Saturday 30 June 2012

Heligoland Trap

Dungeness - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny- Spent the day at DBO, in the moat, with 20 odd other willing volunteers renewing the Heligoland trap. At times it resembled a scene from The Witness, when the Amish built the barn! A marvellous team effort that ended with a barbeque in the evening. Well done to all concerned.

                                          Heligoland Trap rebuild, DBO

Friday 29 June 2012

Sussex Emerald

Lade - Warm, dry and sunny - 0500hrs - Wandered out in a daze to turn the moth trap off, whilst feeling sorry for myself due to a heavy dose of Man Flu, and instinctly potted up an emerald on the outside. Three hours and two brews later I checked the said moth which I initially thought to be a tatty male Sussex Emerald; and then doubt crept in as I dont get many emeralds in the garden trap.
At the Kerton Road Cafe a second (DB) and third (BG) opinion was sought and confirmed that it was indeed a Sussex Emerald, albeit not a classic individual, the first for the Peninsula this summer, we think... Just to be absolutely sure a pic was e-mailed to the Moth Lord for his seal of approval.

Sussex Emerald - a moth-eaten (ha, ha!) male. Note the double projections on the hind wings, although not as distinct as on some and the red spots on the outer wings. Common Emerald lacks the projections and has blackish not reddish spots. Sussex Emerald is a RDB moth and a Dungeness speciality where it regulary comes to light at the Obs and Cafe. The larva feed mainly on Wild    Carrot and Ragwort. The flight season last from late June into August.
Dungeness - 1000hrs - At the Patch a 1st summer Little Gull and 5 Meds in the throng of gulls and terns. Black Redstart and Mipit on the powers station wall. In the moat the Heligoland trap has been   stripped out and awaiting the weekend rebuild.
RSPB -Very little of note around the bird reserve this afternoon in a blustery wind.                              

Thursday 28 June 2012


Lade - 0600hrs - muggy, cloudy, se2 - A decent catch in the trap last night with 26 species, although numbers were still low with White Ermine new for the year.
A wander around the pits to check out the breeding birds revealed Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers, Whitethroats and Blackcap still in song, plus Cuckoo, Shelduck, Marsh Harrier and loads of eclipse ducks and feral geese on south pit. The recent wet weather has produced a verdant flush of herbage across the shingle ridges where both mulleins were in flower.

                                                    Great Mullein

                                                    White Mullein

ARC - 1600hrs - From Hanson the water levels remain unsuitably high for waders, although up to 100 Lapwings were attempting to make the most of a slither of land. Still, the ducks, feral geese and swans love it. Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier, Hobby and the usual Tree Sparrows around the car park.
At the south end more Lapwings, 2 Ringed Plovers, 100 Pochards and 10 Teal.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Mediterranean Gulls

Dungeness - 0745hrs - Mild, foggy, s2 - Walked down to the Patch where difficult viewing due to banks of thick fog rolling in off the Channel. Several Med Gulls in the murk over the boil calling, along with Common Terns.
Lade - 21 species of moths in the trap last night, but nothing of any quality. Warm and sunny by late morning. Working in the garden today Mediterranean Gulls were regularly heard and seen overhead, probably from birds dispersing from the Rye colony. Hobby and Sparrowawk over too.
ARC - 1500hrs - Loads of feral geese and swans on the pit plus eclipse ducks such as Pochard, Teal and Shoveler. Marsh Harrier and Hobby from Screen hide, Green Woodpecker with juvs and 50 odd House Martins over the water.

Tuesday 26 June 2012


Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny s2 - A decent catch of 21 species in the moth trap last night with 5 new for the year including L-album Wainscot. Nothing of note over the pits apart from plenty of Cuckoo and Marsh Harrier activity.

                                          L-album Wainscot

ARC - 1300hrs - plenty of eclipse wildfowl at the southern end included 100 Pochard, Teal and Gadwall, plus a pair each of LRP and RP and a Green Sandpiper.

Monday 25 June 2012


Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny - Checked out the breeding birds over the pits this morning; Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Linnets, Skylarks, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Gadwalls, all with fledged young. From the aerial mound 5 Marsh Harriers and singles of Buzzard and Sparrowhawk thermalling above the airport.
Two fledged juvenile Marsh Harriers also noted from a site nearby.
A few more moths in the trap last night, including both species of Elephant Hawkmoths.

