Friday 31 August 2012

Wryneck & Roseate Tern

Lade - 0600hrs - Cold! Crikey what`s going on, 8C on the garden thermometer and a stiff north-westerly making it decidedly chilly first off, although as the wind dropped throughout the day and the sun took hold, summer returned. Over the back a trickle of Yellow Wags overhead, plus a few grounded, along with a couple of Reed Buntings.

Some bloke (who shall remain nameless, but goes by the pseudonym of the Joker) kindly dropped off some chillies yesterday, but what Mrs PT didn't vouch for when she opened the package was some meat to go with the vege in the form of Shelob, a monster spider!
Dungeness - 1000hrs -  A quick scan from the seawatch hide revealed 20 Common Scoters on the sea, plus 2 Arctic Skuas milling around and a steady flow of distant Gannets. Down at the Patch 50 Common Terns were joined by 3 Arctic Terns, plus singles of Black Tern, Little Gull and a cracking adult Roseate Tern, my first of the year having missed several so far this summer. A Peregrine was toying with the Feral Pigeons over the power station and a single Whimbrel went over calling.
A text told of the Wrynecks reappearance in a private garden on the Estate and unbelievably (for me) I had 3 brief views of it whilst chatting to DB. Now that`s what you call a quality couple of hours birding.
PS: The August Wader Challenge ended on a respectable 24 species for the month, all seen at Dungeness, but with nothing of particular rarity value.

                                  Wryneck, Dungeness, 30-8-12 (Dave Bunney)

Thursday 30 August 2012

Cattle Egret

RSPB - 1045hrs - Cool, showery, w4 - Joined the Joker, plus a motley collection of locals gathered in Dennis`s hide awaiting a Cattle Egret to show, which it did, briefly, before returning to shelter in the lee of the islands from the brisk westerly. A flock of 30 Knot flew over whilst we were waiting.
A run down to Dengemarsh hide delivered Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier en-route, plus the Great White Egret just before the hide and a close Raven `cronking` overhead. With the terns gone Dengemarsh was much quieter than of late, but as we checked through the wildfowl over flew the Cattle Egret from Burrowes in company with a Little Egret which prompted a "3egret day" remark from someone one shall remain nameless...
From Springfield Bridge we relocated the said egret where it showed nicely thank you, affording a few record shots.
                                         Cattle Egret, Dengemarsh                                           
Scotney - Three Bar-headed Geese noted amongst the feral Greylags while `over the border` into deepest, darkest Sussex a large flock of c300 Golden Plovers were loafing on the spit amongst a couple of Curlews and loads of Lapwings.
We gave ARC a miss due to conservation work, but a Wood Sandpiper and several Blackwits were reported amongst the commoner waders.
ps: A Wryneck was seen in a private garden on the Dungeness Estate this evening (DB).

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Pugs & Swifts

Lade - 0600hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, w3 - A decent return in the garden moth trap this morning the highlight of which were 5 species of pugs and a cracking Green Silver-lines, plus Silver Ys, White-point and Grass Emerald. Plenty of Yellow Wagtails at the south end of Lade pits and a couple of Sparrowhawks over.
Spent most of the day at the Kerton Road Cafe cutting the wild flower meadow and eating beetroot cake! More Yellow Wags overhead here, plus a party of 5 Swifts heading south.

                                          Grass Emerald

                                          Green Silver-lines

Dungeness - 1445hr -  A 45 minute seawatch delivered very little apart from a few west bound Gannets and terns, 2 Whimbrels and singles of Common Scoter and Guillemot.
ps: MH reported an Osprey low over Dengemarsh this morning.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Wagtails and Waders

Lade - 0600hrs - Rain first off, then warm dry and sunny, w3 - Another poor catch in the moth trap last night  with just a handful of Silvers Ys and a Small Dusty Wave of any note.
However, a pre-breakie wander over the back delivered record breaking numbers of Yellow Wagtails (for me, at least). On the old conveyor belt fence line near Lade south I counted 85 perched birds, plus small groups of 10s and 20s scattered across the storm beaches and more overhead pushing south; I guess as a result of  the dawn rain shower. Throughout the day they were filtering over Lade and in the afternoon more small parties were grounded along the foreshore, many of which were feeding on flying insects amongst the grass. The August Yellow Wagtail passage across the Dungeness NNR is one of the viz mig highlights of the year and today I reckon I must`ve seen over 200 individuals in the Lade area alone.
                                          Black-tailed Godwit, ARC
ARC - 1330hrs - A host of waders here including Blackwit, LRP and Common Sandpiper at the southern end. Joined BB in Hanson hide where the following waders noted: 156 Lapwings 52 Golden Plovers, 18 Dunlins, 15 Ringed Plovers, 2 Little Stints, 2 Greenshanks, 2 Common Sands, plus singles of Ruff (wader species no. 24 for August) and Wood Sandpiper. Amongst the wildfowl, 4 Garganeys, 3 Pintails and 2 Wigeons. Also, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Little Egrets, Green Woodpecker, 200 Sand Martins and a huge adult female Marsh Harrier.

