Friday 30 September 2011


Lade - 0630hrs - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - The unseasonal weather continues... A viz mig from the Ariel mound produced a trickle of Mipts, Skylarks, Siskins, wagtails and Goldfinches. A Whinchat on the storm beaches was the best of the grounded migrants.
The Plovers traps hit the 20 species mark with plenty of quantity but no real quality for Bernard Skinner to enjoy. However, I did record a decent Pine Carpet at last.
Bill and Anne returned home today having clocked up 115 species of birds during the week.
1700hrs - Checked the bay for waders and gulls, but nothing of note apart from a Bonxie that came in off the sea and set about a Common Gull! Everything got up in sheer panic before the big, brown, brute drifted off towards the Point.
                                            Pine Carpet, Plovers

Thursday 29 September 2011

Dungeness Hothouse

Lade - 0800hrs - warm, dry, sunny, se2 - With Bernard Skinner staying for a couple days, had to make sure there was no duff moth id-ing when emptying the traps! In the end there was nothing much of any quality and pretty much the same 16 autumnal species as yesterday.
Dungeness - 0900hrs Back to the bird tour with Bill and Anne, and a bit of a struggle this morning with the Peninsula bathed in Continental style heat. As the morning wore on, the wind slackened and the temperature breached 30C! Barely a thing moved on the sea apart from a couple of skuas, a few scoters and the usual terns and Gannets. A Black Redstart posed on the power station wall and a scattering of Wheatear, Stonechat, Goldfinch and Skylark elsewhere. Still no sign of the Glaucous Gull.
ARC - 1230hrs At the southern end a Curlew Sandpiper and Snipe within a large flock of Greylags and Lapwings.
RSPB - 1300hrs - Dengemarsh had a decent array of wildfowl and we had cracking views of the Great White Egret, several Marsh Harriers and a split second Bittern as it had a go at the egret from the edge of the reedbed! On Burrowes, 2 Grey Plovers, 4 Ringed Plovers and 50 Wigeon were the highlights.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - Back to the Point (thanks to tip offs from DB and TI) and at last the Glaucous Gull was located on its usual patch by the boats. We finished in grand style at the moat with 4 Stonechats, 2 Black Redstarts, and singles of Common Whitethroat, Common Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers. Head Ranger and Gullman set up a net in the moat which delivered the Pied Flit, while the Common Redstart was caught with great aplomb in the Heligoland.
                                           Lapwing, Dengemarsh
                                          Grey Plover, Burrowes
                                           Common Redstart, DBO
                                          Pied Flycatcher, DBO

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Dungeness - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, e2 -A seawatch from the hide for an hour delivered a couple of flocks of Brents totalling 55, 20 Common Scoter, 1 Arctic Skua, 10 Gannets, 20 Sandwich Terns, 10 Common and 1 Arctic Tern. Astonishingly, a Great White Egret flew east, but was quite likely the one from the bird reserve doing a tour of the Peninsula. A few passerines over included Mipts and Skylarks, plus Wheatear, Grey Wagtail and Black Redstart around the Old Light. There was no sign of the Glaucous Gull at the boats.
Lade Pits - 1130hrs - Common Sandpiper and Kingfisher here plus a few Chiffchaffs in the bushes.
ARC - 1330hrs - The second Buff-breasted Sandpiper of the autumn was located on one of the weed covered islands and eventually showed quite well. Also, Knot, Golden Plover and Lapwings here and the Goosander. We looked again for the sandpiper later on in the afternoon, but to no avail.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

A Raptor Day

Weather - Started off still and misty, by early afternoon, light airs,  hot 25C!
Lade - 0900hrs - Plenty of moths in the Plovers trap this morning (16 species) including the first Sallow of the season. A few Chiffs in the fir trees.
Dungeness - 0930hrs Called in at the Obs where a nice Lesser Whitethroat had just been trapped. Siskin, Blackcap, Black Redstart and Mipits seen around the Moat plus 2 Kestrels and a Stonechat at Jarman`s.
An hour at the boats delivered few seabirds on a flat calm sea - and no sign of the Glaucous Gull at high tide - plus 6 Wheatears.
RSPB - 1230hrs A flurry of buzzards seen over the next couple of hours totalled 12 Common Buzzards and 2 Honey Buzzards. A couple of visitors had also noted a number of thermalling Buzzards and 2 different Honeys, so there was obviously a passage of sorts on the go. The height some of these birds attained, once they hit the thermals bouncing off the shingle, was incredible. Several Kestrels, Sparrowhawks, a Hobby and 10 Marsh Harriers also noted.
The Great White Egret was in its usual spot on Dengemarsh, plus Snipe, Common Tern and `pinging` Beardies. Also noted a cracking close Whinchat at the Corral, 2 Ravens and `pinging` Beardies from the ramp, plus 10 Tree Sparrows and 2 Greater peckers on the Boulderwall feeders and a close Reed Warbler at Springfield Bridge.
Littlestone Beach - 1645hrs Hundreds of Oystercatchers and Curlews plus a few Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and a flock of 50 Brent Geese,
                                           The Sallow, Plovers
                                           Lesser Whitethroat, DBO
                                          Whinchat, Corral

