Tuesday 31 January 2012

Corpses on the Beach

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cold, grey and grim, sleet, e2 - Still a good show of Razorbills offshore amongst the Guillemots and Great Crested Grebes, plus a scattering of Gannets and Kittiwakes. On the shoreline a long dead porpoise corpse being picked over by a Turnstone (is there nothing they wont eat?) and a freshly skinned deer carcass dumped for the incoming tide to tidy up...

                                          Dengemarsh - first dusting of the winter
                                           Dungeness - porpoise corpse

Dengemarsh 1400hrs - Had a stroll from Boulderwall down to Dengemarsh hide taking in Gun Club field. The Great White Egret was on the fields at Boulderwall along with 200 Wigeon, 30 Curlews and 100 Lapwings; the Dotterel was also reported in a Golden Plover flock in the fields towards Cockles Bridge. Two Stonechats and a flock of 30 Greenfinches at the Corral, plus 6 Bewick`s Swans over. From the hide Sparrowhawk, 4 Snipe, 6 Dunlin, 8 Dabchicks and at least 5 Marsh Harriers, but no sign of this mornings 23 Avocets. On the walk back had stunning views of a Firecrest in the gorse by the return trail style.

Monday 30 January 2012

Little Gulls

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cold, grey, drizzle, se1 - Plenty of activity on the sea with hundreds of auks, including some large groups of Razorbills. Best of all though was up to 5 Little Gulls feeding just offshore. Also, 2 Common Scoters, several Red-throated Divers, 20 each of Kittiwakes and Gannets, and hundreds of Great Crested Grebes. Before I arrived DW had 2 Bonxies and a Med Gull, while the Glaucous Gull was reported later on.

Denge Beach 1600hrs - Checked out one of the occasionally used harrier roost sites this afternoon. None went down but 6 had a look before departing towards the bird reserve. A scattering of Green Woodpeckers, plus singles of Buzzard, Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler was all I could muster.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Walland Marsh

Lade - 0900hrs - cold and horrible, n2 - Winter finally seems to have arrived. All the usual wildfowl here including 12 Goldeneyes and 20 Wigeons. Despite the cold 2 Cetti`s Warbler were going for it in the willows.
RSPB - 1300hrs - The Great White Egret showed well from the access road at Boulderwall this afternoon. From the causeway road 2 Smews and the Long-tailed Duck in view. Elsewhere, a Common Scoter on Dengemarsh, Firecrest at Christmas Dell and more Smews, while the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull was back at the Point. The scouts were out in force searching for the Goldie flock harbouring a Dotterel but without success, although at least 10 Buzzards reported around the Marsh (OL).

GWEgret, Boulderwall     Matriarch Marsh Harrier & White-fronts, Walland

Walland Marsh - 1430hrs - The 53 Bewick`s Swans were still in their favourite field at Midley. Had a saunter around Marshman`s local patch this afternoon where a flock of 200 Grey Lags contained 11 White-fronts. Plenty of harriers noted (including an old white-headed female), 3 Buzzards, a pair of Peregrines, 80 Corn Buntings, 2 Stonechats, 9 Pintails, 50 Wigeons, 30 Teals, Reed Buntings, Snipe, Golden Plover, Bittern, Cetti`s Warbler and Water Rail. Finished in grand style with12 Marsh Harriers going to roost along with the Bewick`s Swan herd flying in just before lights out. Still no sign of any Barn Owls though.

Saturday 28 January 2012


Lydd Airport - 1000hrs - cold, sunny and dry - The wintering Dotterel was relocated by NB in the plover flock in a field near the airport this morning. Much better views than on ARC three days ago, although difficult to photograph due a reed-fringed ditch. The Dotterel tended to feed on the edge of the flock and at times was close to the access road before it departed with the Goldies about 11am. Buzzard also noted plus a Black Redstart by the hangars.
A drive around Caldecote delivered 50 Curlews and 53 Bewick`s Swans at Midley.

                                           Dotterel, Lydd
Scotney - 1200hrs - Plenty of Wigeons and Lapwings on the fields by the pits, plus several Redshanks, Dunlins and (at last) 3 Ringed Plovers.