Monday 27 August 2012

Long-tailed Skuas

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and cloudy, s3 - A few migrants around the moth trap this morning included loads of Silver Y`s and several White-points, plus 20 Flounced Rustics and the delightfully named, Cream-bordered Cream Pea.

                                          Cream-bordered Cream Pea
                                          Barney `seawatching`

Dungeness - 1130hrs - After finishing breakfast for the B&B customers arrived at the fishing boats just in time to get the back end of what sounded like a memorable morning for seabirds, particularly Long-tailed Skuas. Together with PB & TI in just over an hour we had 1 Long-tailed Skua, 6 Arctic Skuas, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 25 Black Terns, 10 Common Scoters, 3 Guillemots, 2 Little Gulls and a steady flow of Gannets and Commic Terns. However, logged thoroughout the morning were 10 Long-tailed, 120 Arctic, 3 Pom and 10 Great Skuas, 10 Balearic, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, 300 Black Terns and a Sabine`s Gull.
It appears that there were many more Long-tailed Skuas at various seawatching spots around the English coastline, particularly in Devon, thanks in part, to the south to south-easterly wind

Sunday 26 August 2012

Montagu`s Harrier

Lade - 0600hrs - dry, bright and sunny, sw3 - Didn't bother to run the moth trap last night as it was so windy, but on the insect front a smart bush-cricket sat on the window ledge this morning posed an id problem. I eventually narrowed it down to a Grey Bush-cricket, but if anyone knows different please let me know.

                                          Grey Bush-cricket, Plovers
Littlestone - 1100hrs - A stroll along the beach delivered the expected waders: 35 Turnstones, 12 Ringed Plovers, 10 Sanderlings, 4 Dunlins, Curlews and Oystercatchers.
Lydd Ranges - 1400hrs - Spent the afternoon walking out to the Wickes from Galloways for a Montys Harriers found earlier in the day. Eventually had distant views in the heat haze of a rufous-fronted juvenile hunting over a reed bed. Also on the walk out and back a ringtail Hen Harrier, 4 Kestrels, 5 Curlews, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Ruff, 6 Redshanks, 2 Little Egrets, 4 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears and single of Mipit, Skylark and Reed Bunting.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Balearic Shearwater

Lade - 0600hrs - Strong to gale force south-westerly, showery, low cloud, mild - What a contrast to yesterday morning, with a fair old blow coming up-Channel off the Atlantic. Despite the unfavourable conditions White-point and Iron Prom in the garden moth trap this morning.
Dungeness - 1030hrs - The full force of the wind could be felt in the shuddering seawatch hide as the spray whipped in through the slots. Did a brief 30 minutes during which time a steady passage of terns and Gannets noted, plus 3 Arctic Skuas, several Kitts, Little Gull and Fulmar; earlier more skuas, plus 3 Balearics and a reported Sooty Shearwater.
1400hrs - Round 2 from the fishing boats eventually, after 90 minutes, yielded my first Balearic of the summer heading east, plus more Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, 6 Arctic Skuas, 10 Kitts, 2 Fulmars and an Arctic Tern. A RNLI boat (not the Dungeness one) was making heavy going of the big sea and was "going green", as us old sea dogs would say.
ARC - Nothing much happening on Burrowes from the Visitors Centre, although the GWEgret was on the board for Dengemarsh. From Hanson a scattering of waders: Golden Plover, Common Sands, Dunlins, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, a Black Tern and at least 4 Garganeys amongst the dabblers.
NB: Whilst there a bloke confidently called out, "Kentish Plover". Here we go I thought, but I kept mum and scanned around to where the putative plover was supposed to be, only to find a juv Ringed Plover, albeit quite a pale one (apparently, one was also claimed here yesterday, a Kentish that is). Anyhow, this went on for a bit, but when someone else came in and matey tried to convince the newcomer of his find I donned my best diplomatic hat and went into the fray, calmly pointing out the finer points of plover identification, and emphasising how tricky wader id is and all the while trying not to put the bloke down. I mean, lord knows we`ve all made cocks up, and hopefully can look back, learn and have a chuckle. But no way, Mr I`m Right and You`re Wrong was having none of it, a Kentish Plover it was, and that`s that. So, not wanting to spoil his `find` any further I shuffled off in a cowardly fashion, eager to avoid a confrontation, and returned to the car to see whether QPR had claimed their first win of the season...