Monday 26 September 2011


Dungeness RSPB - 1330hrs - Bill and Anne from the West Midlands and Chris from Essex down for a weeks birding. Started off at ARC where 100 Lapwings, 50 Golden Plovers and 3 Dunlins were the only waders, plus plenty of common wildfowl in eclipse to sort out. Also noted 7 Little Egrets, 4 Marsh Harriers, 2 Kestrels, Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Mipit and Chiffchaff. Over the road more Marsh Harriers on the access road and the usual 200 loafing Black-backs on the shingle. From Dennis`s hide we nailed the Spoonbill on Burrowes alongside a couple of GBBgulls. Couldn`t find the reported Grey Plover but had distant views of a Merlin over by the Switch House.
                                           Spoonbill, Burrowes

Sunday 25 September 2011


Lade - 0800hrs - mild, sunny, ssw2 - A mooch around the pits produced very little of note apart from a trickle of Yellow Wags, Mipits, Siskins and Swallows. In the willows a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.
A decent count of typical autumn moths in the trap including another Pine Carpet.

Saturday 24 September 2011

A Few More Moths

Lade - 0700hrs - still, cool, sunny, warm later, w1 - The second day of what looks like a period of settled weather, which could be good for birds and moths alike over the next week as the breeze comes off the Continent. Certainly an improvement on recent nights with the first Lunar Underwing and Black Rustics of the season, plus Feathered Brindle, Feathered Rannunculus and Webb`s Wainscot.
On the storm beaches grounded migrants included 10 Mipits, 5 Wheatears, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Skylarks and 2 Siskins. A trickle of Swallows, Sand and House Martins south.

Feathered Rannunculus, Feathered Brindle and Webb`s Wainscot - a typical autumn catch in coastal traps around Dungeness.

PS: There was no news on the Rose-coloured Starling today at Dungeness, while on the bird reserve the Cattle Egret reappeared on the fields at Boulderwall (after going awol for a week). A Spoonbill was also reported from Burrowes and the Great White Egret remained at Dengemarsh.

Friday 23 September 2011

Rose-coloured Starling

Dengemarsh - 0830hrs - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - Did a circular walk from Boulderwall to Dengemarsh via Springfield Bridge and back past the turkey sheds on a glorious autumn day with hardly any wind. As a consequence plenty of passerines noted included 30 Chiffs, 10 Blackcaps, 10 Sedge and 5 Reed Warblers, 5 Common Whitethroats and singles of Willow and Garden Warbler. Overhead a light passage of Swallows and Mipits plus a few Skylarks and Siskins. More grounded migrants at the Corral with 2 Yellow Wagtails, Wheatear and Stonechat. Robins, Blackbirds, Great and Blue Tits, Reed Buntings everywhere, as well as 2 Mistle Thrushes, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard. A Bittern flew across Hookers reedbed and the Great White Egret was in its usual bay on Dengemarsh where also Greenshank and 2 Snipes. At least 5 different Marsh Harriers on the wing.
DBO - 1315hrs - A juv Rose-coloured Starling had been located in a Starling flock and gave good views from the Moat where it attracted a healthy crowd of locals. The pink legs and yellow base to the short, blunt bill were the clinchers from juv Starling. More contrast between the dark wings and buff body too, with the rump looking pale in flight. On the deck facing away it resembled a Wheatear. Rose-coloured Starling is a rare bird in these parts and certainly nowhere near annual. A good find by the Head Ranger.
Rose-coloured Starling, juv, DBO - (my excuse this time is the heat haze...)

Thursday 22 September 2011

A `Kettle` of Buzzards

Dungeness - 0900hrs - mild, sunny, w3 - A half hour from the Seawatch hide delivered a few Arctic Skuas offshore, plus a trickle of Gannets and terns. Quite a decent passage of Mipts and Swallows following the shoreline and out to sea. On land, around the Old Light and the Moat, a few more migrants than yesterday included: 50 Mipits, 10 alba wagtails, 2 Wheatears, 3 Stonechats, 2 Black Redstarts, 5 Robins, 2 Chiffs, 2 Siskins and a Sparrowhawk.
Lade - 1030hrs - Plenty of common wildfowl on both lakes, plus a Common Sandpiper.  The willows held 20 odd Chiffchaffs, 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 calling Cetti`s Warblers and Water Rails, plus a host of Robins, tits and Blackbirds. From the Ariel mound a steady passage of Mipits, 2 each of Siskins and Goldfinches, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and a very nice `kettle` of 7 Common Buzzards over the airport to end on.
In summary we finished the bird tour with 95 species, the highlights being good views of a juv, dark phase Long-tailed Skua (and yet another degree on the skua learning curve), Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Balearic Shearwater, Great White Egret, plus a supporting cast of Glaucous Gull, Goosander, Little Stint, Raven and Tree Sparrow ( a bird we take for granted, yet is becoming difficult to find up country).
Meadow Pipit, DBO - (In the hand, that`s one way of getting a decent image...)

