Monday, 25 March 2019

Black-necked Grebe

Lade - cold, dry, sunny, nnw 4 - A cracking start to the day with bright sunshine and a nippy northerly airflow. Following a crystal clear night it was no surprise that there were few migrants about apart from a lone Swallow over and several singing Chiffchaffs around the willow swamp. However, the first two Black-necked Grebes of spring put in a welcome appearance on south lake, alongside two Goldeneyes and the few remaining Teal, Pochard and Shoveler, plus good numbers of Little and Great Crested Grebes. Oystercatcher, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Cetti`s Warbler, Reed Bunting and Stonechat all noted around the site.

                                Two male Wheatears, Dengemarsh gully

Dengemarsh - Having picked up Clare and Peter from Ashford for a three day Birdwatching Break at Plovers we headed back down to coast where we spent a couple of hours birding the gully. Despite  the brisk wind we managed to locate two male Wheatears, a female Black Redstart, Goldcrest, 10 Linnets, Meadow Pipits and at least 10 Chiffchaffs, plus superb views of a pair of Ravens, a Peregrine alighting on a pylon and a Weasel. The hayfields were less profitable with just a handful of Lapwings. From Springfield Bridge the usual wildfowl and a distant Marsh Harrier.
  From the Lydd Road by the allotment the three Cattle Egrets were in the sheep fold close to the gateway affording cracking close views.

                                 Cattle Egrets, Lydd Road

Greatstone beach - From the Tavern viewpoint we scanned the sands for yesterdays KP without success. However, there was plenty to see in bright afternoon sunshine on a falling tide including 320 Curlews, 15 Ringed Plovers, 50 Sanderlings, 10 Dunlins, 30 Mediterranean Gulls and 80 Sandwich Terns.

                                Sarny Terns and Med Gulls, Greatstone beach

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Kentish Plover

Lade  - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - A mix of weather over the weekend commenced with mild, overcast conditions on Friday night that resulted in a heavy passage of winter thrushes, mainly Redwings, over the cottage plus a few Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.
  There was little change to the birding scene across the peninsula although last night being cold and clear meant that there were fewer Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Black Redstarts present, while a Rough-legged Buzzard was reported on Walland Marsh yesterday evening (CP).

                                Littlestone golf links

Littlestone - This morning we did a circular walk along the foreshore and back along the golf links. On the bay five Redshank, six Grey Plover and 80 Sandwich Terns were the best of the bunch. The land was busy with dog-walkers and golfers, but there were plenty of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in song over the rough grass margins. One particular grassy patch by a golfers shelter seemed to attract a good few of the aforementioned plus 20 Linnets, several Pied Wagtails, a Wheatear and a Rock Pipit of the Scandinavian race, plus another probable that flushed off when a group of golfers approached.

  This afternoon, along with a sprightly crowd of local birders, we called in at DBO to celebrate David Walker`s anniversary tenure as observatory warden. Congratulations David on 30 years of sterling service.
Greatstone Beach - Late news this afternoon concerned a female Kentish Plover on the beach found by Owen L at one of this plover`s former traditional haunts. This is first bay record in my time and very well received it was too by a steady trickle of locals.

                                Adult female Kentish Plover, Greatstone beach.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Black Redstarts

Dungeness - mild, overcast, light airs - Another decent morning for early spring migrants with a scattering of Black Redstarts, Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests across the point plus Firecrest and Blackcap in the old lighthouse garden. Pairs of Stonechats and Meadow Pipits were in breeding mode singing and nest building, while a pair of Peregrines sat atop the pylons by the power station imperiously surveying their kingdom. The sea was quiet once again with just a trickle of Brents and Common Scoters through.

                                Migrant Black Redstarts and Wheatear

                               Breeding Meadow Pipit and Stonechat

Lade - The Environment Agency were on site today checking on the fish quality from an inflatable. As a result all the wildfowl were on north lake including three Goldeneyes and 20 Teal. There was no change to the birds around the RSPB reserve today, while the Cattle Egrets and Whooper Swans are still being seen along the Lydd Road.
  I ran the garden moth trap for the third time this spring and at last got a result; well, three moths to be precise! Twin-spotted Quaker, Common Quaker and Hebrew Character.
  It also felt good to have my old four legged friend back up and running this morning following an enforced lay off due to a damaged paw.

                                Barney back in the game

                                Twin-spotted Quaker - first moth of spring

Thursday, 21 March 2019

A fall of Wheatears

Dungeness - muggy, overcast, light airs - En-route to the bird reserve a check of New Diggings and ARC resulted in very little of note apart from several Goldeneyes on both waters. On Boulderwall fields the usual Wigeon, Teal, Curlew, feral geese, Great White and Little Egrets.
  A guided walk for a U3A group from Lewes delivered similar fare to yesterday with plenty of Shovelers, Shelduck, Teal, large gulls, Cormorants and Lapwings on Burrowes, plus four Goldeneyes, 10 Ruff, four Avocets, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin and a lost-looking Brent Goose. The summer plum Black-necked Grebe was still on Christmas Dell pool, while Marsh Harrier, Goldeneye and 50 Wigeon noted at Dengemarsh. Passerines around the site included five Chiffchaffs, 10 Cetti`s Warblers, 20 Reed Buntings and singles of Firecrest and Dartford Warbler.
A couple of Tree Sparrows were on the car park feeders and a Wheatear flew across the access road on the drive out.

