 20 Woodpigeons in the old lighthouse garden.

                                Cattle Egrets, Boulderwall

  On the bird reserve three Cattle Egrets in the Boulderwall fields by Cook`s Pool along with a single Great White Egret, plus Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Wigeon, Marsh Harrier and Buzzard further out.  At Cockles Bridge the flock of 10 Bewick`s Swans were still present in the fields towards Lydd.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Ravens and Red-throats

Dungeness - dry and sunny, SE 2 - Another superb winters day with bright sunshine throughout. We started off along the foreshore which was predictably devoid of birds, before moving on to The Patch where a mini-boil had attracted a few gulls including an adult Mediterranean Gull on the beach. A pair of Ravens displayed over A Station, `cronking` loudly and tumbling in flight before eventually settling on the superstructure. Offshore a steady trickle of Red-throated Divers, Gannets and auks rounded the point.

                                Raven, Med Gull and Red-throated Diver

  A guided walk for RSPB this morning concentrated on Burrowes where two Red-throated Divers were the highlights; unusual here, despite being common on the sea. All the usual wildfowl noted including four Goldeneyes, hundreds of Cormorants, plus an adult and 1st winter Caspian Gull on the islands. At Boulderwall hundreds of Greylags, Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Wigeon on the fields, plus two Cattle Egrets, a flyover Great White, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. From Hanson hide, Black-tailed Godwit, 100 Wigeon and the expected gulls and diving ducks. From Cockles Bridge ten Bewick`s Swans in the rape-seed field.
  An afternoon visit to Lade failed to locate the Hume`s Warbler, but the Red-necked Grebe remained on north lake. A check of the bay from the Tavern viewpoint in fading light revealed hundreds of Common and Black-headed Gulls, Curlews, Oystercatchers, Dunlins and Sanderlings.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Bewick`s Swans

Lade - mild, sunny, light airs - Another superb morning to be out and about in the field with the temperature rising into double figures by midday. Two Dartford Warblers showed briefly by the main track, along with a variety of passerines including three Stonechats, two Reed Buntings, Cetti`s Warbler and Song Thrush. Two redhead Goosanders dropped in on south lake for about ten minutes before flying off towards ARC, while the Red-necked Grebe remained on north lake. At the ponds the usual tit, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest flock was present but I could find no sign of the Hume`s Warbler.
  From Cockles Bridge ten Bewick`s Swans were in the fields amongst the Mutes, plus two Marsh Harriers, Stonechat and Skylark. A drive out on Walland delivered three more Bewick`s in a field near Brookland, a Great White Egret and several large parties of Fieldfares.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Back on the beat

Lade - cool, still and cloudy - Having had a weekend of wedding celebrations with our Kate, who married Tim on Saturday at Littlehampton, it felt good to be out and about around the local patch with Barney today in fine winter weather.
  This morning we did our usual circuit of the wetlands where the Red-necked Grebe was still on north lake while the Hume`s Warbler remained as elusive as ever around the ponds where it called three times confirming its presence. Also in the willow swamp area: Chiffchaff, Cetti`s Warbler, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Redwing, Kingfisher and Green Woodpecker, a Marsh Harrier over and a Dartford Warbler along the track. There was an increase in Teal and Wigeon numbers on south lake, although only two Goldeneye were noted.

                                Red-necked Grebe, north lake

  Late afternoon behind the `mirrors` scanning the rough grassland delivered a fine Barn Owl, six Marsh Harriers heading to roost, two Buzzards, four Stonechats and around 200 Jackdaws also heading to roost sites in the Trapping Area.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Hume`s Warbler

Dungeness - mild and overcast, W3 - We joined half a dozen other optimists at the fishing boats this morning with yesterdays auk fest in mind; however, as is often the case two consecutive seawatching days are rarely the same. It did produce hundreds of Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Cormorants, Kittiwakes and auks (mostly Guillemots and only a few Razorbills) rounding the point or fishing offshore, plus singles of Mediterranean Gull, Common Scoter, Merganser and Bonxie.
Lade   - There was a steady trickle of twitchers to site to see the Hume`s Warbler which was still present, but elusive, around the ponds and only occasionally calling. The Red-necked Grebe remained on north lake while six Goldeneyes and two Caspian Gulls (an adult and a 1st winter) were among the gull roost on south lake.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Winter thrushes

Lade - misty start then warm and sunny - A stunning morning with a light ground frost, mist over the lakes and no wind. Late last night I popped out into the back garden for a listen and sure enough a steady passage of Redwings could be heard coming in off the sea and heading inland. They rarely pause awhile here so it was good to see a few in the bushes early on around the ponds, mostly Blackbirds plus a few Redwings and a Song Thrush. Chiffchaff, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, tits and finches were also noted as we searched for the Hume`s while the Red-necked Grebe was seen on north lake.

                                Smoke on the water

  However, as the morning warmed up it was no surprise when a call came through from Stephen Message who`d relocated the Hume`s Warbler in the willow swamp by the causeway. I returned to site around midday when the bird was showing intermittently around the ponds, and occasionally calling, to a steady trickle of local birders. It continued in this vein all afternoon.