Friday 27 January 2012

Slim Pickings

Lade 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny w2 - A wander around both pits delivered very little apart from an increase in Teal numbers to over 200 and 8 Goldeneyes. The fine weather brought 3 Cetti`s Warbler into the open and plenty of common residents into song. Several Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard were hunting the airport fields.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - A late seawatch from the boats was disappointing with only a few auks, divers and Kitts milling around the Point. Still hundreds of Cormorants and Great Crested Grebes on the sea. No sign of the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull which hasn't been seen for over a week now.
On ARC Long-tailed duck, Smews and Bewick`s Swan reported this afternoon.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Medway and Sheppey

Bedlam`s Bottom - 0900hrs-  wet and windy morning, brighter later - A change of scene today, with Marshman and the Joker, `up-north`. After dropping off the ladies in Rochester we checked out the Medway from a couple of road side pull-ins. As it was low tide the mud was full of waders and wildfowl, the highlight of which was a flock of 262 Avocets. Also, hundreds of Dunlins, Redshanks and Knots, plus a decent supporting cast of both godwits, Curlews, Grey Plovers, Oystercatchers and Turnstone. Amongst numerous Shelducks and Wigeons were Pintail and Teal, several groups of Brents and Greylags, while on the far shore several Marsh Harriers drifted by.
Muswell Manor - 1045hrs - south of the manor we followed the track out onto farmland noting several ringtailed harriers and Kestrels. The highlight was a large mixed flock of passerines which included over 100 Skylarks and at least 50 Lapland Buntings; mostly calling birds in flight, plus one or two brief glimpses on the deck of what was the largest flock of Laps we`d seen seen for ages. Also, Mipits, Reed Buntings, Linnets and Greenfinches present. Two Green Sandpipers flushed from a ditch and on the walk back we picked out a Rough-legged Buzzard towards the prison along with 3 Common Buzzards and further views of ringtails and Marsh Harriers. A large Greylag flock contained a leucistic bird plus a lone White-front, also Little Egret, Grey Heron, Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Brents noted.
Harty Marsh - 1230hrs - On the approach to the viewpoint a single Stonechat, 20 Corn Buntings and a Sparrowhawk. From the ramp plenty of harrier activity, Buzzards and Kestrel plus huge numbers of distant plovers shimmering in the sunlight against the blackness of an approaching storm cloud, which I confidently forecast, "would miss us by a mile" - and then the heavens opened...
Elmley -  1400hrs - As the rain lifted we drove a good way down the access road looking for the field, "that`s always got Grey Partridges", mmm.... Anyhow, did see a very pale Common Buzzard, more harriers and a large flock of Curlews, Goldies and Lapwings.
In summary another cracking day, `on the island` that delivered loads of good birds for the year and as always plenty of laughs.

                                           The Medway                                         

                                          Capel Fleet, Sheppey

Wednesday 25 January 2012


Lade - 1000hrs - mild and miserable - All the usual wildfowl on site plus a Shelduck and 5 Goldeneyes. A large flock of gulls on south pit included 200 Common Gulls. Cetti`s Warbler in song and plenty of small insects on the wing.
Had a drive around the back of Lydd but very few birds in the fields apart from several Curlews and Red-legs. Galloways was also quiet, apart from a couple of Green Woodpeckers and a Kestrel.

                                           Green Woodpecker, Galloways

ARC - 1500hrs - News broke this afternoon of a Dotterel seen in front of Hanson hide. By the time I arrived it had moved over the far side amongst c500 Goldies and was just about viewable. From Screen hide had a closer view noting, the pale breast band and creamy white eye-brow before the whole flock was flushed by a harrier. This was probably the same individual that hung around with the Goldies into late autumn last year.
Three Smews, Kingfisher and Long-tailed Duck still present and 45 Bewick`s Swans flew in just before lights out.

Tuesday 24 January 2012


Dungeness - 0900hrs - cold, drizzle, w2 - Cormorants, the old fishermans friend, not a bird that often features on the blog, but this morning could not be ignored as they were even more numerous than Great Crested Grebes. I counted 725 going west around the Point which was very much a minimum number and quite a spectacle. Also, well over 500 grebes on the water plus hundreds of Kitts and auks and lesser numbers of Gannets and divers.
Had a quick scan of ARC and New Diggings before the rain really got going, but could only make out a couple of Smews from the causeway road.

