Saturday 30 April 2011

Pom, Poms

Dungeness - 0550-0800hrs - mild, hazy, e4 - Lost count of the number of times this spring when I`ve got up at dawn, full of optimism, only to be cheesed-off after an hour in the seawatch hide. However, this morning was NOT one of those mornings. Arrived late, and just missed a drake Long-tailed Duck, not a great start, but waders were on the move, and close to the hide. Over the coming two hours a steady procession of c300 Barwits, at least 80 Grey Plovers and lesser numbers of Whimbrels, Curlews, Knots, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and one Spotted Redshank (a first for me on a seawatch) clipped the Point. There was a decent supporting cast of Kitts, Fulmar, Gannets, Common and Little Terns, one Black Tern and Red-throated Diver. Ducks included Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Common Scoter and 2 Tufted Ducks. Half a dozen distant Arctic Skuas and a close Bonxie were then followed by the main event of the watch, 5 superb Pomarine Skuas in full breeding plumage complete with trailing spoons. They powered imperiously through just outside the cardinal buoy to be  followed by a singleton ten minutes later. Now, that`s what a Dungeness seawatch is all about.
Bird Reserve - Had two attempts at the Purple Heron before I finally nailed it in the ditch by the farm, and it is an adult and well marked, so probably a male; lets hope we get a repeat of last year. From Springfield Bridge at leat 80 Barwits and a Dunlin on the flood, a Greenshank over, a cracking male Marsh Harrier, distant views of the adult Ravens, Yellow Wags, Swift and a drake Survivor Duck.
                                          Barwits, Denge Marsh
Called in at the Visitor Centre and scanned Burrowes where 2 Little Gulls floated by. Nothing much else but on the way out the Ring-necked Parakeet flew across the road by ARC and onto my Dungeness list; apparently none the worse from its hammering by the Peregrine (see yesterdays post).
Dungeness Boats - 1530-1630hrs - Joined the Joker and Weekend Birder for a late seawatch and scored immediately with five close Spooners and a singleton. Breathtaking views as these marvellous migrants purposefully rounded the point and headed towards the North Sea. Also, a steady flow of Barwits, plus lesser numbers of Grey Plovers, Whimbrel and Knot. Common and Little Terns were still moving through and we had a party of 5 Arctic Terns, more Kitts, Gannets and a few scoters.
Phew, what a day! The two old timers reckoned it was one of the best wader and Pom days ever with a wide variety of the former and at least 50 of the latter. Dungeness at its very best.
                                          Toadflax Brocade
The first one of the spring last night. Toadflax Brocade particularly favours shingle beaches along the south coast, and therefore is a regular visitor to the Plovers moth trap.

Friday 29 April 2011

Purple Heron, Bee-eater and a Ring-necked Parakeet

Dungeness - 0630hrs - cool, cloudy, n2 - The godwit passage continues, although not quite like yesterday, plus a few other Arctic waders in the mix, and a light passage of Common Terns.
I missed the bird of the day however - a Ring-necked Parakeet in the lighthouse garden. Apparently, this Dunge mega hung around for an hour and then got savaged by the local Peregrine as it flew over the power station! (You`ve gotta be tough to survive down here mate).
Fairfield - 1530hrs Hawkeye (well it had to be...) found a Bee-eater in sight of the famous old church this afternoon, and as usual I arrived 20 minutes late. The East Kent Grippers were holding court, showing off their piccies of the bird saying farewell.
Denge Marsh - 1645hrs - Deja-vu, the/a Purple Heron`s back! Well, I might as well have a hat trick of dips! To be fair, wasnt here long. The Joker was on form however, telling unrepeatable royal jokes (apparently there`s been a wedding up north today) and reminding me that QPR may get a points deduction. The current crop of rarities had also brought the Romney Twitcher into the field.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Bar-tailed Godwits