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Dungeness - 0915hrs - mild, drizzle to start, sunny later, sw4
A seawatch first off, in the drizzle, with hardly anything on the move was a miserable experience; highlights were a few skuas, several porpoises, a grey seal and a cracking gag from the Joker!
Moving on to the Patch and 2 each of Arctic and Black Terns and a distant Balearic Shearwater was about it. Nothing much on the land due to the weather apart from 3 Wheatears and 50 Linnets.
RSPB - 1200hrs - For the first time in ages there was not a single wader from Hanson (more of which anon...). Over the road Raven near the beehives and we had to work hard to find a Little Stint on Burrowes, where also 50 Wigeon, 2 Pintail and a Ringed Plover. On New Ex a Greenshank and Common Sandpiper increased the wader tally and a Hobby zipped over. A few Chiffs in the scrub near Christmas Dell, plus a brief view of a flycatcher and Dabchick on the pit. At Dengemarsh the Great White Egret was viewable from the hide for a change; also several Marsh Harriers and loads of common wildfowl. A call came through and it was then back to the previously birdless Hanson hide for the 29th species of wader on ARC this autumn: a Buff-breasted Sandpiper with a drooping wing had just arrived alongside a Ruff. Cracking views of this long expected American wader as it busily fed amongst the weedy shingle ridges.
Finished up with a drive out to Midley where Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Mipit and Kestrel noted.
 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, ARC - a duff record shot (not another one!)
Great White Egret, Dengemarsh - (well, it is big and white and obvious and easy to digi-scope!)

Tuesday 20 September 2011

An "Interesting" Skua

Lade - mild, sunny, sw4 - 1300hrs Two regulars (Stuart and Ray) down from London for a three day bird tour. Commenced at Greatstone Beach (where we bumped into Gullman) for shorebirds, and off the boardwalk at Lade. Hundreds of Oystercatchers, Curlews, Knots and a scattering of Dunlins, Sanderlings, Barwits and Redshank.
ARC 1430hrs - Not so great here today with only 8 Dunlin, 3 Ruff and 2 Goldies amongst 200 Lapwings. The Goosander actually flew across the lake and all the usual wildfowl were noted including half a dozen Wigeon.
Dungeness Boats - 1600hrs - A reported Sabine`s Gull east earlier raised our hopes for a seawatch. At least 5 Arctic Skuas (including an "interesting" dark phase juv), 2 Little Gulls, 1 Med Gull, 3 Guillemots, plus a steady flow of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns. On the shingle located the old favourite Glaucous Gull and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls.
 Glaucous Gull, Dungeness -Ok, so I`m desperate for something to digi-scope! But it is in 2nd autumn plumage, AND sitting on a post, so quite different really...
Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Kerton Road Cafe

PS: It appears as though the "interesting" small, dark phase juv skua we saw at close range was a Long-tailed Skua, even though it didn`t have any grey barring on the underparts. Check the DBO website out for a full explaination and good quality picture.

Monday 19 September 2011


Lade - 0800hrs - cool, sunny, w2 - Many of yesterdays migrants seemed to have moved off during last nights clear skies as all I could find were a few Chiffs and the usual singing Cetti`s Warblers. Hundreds of Swallows were circling high above the lakes and a couple of Buzzards drifted over but not much else.
The moth trap had a distinctly end of season feel to it with Silver Ys and the first Autumnal Rustics and Feathered Ranunculus.
The Pectoral Sandpiper was reported from the bird reserve with Gropper and Common Redstart in the Trapping Area.
                                          Autumnal Rustic

Sunday 18 September 2011

Pectoral Sandpiper and Blackcaps

RSPB - pm - mild, cloudy, light airs - Had a scoot around this afternoon and nailed the Pec Sand on Burrowes from Firth hide along with a tidy collection of 10 Dunlins, 4 Ringed Plovers, 2 Redshanks and a Greenshank. The bushes behind Christmas Dell were alive with Blackcaps, Robins, Chiffchaffs, a Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Spot Flits. Over the road bumped into CT who`d had loads more Blackcaps around the Long Pits this morning. The track down to Tower Pits delivered another mixed flock of tits, Robins, Blackbirds, 6 each of Blackcaps and Chiffs, plus single Spot Flit and Lesser throat. Seemed to be a few more Wigeon and Pintail on the pits than of late. Chatted to the duty warden who reported 2 Little Stints, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, godwits and Ruffs from Hanson hide and the Great White Egret on Dengemarsh.