Monday 23 January 2012


ARC/New Diggings - 1000hrs - mild, bright, w1 - Seemed to be an influx of Smews this morning with 5 on each water, including a cracking `white nun` at the southern end. A lone Ruddy Duck remained on  New Diggings and 2 Marsh Harriers drifted over Screen hide. A Woodcock flushed from the Willow Trail where 2 Chiffchaffs in the buses, plus calling Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler.
53 Bewick`s Swans reported from Midley (CP).
Littlestone - 1530hrs - A late stroll along the beach for any owls hunting over the golf links drew a blank. Plenty of Sanderling (c200) on the beach, plus several Grey Plovers and Knots; no sign of any Ringed Plovers tho...
                                           White Nun, ARC

Sunday 22 January 2012


Dungeness - 1030hrs- mild, sunny, w2 - A wander around the Point this morning in very pleasant conditions produced little of note. Couldnt find the Glaucous Gull in the massed ranks on the shingle, although the 1st winter Caspian was present; while offshore there was the usual mix of auks, divers, grebes, kitts and Gannets and a 1st winter Little Gull was reported.
Managed to locate a large Great/Blue Tit flock in the trapping area that contained several Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff. Also, plenty of midges on the wing plus a tatty red admiral butterfly.

Saturday 21 January 2012

A Goose Day

Pett Level - 0930hrs- mild (13C by midday), cloudy, w3- En-route to the Levels plenty of feral geese at Scotney; 75 Barnacles, 6 Blue/Emperor types, 250 Grey Lags, 50 Canadas; and over 1,000 Goldies on East Guldeford Level opposite Northpoint Pit.
At Pett located the goose flock over by the canal. TI & BB also on site scanning from the road. Slogged down the track (much to Barney`s satisfaction) from Toot`s Rock where a flock of 50 Fieldfares on the hillside plus Green Woodpecker and Yellowhammer. Out on the fields hundreds of Lapwings, Starlings, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves, corvids, Curlews, Redshanks, Dunlins, Wigeons and Shelducks; also, single Marsh Harrier, Little Egret and Kestrel.
Managed to get reasonably close to the geese from the main track where 4 very nervy Pink-feet and 9 White-fronts kept apart from the mixed dross of 114 Greylags, 123 Canadas, 1 Blue Goose, 1 Bar-headed Goose and 2 hybrid types.
From the sea wall several Fulmars on the cliff face at Cliff End and to complete the goose list 3 Brents in the bay.
Rye Harbour - 1200hrs -  A quick call in revealed all the expected shorebirds on Flat Beach plus several Rock Pipits along the river.

Pink-feet & White-fronts, Pett, Bewick`s Swans, Midley

Walland Marsh -  1300hrs - A drive back across Walland delivered 53 Bewicks Swans (including 6 imms) 3 Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard at Midley, plus a dozen Tree Sparrows on the feeders.
Dungeness - 1400hrs - Around the bird reserve this afternoon: 2 Ravens over Burrowes; 3 Smews, 1 Long-tailed Duck on ARC; Ruddy Duck, New Diggings; Firecrest, Christmas Dell; Great White Egret, Dengemarsh. The Caspian Gull was reported from the Point.

Friday 20 January 2012


ARC - 1000hrs - mild, overcast, drizzle - From the causeway road the drake Smew showed well amongst 100 Gadwall, while opposite on New Diggings the GWegret was again on the far bank with several Little Egrets. A decent flock of birds around the car park included 15 Tree Sparrows, 20 Blue/Great Tits, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and Goldcrest. Kingfisher seen from Screen hide and there were 2 redhead Smew on the water.
MH reported good roadside views of the goose flock at Pett Levels which included White-fronts and Pink-feet.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Out & About

Lade - 1030hrs - mild, cloudy, showery, w3 - All the usual wildfowl including 5 Goldeneyes plus a large flock of Golden Plovers over the airport fields.
RSPB - A scout around revealed the Great White Egret on New Diggings with 7 Little Egrets, and singles of Smew and Ruddy Duck (the one that got away); further Smews on ARC and Burrowes. Plenty of passerines around the car park and on the feeders included Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.