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, n3 - Just when you think its going to be a quiet day the Barwits arrive. Had 150 over the pits in just 30 minutes, in five groups, heading into the the brisk northerly. Also noted 3 more flocks of 20ish each flying over the cottage during the morning
RSPB - 1130hrs At the southern end of ARC a flock of 55 had dropped in, many in brick-red summer plum. There were 20 more on Burrowes and two flocks of 20 on the access road fields. Also noted several Grey Plovers and Knots.
Had a drive around Galloways this evening where more Barwits on the fields and small flocks flying over; probably another 200. Also, another group of 20 on ARC. Finished off at the seawatch hide where in an hour 250 more moved up-Channel. At least 50 Common Terns on the Patch, plus 2 summer plum Black Terns. Two flocks of 30 Common Scoter also on the move.
Throughout the day reckon I had upwards of 800 Barwits and according to Gullman c7,000 (probably a record) had past the Point by 7pm. Barwits on the move in these numbers is one of the great viz mig spectacles of the spring at Dungeness. The males in breeding plumage are stunning birds and they`re with us for such a short time as they press on to breed in the Arctic tundra region.
                                          Barwits, Dungeness

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Nut-tree Tussock

Dungeness - 0630hrs - cold, cloudy, drizzle, ne3 - Another slow seawatch with a dribble of Bar-wits and Whimbrels on the move along with Gannets, a few Guillemots and the now resident Sandwich Terns. Also, a few Sand Martins and Swallows in.
A new moth in the garden trap last night, a Nut-tree Tussock. Common enough up-country but scarce down here on the Marsh.
                                          Nut-tree Tussock, Plovers

Tuesday 26 April 2011

RSPB Farmland Bird Survey, Postling

Dungeness - 0630hrs - cool, ne3, sunny - Tried another hour in the seawatch hide with several other optomists first thing. Nothing much apart from a few passing Gannets, terns and divers, plus Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and a few Swallows in, and 2 Red-throated Divers and 5 Guillemots on the sea.
The Baitdigger had a Black Kite fly over his cottage mid-morning (about time the slacker found another mega in his garden!). It then toured the point and was last seen over the bird reserve heading towards Lydd. Seem to be going through a dipping period at the moment, so contrived to miss it by 20 minutes despite having two phone calls and regular texts (thanks to all concerned) as to its whereabouts ... First Swifts of the year over Boulderwall.
                                          Barney - "Phew! I`m used to the Flatlands!"

Postling 1100hrs - Paid a visit to my survey farm on the downs this morning and into the afternoon. Despite the freshening wind a decent return with Linnets, Skylarks, Yammers, Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroat all on territory and several Buzzards noted. Must be morphing into a Marshian as struggled like mad up the `scarp slope. Once on the summit though, terrific views across the Garden of England.

Monday 25 April 2011

Spring Moths

Plovers - Another good catch in the garden moth trap last night, despite slightly cooler conditions due to the increasing north-easterly wind. First Muslin Moth of the season, plus a wide range of Light Feathered Rustics, including this very pale individual. LFR`s are national scarce but common enough in the traps around Dungeness at this time of year.
                                          Light Feathered Rustic

                                          Swallow Prominent 
Fishing boats - 1600hrs Weekend Birder and Baby Dave already here. Just missed 2 close Poms... However, in half an hour a distant Bonxie through plus a trickle of Gannets, Common Terns, a Kittiwake and 5 Little Terns.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Vagrant Emperor

Dungeness - mild, hazy sunshine, n1 - 0630hrs - Had a spin around the point with Steve from London who`s staying with us for a couple of days with the family. A brief seawatch from the concrete road revealed a few passing Gannets and a single pale phase Arctic Skua amongst the milling Sandwich Terns. A porpoise was taking advantage of the shoals of mackerel currently off shore. Shortie the Glaucous Gull was still holding court by the boats.
Joined Gullman by the seawatch hide and had a quick look at the gulls, terns and Gannets plundering a large shoal of fish, while a small flock of Eiders passed within the cardinal buoy.
1000hrs A good catch in the garden moth trap last night, the highlight being Scorched Carpet.
Springfield Bridge - 1300hrs - Big Al and Lucy joined me for a dragonfly twitch this afternoon at Springfield Bridge, where I was lucky enough to have good flight views of a male Vagrant Emperor as it flew  along Dengemarsh Sewer. For a piccie check out the DBO website.
                           Big Al, dragonfly twitch, Springfield Bridge    