Friday 16 September 2011

Sparrowhawks, a Dip and a Fire

Lade - 0700hrs - cloudy, mild, dry, se2 - Viz mig from the Ariel mound revealed a few wagtails, Mipts, 2 Siskins and 2 Sparrowhawks over. Plenty of Chiffchaffs in the sallows and another Sparrowhawk on the walk back to the car. Nothing much in the moth trap apart from a few Silver Y`s.
Dungeness - 0830hrs -  An hour long seawatch from the boats delivered several Arctic and one Great Skua offshore, plus 30 Common Scoters and a steady flow of terns and Gannets. A few more Grey Wagtails over and another Sparrowhawk. The sea delivered some substantial bamboo poles, much to Gullman`s delight.
RSPB 1430hrs - Went for a **** Phalacrocorax aristotelis at the Visitor Centre (if you catch my drift...). Anyhow, managed to dip the Slender-billed Cormorant that apparently was lurching around close to death in front of Sand Martin Towers half an hour before I arrived. I was told that the storm-blown rarity had made a rapid recovery and was seen to fly off strongly to the north. That meant that the Joker was now one ahead of me (225 species) on our `friendly` year list competition, most of which have been seen on the Marsh, and all in Kent. However, with both of us out of action for a few weeks in late autumn things could chop and change a bit. We`ve also decided that if its a draw by 31st December then the fairest way to decide the ultimate victor is by the Duckworth-Lewis method!
I frantically checked around Burrowes to try and claw level but could find no further sign of the ****; although I did see a rather spectacular barn fire over Lydd way and several more Sparrowhawks from Dennis`s mound.
At Boulderwall the Cattle Egret stuck its head up briefly and all 3 chats were noted. Across the road the usual crop of waders (including Little Stint) and terns were on ARC. Spoonbill and Great White Egret were reported from Dengemarsh and the Glaucous Gull from the Point. There was no further news on the Long-tailed Skua.
Finished off at the Kerton Road Cafe with the spectacle of hundreds of Swallows and Sand Martins hawking low over the storm beaches and along the foreshore. Sparrowhawk was probably bird of the day with upwards of 20 noted across the Peninsula.
                                          Lydd Barn Fire

Thursday 15 September 2011

Seabirds and Waders

Dungeness - 0800hrs - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - David and Yolande down from Bushey for a days birding, concentrating on seabirds and waders. Spent the morning at the Point searching for yesterdays Long-tailed Skua without success. The sea was slow going due the still conditions with most seabirds well offshore. Still plenty of birders searching for the skua. However, the sum total of four hours seawatching was, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 3 Arctic Skuas, 50 Gannets, 6 Little and 2 Black Terns, 50 Sandwich and Common Terns, 1 Guillemot, 20 Common Scoter and a Grey Seal; shorebirds included Sanderling, Turnstone, Knot and Ringed Plover. At high tide the Glaucous Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were roosting amongst the black-backs and Herring Gulls. At the Patch singles of Arctic Tern and Little Gull and 2 Black Terns. On the land 10 each of Chiffs and Wheatears, 2 Whitethroats, Kestrel, 2 Yellow Wags, 10 Mipits and 3 Siskins overhead.
RSPB 1330hrs - Strolled down to Scott hide to `enjoy` obscured views of a Greater Flamingo. Five Ringed Plovers in front of Firth and the Cattle Egret showed at Boulderwall. From Hanson a good selection of waders including the now familiar 500 Goldie/Lapwing flock, plus 10 Dunlins, 5 Blackwits, 3 Barwits, 4 Ruffs, 4 Avocets, 2 Little Stints, Snipe and Curlew. The Goosander showed and a Buzzard drifted over from Lade. Over the water, 2 Black and 1 Arctic Terns, 1 Little Gull and 10 Common Terns. Also noted, 6 Wigeon, 4 Little Egrets, Cetti`s Warbler, more Chiffs and a light passage of Sand Martins and Swallows.
All things considered (it was bordering on hot today) a good days birding with the shearwater being the obvious highlight.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Birds, Birds, Birds...and Stumpy the Skua...

Lade - 0730hrs - cool, sunny, w2 - I just know its going to be a good bird day when I`m greeted by calls of  Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs first thing in the back garden fir trees, and so it proved to be... Walking down Taylor Road and more garden crests and wagtails overhead plus a Sparrowhawk. Onto the storm beaches and 5 Wheatears 2 Whitethroats and a Stonechat, a trickle of Yellow Wagtails and hirundines, followed by 10 Mipits and a `teezing` Tripit. The scrub beside the track alongside south lake held 20 Blue and Great Tits, 2 Reed Buntings and several more Chiffs, Whitethroats, and Wheatears. On the lake loads of gulls and common wildfowl, including 10 Dabchicks, Wigeons and Shovelers, plus all 3 hirundines and a Common Sand. The sallows yielded both woodpeckers, Little Egret, Cetti`s Warbler and more Chiffs. A quick viz mig from the aireal mound revealed a trickle of more Yellow Wagtails, pipits, hirundines, Chaffinches, 6 Grey Wagtails, 2 Siskins, 2 Buzzards, 3 Sparrowhawks and one unidentified buzzard (check out the DBO website for their viz mig efforts, which included loads more raptors, and 2 each of Crane and Spoonbill!). Finished off with a brisk stroll back along the beach checking the waders, that resulted in 67 species in 90 minutes.
ARC - 1200hrs - The now expected variety of waders including 8 Dunlins, 3 Blackwits, 2 Barwits, 2 Ruffs and a Little Stint. On the lake, 5 Black and 2 Arctic Terns, plus Goosander, 10 Wigeon, Sedge and Cetti`s (very showy) Warblers, more Chiffs and a Sparrowhawk.
Fishing Boats - 1400hrs - It was all about one bird really - the sub-adult (2nd year?) Long-tailed Skua performed to order on the foreshore. It flew around a bit and also landed on the sea to pick over a dead Whiting. Worryingly, it flew into a fishing line on its return to the beach, slumping down on its belly, presumably because it only had one good leg, the other being a stump. Superb views of a bird that seems completely unafraid of humans. A steady stream of visiting birders throughout the day to admire and photograph its every move.
The Glaucous Gull, Cattle and Great White Egrets were all noted across the Peninsula, plus a good range of "warblers, waders and waptors" (to quote from the late great Norfolk birdman R A Richardson).

