Friday, 1 July 2022

Passage Waders

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW 5 - This past week has seen the wader passage pick up as adult birds return from their northern breeding grounds and pause a while. The habitat is ideal for waders on the bird reserve, mostly from Hanson hide where the water level is dropping fast, and to a lesser extent on Burrowes. Green and Wood Sandpipers have already been reported while this morning, from Hanson, two Greenshanks were present along with nine Black-tailed Godwits and the usual Oystercatchers, Lapwings and Redshanks. Also noted there, three Glossy Ibises, four Common Terns, a male Sparrowhawk with prey and a Peregrine that flushed all the waders and ducks. Burrowes was quieter with 12 Ringed, a Little Ringed and three Dunlins, while hundreds of Swifts and Sand Martins moved overhead in the stiff breeze. A check of Kerton Road quarry revealed no new passage waders, apart from 50 Lapwings, but at least six pairs of Oystercatchers, three with well grown juvs

                                  Common Emerald

                                 Small Ranunculus


                                 Bordered Straw

Around New Romney walks out onto the farmland on Romney Salts have produced singing Corn Bunting and Yellow Wagtail and the discovery of a Sparrowhawk with a brood of fledged young; the male delivering a juvenile Whitethroat that it snatched from atop a bush just in front of me. The spinney by the railway line had Green Woodpecker and Kestrel with juvs, while Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Lesser Whitethroat were still in song. The garden moth trap continues to attract newbies with Wednesday night haul of 41 species including Small Ranunculus and a migrant Bordered Straw. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Summer Doldrums

New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, SW 2 - We seem to have moved into the birding doldrums of late with very little change around the Marsh countryside as the breeding season reaches a climax. Around the Hope Lane loop over the weekend, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and Buntings, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel and Little Owl were all noted feeding fledglings. The garden moth trap continues to yield newcomers to the site list including Engrailed, a moth I did not get on the shingle.

                                  High tide gull roost, Kerton Road quarry

                                 Immature Great Black-backed Gulls

                                  Greylag creche, Kerton Road quarry

                                 Egyptian Goose brood, Kerton Road quarry

                                 Glossy Ibises and Little Egret, ARC

I`ve checked the bay three times over the past few days with very disappointing returns. A count of 320 Oystercatchers and 125 Curlews was the best muster, but not a single tern; although hearing of the worrying scenes Bird Flu is having at gull and tern colonies from either side of the Channel I`m not too surprised. On the bird reserve there has been little change of late, apart from an all too brief appearance of a Caspian Tern on Saturday, as I was half way to Folkestone... The Glossy Ibises and Cattle Egrets are still resident and yesterday evening it was good to see hundreds of Swifts feeding over the lake at ARC along with lesser numbers of the three hirundines. Although a couple of Common Terns were present this morning there was no sign of any nesting activity on Burrowes. A check of Kerton Road quarry on the high tide produced around 1,000 gulls of four species: roughly 600 Herring, 200 Black-headed, 200 Great Black-backed, plus a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Moth Fest

New Romney - warm, dry, overcast, light airs - Superb overnight weather conditions for mothing delivered 41 species of macro moths to the garden trap, several new for the site, including Beautiful Hook-tip, Obscure Wainscot and Burnished Brass.

                                  Beautiful Hook-tip

                                 Burnished Brass

                                  Obscure Wainscot

As the morning progressed the sun broke through and the wind picked up out of the south-west. A good look around Lade confirmed much success for grebes with both species feeding young out on the water and a single migrant Black-necked Grebe. A few high Swifts and Sand Martins drifted south, already on their way back to warmer climes no doubt, while 11 Little Egrets were counted across the site. Next stop Kerton Road quarry where a passage Little Ringed Plover was the highlight, along with four Redshanks, several Lapwings and three pairs of Oystercatchers on the main island, one of which had two fledged juveniles in tow. A brief stop off at Hanson hide revealed nothing new from my last visit.

