Lade - 0730hrs - frosty, nippy start, sunny, light airs - Having neglected the local patch a bit of late decided to flog round for a couple of hours, especially as it was such a cracking morning and the fact that Barney was up for it. Anyhow, we managed to rattle up 62 species in two and half hours the highlights being several singing Chiffchaffs, single Wheatear, 2 Stonechats and a trickle of Mipits, Skylarks and Linnets overhead; on the pits 4 Redshanks, 4 Goldeneyes, 300 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Dabchicks (trilling) and a Little Egret; on the farmland 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Buzzards, 50 Curlews, singing Reed Buntings, Cetti`s Warblers and a `cronking` Raven over heading towards Lydd.
Back at the Ariel mound spent a bit of time watching a pair of Oystercatchers on the Scaffold Island. Must confess Oycs are one of my favourite birds as they are an integral part of the birding scene down here. In the winter anything up to a thousand haunt the sands of Lade Bay and when they fly over the coast road to roost on the shingle at high tide it makes for quite a visual spectacle; laying in bed in the wee small hours the silence is often broken as they clip the cottage roof clamouring away to one another, pure magic. However, (before I get too dewy eyed) I digress, about now they`ve paired up and are noisily displaying around the Peninsula and looking for somewhere daft to nest; but in the case of the Scaffold pair, not so daft as every year they seem to get young to flying stage from this small island; that pair that nested on the tern raft in front of Dengemarsh hide last year should take a leaf out of the Scaffold Two`s book when it comes to nest site selection.
I mean, what is there not to like about Oystercatchers? They`re long-lived, smart looking, as tough as old boots, easy to identify (without any of that racial-splitting-hairs nonsense to worry about), they`ve got plenty of attitude and character and I`ve seen them defend their chicks against everything from a clumsy sheep to attack by a Marsh Harrier. A top bird without a doubt.
The Scaffold Two, Lade