 Sub-adult Long-tailed Skua (aka Stumpy), Dungeness Fishing Boats

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Long-tailed Skua

                                          Sub-adult Long-tailed Skua, Dungeness

Dungeness - 0815hrs - mild, sunny, sw4 - Was on my way out to check Lade Pits when the phone rang prompting a rapid change of plan. Earlier on the Mathematician had clocked a Long-tailed Skua in front of the seawatch hide, which by the time I arrived had settled down on the shingle foreshore looking pretty clapped out. Together with the Obs staff and the Joker we soaked up cracking views of what was considered to be a sub-adult bird. Although there was nothing around for comparison it did look small and Kittiwake size. A very cold grey-brown bird with a distinctive cap and collar, barred vent and under-tail coverts and a slim all dark bill.
I`ve never before seen one in such plumage; but of course immature/sub-adult skuas are notoriously variable.
Later on during the morning it showed quite well, harrying terns and feeding on disgorged fish, and by the afternoon had moved to the fishing boats where it continued to perform well. It was reported at 4pm, but I checked at 4.30pm and could find no sign of it. For `proper` pics of said bird keep an eye on the DBO website and Plodding Birders Blog.
Elsewhere around the Point this morning 10 Grey Wagtails over, 5 Wheatears, 1 Stonechat and steady trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows. The Glaucous Gull was by the boats and the Great White Egret on Dengemarsh.
ARC 1200hrs - Pretty much a repeat of yesterday from Hanson with the usual Goldies being joined by 5 Barwits, 6 Knots and singles of Common and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruff and Snipe. On the lake, 5 Black and 2 Arctic Terns.

Monday 12 September 2011

Another Breezy Day

Lade - 0900hrs - mild, sunny, sw 6-8 - Breezy (gale force at times) conditions made for difficult birding today, so you had to choose your spot. The walk across the storm beaches produced small groups of grounded Yellow Wagtails and half a dozen Wheatears, all sheltering behind patches of scrub. On south lake a small flock of Sandwich and Common Terns on the island plus 10 more over the water along with 100 Swallows and 50 Sand Martins. First Goldcrest of the autumn in the garden this evening
ARC - 1230hrs - A hide load of birders at Hanson included (as it was Monday) two of the `Last of the Summer Wine` crew (who`d earlier had Balearic Shearwater and a few skuas at the Point). The usual flock of Goldies and Lapwings was enlivened by 10 Dunlins, 2 Ruffs (one very small and orangey), 2 Blackwits, 1 Barwit, 1 Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper. Plenty of terns on the islands (and out on the open water) included 20 each of Sandwich and Common, 10 Arctic and 5 Black Terns. Also noted Goosander, 2 Little Gulls, 10 Wigeon, Pintail and a Hobby careering around after hirundines. Both the Cattle and Great White Egret reported from over the road.
Dungeness -  1530hrs Half an hour from the concrete road with the Joker produced nothing apart from a few terns, Gannets and a distant skua. Glaucous and Yellow-legged Gull on the shingle.
Lade - 1615hrs Checked north lake just in case anything had been blown in...

Convolvulus Hawk-moth (worn) and The Delicate from yesterday, Kerton Road Cafe

Sunday 11 September 2011

Late Post for Sunday 11th September

Dungeness - 0915hrs - 1230hrs - mild, bright and breezy, sw4 - It was a case of , "You should`ve been here earlier", from the clutch of locals who`d had a number of Balearic`s, skuas and terns from the concrete road. However, we started at the Boats and then moved to the seawatch hide where we had a few distant skuas, Gannets, Guillemots, Common Scoters, terns, and a Little Gull. The Glaucous Gull showed well amongst the massed ranks of Black-back and Herring Gulls and at least 2 Yellow-legged Gulls noted.
A few Wheatears and a Mipit seen by the Old Light while a steady stream of mainly Swallows and a few Sand Martins pushed on south across the Channel.
At the Patch around 50 terns including an adult Black Tern and a possible Roseate Tern, but difficult to confirm due to the increasing wind and a big sea.
We finished up with over 90 species for the 3 days with the group highlights being: Cattle and Great White Egrets, Garganey and Goosander, Marsh Harriers and Hobbies, a decent spread of waders, Curlew Sands and Ruffs, Little and Glaucous Gulls, Black and Arctic Terns, 4 chats, Spot Flits, a close Reed Warbler, Raven and probably most impressive of all, the viz mig of hirundines crossing the Peninsula throughout the weekend.
PS: On the moth front a migrant Convolvulus Hawk Moth and Delicate were in temporary residence at the Kerton Road Cafe.