Saturday 23 April 2011


Dungeness - 0545hrs - warm, dry, hazy, light airs - Seawatching was hopeless with no discernible horizon due to the haze. One pale phase Arctic Skua, 2 Fulmars and 2 divers was the highlight in half an hour.
Galloways - 0630hrs - In contrast to the point it was full of birds here. I walked the road from the security barrier down to the sea and back. Plenty of singing Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, Linnets, Mipits, Skylarks, Reed Buntings, Stonechats and a `reeling` Gropper. On the range hut by the shore, Black Redstart, Wheatear and Pied Wagtail. Also of note a pair of English (well it is St Georges Day!) Partridges, 2 Corn Buntings, Med Gulls (overhead), 2 Redshanks, Yellow Wagtail, Swallow, Cuckoo, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and a `ringtail` on the Midrips side.
                                           Wheatear, Galloways
1000hrs - First Pebble Prominent of the year in the plovers moth trap last night.
1500hrs - Dering Wood, Headcorn - Had a wander around this Woodland Trust holding this afternoon. All the expected woodland birds plus my first Garden Warblers of the year.

Friday 22 April 2011

Skuas! Well, at Least Two

Dungeness - 0545hrs - mild, hazy, light airs - The forecast last night predicted a light south-easterly, so expectations were high for a seawatch this morning. Hopes were soon dashed however with not enough wind to fly a kite. Lasted an hour and a half during which time we had one close dark phase Arctic Skua and a distant, spoonless, Pom powering through. Sandwich Terns reached the 1,000 mark but there were few Common Terns with nearly as many Little Terns, at around 10. Also, a few Gannets, scoters, divers, Sanderlings, Whimbrels, mergs, 3 Teal and a Shoveler. The usual stalwarts in the seawatch hide, plus Baby Dave on a long weekend from Bedfordshire.
Strolled over to the Obs where I had good views of the Peregrines on B station, but precious little else. After bemoaning how few migrants were present, discussion moved onto the subject of Brown-tailed Moths, which had made the media headlines recently due the, "plague of caterpillars crawling over the beach at Greatstone". With temperatures in the mid-20`s C the hairy little blighters were everywhere.
                                          Brown-tailed Moth `tents`, Lade
The only other news around and abouts today concerned a fly-over Bee-eater on the bird reserve, a Gropper at Galloways and more Poms past the point this evening. The near resident Glaucous Gull remained at the boats.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Mr Fothergill Mk 1

Plovers - Picked up the new moth trap from Mr Fothergill yesterday (guaranteed moths or my money back was the deal!) and flashed it up for the first time last night. Certainly made a difference as the catch was well up on the old Skinner type trap with the first Knot Grass of the season and plenty of the usual Tawny Shears, Quakers, Early Greys, etc.
                                          Mr Fothergill, Mk 1, Moth Trap

Wednesday 20 April 2011


Dungeness - 0545hrs - mild, hazy sunshine, light airs - Had another crack at the sea this morning which had reverted back to, "steady", after the excitement of yesterday. A few scoters, divers, terns and Whimbrels was about it.
RSPB Reserve - 1100hrs Teacher-teacher and I attended the launch of the new-for-kids, Pebble Trail at the bird reserve. Several parties of Whimbrels over, including one of 13 that pitched down briefly on Burrowes, with more along the access road in the fields.
Kept hearing their distinctive seven-note whistle throughout the afternoon as more birds passed over the Peninsula. For me, the Whimbrel passage is one of the highlights of the spring as flocks of these cracking waders pause awhile en-route to their northern breeding grounds.
                                          Whimbrel, Dengemarsh