Dungeness - 1500hrs An hours seawatching from the boats delivered a year tick in the shape of 2 Velvets amongst a flock of 30 Common Scoters heading down-Channel. Hundreds of auks (mostly Razorbills), Kitts and Great Crested Grebes just offshore, plus a scattering of Gannets and Red-throated Divers.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Pom Skua

ARC - 1030hrs - dry, bright and mild, e2 - A stunning winters morning brought plenty of fair weather birders into the field. From Hanson 2 redhead Smews, 15 Goldeneyes and all the usual wildfowl; Bittern and Kingfisher were also reported. In the scrub a single Chiffchaff plus vocal Water Rails and Cetti`s Warbler.
Dungeness  - 1530hrs - A seawatch before lights out from the concrete road, with a band of locals, produced a stunning close Pomarine Skua, several Common Scoters (just missed a Velvet) and plenty of Kitts, Gannets, Red-throated Divers and auks, mainly Razorbills (c2,000 counted earlier) coming and going. A 1st winter Caspian Gull also got the combined pulses racing...

Monday 16 January 2012

Trio of Year Ticks

Dungeness - 1445hrs - cold, sunny, se3 - Spent an hour seawatching from the concrete road this afternoon. As I pulled up on site MH called a Bonxie, as it headed down-Channel. A good start and my first of the year. Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes, Kitts, auks and Gannets were coming and going both ways and several small groups of Common Scoters crept on to the year list, along with a single Eider. A flock of 15 Wigeon were also noted past the point.

Sunday 15 January 2012


Lade - 1000hrs - Sunny, dry, cold, se3 - A nippy morning for the monthly WeBS count. Numbers generally down on last moth but still over 300 Coots, 5 Goldeneyes and 76 Teals the highlight. Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker and Cetti`s Warbler noted in the willows.
By late afternoon the wind had picked up and gone due east off the sea, making for a very cold end to the day. Just managed to get over the desert as the light was failing to see several Marsh Harriers drifting over towards the local roost site.
                                          Teal, Lade

Saturday 14 January 2012

Ravens & Goosanders

Littlestone - 1200hrs - cold, cloudy, n2 - Checked along the shoreline on a rising tide for waders, but found few apart from a mix of 30 odd Redshanks, Knots, Turnstones and Grey Plovers. No sign of any Snow Buntings, but a single Short-eared Owl circled high over the golf course before heading inland.
RSPB - 1400hrs - A pair of Ravens showed well along the access road and 2 drake Goosanders dropped in on Burrowes. Over the road on ARC the Long-tailed duck remained at the south end while a pair of Kingfishers were noted in front of Screen hide; amongst the hundreds of Wigeons was an unusual leucistic individual. As the light faded several Marsh Harriers headed toward their roost sites scattering wildfowl and Lapwings.
Also reported on the bird reserve were Smews on New Ex,  Firecrests at Christmas Dell and Great White Egret at Dengemarsh. The 2nd winter Glaucous Gull remained at Dungeness.

Friday 13 January 2012

Sunny Lade

Lade - 0930hrs - cold, dry and sunny, n1 - A cracking winters day with a sharp frost and bright blue skies. All the usual wildfowl present, but in small numbers, including 8 Goldeneyes and 15 Wigeons on north pit. Cettis`s Warbler and Water Rail very vocal this morning.
RSPB  - Checked out the bird reserve this afternoon. A large mixed flock of plovers, pigeons and corvids on the fields behind Boulderwall, plus a couple of Marsh Harriers and a close Stonechat in the reedbed. Elsewhere, 3 Smews on New Excavations, Great White Egret and Dabchicks on Dengemarsh and the Long-tailed Duck on ARC.

                                           Lade Pits, Goldeneye

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Purple Sandpipers

Dungeness - 0930hrs - mild, sunny, w2 - The usual melee of Gannets, divers, grebes, gulls and auks (including a few Razorbills) feeding just offshore, while the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull was present on the shingle.
Hythe - 1330hrs  - Called in at the hotel Imperial where 5 Purple Sandpipers were roosting out the high tide on the usual sea defence blocks.
Lade Bay - A couple of checks of the bay today for the reported seal pup drew a blank. Over 500 Oystercatchers from the tavern, plus a scattering of Knots and Barwits and 3 Brents.