Saturday 10 September 2011

A Trio of Egrets

Dungeness - 0915hrs - mild, se2, sunny - An hour at the fishing boats with the group produced a steady flow of seabirds including, 2 Balearic Shearwaters, 8 Common Scoters, 50 Gannets, 100 Sandwich and Common Terns and 1 Arctic, Guillemot, 5 Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie, plus several pulses of Sand Martins and Swallows striking out for France. A Yellow-legged Gull and 10 Turnstones on the beach.
After picking up Bill from Plovers we headed back to the Point and had a walk down to the Obs where we noted a Common Redstart in the lighthouse garden. Elsewhere, 10 Wheatears, 20 Pied Wagtails, 5 Chiffs, 2 Whitethroats and a Kestrel.
RSPB - 1300hrs At Boulderwall we had cracking close views of the Cattle Egret, plus 2 Whinchats, 5 Wheatears, 3 Marsh Harriers and a late Swift. Just before the Visitor Centre car park a flock of 20 Yellow Wagtails and 10 Wheatears contained a single Greenland Wheatear. A circuit produced 2 Ruffs, Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher and a Raven on Burrowes; 2 Hobbies over the hayfield; Great White Egret, 8 Little Egrets, Garganey, Pintail, Sparrowhawk and Greenshank on Dengemarsh; Stonechat, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting and Green Woodpecker at the Corral and hundreds of hirundines overhead. Also, up to 10 Cetti`s Warblers in song. Grass Snake, Common Lizard and Wood Mouse seen on the return trail.
Over the road a quick look from Hanson revealed further views of the Cattle Egret, 3 Black and 2 Arctic Terns, 1 Little Gull and all the usual waders including a single Curlew Sandpiper. Funny tho, after seeing so many great birds, best of all tho was a Reed Warbler feeding just in front of the hide, low down on the edge of the reed bed.
A stunning day all round and good to see a few old faces down at Dunge after twitching Buffy at Rye. And thanks to one and all for the incoming texts with local bird news.

 Cattle Egret, Boulderwall & Great White Egret, Dengemarsh

Friday 9 September 2011

Bird Tour Weekend

Lade  - 1000hrs - mild, muggy, sunshine, mist and low cloud, sw3 -What a strange old day for weather with muggy air off the Atlantic bringing in pulses of low cloud and rolling mist. Over the back a small movement of Mipits and 2 Wheatears.
Ran the trap last night (after four blank nights due to the weather) but nothing much apart from L-album Wainscot.
ARC 1300hrs Three birders in for the weekend. We started off at ARC with a stroll down to the pines which produced 2 Spotted Flycatchers amongst a flock of tits and Chiffchaffs, a Wheatear, a fly-over Raven and a Marsh Harrier. From Screen all the usual wildfowl and Little Egrets.
Several Common Lizards from the Willow Trail, Red Admiral and plenty of Migrant Hawkers. In front of Hanson 500 Lapwings, 220 Goldies, 10 Dunlins, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Turnstone, 2 Arctic Terns, 2 Marsh Harriers, Goosander, Cetti`s and Sedge Warblers and brief views of the Cattle Egret. Also, a trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows, plus a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a power line pole. Couldnt find the reported Pec Sandpiper tho.
Littlestone - 1630hrs The usual Curlews, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones, Knots and Barwits, plus 20 Sandwich Terns and hundreds of gulls.
Lade North - 1730hrs - Nothing much of note here apart from a large Grass Snake.
                                          L-album Wainscot, Plovers

Thursday 8 September 2011

An Afternoon Recce

RSPB Reserve - 1400hrs - mild, sw3, sunny - An afternoon recce around the bird reserve in preparation for a weekend bird tour produced the following: Dengemarsh, the Great White Egret, 2 Greenshanks, 5 Bearded Tits, Pintail, Merlin, Stonechat and a late Sedge Warbler. At Boulderwall, the Cattle Egret was most obliging, perching on a gate and flying around, although distant. Hobby also seen here, plus 3 different Marsh Harriers as well as Whinchat and 2 Wheatears in the scrub. On Burrowes, Ruff and Common Sandpiper. From Hanson 8 Dunlins, 5 Ringed Plovers and a Green Sandpiper, plus Wigeon, Goosander and a trickle of Sand Martins. Unsure as to whether or not there was some sort of Kestrel movement on the go, as seemed to see them wherever I went this afternoon, totalling probably 10 individuals.
Other news included the usual Glaucous and Yellow-legged Gulls at the Point, plus passing Balearic Shearwater, Eider and skuas, while down the road at Rye Harbour a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was found this morning on the new salt marsh flood.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Slim Pickings

Scotney to Pigwell - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, w4 - Following on from yesterdays gale thought I`d check a few local pits just in case anything had been `wrecked`, but it was largely disappointing with no seabirds of note. Several flocks (totalling around 80) of grounded Yellow Wagtails, a few Mipits, Dunlins, Curlews and Redshanks was about all I could muster.
Springfield Bridge - Cracking views of a female Peregrine from the bridge, which had flushed just about everything off Dengemarsh, the Great White Egret, plus three Wheatears on the ranges. More Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins over.
Dungeness Boats - Only lasted half an hour as very quiet with a trickle of Gannets, terns and auks, a Little Gull and the Glaucous Gull on the beach.
ARC - 1400hrs - Hardly any waders apart from a few Goldies and Lapwings, Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper. The Goosander was still asleep and the Cattle Egret stuck its head up briefly on the fields by Boulderwall.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