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Missed Poms

Dungeness - 1100 & 1600hrs, warm dry and sunny, se 1-3 - Couldnt make the early watch which recorded several Poms and a dozen or so Arctic Skuas, plus a number of Black and Little Terns and divers.
Did a short, late morning watch with Wednesday Barry as around 100 Common Scoters pulsed through. Also, up-Channel, 15 Eiders, 3 Black-throated and 2 Red-throated Divers, 10 Whimbrel, 3 Little and 50 Common Terns.
An afternoon scan from the concrete road with the Joker and Weekend Birder, in hazy light, proved entertaining but short on birds, with just a few scoters, divers and Gannets noted.

Monday 18 April 2011

Kearton Road Pit

0645hrs - cool, dry, sunny, e3 Checked out the northern end of Kearton Road gravel pit this morning. A lake has formed with two islands, one of which looks promising for breeding Black-headed Gulls with at least 4 pairs courting. Two pairs of Lapwings and Oystercatchers definitely holding territory while migrant Grey Plover and Greenshank around the margins.
Elsewhere, claims of an Iceland Gull offshore following a fishing boat, a few ducks and Whimbrels past the Point, a possible Red-foot on the bird reserve and a singing Gropper in a tiny patch of rough ground in Queens Road, Littlestone.
Only one moth in the garden trap last night.

                                          Early Grey, Lade

Sunday 17 April 2011

California Quails, a Cuckoo and a `booming` Bittern - Lade!

Lade - 0615hrs - cool, hazy sunshine, light airs - Stumbled out of bed on a cracking spring morning, with a red sun rising and not a breath of wind, to get the monthly WeBS count out of the way early on. A definite increase in Whitethroats this morning, singing from every vantage point, in competition with Linnets and Dunnocks. Also, several back garden Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs in song, a perched Sparrowhawk, 2 Corn Buntings and a fly-over Greenshank `tuu-tuu-tuuing`.
I noticed Barney snuffling about in a patch of broom and a few seconds later out came a pair of game birds (and I dont mean the type you find in Lydd on a Saturday night!). My first thought was, Coturnix, coturnix, but, no, unfortunately these tiny quails were of the Californian variety, complete with amazing head plumes that drooped over the bill. I dont expect these escapees will last for long, but at least they`ll have had a taste of freedom before becoming a snack for the local foxes.
                                           Cuckoo, Lade

Anyway, the duck count didnt take long with 18 Great Crested Grebes the highlight. The reed beds were full of the eponymous warblers, while my first Cuckoo of the year posed nicely on power lines.
On the walk back to Plovers, by the southern end of south pit, I was stunned to hear the unmistakable sound of  a `booming` Bittern emanating from the direction of Dengemarsh on the bird reserve. On this still morning it could be clearly heard, just over a mile away across the Desert.
Park Wood, Appledore - 1000hrs Managed to persuade, Teacher-teacher into the woods on this gorgeous morning to experience the sight and smells of a classic bluebell wood in its full glory. Plenty of bird song, despite the late hour, including 7 singing Nightingales, with several brief views. A Tawny Owl making a strangulated version of the `keewik` call also made a cameo appearance thanks to an attendant Jay.
                                          Bluebells, Appledore
ARC - 1600hrs Had a quick look at the gulls from the causeway. Amongst the motley selection of black-backs were some cracking adult summer plum graellsii Lesser Blacks and one odd looking bird which was much blacker on the mantle and wing tips with no apparent contrast (where`s Gullman when you need him) and sort of hinted at Baltic, fuscus. Anyway, it was about the same shape as the regular Brit birds, but a little smaller, and so on, and so forth and I didnt see it fly, blah, blah, blah. Hawkeye, who also saw it agreed it, "was interesting" and that was about it. Gulls.... how can they possibly be some birders favourites...
Also recorded today around Dungeness was a male Montys north over the fishing boats, a Gropper at Galloways and Black Tern through the reserve.

