Sunday, 17 October 2021

Harriers

 New Romney - warm, dry and cloudy SW2 - My early morning walkouts from home this week have been a case of familiarising myself with local footpaths and tracks out onto the marsh countryside which is only a five minute stroll away. Much of the land to the north towards St Mary-in-the-Marsh is intensively farmed and bereft of wildlife potential, apart from the drainage sewers, but the green lane out to Old Romney church looks promising with sheep folds and marginal scrub, hedgerows and paddocks providing a variety of wayside habitats for birds. To the south, Church Lane down to the spinney and dung heap by Dunes Road also has potential. So far typical farmland species such as Kestrel, Buzzard, Skylark, Linnet, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting have all been logged, plus a flushed Snipe, several Chiffchaffs and Jays, Green Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush.


Walland Marsh -This evening was the first harrier roost count of the season. I joined Chris P at our usual site on Walland Marsh where farming operations were still in full swing. As we approached the watchpoint several thousand gulls, Starlings and Lapwings swirled over the arable lands to feed. Eventually, as the sun set, in spectacular fashion, seven Marsh Harriers came to roost while an adult male Hen Harrier flew towards the Woolpack. Also noted four Buzzards, four Kestrels, two Stonechats, a Snipe and six roosting Great White Egrets.




Friday, 15 October 2021

Back in the field!

Warm, dry and sunny, NW 3 - Phew, what a week it has been; moving house - never again! Anyhow, it was great to be out and about around the peninsula this morning birding and bumping into local birders again. My first port of call just had to be Lade, even though I felt like an interloper having driven there! And it did not disappoint with a Black-necked Grebe by the causeway on north lake, a flyover Bittern on south lake, plus two inbound Bramblings and three Jays. Also noted: several Chiffchaffs by the ponds, a trickle of migrating Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches from the lookout and two Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk around the willow swamp.

                                 Black-necked Grebe, Lade

At Dungeness the sea was busy with hundreds of close auks (including a few Razorbills) and a feeding frenzy of Gannets and gulls further out, including a few Kittiwakes, Sandwich Terns, Med Gulls and a passing Bonxie. The land was quiet though with just three Jays, 10 Meadow Pipits, two Black Redstarts, a Grey Wagtail and several Chiffchaffs; can it really be mid-October, and where are all the crests? Moving onto the bird reserve where four Cattle Egrets on Boulderwall fields were joined by two Glossy Ibises having flown over from ARC. On Burrowes a Black-tailed Godwit and two Dunlins were amongst the usual Lapwings and Golden Plovers, while from Makepeace 31 Snipe and another Black-necked Grebe noted.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Last Post from Plovers

 Lade - Saturday - warm, dry and sunny, E2 - A wander around the local patch this morning delivered very few overhead migrants with two Jays, a Grey Wagtail and a Reed Bunting the highlights amongst several each of Pied Wagtail, Skylark and Goldfinch. The only grounded passerines were 10 Chiffchaffs, 20 Meadow Pipits, 50 Linnets and a late Reed Warbler by the ponds.

Sunday  -  foggy - The sun didn`t break through the thick blanket of fog until mid-morning, by which time I busy with other things... A few Chiffchaffs in the garden and flyover Greylag Geese was about it. 

This will be my last post for a while as after 15 years and 9 months at Plovers, Pat and I are moving to the nearby bustling metropolis of New Romney. Lade has been my local patch throughout that period and has delivered some memorable birding, but if I`m honest it`s just not the same without my Barney bouncing around beside me. So, time to move on, but I will be checking it out now and again, just not on a near daily basis. We are taking many great memories with us from all our loyal guests and friends  who`ve stayed at Plovers down the years (I really must write down some of the anecdotes!), and the Bird Tours will continue, just in a different format.  

                                  Sunset over south lake, Lade 



Friday, 8 October 2021

Snipe

 Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Once the early morning murk had cleared it turned into a fine autumn day to be out and about across the peninsula. An hour around dawn in the back garden produced a trickle of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches and a Song Thrush overhead, plus several Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap in the fir trees. Outback few passerines were noted in what was perfect weather conditions for early October migrants, but where are they all? I guess fewer and fewer migrants is just something we`ve got to expect these days; no surprise really, considering the way we`re plundering the planet with our excesses and burgeoning population.