                                  Dabchicks, Lade

                                  Little Egrets, Lade

                                  Little Ringed Plover, Kerton Rd pit

                                 Oystercatcher and chick, Kerton Rd pit

Thursday, 23 June 2022


Dungeness - humid, hazy sunshine, light airs - I was en-route to the point to meet guests for a mornings guiding when Dave B flagged me down to tell of a male Serin he`d seen in his garden that had just flown off towards the new lighthouse. A few minutes later I picked the bird up on call flying around the Britannia pub before it eventually disappeared over towards the Sanctuary. It was then on with a tour of the peninsula for Colin and Jo as we located the expected Black Redstart, Wheatear (including juvs), Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Whitethroat, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail and Kestrel. Moving onto the bird reserve and from Hanson hide plenty of wildfowl and waders to sift through including 26 Black-tailed Godwits, six Avocets, a Glossy Ibis and two Black-necked Grebes, plus good views of a female Marsh Harrier and two distant Buzzards. From the Access Road, another Glossy Ibis, two Cattle Egrets, a Buzzard and a Hobby. On Burrowes a few pairs of Common Terns still on an island in front of Dennis`s, a pair of Oystercatchers with a chick, seven Ringed Plovers, a fly over Great White Egret and all the usual gulls and ducks. A decent enough morning for the guests with 64 species of birds noted plus plenty of dragonflies and butterflies.

                                 Linnet and Buzzard, Dungeness

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

North Downs

North Downs - warm, dry and sunny, NE 3 - Spent the morning with Chris P atop the hills scanning the skies for soaring birds of prey. Due to the time of year we were not expecting the numbers that we recorded on our last visit but still managed up to 10 Common Buzzards, two Red Kites and six Kestrels. The small arable fields and scattered copses on the clay-with-flints delivered a decent enough return on Yellowhammers and Skylarks, plus one or two Linnets, Pied Wagtails, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Red-legged Partridges, along with a few Swallows, Swifts and Mediterranean Gulls overhead. We also had an `interesting` hour long conversation with a `custodian of the countryside` on matters agricultural and the merits of "vermin  control" viz-a-viz game shooting - what a character, he had us in stitches, I just wish that I`d recorded it!

                                  Common Buzzard

                                  Male Kestrel

                                  Yellowhammer in song

                                 Red-legged Partridge on pulp waste

Sunday, 19 June 2022


New Romney - cool and cloudy, NE 4 - A mixed weekend of weather with about a ten degree drop from Saturday to Sunday as a cold front moved in from the north, along with a few light rain showers and an impressive thunder and lightening show last night. The garden moth trap was again profitable yesterday morning with four species of Hawk-moths and five new macros including White Satin and Rosy Wave.

                                  Elephant Hawk-moth

                                  Rosy Wave

                                  White Satin 

Wandering the footpaths north and south of the town has revealed plenty of Kestrel activity with five birds in the air around the Hope Lane loop and at least six Common Buzzards over the town yesterday causing havoc with the local Herring Gulls; also on Saturday a Honey Buzzard went through (SC). Locally, juvenile birds are becoming noticeable, particularly Starlings and Jackdaws forming large flocks on fields and parks hereabout, and Mallard ducklings in the New Cutt. House Martins are still nest building on the new housing estate off Cockreed Lane, while Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Long-tailed Tit, Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush were all seen with fledglings close by. It was also good to see plenty of Small Tortoiseshells on the wing.  

Friday, 17 June 2022

Garden Moths

New Romney - hot, dry and sunny, SW2 - With a humid, moonless night affording superb weather conditions for moths, 42 species of macros hit the garden trap including two new to me: Blue-bordered Carpet and Small Yellow Wave, both of which I never had on the shingle. Also, my first Privet Hawk-moth, Figure of Eighty, Green Pug and Gallium Carpet for the site.

                                 Blue-bordered Carpet

                                  Figure of Eighty

                                  Green Pug

                                  Privet Hawk-moth

                                  Small Yellow Wave

On the bird reserve yesterdays Melodious Warbler found early on by MC along the Willow Trail on ARC sang briefly around midday, but there was no presence today. From Hanson hide hundreds of all the usual wildfowl on the lake and islands, plus Lapwings, Common Tern, Glossy Ibis, Black-tailed Godwits and a two pairs of Avocets looking as though they may well settle down to nest, if a little late in the season.