First Gale of the Autumn

Dungeness - 0800hrs - mild, low cloud, drizzle, wsw 6, building to Force 8 later with heavy rain.
The first proper blow of the autumn moved up-Channel throughout the day and as ever was disappointing for seabirds. Still, you`ve got to give it a go and I lasted 90 minutes, first at the seawatch hide and then from the fishing boats. A sum total of one Balearic Shearwater, 100 Sandwich and Common Terns, 50 odd Gannets, 10 Guillemots, 5 Kitts, 2 Fulmars, a Common Scoter and the Glaucous Gull loitering with intent on the beach looking perfectly at home in the tempest.
A few other locals had the same idea but nothing much else was reported during the course of the morning. Probably be better tomorrow once the wind settles a bit (Grey Phal, Sabs Gull etc...., well I can dream...).
ARC - 1230hrs - Poor fare from Hanson hide with only a handful of Dunlins, Ringed Plovers and a Green Sandpiper of note on the wind-blasted shingle ridges. Also, several Common Terns and a juv Little Gull, plus the Goosander, Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Tits, Blackcap and a Hobby over the causeway road.

                                          Stormy Seas off Dungeness
                                          Goosander, ARC

Monday 5 September 2011

The West Wind Shall Blow

Lade - 0900hrs - cool, sunny start, w3, increasing to 5 gusting 6 later - With the resumption of activities on the Lydd Army ranges causing several large explosions the feral geese from Scotney must`ve moved, as over 1,000 were on south lake (what is it about Greylags and Canada Geese... yawn, yawn...started counting `em and then gave up...). However, real birds comprised 3 Sparrowhawks, a Hobby, 10 Yellow Wags and a trickle of Sand Martins. The willows  held a numbers of Chiffchaffs and a Whitethroat.
ARC - 1300hrs - By now the wind had picked up a right old head of steam gusting to 40mph. Very little from Hanson with the few waders present hunkered down on the shingle ridges: 200 Lapwing, 80 Goldies, 10 Dunlins, 4 Ringed Plovers and a Snipe, plus Black, Common and Sandwich Terns, 6 Wigeons and a Pintail, Sparrowhawk and Hobby.
Over the road had distant views of the Cattle Egret in the fields by boulderwall and the Great White was reported from Dengemarsh, along with Bittern, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank
PS: A couple of pics from yesterdays seawatch by, Steven Carter.

Arctic Skua & Little Gull, Dungeness, 4-9-11 (Steven Carter)

Sunday 4 September 2011

Bedfordshire Bird Club at Dungeness

Dungeness - 0900hrs - mild, cloudy, showery, sw3 - A cracking days birding around the Peninsula with 26 members of the Land-lubbers Bird Club (well, you couldn`t live much further from the sea!). Great to see loads of old faces (and a few new ones) and catch up on gossip from the Old County.
The Mathematician kindly did the moths for us at Boulderwall (even though a diving beetle stole the show!) after which we walked the circuit in reverse, starting at Dennis`s Hide where a flock of passerines contained Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Long-tailed Tits. Viz mig included a passage of Swallows and Sand Martins, plus 3 Sparrowhawks, a few Yellow Wags and Mipits. On Burrowes, 2 Green and Common Sands, Ruff and Greenshank. Around the Return Trail more Whitethroats, 2 Wheatears, 2 Stonechats, Cetti`s, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Green Woodpecker, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, 2 more Sparrowhawks and a Grass Snake.
Dengemarsh yielded the long-staying Great White Egret, 3 Spot Shanks, 15 Redshanks, 2 Greenshanks, Common Terns, Garganey, Little Gull, Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Peregrine.
A flock of some 30 Yellow Wagtails and several Mipits were grounded by the track near Christmas Dell.
From Makepeace hide 3 Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Pintail, a Merlin, plus a couple of hundred Sand Martins south.
After a spot of lunch and plenty of banter we tried and failed with the Cattle Egret in the fields by Boulderwall. Slim compensation came in the form of 4 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears and a Hobby
ARC - 1330hrs The much forecasted rain eventually arrived but by then we were camped in Hanson hide. A goodly selection of waders, before they were spooked by goodness-knows-what included: 300 Lapwing, 200 Goldies, 100 Oystercatchers, 15 Dunlins, 5 Curlews, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Barwits, 2 Little Stints and singles of Ruff, Snipe and Common Sandpiper. Also, Little Gull, Dabchick, Goosander, Wigeon and Pintail.
Fishing Boats - 1445hrs - A 90 minute seawatch proved to be the highlight of the day for many of the land-locked-birders as we had cracking close views of up to 10 Arctic Skuas, 10 Guillemots, 4 Little Gulls, 25 Black Terns, 2 Kitts, 50 Gannets, 100 each of Common and Sandwich Terns, 10 Turnstones, a Med Gull and the old favourite, on the beach, Shortie the Glaucous Gull (although he/she seems to be growing a tail) plus a supporting cast of mammals comprising 10 or so Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal.
A log call revealed a combined day list of 103 species (including Balearic Shearwater, Bonxie, Little Tern, Yellow-legged Gull and Grey Wagtail seen earlier by the Dunstable Four).
Finished up back at Boulderwall where we failed again with the Cattle Egret; the only dip, during what had been a successful days birding.
A thoroughly enjoyable day and I trust all you Beds Birders negotiated the M25 without too many delays and arrived safely back home.
See you all soon...
                                         Beds Birders on Tour
                                           Diving Beetle
                                           Shortie the Glaucous Gull
                                         Two Old Fossils!