                Snipe from the archives, as my camera is playing up (Burrowes, 2013)

Anyhow, that`s enough of that! Moving onto Scotney where there was a few birds, albeit mostly feral geese and gulls, Lapwings and Golden Plovers, ducks and Starlings. Outback, singles of Green and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and several Tree Sparrows around the farm buildings lifted the gloom somewhat. Also noted across the site, Great White and Little Egrets, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Curlew, Redshank and plenty of Linnets and Meadow Pipits. On the bird reserve the highlight was a minimum count of 33 Snipe scattered across the islands in front of Makepeace hide, plus the usual nervy flock of 250 each of Golden Plover and Lapwing, two Dunlins and a Ruff. Several Bearded Tits showed well in the reed bed at Cook`s Pool, while over on ARC five Black-tailed Godwits landed in front of Hanson hide and at least 15 Chiffchaffs were actively snapping up insects in the warm sunshine at the pines. This afternoon a check of the bay on a falling tide produced few waders due to disturbance. Finished off with a seawatch from the boats along with the regular stalwarts where very little was moving apart from a few Gannets, Sandwich Terns, auks and a Red-throated Diver on the sea.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Ring Ouzels

 Lade - cool, sunny, W 4 - Trudging across the shingle into a brisk westerly first thing this morning I wasn`t expecting a great deal until two Ring Ouzels `exploded` from cover in Mockmill Sewer, `chacking` loudly as they disappeared behind the wall `mirror`. Little else was noted passerine wise apart from a trickle of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches overhead, a few Chiffchaffs in the bushes, a single Wheatear on the desert and a Swallow hurrying south, plus several Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier by the willow swamp. At Littlestone around midday four Common Buzzards drifted over while another Sparrowhawk hacked through a back garden. A check of the bay on a falling tide revealed the usual waders returning from roost and a trickle of Sandwich Terns. In the late afternoon sunshine it was good to a see a Comma and a couple of Small Tortoiseshells on the garden buddleia. 



                                  Comma and Small Tortoiseshell

News broke this afternoon concerning a long-awaited quality wader on the bird reserve in the shape of a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (CT, MC) on the islands in front of Dennis`s hide. It was a bit on the nervy side and regularly took flight alongside the usual Golden Plovers and Lapwings, plus three Ruff and two Dunlins, but as always one of the smartest American shorebirds when it did settle down.   

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Shearwaters

Dungeness - 0645 - 0900hrs - cool, cloudy, SSW 4/5 - An early morning seawatch from the hide in the company of CP; and prior to the arrival of a fierce weather front off the Atlantic from late morning onwards was, to put it simply, quite superb. There was always something of interest on offer, mainly due to a steady down-Channel movement of c400 each of Sandwich Terns and Gannets, many of which were forced close to shore by the increasing wind speed and plunge diving for fish en-route. In turn at least 25 Arctic Skuas of various ages and plumage phases were also in attendance harrying the unfortunate terns; it is a spectacle that I never tire of witnessing, with some of the chases just offshore making it even more impressive. Ten Bonxies powered through at varying distances and at least 50 auks fizzed by, mostly Guillemots (the ones I could discern) but also several Razorbills. Other sundry seabirds included: 20 Common Scoters, 10 Kittiwakes, two Mediterranean Gulls and a Red-throated Diver. However, the cherry-on-the bun belonged to three species of shearwaters: 10 Balearics, several inside the buoy, a close Manxie and a distant Sooty Shearwater. Departing passerines heading out included a trickle of Swallows and Meadow Pipits. Marvellous stuff.



Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Baywatch

Lade Bay - cool, dry and sunny, NW 4 - Spent some time today checking out the waders across the bay. This morning at Littlestone, around the groynes, there were 35 Turnstones and 12 Redshanks along with a selection of Dunlins, Sanderlings, 15 Knots, two Grey and four Ringed Plovers on the mud further out, plus a Wheatear on the shingle beach, a trickle of southbound House Martins and Swallows and a Raven `cronking` loudly overhead. 




                                   Bar-tailed Godwit and Brent Goose, Lade Bay

This afternoon on the neap tide I checked out the Lade to Greatstone section where the light was superb, which makes such a difference to viewing and counting. Oystercatchers topped 1,000 (at least four with blue and red colour rings), Curlews 300 and Bar-tailed Godwits 30, one of which came close enough for a few piccies. Whilst chatting to Owen L a pair of Black-tailed Godwits joined the throng making 11 species of waders in all. Wildfowl noted included ten Brents on the sea and one on the sands, 20 Wigeon, five Teal and a Pintail. 140 Sandwich Terns resting on a sand bar briefly attracted the attention of a marauding Arctic Skua before it returned back out to sea along with a few passing Common Scoters, Cormorants and Gannets.