                                          Small and Elephant Hawkmoths

Sunday 24 June 2012

Royal Military Canal

Kenardington - Warehorne - 1400hrs - mild, showery, sw3 - With the main rain band passing over quite a few birds in song enjoying the sunshine along the north bank of the canal this afternoon. Good to hear/see half a dozen Yellowhamers, also several each of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Tree Sparrows, Linnets and Bullfinches. Two Buzzards soaring over woodland and a Hobby flustered the Swallows by Kenardington Bridge, where a small colony of Reed Warblers was present.
In the sunshine a few dragonflies on the wing.

                                          Azure Damselfly

                                          Common Darter

Saturday 23 June 2012


Lade - 0630hrs - cool, sunny, sw3 - Another poor catch in the trap last night, although a Red Data Book, White Spot was new for the year, as was a Large Yellow Underwing...
Dungeness - 0800hrs - A stroll around the point produced juvs of Wheatear, Black Redstart and Stonechat, which is incredible considering the number of Magpies, `black crows`, Stoats and Weasels on the lookout for a meal.
                                          White Spot

                                          Kerton Road Pit gull roost

Kerton Road Pit  - 1500hrs - A high tide roost of ca 2,000 gulls comprised mostly immatures of the endangered Herring Gull, plus small numbers of Lesser and Great Black Backs. At least 6 birds were colour ringed, but were too distant to get any details. Waders included 85 Curlews and 110 Oystercatchers.
Whilst scoping the gulls 6 Crossbills flew overhead calling,  towards Lade.
RSPB - 1930hrs - An evening walk for RSPB with 8 others, in cool cloudy conditions, delivered all the expected wildfowl, gulls and Cormorants on Burrowes, plus a Cuckoo by Scott hide. Several Marsh Harriers over Dengemarsh plus 2 Ravens, large creches of feral geese and swans, Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers, Linnets and Whitethroats singing. A brief stake out from the ramp failed to see Bittern, but all had cracking views of the adult male Marsh Harrier dropping in twice with prey for juvs in the reedbed. Memory of the evening belonged to several large parties of Swifts coming and going over the waters and by the time we arrived back in the car park a `screaming` flock of 100 plus swirled high overhead.

Friday 22 June 2012

Stormy Days

Dungeness -0900hrs - mild, sunny, sw 7 - Near gale force winds sweeping up-Channel made for difficult birding today across the Peninsula. A couple of seawatches from the hide and fishing boats delivered a trickle of Gannets, terns and a single Arctic Skua. Several small parties of Swifts over the sea.
RSPB - 1030hrs - Very little of note due to the strong winds, apart from more Swifts over ARC, plus Green Sandpiper and LRP at the southern end. Only experienced fliers took to the air today so it was amusing to watch a juvenile Grey Heron being blown all over the place as it traversed Dengemarsh.
What with all the rain and mild temperatures a good morning for a spot of mushrooming (at a secret location...) with three large bags filled in next to no time. Mmm, fungi for tea...

                                          Dungeness Mush

Thursday 21 June 2012

Summer Solstice

Lade - 0500hr - After dancing naked around the Lade (Stonehenge of the Marsh) `mirrors` at sunrise (in my dreams)... I woke up and checked the moth trap... 16 species with Grass Emerald new for the year.
Dungeness - 0845hrs - mild, muggy, misty, se2 - After the rain band had passed over strolled down to the Patch where a hundred or so Common Terns and assorted gulls swirled over the boil. On the beach 8 Sandwich Terns and 20 Common Terns, one of which was a 1st summer bird (aka Portlandica) a plumage stage rarely seen in this country. A 1st summer Little Gull also came in to land and preen.
Along the power station wall a weary looking adult male Black Redstart gave a few bursts of song before dropping down to feed on the insect-rich sward below.
                                          1st summer, Common Tern, Patch

                                          1st summer Little Gull, Patch

                                          Black Redstart, Power Station

Dengemarsh 1500hrs - Very muggy and stormy with thunder and lightening out over the Channel and bursts of heavy rain, warm though. The usual Marsh Harriers and a Hobby, Common Terns and moulting Pochards.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Summer`s Over!