Red-throated Diver, Dungeness. Purple Sandpipers, Hythe

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Up North

Reculver - 0815hrs - mild, overcast, light airs - Off the Marsh today to recce out a couple of sites in north Kent for articles, in company with Chris Philpott, Mark Hollingworth, Phil Lightman and Barney.
Havent been here for ages so ambled around the car park for a bit checking out the facilities. On the sea, decent numbers of Red-throated Divers coming and going, plus a few Brents heading east; as the tide came in over the next couple of hours the total rose to c300, including one pale-breasted bird. A distant sand-bar attracted several common seals. Along the foreshore below the car park and around the tower 2/3 Black Redstarts, 2 Rock Pipits, 5 Mipits, 5 Pied Wagtails, Wrens, Robins and Turnstones.
We then walked a section of the Thanet Coastal Path eastwards besides the oyster ponds. On the seaward side a few more waders included 14 Ringed Plovers and a Grey Plover, plus 7 Shelducks and another Black Redstart, while inland Marsh Harrier, 3 Redshanks, 10 Reed Buntings and a flock of 50 Linnets noted.
MH then took us on a trip down memory lane, between here and Minnis Bay, regaling us all with birding tales from before the last Cod War!

Reculver, Brents, Grove Ferry, Glossy Ibises & Water Pipit

Grove Ferry - 1115hrs- In the car park we were greeted by 3 Ring-necked Parakeets (sadly, a site tick for us all). Also, around the car park were a number of Song Thrushes, Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff. A scan from the ramp produced 4 Ruffs in a mixed flock of Grey Lags, Lapwings and Teals, plus a distant Peregrine. Cetti`s Warblers and Bearded Tits were heard and we had a couple of brief views of Bittern here and from Feast`s hide.
The long trudge down to the ox-bow lake marsh produced precious little apart from brief views of a ringtail harrier, 2 Greater peckers, 3 flyover Water Pipits, Green Woodpecker, Little Egret, Snipe and a couple of distant Marsh Harriers; by `eck this place is hard work.
Anyhow, spirits were lifted as we back-tracked to Marsh hide from where we had brief views of 2 Glossy Ibises as they emerged from a ditch; after which, they flew off towards Stodmarsh. The saving grace was superb views of 3 Water Pipits (bird of the day)  on the muddy field in front of the hide.
Back at the car we lamented the paucity of passerines throughout the day; there just wern`t any winter thrushes, Skylarks, and very few finches, mipits and buntings, pretty much the same as the farmland on Romney Marsh really.

Monday 9 January 2012

Winter Moths

Lade - 0930hrs - mild, overcast, w2 - A Buzzard perched on the wall `mirror`, until disturbed by a Sparrowhawk, plus 2 Marsh Harriers over the airport fields. Plenty of wildfowl on both pits including 5 Goldeneyes, plus Cetti`s Warbler and Water Rail calling from the willows.
Kerton Road Cafe - With the weather set to be mild all week, thought about getting the trap out, but that`s as far as I got... However, at the cafe a trap was set and delivered, Winter Moth and Dark Chestnut.
                                           Dark Chestnut

Walland Marsh - 1500hrs - At Pigwell a flock of 300 Greylags contained 6 White-fronts lurking in their midst, plus a pair of Stonechats nearby. The Midley Bewick`s Swan flock had increased to 36 and a Sparrowhawk nipped over the lane by the drying barns.
At the harrier roost site joined a group of locals for the raptor spectacle; along with the landowner who proffered much valuable advice on access and the status of marshland birds...
At least 18 Marsh Harriers in the area but only 3 went down to roost; also, 2 Buzzards and a Kestrel.

Sunday 8 January 2012


New Diggings - 1100hrs - mild, overcast, light airs - A decent number of ducks here including Smew and Goldeneyes, plus single Great White and 5 Little Egrets around the margins.
ARC - From the causeway road a flock of 8 Goldeneyes displaying, 4 Pintails and another Smew. A massive mixed flock of Golden Plovers (1,200) and Lapwings flushed from the islands by a Peregrine held several Dunlins and 2 Ruffs. A Kingfisher showed well from the Screen hide, one of their favourite spots of late and a Marsh Harrier drifted over.
                                           Kingfisher, ARC

Burrowes - The wintering Long-tailed Duck was viewable from Dennis`s hide and all the usual wildfowl were present. Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings noted on the car park feeders. 