                                Ruff on Burrowes

  At Dungeness, two Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest in the lighthouse garden, while a loose flock of six Wheatears performed on the foreshore by the lifeboat station.

                                Three of the six at Dungeness

  Back at Lade a check of the desert revealed another eight Wheatears, plus two more on the beach making ten, a spring record here for me. Also noted five Chiffchaffs in back gardens, another Firecrest in broom scrub and 20 Sandwich Terns on the bay.
  Many more Wheatears, Firecrests and Chiffchaffs were noted across the peninsula, so all in all a pretty good early spring birding day I`d say.

                                Three of the ten at Lade

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Great Tits

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, wsw 2 - Joined OL and RW in the seawatch hide first thing for a short watch with nothing much happening apart from one flock of 50 Brent Geese, plus a trickle of Red-throated Divers and Kittiwakes up-Channel, although the first Common Tern of spring had been reported earlier.

    Brents on the move up-Channel

  A wander around the bushes delivered a noticeable increase in Great Tits and by the time I arrived at the Obs DW confirmed that at least some may have been of continental origin as a party of high flying birds were seen to drop into the moat. In the field the British race Parus major newtoni is indistinguishable from the continental race P. m. major, but a bird in the hand confirmed the latter by  biometrics (a short, slender bill), greyish upperparts and a thick layer of body fat.
  Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Linnet were all in song across the peninsula with a Wheatear on the foreshore near the lifeboat station. Also noted several Goldfinches, two Redwings, two Chiffchaffs and a Peregrine over the power station.

                                Continental Great Tit, DBO

  A guided walk for six birders around the circular route this morning was less than inspiring with 10 Ruff and four Avocets on Burrowes, Snipe and Black-necked Grebe on Christmas Dell the highlights.
Also noted plenty of Reed Buntings and Great Tits, several singing Chiffchaffs and Cetti`s Warblers, two Marsh Harriers, Curlew, Egyptian Goose and Little Egret.

                                Cook`s Pool, Boulderwall

Monday, 18 March 2019


Dungeness - mild, cloudy, w 2 - Joined MC in the seawatch hide briefly where a steady flow of Gannets and Red-throated Divers were coming and going, plus a few Sandwich Terns up-Channel. On the land, when the sun broke through, some welcome spring bird song was music to the ears; mostly of Dunnock, Chaffinch, Wren and Great Tit, but also one or two of Meadow Pipit and Linnet. Two Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest skulked in the lighthouse garden and at least four Stonechats were active in surrounding scrub, two of which were soon trapped by JTM, the male being a rubicola type. Several more Firecrests filtered through the bushes in the moat and a Wheatear was on the shingle outback.

                               Stonechat, DBO

                                Foxes sunbathing, Lade wall `mirror`

  At Lade around noon three Chiffchaffs sang around the ponds along with a Cetti`s Warbler, while a Great Spotted Woodpecker tapped away on a dead branch. A trickle of `mewing` Mediterranean Gulls passed overhead again and more Chiffchaffs could be heard in back gardens hereabouts. Several more Stonechats were noted on the Desert and on the Kerton Road triangle.
  This afternoon on the sands, 50 Sandwich Terns present along with the usual Black-headed and Common Gulls, Curlews, Oystercatchers and ten Ringed Plovers.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

First Little Ringed Plover

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w3 - After a torrid week of stormy weather with strong to gale force winds throughout, today heralded a more spring-like feel with sunshine and an absence of a blasting wind more conducive to migrant hunting. However, it felt odd to tramp around the local patch without Barney this morning who`s been laid up with a strained leg.
  First off I checked out the Kerton Road quarry where six Shelducks, two Redshanks and four Mediterranean Gulls were on the northern island. Singing Skylark, Mipit and Reed Bunting added to the spring atmosphere while a Wheatear flew across the main lake, the first for the local patch. A flat area with puddles of water attracted four Ringed Plovers and a single Little Ringed Plover (new for the year) before being flushed by a passing Kestrel.
  The walk back towards the lakes yielded two more Wheatears on the Desert, one of which kindly posed for a piccie or two, and a pair of Med Gulls mewing overhead. On south lake still six Goldeneyes and 30 Teal, plus singing Chiffchaffs, Cetti`s Warblers and Reed Buntings around the willow swamp. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Green Woodpecker and Stonechat also noted.

                                One of three Wheatears on the local patch this morning

                                    `White arse`

Walland Marsh - This afternoon I joined CP for the final harrier count of winter at our usual watchpoint out on the Marsh. The wind had picked up a bit and a few hail showers rattled through under glowering skies, but eventually 10 Marsh Harriers came to roost, while the egret roost count was 12 Great White and five Little. Also in the general area four Buzzards, two Ravens, Bearded Tit, Cetti`s Warbler, Reed Buntings and a Barn Owl, plus plenty of vocalising from a number of Water Rails as dusk fell.