Dengemarsh - 0700hrs - cool, sunny, e3 - Whilst surveying Dengemarsh this morning the first 4 returning Green Sandpipers on the flood heralded the end of summer! Also, noted was a flyover Spotted Redshank. Despite all the odds at least one pair of Lapwings had got two chicks to flying stage. Shelduck and Wheatear also seen with juvs. From Springfield Bridge another Green Sandpiper over whilst nattering to MH, plus good views of Bittern and Marsh Harrier having a mid-air tussle; the first 2 fledged harrier juvs were also noted today. Hobby and Peregrine present. At the south end of ARC LRP and RP noted.
A little better on the moth front last night with 17 species in the trap and quite a few outside.
1900hrs - An evening walk down to the ramp (with Mrs PT) from Boulderwall delivered several Hobbies and Marsh Harriers, plus further flight views of the Bittern.

Moths outside the Plovers moth trap last night: Cypress Carpet, Toadflax Pug & Willow Beauty

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Black-headed Gulls

ARC & Tower Pits - 0700hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw3 - Surveying around part of the bird reserve this morning for breeding waders predictably yielded little of note due to high water levels. Several 100 plus post breeding flocks of Lapwings passed overhead and many of the wildfowl have slipped into eclipse plumage as mid-summers day approaches. On a positive note the willow scrub and reedbeds were full of fledged Reed Buntings and Reed Warblers while 3 Cuckoos were active over Tower Pits where Lesser Whitethroats still in song. Several Marsh Harriers came and went and a Green Woodpecker was feeding juvs by the pines.
Kerton Road Cafe - 0930hrs - the heavy rain may be exacting a heavy toll on some of our breeding passerines, but the plants are loving it. The wild flower meadow in the cafe garden has never looked more luxuriant with a rich array of plants including the nationally rare Stinking Hawksbeard.
Assisted the cafe co-owner in erecting a new communication aerial today, it was so high that it is now the third tallest man-made structure on the peninsula, after the lighthouse and power station, and may well prove to be a hazard to low flying aircraft coming into London/Lydd International Airport.
I reckon I`ll be called back soon to assist with fitting a flashing beacon...
All local moth traps showed a poor return last night.

                                         Kerton Road Cafe Poppies
                                          Stinking Hawksbeard
                                         Stinking Hawksbeard

Lade - This afternoon several Med Gulls seen and heard overhead, also at Greatstone (MH).
A stroll down to the north end of Kerton Road pit confirmed breeding Black-headed Gulls with at least 10, week old, chicks seen amongst the island ground cover. Plenty of feral geese and also Oystercatcher with fledged young.
The only other local news concerned a Honey Buzzard over Dungeness this afternoon (DB).

Monday 18 June 2012


Dungeness - 0930hrs - mild, sunny, sw3 - A scan from the seawatch hide in company with PB and DW delivered a steady flow of Gannets, terns, Kittiwakes and several Curlews. At the Patch more Common Terns and a 1st summer Little Gull.
Black Redstart singing in the power station, Mipits along the wall and a Wheatear with young at Jarman`s was about it.