                                          Iron Prominent
                                          Juv Kittiwake, DBO

                                         Lifeboat, "going green"

Friday 24 August 2012

Jersey Tiger & Red Arrows

Lade - 0600hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Another stunning morning following a muggy night with light airs and cloud cover, just perfect for moths. And, first moth in the trap was a splendid Jersey Tiger, new for the site, followed by an Iron Prominent, (scarce here) and a total of 25 species. Whilst emptying the trap a Tripit called overhead followed by several Yellow Wags.
Dungeness  - 0900hrs - Flogged around the Desert and the edge of the Trapping Area with little success apart from a few Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and Greater pecker.
Called in at the Kerton Road Cafe on the way home to talk moths and swill tea when the Red Arrows passed over the Marsh en-route to showing off somewhere.

                                          Jersey Tiger

                                          Red Arrows

                                          Little Gull, ARC

ARC - 1400hrs - From Hanson 14 Ringed and 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 5 Dunlins, 3 Common Sandpipers, 3 Garganeys, 2 Wigeons and singles of Golden Plover and Little Gull. Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler from the Willow Trail.
ps: Beautiful Marbled in the Obs trap last night.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Raptor Watch

Lade - 0600hrs - Cool, dry, sunny start, warm later - Another poor night in the moth trap due to a breezy start to the night, probably... With only 7 species present there were more Willow Warblers in the garden this morning than moths! Over the back a few WWs, Whitethroat, Wheatear, a couple of grounded Yellow Wags amongst the sun-scorched grasses and best of all a Tripit over calling.
Dungeness - 1000hrs - In company with TG, PB & BM a raptor watch from the moat bund proved both worthwhile and entertaining (there`s nothing like distant raptors in a heat haze for a bit of stringing/mis-identification!). And most views were distant, with BoPs taking a line from Lade due south-west over Pen Bars and out across the bay. Totals for two hours included 14 Sparrowhawks, 5 Kestrels, 3 Marsh Harriers and an Osprey. Elsewhere, a scattering of WWs, Whitethroats and Wheatears.

                                          Film Crew, Dungeness

                                          Juv Common Tern, DBO
                                          Juv Kittiwake, DBO

Fishing Boats - 1700hrs - Just about managed a regulation hour staring at a flat calm sea with few birds, apart from 30ish fishing Common and Sandwich Terns, a few Gannets and singles of Kittiwake and Black Tern. Got a bit bored, so tried digi-scoping birds in flight, without much success (see above for proof). Even Barney got cheesed off, until a rat popped out from under a pile of old nets. He went at in true terrier style with shingle flying everywhere, not sure what he would have done if it had shown itself though, probably run a mile...

Wednesday 22 August 2012


Dungeness - 0830hrs - warm, dry and sunny, w3-4 - Spent the day birding the Peninsula with Wendy and Doug from Woodchurch concentrating on seabirds and waders. We kicked off with an hour in the Seawatch hide where a steady movement of westward terns comprised mainly Common and Sandwich with the odd Arctic or two. Also, 50 Gannets fishing offshore (with that again moving through), 3 Arctic Skuas, 2 Dunlins and half a dozen Harbour Porpoises. En-route to the Patch singles of Whinchat, Whitethroat, Pied Wagtail and 20 Linnets along the shingle bank. All the usual Common and 2 Arctic Terns over the boil with a Kittiwake on the beach amongst a 100 or so gulls. Called in at the Obs where a couple of Marsh Harriers were soaring over the Desert, plus a Kestrel on the wires.
Littlestone - 1130hrs - A scan for shorebirds revealed 50 each of Curlews and Oystercatchers, 2 Knots, Redshanks and Grey Plovers.
Scotney - 1215hrs  - A scattering of Yellow Wagtails and Curlews amongst the sheep flocks, plus 60 Golden Plovers, 50 Lapwings and a Common Sandpiper on the Sussex side. Also a Wheatear near Lydd.
RSPB -1245hrs - Highlights here included a Wood Sandpiper on Burrowes, the Great White Egret back at its usual haunt on Dengemarsh, Whimbrel over calling and several Marsh Harriers.
Much better on the ARC side with hundreds of Sand Martins and a Black Tern over the water, 4 Common Sands, 3 LRPs, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Dunlins, 4 Garganeys, 3 Shelducks, 2 Wigeons, 2 Yellow Wags and all the usual eclipse wildfowl.