Saturday 7 January 2012


ARC/New Diggings - 1030hrs - The drake Smew and Black-necked Grebe remained on their respective waters and a GWEgret flew over the causeway road.
Faggs Wood - 1100hrs - mild, dry and sunny - Cracking morning for a wander in the woods with Pat and Barney. Most of the usual woodland species noted around the car park area including Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Long-tailed and Coal Tits (where have all the Marsh Tits gone?). Further into the wood, in the birch plantation, managed to locate a pair of Bullfinches, which have to be one of our smartest birds, while a few Redpolls and Redwings passed overhead. Good to hear plenty of Song Thrushes in song.
There was no sign of the Great White Egret on the canal by the Hamstreet garden centre.

Littlestone - 1430hrs - Two Short-eared Owls were hunting over the golf course this afternoon and managed to locate 9 of the usual bay waders on the sands with only Ringed Plover remaining elusive.

Friday 6 January 2012

Sunny Days

Dungeness - 0830hrs - mild, sunny, nw2 - A stunning morning to be out and about after the gales of yesterday. Not so many gulls on the shingle by the fishing boats, but the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull was present. However, plenty of gulls just offshore plundering a shoal of sprats, including many Kittiwakes and at least 200 Great Crested Grebes.
New Diggings - A Black-necked Grebe was new for the year here, alongside 15 Goldenyes, 2 Smews, 5 ***** Ducks, 2 Gwegrets and 5 Little Egrets.

ARC - From the causeway road at the southern end, the first `white nun` of the winter plus 3 redhead Smews. From the car park, soaring Buzzard and Sparrowhawk plus Chiffchaff and 5 Tree Sparrows in the willows. At Screen hide a Kingfisher was zipping about and a Bittern showed well. Legions of ducks and Lapwings on the water including several Pintails and Shelducks. On the the walk back to the car a massive flock of Golden Plovers got up from the fields at Boulderwall. Over the road the Long-tailed Duck was on Burrowes and viewable from Dennis`s hide. Good to see plenty of fairweather birders around the reserve today enjoying the sunshine and plenty of good birds.
Elsewhere, this afternoon had a Merlin at Newchurch, while 2 Short-eared Owls were reported from Littlestone Golf Course (BB).

Thursday 5 January 2012

Stormy Weather

Dungeness - 0900hrs - Gale force westerly, showers, mild, sunny/cloudy - Another day when the weather dominated proceedings with gale force westerly to north-westerly winds battering the peninsula. Lade Bay was most impressive with the wind whipping the tops off the waves as the tide receded, while a rainbow arcing out over the bay lasted all too briefly. Checked the gulls out from the concrete road without finding any of the specialities. Offshore the usual movements of Kitts, Gannets, grebes, auks and divers.

ARC/New Diggings - 1500hrs - Some stuff as yesterday but difficult to observe in the buffeting wind; Long-tailed Duck, Smew, Gwegret, etc...

Wednesday 4 January 2012


Lade - 1000hrs - cold, grey, sw3 - Watched a large (presumed female) Peregrine over the airport diving amongst a Lapwing flock in an attempt to separate one out. This went on for about 5 minutes before the raptor gave up and drifted over towards the bird reserve. Three Goldeneyes on south pit and Cetti`s Warbler calling from the willows.
ARC 1200hrs - From Hanson 12 Goldeneyes, 2 Water Rails, singles of Smew, Long-tailed Duck and Shelduck, plus legions of Wigeons, Teals and Lapwings. Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tits in the car park. On New Diggings, 6 Little and one Great White Egret, 5 ***** Ducks and an odd looking pale Mallard.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Stormy Dungeness

Dungeness - 1000hrs - Gale force south-westerlies, heavy rain - A shocker of a morning with a raging gale running up Channel ruling out a seawatch due to the sea state and poor viz. A flock of gulls hunkered down on the shingle by the boats included the 1st winter Caspian.
                                          Caspian Gull, Dungeness

New Diggings - 1100hrs - Difficult viewing conditions but at least 6 Little and a Great White Egret sheltering from the wind, plus the leucistic Grey Heron.
Tower Pits - 1430hrs - As the weather front moved through, the wind backed off and the sun came out. Together with MH and CP had a scout around for yesterdays Jack Snipe, but without success. At least 6 soggy Marsh Harriers were noted and from Screen hide we had distant views of the Long-tailed Duck.  