                                          Mipit, DBO

                                                    Six-spot Burnets on Viper`s Bugloss

The Highlands

Just returned from the Highlands of Scotland where we were based at the beautiful little village of Nethy Bridge (many thanks to Sue Broyd). Having not been here since the 70`s I`d forgotten what a stunning place it is with a unique combination of flora and fauna within the British Isles. The weather for the most part was overcast and cool with occasional showers, except for the day we walked the magnificent Findhorn Valley when the sun shone.
Nethy Bridge - The village is set on the edge of Abernethy forest overlooking the river Spey. The commonest birds were Willow Warbers and Siskins; all over the place, back gardens, picnic sites and around the woodland margins. Crested Tits were easy to find once you`d got the call locked into your head, much more so than when I last visited, along with the ubiquitous Goldcrests, Coal Tits and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Crossbills (Scottish/Common?) and Redpolls were less obvious with few seen. The place was full of `black crows` but I didnt see a single Jay or Magpie anywhere all week. Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gulls seemed to be everywhere. Red Squirrels were easy to see on garden feeders.
A bog near the village (alive with midges!) was the only site I got Black Grouse, several birds at two locations, but views were distant. Two cracking raptors surprised me here with Goshawk and Hen Harrier. Curlews and Lapwings were commonplace. Red Grouse were seen higher up the hillside along with scores of Roe and Red Deers. A tiny patch of woodland delivered Crested Tits and Redstarts feeding young!
Abernethy - The Osprey viewing facility at Loch Garten has been much upgraded and resembles a zoo, but you do get to see terrific views of Ospreys at the nest (3 chicks). The car park area delivered more Crested Tits, Crossbills, Siskins and Red Squirrels. The week before a Capercaillie had been strutting around in front of the main hide, but it took me many hours to find one at a more remote part of the forest, a single female. Goldeneyes were also noted flying around the loch along with masses of Swifts. Several open boggy areas delivered Tree Pipits, Yellowhammer and Whinchats along with Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers around the edges and a flyover Woodcock.
River Spey - Goosanders and Common Sandpipers were easy to find along the river, mainly viewing from bridges, and it was great to watch Sand Martins at a natural nesting colony in the river bank at Broomhill. I could find no sign of Dipper or Grey Wagtail, but I guess I was just unlucky as the habitat looked perfect.
Boat of Garten - A series of flooded fields near the village delivered Redshanks, Curlews, Lapwings, Oystercatchers, Wigeons, Teals, Tufted Duck, nesting Black-headed and Common Gulls, Wheatear and a single Greenshank. Buzzard and Sparrowhawk noted, plus more Crested Tits, Siskins and Redstarts in the wood.
Aviemore - A hanging oak wood near the Italian restaurant roundabout was the only place I noted Wood Warbler with three singers. Peregrine also seen. We took the little fella (going on two) to see the Olympic torch relay and while parked up had the mini-bus hub caps nicked!
Loch Ruthven - Paid homage to the nesting Slav Grebes, of which there were six, plus juvs. Also, Dabchick and Red-throated Diver on the loch, Common Sandpipers around the margins and more Tripits, Redstarts, Wheatears, Whinchats and Crossbills.
Cairngorm - Well, it had to be done, the slog up from the car park, with a nearly two year old as well! On the way up noted Merlin, Raven and a few Mipits and not much else besides. Magnificent views though, between the showers and mist. As we approached the lodge in a snow shower two Ptarmigan flew across in front of us and disappeared into the fog with others calling nearby, while a Snow Bunting had been seen earlier. At the summit the weather was dreadful, so had no chance of Dotteral or more Ptarmigans. Called in at the Glenmore cafe on the way down where four Red Squirrels put on quite a show at the feeders.
Findhorn Valley - And so the best `til last. Anyone who`s been to the Findhorn will know what I mean, it is a very special place, simply stunning and you run out of superlatives to describe it, particularly on a sunny summers day. The river winds its way along the valley floor amongst broad fields and scattered woods. Half way along we stopped for Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Goosander and Common Sandpipers along the river with Common Gulls nesting on small islands. Siskins, Willow Warblers, Redstarts, Wheatears and Tree Pipits were all over the place and we had the only Cuckoo and Blackcap of the trip. At the end of the road House Martins were nesting on the old barns and bothys in good numbers, with more Wheatears and singing Ring Ouzel on the scree slopes. We walked a further mile up the valley where a Golden Eagle soared above the crag being mobbed by a Peregrine! Loads of Red and Roe Deer, feral goats and a Mountain Hare completed this classic Highland scene and on the way out various stop offs produced plenty more of the aforementioned birds.
In summary a more than satisfactory week and many thanks to Steve Broyd for the local gen. Eventually got the four grouse, Dipper and Golden Eagle, which were the targets, but abiding memories are probably of the abundant species such as Siskins and Crested Tits, plus the stunning scenery, particularly the snow-capped tops, the river Spey and the Findhorn Valley.

                                          Siskin, Glenmore Cafe

                                          Red Squirrel, Glenmore Cafe
                                          Barney, Cairngorm

                                          Osprey, Loch Garten

                                          Wooden Caper, Loch Garten
                                          Findhorn Valley

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Purple Heron

Dengemarsh - 0845hrs - mild, dry and sunny, sw3 - The early morning scouts were out and about and soon relocated yesterdays Purple Heron; following last nights torrential rain it was no surprise that it stayed put in the comfort of Dengemarsh reedbed. By the time we arrived at the bridge it was sat in a sheltered spot on the edge of the reedbed and viewable with the naked eye - and joy upon joy that is where it remained for the next hour! Probably one of the most protracted views I`ve ever had of this fab heron; and that includes many hours watching the breeding pair two years ago. Anyhow, it didnt really do much, just a bit of preening and sky-pointing and posing for pics in the sunshine (PB on site, so should be some good `uns) but who cares, it was a proper treat. Scope views were crippling and even managed a few dig-pics with the Box Brownie, of what was most likely a 1st summer individual.
Also from the bridge the RCP, several Marsh Harriers and Hobbies, plus a party of 30 odd Rain-dodgers over. Eventually the Purp slipped into cover and out of sight, and with Joker holding court and cracking canine gags to a bored looking Barney, it was time to move on...
A drive around the range road delivered a couple of Ravens in heavy moult, another Hobby and a Turtle Dove on wires by Brett`s.