                                          Whinchat, DBO

                                          Nearly finished Patch hide

                                          Old Faithful

                                          Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Fishing Boats

Dungeness - 1545hrs - Spent the last hour seawatching from the concrete road where we had improved views of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns, 2 Little Terns and an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the beach.
In summary a satisfactory days birding in good company with the highlight being for Wendy and Doug the 3 skuas and the constant stream of terns and Gannets.
ps: just missed 2 Roseate Terns passed the boats at about 1700hrs! (PB)

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Romelaere Nature Reserve

Romelaere NR -0900hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Went over-the-water on a very sultry airless day. After dropping Mrs PT and friends off in St Omer I moved on to the nearby wetland reserve at Romelaere which comprises a series of ponds and lakes set amongst canals, drainage ditches, scattered poplars and market garden fields. To be honest I wasn't expecting much as it was the `wrong` time of year, getting on in the day and the French gunners are active in August.
However, the willow scrub and reeds were alive with warblers, mostly Willows, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, but also Reed, Cetti`s and best of all 2 enormous Great Reed Warblers crashing about near the boardwalk at the reserve entrance. Willow Tits were seen and heard at two locations along with Bullfinches, Goldcrest, Great and Long-tailed Tits. From the hide overlooking the Cormorant colony had brief views of a Golden Oriole flying between two stands of poplars, Common Sandpipers around the margins, Common Terns, Little Egret and a flock of 10 Whimbrel overhead that attracted a couple of reports from the gunners. There were few ducks on the water due to the shooting and I did see one `winged`Gadwall fall out of the sky and crash into the trees. Also noted, Green and Greater peckers, a Serin by the car park and several Turtle Doves. The farmland held several large flocks of Goldfinhes and Linnets, Kestrel, Hobby and Buzzard.
No sign of Little Bittern or Bluethroat, but I guess they could`ve dispersed by now.
A couple of hours in late afternoon in the adjacent forest delivered the two woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, 2 Common Buzzards and a Honey Buzzard.
So, all in all, not a bad little jolly and memorable for the GRWs and Willow Tits. 

                                         Romelaere NR, Pas-de-Calais

Monday 20 August 2012

Moths, an Osprey & 2 Grey Seals

Lade - 0530hrs - Foggy start, warm dry sunny later - Much better last night with 30 species in the moth trap including a rake of Silver Ys, first White-point for a while and a stunning Gold Spot. Several Willow Warblers around the garden and 2 Whimbrels over south in the afternoon.
The mist eventually burnt off by late morning. Around mid-day, whilst sitting in the garden, the local Herring Gulls went into a mega frenzy. A normal frenzy usually results in a Grey Heron getting the treatment but this was different, the intensity of their distress could only mean one thing - a large raptor, and sure enough I just caught sight of an Osprey flying down the coast at about 100 feet being pursued mercilessly by the HGs.
In the afternoon whilst having a swim 2 Grey Seals approached close to shore inspecting the wallowing humans.
Dungeness - 0830hrs - A wander around in the murk produced very little although up to 50 Willow Warblers, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and a Common Redstart were located in the Trapping Area (TG).
However, of interest was the first Obs record of Jersey Tiger and an Oak Processionary in the fridge.

                                          Gold Spot

                                          Juv Fox (from yesterday) hunting frogs, ARC

Sunday 19 August 2012

Marsh Moths & Honey Buzzard

Lade - 0600hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, e2 - Another muggy morning, even down here on the coast, but by early afternoon the cloud came over delivering a few bits of drizzle and the wind swung to all points of the compass. A disappointing catch in the moth trap last night in what seemed to be ideal weather conditions. However, we went out to Marshman`s place to look at his catch where every egg box was stuffed with moths, a selection of which are depicted below.
Whilst doing the WeBS count this afternoon a south bound Honey Buzzard came through attracting the attention of the Herring Gulls; a short while later it was clocked on the bird reserve (SB) heading back north!