Friday 15 April 2011

Light Airs

Dungeness - 0630hrs - The Channel resembled a mill pond this morning with scum from The Patch spread over a wide area of sea. Joined a few other local optimists in the seawatch hide and lasted an hour. A few scoters, divers, Gannets, a Brent, plus a few hundred Common and mainly Sandwich Terns was about it.
RSPB Reserve - 1400hrs Had my first Reed Warbler from Springfield Bridge this afternoon. Loads of Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers in song, plus a few Yellow Wagtails, Green Sandpiper and a Wheatear. LRP at the south end of ARC, singing Lesser throat and Nightingale on Tower Pits.
                                          Sedge Warbler, Tower Pits

Thursday 14 April 2011

Killer Whales, Ring Ouzels and a Grey Seal

Dungeness - 0600hrs - overcast, drizzle, mild, sw2 - Looked good for some grounded migrants this morning and there was a few more Wheatears about the Point and not much else. In the seawatch hide I joined Wednesday Barry, Mothman and the Farmer for an hour, noting a steady flow of Common Scoters, Gannets, a few Mergansers, Common Terns, Red-throated Divers and a single Velvet Scoter.
Around mid-morning, whilst in Romney, I got a garbled phone message which I later discovered was news of a pod of cetaceans making their way down-Channel off Dungeness. The pod contained Killer Whales and dolphins... Oh! dear - dip of a lifetime? However, a check from the boardwalk later in the day at least revealed a Grey Seal bobbing around the cardinal buoy.
Postling - mid-day - Paid a preliminary visit to a farm near Postling that I`m surveying for RSPB. Some of it is in a Stewardship Scheme, and it was on the chalk lynchets that I jammed a pair of migrant Ring Ouzels. 

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Black-throated Diver

Dungeness - 0630hrs - cold, cloudy, light airs - Started the day with an hour and half seawatch. Just as The Farmer turned up the first diver of the watch moved up-Channel and proved to be a Black-throated, my first of the year (only White-billed and Pacific to go...) Five years ago when I first moved to the Marsh from land-locked Bedfordshire I wouldn`t have had a clue about splitting a flying Black-throated from a Red-throated at distance. However, after sitting in the hide for 5 springs (well, not literally) and listening to the likes of Gullman, Marshman and the Weekend Birder, (plus a master class from the late, great R. E. Turley, complete with hysterical, physical interpretations of flying diver jizz!) something eventually clicked. Still can`t do them all, but given reasonable views the silhouette of Black-throated is bulkier and more elongated than Red-throated and without the humpback. The neck is thicker and the bill straighter, without the tip-tilt, and `hanging head` of Red-throat. Then there`s the wings amidships and the long, flapping feet, and have I mentioned the plumage.....zzzzzzz ok, enough is enough ...
Anyhow, a dozen or so Red-throats came next and I was happy. Also, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Little and 50 Common Terns, 10 Common Scoter, 10 Gannets, 3 Wigeon, 1 porpoise and the usual comings and goings of Sandwich Terns around the Point.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

The Herald

Lade - 0730hrs - cold, sunny, nw3 - With the dreaded north-westerly wind scudding across the Marsh this morning temperatures dropped into single figures; so, ditched the shorts in favour of thermals again. Flogged around the local patch more in hope than expectation. However, 5 Marsh Harriers circling over Airport Pits made for a curious sight - probably a plentiful food supply on offer. Summer migrants were represented by Swallow, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler, while Linnets, Skylarks and Mipits were all in song.
                                                The Herald
Been running the garden moth trap for a week or more now with nothing much except a few quakers and  early greys. So, despite the chilly night was surprised to find a herald on the summer house door, only my second record of this cracking spring moth.