                                         Purple Heron, Dengemarsh

Scotney - 1100hrs - Nothing much here apart from hundreds of Herring Gulls, 2 Curlews, 10 Lapwings and scores of trash geese.
Dungeness - 1200hrs -  A quick look at the Patch resulted in 20 Common Terns but no sign of yesterdays Black Tern. Black Redstart still in song from within the power station compound

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Red Crested Pochard & Purple Heron

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, dry and sunny, s2 - Good to be back on the Marsh after a day in the London area. Superb morning for a stroll around the local patch with the breeding birds going about their business and several Med Gulls over calling.
A poor night in the moth trap although the first Hawk-moth of the season.

                                         Foxgloves, Lade

                                          Small Elephant Hawk-moth

Dengemarsh - 1200hrs & 1500hrs - A Purple Heron was seen from Springfield Bridge (CT) but was far from obliging, although it did show briefly around 2ish; in the same area that the breeding pair favoured two years ago. The female RCP could also be seen from the bridge along with several Marsh Harriers and 3 Hobbies over the reedbed. Had another go for the heron later, but by now the rain had set in.
The only other local news was a Roseate Tern down at Rye, a Black Tern at The Patch and a singing Marsh Warbler at Botolph`s Bridge this morning.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Grey Plovers

RSPB - 1200hrs - cool, misty, drizzle - A tour of the bird reserve, in November like weather, produced all the usual bits and pieces with the highlight being a clutch of waders at the south end of ARC, including two each of Grey Plovers, Blackwits, Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers and 3 Dunlins. A Bittern showed again over Tower Pits. Evidence of post breeding dispersal was apparent with small groups of Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings about the place going into moult. On Burrowes all the usual gulls, Cormorants and a pair of Wigeons. Plenty of activity over Dengemarsh from the Common Terns, plus 2 Garganeys, 6 Shovelers, Pochards, Dabchick, a couple of bedraggled Marsh Harriers, pinging Beardies, Raven, Cuckoo and another flyover Bittern.

                                           Grey Plovers and Blackwits, ARC

Saturday 2 June 2012

Golden Oriole

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, cloudy, e3 - The moth trap produced just 10 species this morning with Silver Y and White-point the only migrants of note.
Just as I was wrapping up news came through of singing Golden Oriole at a private garden out on the Marsh. On arrival the oriole continue with short bursts of song but soon went quiet and failed to show.
Lade/Dungeness - 1000-1300hrs Walked out to the Point with Mrs PT, past Kerton Road Pits and the Trapping Area to the Light Railway Cafe and back. Plenty of singing Mipits, Skylarks, Whitethroats and Linnets noted plus Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and Hobby. Looking around at flowers found a bleached out patch of Dodder which was a bit unusual.

                                         Dodder, a parasitic string-like plant

Friday 1 June 2012

BBS Lade

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, dry and cloudy - A perfect summers morning for checking out the breeding birds at Lade. In all 66 species noted of which 47 showed some indication of breeding; the highlights being fledged young of Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Dabchick, Shelduck and Wheatear, followed by probable breeding Cuckoos, Cetti`s Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, Stonechat and Water Rail. A flyover Honey Buzzard at around 1030hrs was a bonus, as was a Turtle Dove and 4 Med Gulls. Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk also noted.
An annual count of Southern Marsh Orchid spikes revealed 43 flowers, which is about average.

                                                   Southern Marsh Orchids, Lade

Galloways - 1500hrs - Had a look and listen for a reported Quail (SC) heard calling around midday, without success. However, a couple of Hobbies, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Stonechats, Mipits, Linnets and Skylarks, plus Little Owl on the Dengemarsh sheds, made the outing worthwhile.
At the southern end of ARC singles of Dunlin, Lapwing, LRP and a pair of Ringed Plovers.