Saturday 3 September 2011

Chats, Partridges and a bit of Viz Mig

Dungeness - Misty, muggy start, clearing by noon, then warm, sunny, sw2 - Had a day out in the company of the Joker and Marshman; and Barney tagged along too. Funny old session with bits and pieces but no real quality. Anyhow, it went something liked this...
Dengemarsh Gully - 0915hrs - A thick mist and not much else besides, apart from Plodding Birder who`d had much the same idea and result, although he did have the leaucistic Grey Heron in the gully.
Galloways - 1000hrs - Much better here with half a dozen each of Wheatear, Whinchat and Stonechat, plus a sheltered spot with a few Whitethroats, Chiff/Willows, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Great Tit and Robin. A brief view of a Partridge (Grey) dropping into cover was my first since the spring. A 90 minute viz mig from the tank bund followed (by now the Joker was on to his third theory of the day and 20th pun!) which produced around 500 hirundines (mainly Swallows), several Mipits, Yellow Wagtails and singles each of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel (Marshman had a Merlin earlier). Several other car loads of local birders came and went including the Ashford Three.
Scotney - 1215hrs - Plenty of common wildfowl on the grass by the entrance to the farm plus at least 100 grounded Yellow Wagtails, 2 Common Sandpipers, a fly-over Greenshank and a distant adult male Marsh Harrier. On the drive back to Lydd 6 Partridges flew over the road by Pigwell.
ARC - 1330hrs - The now expected waders from Hanson hide included just under 200 each of Knot and Golden Plover, 300 Lapwings, 15 Dunlin, 2 Barwits, Blackwit, Little Gull, Goosander and Pintail. Over the road at Boulderwall the Cattle Egret showed as well as could be expected and a Hobby was noted.
Dungeness Boats - 1445hrs - An hours seawatch produced about 50 Gannets feeding just off shore along with a few Common and Sandwich Terns and 10 Guillemots. Also off the Point, 6 Black Terns, 3 Arctic Terns, Fulmar, Bonxie and 3 Common Scoter. (A Sooty Shearwater and 2 Arctic Skuas had been reported just before we arrived), plus an adult Yellow-legged Gull from the access road. Best of all here though was the close proximity of 10 or more Harbour Porpoises, plundering the fish (probably Mackerel) with several `Flipper` style breaches seen.
Also reported today: GreatWEgret, Dengemarsh; Glaucous Gull, boats; Honey Buzzard, south over the Point this afternoon.
                                          Wheatear, Tank Bund

Friday 2 September 2011

Chinese Character

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, sticky, sunny, w2 - Very mild overnight with the temperature not dropping below 15C. Loads of moths in the traps including Chinese Character, the moth that looks like a bird dropping!
Over the pits a trickle of migrants included 50 Sand Martins, 100 Swallows, Mipit, Whitethroat, Greenshank, Hobby and, as its September, Chiffchaffs largely replacing Willow Warblers. Also, Marsh Harrier, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel and Buzzard.
                                       Chinese Character

Thursday 1 September 2011

A Strengthening Easterly

Lade - 0630hrs - mild, sunny, easterly force 2 which steadily built to a 5/6 by midday - Single Whinchat was the highlight over the back along with 2 Wheatears, Whitethroat and a garden Willow Warbler. A party of 200 odd Sand Martins and Swallows fizzed purposefully south, as though being chased by a flock of Hobbies, along with a trickle of Yellow Wagtails. For some reason, which I couldn`t fathom out, Jackdaws seem`d to be everywhere this morning...
Another decent catch in the moth trap with a rarely caught Green Carpet putting in an appearance.
Dungeness Boats - 0930hrs - Joined the Joker and Plodding Birder (both in arm chairs and looking set for a long watch) for a half hearted seawatch during which several Arctic Skuas and a steady flow of terns and Gannets noted (they`d had a Red-throated Diver earlier).
ARC - 1130hrs - From Hanson a good selection of waders on the ridges included, 290 Goldies, 120 Knots, 20 Dunlins, 15 Barwits and singles of Little Stint and Common Sandpiper, while the Goosander roused from its slumbers to prove it isn`t actually stuffed. From the Willow Trail, plenty of dragonflies sheltering from the strong easterly (mostly Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters), several Common Lizards and a small Great/Long-tailed Tit flock.
The Cattle and Great White Egrets remained, over-the-road.
Lade Bay - 1730hrs - The waders were well scattered by the kite-surfers but a close flock near the boardwalk included 20 Barwits, 15 Ringed Plovers and 30 each of Dunlin and Sanderling. Further out, hundreds of Knots, Curlews and Oystercatchers. A lone Arctic Skua passing over the sands caused a temporary panic amongst the Sandwich Terns.
 Green Carpet, Plovers - A common enough, and distinctive moth, which turns up occasionally in the garden trap.
Common Darter, Willow Trail, ARC - A sheltered spot ideal for dragonflies and other insects.