Monday 11 April 2011

Hoopoe Unblocked

Dungeness - mild, dry and sunny, w 1-3 - The  nuclear Hoopoe temporarily left the sanctuary of the power station this morning and flew out across the Desert, where it was later relocated by the Experimental Station. It drew a healthy crowd of locals (including the Romney Twitcher) before it had had enough attention from the long toms and decided to return, over-the-wall. I was lucky enough to see it on the deck in A Plant before it was disturbed by a member of staff, after which it flew back to the other side of Dungeness B.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Nuclear Hoopoe

Dungeness - cool, dry, sunny, e3 - Had two unsuccessful stabs at the Hoopoe this afternoon, which had been seen in the vicinity of the car park of Dungeness B. The Head Litterpicker also joined the hunt, along with the Postman and Vol. Good views of a Raven was some compensation, while the Patch served up 50 Common and couple of Little Terns during the day.

Saturday 9 April 2011


Dungeness - 0845hrs - sunny, cool, ne3/4 - The Ashford 3 were spotted on the Marsh this morning, year ticking Common Terns at The Patch... Nothing much else of note apart from a pair of Wheatears by the Old Light.
ARC - 0930hrs - Stunning views of 2 pair of courting Garganeys from the causeway; could even hear the drakes, rattle-and-burp display call. Also, a Spot Shank, a pair of LRP`s, 2 Slav Grebes, 2 Little Egrets and a Curlew.

4 Garganeys, ARC
Lade - 1000hrs - Another Garganey here, this time a single drake by the scaffold island on south pit.
The Midrips - 1230hrs - ne 5 - Walked the Midrips with Marshman this afternoon. The cold, buffeting wind (well, I thought it was hard going, Marshman however considered it to be, "a light breeze") made for difficult viewing. It was worthwhile though, as we had a decent return on ducks and waders: 50 Shelducks, 3 Garganey, 6 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 32 Avocets, 2 Spot Shanks, 20 Redshanks, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Curlew. Raptor interest was provided by 2 Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk and a ringtail. Little `uns included Reed Bunting, Mipit, Linnet, Skylark and Wheatear.
                                          The Midrips

Friday 8 April 2011

Snakes Alive

Dungeness - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny - A pleasant end to the week for the London Ladies with the Point bathed in un-Dunge type weather. Marshman seems to be attracting migrants into his Heligoland of a garage, this time a Blackcap. Not much else about apart from a few Wheatears, Mipits, Linnets, Skylarks, a Chiff and a singing Black Redstart. A Sparrowhawk soared over and I had a distant kite from the moat, probably a Red one, in line with others seen moving north this morning.
ARC - 1130hrs - A stunning pair of Slav Grebes in summer plum from the causeway and an Avocet in front of Hanson were both new for the week. Down by the pines a flock of 30 Goldfinches was noteworthy. Sedge, Cetti`s and Willow Warblers, Whitethroat, Chiff and Blackcap in song, plus LRP from the Screen.
A grass snake enjoyed the warm sunshine before heading into the shallows to hunt.
In summary a cracking weeks birding with 110 species noted in England and 92 species in France
                                          Grass snake, ARC