Monday 2 January 2012

Lade & London

Lade - 0900hrs - dry, bright and sunny - In complete contrast to yesterdays deluge, this morning dawned bright and sunny with clear skies. All the usual wildfowl were on south pit including 5 Goldeneyes, 50 Wigeons, 80 Teal and 2 Dabchicks. A Grey Heron that had been fishing in back garden ponds was driven across the storm beaches by the Herring Gulls, were it landed with bulging crop.

Walthamstow Marshes - 1230hrs - Had to go up to London on family matters and dropped in at Walthamstow Marshes in the Lea Valley to recce out for an article. Plenty of Ring-necked Parakeets in the nearby park, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail along the river and Snipe and Stonechat on the marsh.
Hammonds Corner - 1620hrs - Cracking views of a `ringtail` harrier as it flew over the Brenzett road heading towards Cheyne Court, and a Little Owl on the old barns just past the farm at Hammonds Corner.

Sunday 1 January 2012

NYDay Bird Count

Despite the weather forecast (drizzle, followed by showers, ending with driving rain) a disparate team from the Marsh set out in high spirits for the traditional NYDay Bird Count. Chris (Marshman) Philpott was wheelman, alongside Mark (The Joker) Hollingworth, plus Phil (Listman) Lightman and myself.
Faggs Wood - 0715hrs - On arrival Tawny Owls were vocal, after which 3 of us slogged around the wood not seeing very much while MH held the fort in the car park and mopped up on the woodland birds. Eventually we noted good numbers of Redpolls, a few Redwings, Siskins, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Goldcrest, Jay and Mistle Thrush, all of which would be difficult at sea level.
Warehorne  - 0930hrs - The bank of feeders by the church produced more tits and finches plus Tree Sparrows, while down by the canal we noted Mipit, Fieldfares, Great White and Little Egrets in flight but precious little else. As we were to discover, passerines were very hard to come by this morning right across the flatlands.
Midley - 1045hrs - Slim pickings here too, although we did pick up Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Marsh Harrier and a herd of 32 Bewick`s Swans. The drying barns area having been tidied up was largely birdless, apart from 2 Yammers, and there were no flocks of wintering geese anywhere to be found on Walland Marsh.
Scotney - 1130hrs - A Raven was the best bird here as it flew over from the ranges `cronking` away. As expected there were large flocks of feral geese, Lapwings, Goldies and Wigeons, plus Redshank, Curlew, distant harriers, Kestrel, Snipe and Shelducks.
Galloways - 1215hrs - The Rye Bay scoter flock eluded us but we did have Stonechat for the day on the drive down to the sea.
RSPB - 1300hrs - Called in at the Visitors Centre, (so Phil could buy his calendar!) and catch up on any news. Pintail went onto the slowly rising list. Over the road from Hanson hide the weather really closed in, with poor viz adding to the horizontal rain, as we began to struggle to find new birds. However, on New Diggings we added Ruddy Duck (6) and Smews to the day list.
Lade Bay - 1400hrs - Undaunted, we soldiered on checking the sands in driving rain for Barwit, Sanderling, Dunlin and Knot with a bonus of a small flock of Brents.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - Seabirds here included the usual Red-throated Divers, auks, Kitts and Gannets from the concrete road in appalling weather with near zero viz and lashing rain. We eventually located the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull and then decided it really should have a name, seeing as it is now a Dunge resident; a bit like old Boy George up at Cley all those years ago. Anyhow, Gary was mooted (too soft), followed by Dan  (a hard enough name, but not quite right) and Gloria (well, it could be a lady bird...). In the end we were undecided, so called it a day. After a cursory look at ARC from the road (where even the Ltduck kept out of sight) and with the rain hammering down we decided against doing the harrier roost; the weather had beaten us.
The final tally was  a pitiful 91 species, but it had been a great day in good company with plenty of jokes and loads of mickey taking all round. Thanks to Chris for driving, Mark for a constant stream of gags and Phil for being the butt of most of the mickey taking - see you next NYD Phil!!

                                           Feral Geese, Scotney