                                          Chinese Character

                                          Rosy Rustic

                                          Light Emerald

ARC -1500hrs - Appears to have been a clear out of waders on ARC as only 2 Common Sands, 2 Ringed Plovers and singles of Dunlin and LRP on the shingle islands. A juv Marsh Harrier scattered the ducks and several small flocks of Sand Martins pushed on south. From Screen hide 6 Garganeys and young fox hunting frogs. Plenty of Sedge and Reed Warblers in the reeds.
Over the `other-side` a Great White Egret had returned to Dengemarsh, while a Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and a selection of passage warblers were noted in a private garden on the Dungeness Estate (DB).

Saturday 18 August 2012

Bird Fair 2012

Rutland Water - Hot, dry and sunny - Spent the day up-country at the Bird Fair in very humid conditions; it was particularly sultry in the marquees. Caught up with plenty of old birders from Beds/Herts, plus the usual suspects from the Marsh, did a bit of networking and general nosing around as the first time we`ve been for 6 years, and yes it has got much bigger. A great day out though.

                                          Dunstable`s Finest!!

Friday 17 August 2012

Flava Wagtails

Lade  - 0600hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, hot later, s2 - Another cracking, hot summers day with a slight southerly breeze just taking the edge off the heat. 24 species in the moth trap last night including another Maiden`s Blush, 10 migrant Silver Ys and 20 Flounced Rustics.
From the off a noticeable passage of flava wagtails throughout the morning passing over the cottage and along the foreshore, where several small flocks were grounded. Plenty of butterfly activity with Holly Blues, Red Admirals, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells around the garden.
Due to the hot weather we decided it was high time that Barney had his bi-annual haircut and bath, being as he`d developed a `lions mane` and had started to ming a bit of late. Mrs PT was on the razor and scissors while I pinned him down. After about 90 minutes we`d filled a bucket with hair and the old boy was behaving as good as gold (I`d bribed him with the promise of a rice bone), until that is Mrs PT ran the bath... Now, anyone who knows Barney will agree as terriers go he`s pretty well behaved, but this mutt does not like water; he gives me that, "do I look like a Labrador" attitude. Anyhow, I eventually rugby tackled him by the shed, wrapped in a blanket and dumped him in the soap sudsy bath where Mrs PT did the business. The next problem was getting him out, but after much slipping and sliding with towels at the ready we got him back out into the dust bowl of a garden where he proceeded to run around in circles and roll in the dust until dry. What a performance!

                                          Barney in summer plumage

                                          Small Tortoiseshell, Plovers

ARC - 1200hrs - A slight change in the waders from Hanson with 2 juv Knots in front of the hide along with 6 Ringed Plovers, 5 Common Sands, 2 Little Stints and a single Dunlin. Little Egret, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine also noted, plus a large movement of Sand Martins over and a couple of Swifts around the water tower. At least 10 more flava wagtails here too.

Thursday 16 August 2012


Lade - 0600hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, sw3 - A few Silver Y`s were the only migrants in the trap from last night.
Dungeness - 1040hrs - Had a run around with the Joker this morning starting off with a 45 minute seawatch from the concrete road where there was 4 Wheatears. Offshore a steady flow of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns, 3 Black Terns, 2 Kitts and the highlight, a cracking close light phase adult Arctic Skua. Also, 70 Sand Martins heading out.

                                         Common Terns, Dengemarsh

                                         Juv Cuckoo, Dengemarsh

ARC - A decent collection of waders from Hanson included 34 Redshanks (the most I`ve seen here for ages), 5 Ringed Plovers, 5 Common Sands, 3 Dunlins, 2 Little Stints and a Snipe. Also, 2 Little Egrets, Marsh Harrier, 2 Swifts, 20 Sand Martins, plus a mixed flock of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits and a Chiff in the willows. From Screen 3 Garganeys, 2 Little Egrets, 2 LRPs and a Wigeon.
Dengemarsh -After a natter and a cuppa at Boulderwall we finished at Dengemarsh hide where a late Common Tern chick remained on a raft, plus attendant adult. A Hobby passed overhead while a juv Cuckoo showed well on a nearby gate. Elsewhere, a Pied Flycatcher was reported near Hooker`s.