Thursday 7 April 2011



Foret-de-Guines - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny - Hopped across the Channel with 2 of the London Ladies (Marshman riding shotgun) for a days birding in the Pas-de-Calais. Started off in the forest at Guines where a Hawfinch was almost the first bird of the day. Cracking chorus of bird song here with Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Song Thrushes in fine voice. Also noted Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Short-toed Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Marsh Tit, Jay, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a hooting Tawny Owl.
Marais-de-Guines - 1030hrs - Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Cetti`s, Sedge and Willow Warblers all in song and mostly seen. Marshman picked up a Serin atop a pine tree and I had a singing Firecrest. No sign of any Bluethroats though, where I have seen them in the past. A Grey Heron perched on a wire made for a strange sight. Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Little Egret also noted, plus a musk rat.
                                          Grey Heron on wire
Calais Hoverport - 1300hrs No sign of Crested Lark here for the second time in a row. A nice flock of 7 Wheatears, 1 Black Redstart, 20 Linnets, 5 Mipits and a White Wagtail.
Oye-Plage - 1400hrs As always a top site packed with birds. We checked the beach first and had a pair of Kentish Plovers, 4 Ringed Plovers and 20 each of Skylark and Mipit. Offshore a Common Scoter, 2 Avocets and loads of Sandwich Terns coming and going. Onto the main hide by the toilet block, overlooking the flood, and stacks of ducks and waders including, 60 Avocets, 20 Lapwings, 4 LRPs, 2 Snipe, 2 Ruff, 2 Redshanks, 2 Oystercatchers and 1 Curlew. Duckwise: Mallard, Pintail, Teal, Shoveler, Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Wigeon. Further down the lane from the roadside hide loads more wildfowl and waders including 3 Spoonbills, 2 Garganey, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Stonechat, several Med Gulls and Sandwich Terns. Rounded off the day in fine style with a calling Cuckoo and a total of 93 species, highlights being: Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin, Kentish Plover and Spoonbill.
                                          3 Spoonbills, Oye-Plage

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Orlestone Forest

ARC - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw2 - Had brief views of the Pallid Swift as it careered over the Oppen Pits towards the power station, never to be seen again... Fair Weather Birder turned up for a chat (well it was heading towards 20C). Sparrowhawk over New Ex and my first Whitethroat of the year in the scrub.
Faggs and Park Wood - After crossing the canal at Warehorne, where wherever we stopped there seemed to be `chupping` Tree Sparrows and singing Chiffchaffs. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in these two old Wealden woods. Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffs were in fine song in Faggs where we had singing Nighingale, Bullfinch, Buzzard and numerous Nuthatches and Treecreepers. Plenty of brimstones, small tortoiseshells and peacocks on the wing and also a moribund light orange underwing moth. Two more Nightingales and Marsh Tit in Park Wood, plus both woodpeckers and common tits. The show of wood anemones was fabulous.
                                          Small tortoiseshell, Faggs Wood
                                         Wood Anemones, Park Wood

Walland Marsh - More Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Yellow Wagtail, Chiffchaffs and Tree Sparrows down here, plus a decent mixed bag at Midley of Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Goldfinches, Linnets et al.
Galloways  - Stonechat, Black Redstart and Kestrel here, plus 20 Linnets.
Springfield Bridge - A pair of Wigeon on the lake had the aberrant bird in tow. Shelducks and Teal on the fast drying out flood.
Dungeness - Finished off with Common Redstart and Black Redstart in the West Beach scrub.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Swift sp.

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cold, cloudy, showery, sw5 - An hour and half seawatch from the hide produced 30 Common and 4 Velvet Scoters, 3 Red-throated Divers, 50 Sandwich Terns, 6 Guillemots and 10 Gannets. Very little on the land due to the brisk wind but we did manage a pair of Wheatear, 2 Chiffchaffs, 1 Kestrel, plus a few Mipits and Linnets. RSPB - 1115hrs From the south end of ARC single LRP and Ringed Plover together for comparison, Curlew, Little Egret, 2 Teal, 3 Yellow Wagtails and a dozen Pied Wagtails. All 3 species of hirundine from the visitor centre and a Yellow Wagtail by Firth hide. Brief views of a Cetti`s Warbler by Christmas Dell, Sedge Warbler and several Chiffchaffs. From Dengemarsh hide 4 Dabchicks.
Long Pits - 1600hrs Missed a swift at Long Pits by 5 minutes but relocated it at 1845hrs. Only had brief views in fading light but pressumed it was the bird from earlier on which was identified as a Pallid.
Dengemarsh - 1930hrs - The Little Owls were in their usual spot on the chicken sheds. From Springfield Bridge a brown hare in the field and a pair of Marsh Harriers over the reed bed.
                                          Shelduck, Burrowes

Monday 4 April 2011

Ring Ouzel and Martins

Lade - 0745hrs - cool, cloudy, w2 - A distinctly chilly start to the day was suddenly warmed up when Barney flushed a male Ring Ouzel from the storm beaches at the top of Taylor Road, after which it duly `clacked` off high to the north. On south pit a few grebes and diving ducks but no sign of any Goldeneyes. Flitting over the willows was single Sand and House Martins, my first of the year, and in the scrub, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Also, a few Siskins `zinging` overhead and hunting Marsh Harriers over the airport.

Birdwatching Break - 1300hrs Picked up the London Ladies from Ashford station for their 10th visit to plovers. Firstly, we visited Greatstone Beach for waders on an ebb tide and had a good selection of Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone, Knot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and 25 Sandwich Terns. At the fishing boats the Glaucous Gull showed well. From the south end of ARC a couple of spanking Yellow Wagtails and a singing Sedge Warbler in the car park. From Hanson a lone Goldeneye on the pit plus all the usual diving ducks and a basking lizard from the willow trail. Had a run out to Cheyne Court this evening and had stunning views of Barn Owl leaving its roost.
Common Lizard, ARC

Sunday 3 April 2011

Summer Visitors

Dungeness RSPB - 1530hrs - mild, cloudy, w2 - Called in at the visitor centre this afternoon and year ticked the Sainsbury Kid, in shorts (not a pretty sight!). Hawkeye confirmed there had been a decent arrival of migrants across the reserve today including, Swallows Sand Martins, Chiffchaff, Willow and Sedge Warblers, first Whitethroat and Hobby, Garganey and LRP. Also, passage Slav and Black-necked Grebe.
At the point a few Black Redstarts and Wheatears around the Old Light, but no further signs of the Serins.

Saturday 2 April 2011

Proper Seawatching

Dungeness - 0700hrs - mild, sunny, se3 - Now, I know seawatching isn`t everybodys cup of tea but this morning conditions were perfect and after the fog bound watches of the past week all was forgotten as the birds rolled by in front of a hideful of very happy locals. I could only do an hour but there was a continuous stream of Gannets, Brents, divers, gulls, terns, scoters and associated ducks clipping the point. Highlights for me were the large flocks of close Gannets (I`m a sucker for a big bird!) plus my first Velvet Scoters and Little Gulls of the year. Mixed flocks of ducks are always a challenge as they fizz by low over the water but in amongst the numerous scoters were a variety of Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard and Mergansers. Bonxies were also noted and later on several Black-throated Divers and Manx Shearwaters, which I missed. For a full roll call check the DBO website.
Springfield Bridge - 1500hrs - Several Swallows over the water and the expected dabbling ducks on the flood. Whilst watching the Marsh Harriers displaying Marshman called - the Serins were back at the point.
By the time I arrived they`d done the off. Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Black Redstart, Wheatears, a Swallow and loads of Linnets in the area but no sign of the sulky little finches. As I left site had a stroke of luck when a male Ring Ouzel flew in front of the car by the Brit pub.
We had 2 birders stay this evening, Alan and Brenda Fossey, from Faversham. For some proper pics check out their blog via the website
                                          Linnet, Dungeness - smart, but no Serin...

Friday 1 April 2011

Yet More Fog

Dungeness - 0745hrs - cool, patchy fog, sw 3 - Another largely fruitless hour seawatching from the hide with New Boy produced a trickle of divers, scoters and 10 Brents up-Channel, plus Sandwich Terns, Med Gull and a few Gannets milling around. A cursery check around the Old Light for passerines turned up  a few regulation Black Redstarts, Wheatears and Mipits.
Lade pits was all quiet with only 5 Goldeneyes and a singing Chiff of note.
Called in to see, She-who-must-be-obeyed and Mr Fothergill this afternoon, for a small-ships tea and a gossip. Paid homage to a deceased Goldcrest that had come to grief against the lounge window.