Sunday 30 September 2012

September Migrants

Dungeness - 0730hrs - Sunny, mild, cloud building, sw4 - Checked the Patch where amongst the numerous Black-headed and Herring Gulls were Kittiwake, 2 Littles and a Med Gull, 5 Common and 2 Arctic Terns. Offshore a few distant Gannets, Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua.
Several small groups of Siskins came in off the sea while a number of Swallows went the other way.
On the land a steady overhead passage of Mipits, Siskins, Reed Buntings, Goldfinches and hirundines. There was no sign of yesterdays Barred Warbler, but whilst chatting to MH and BM a Greater pecker was released into the moat. On the walk back to the car we had distant views of 2 Ring Ouzels in the power station scrub, 4 Black Redstarts, 2 of which were singing, and a flock of 6 Jays that flew across the plant and briefly settled on the superstructure.
                                         Great Spotted Woodpecker, DBO

Lade - 1200hrs - Quite out of the blue I noticed a flock of passerines in the back garden conifers which comprised 8 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Goldcrests and a Common Redstart amongst several Great and Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Robins and Blackbirds. Half an hour later they`d all disappeared - incredible!
RSPB - 1400hrs - A spin around the bird reserve in blustery conditions produced a few more bits and pieces in the shape of Wheatear, Whinchat and Blackcap at the Corral, Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret on Dengemarsh, Blackwit and Dunlin on Burrowes. From Hanson hide hundreds of feral geese included a Bar-headed, plus all the usual Wigeons, Pintails, etc. Waders were thin on the ground with just 2 each of Dunlin and Golden Plover amongst 100 Lapwings.  Best of all though was a stunning albino/leaucistic Swallow with pure white wings and a buff body. Finished the day down at the pines where a couple of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs noted, plus an overhead Yellow Wagtail and a Hobby mopping up dragonflies.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Firecrest & Barred Warbler

Lade - mild, dry and sunny, w2 - A terrific start to the day with a Firecrest in the garden conifers and 2 Chiffchaffs. Did the loop walk along the pits and back along the foreshore where a few Mipits, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings over with several more of the latter, plus Chiffchaffs in the willows. The water level has now risen after the heavy rain so the islands have all but disappeared. However, 200 hirundines over the water, plus Peregrine, Kestrel, Greater pecker and Kingfisher of note. Nothing much along the beach apart from a Wheatear and 2 Ringed Plovers.
Rye Harbour NR -1100hrs - With a high spring tide all the waders were on Flat Beach with only a single Spotted Redshank of any note amongst hundreds of common shorebirds, 15 Little Egrets, 12 Shelducks, 10 Mipits, 2 Wheatears and a Merlin. In the harbour entrance a juv Eider, 15 Turnstones and 2 Sandwich Terns. The Spoonbill flew over as we approached the caravan park.

                                         Rye Harbour

                                          Barred Warbler, DBO

DBO - 1700hrs - Made it back to Dunge for the Barred Warbler which showed reasonably well in the moat for 20 minutes or so in bright late afternoon sunshine. Managed a record shot (thanks to CT for use of `scope) as it sunbathed in cover.

Friday 28 September 2012

Feathered Brindle

Lade - 0630hrs - mild, clear and dry, showers later, wind increasing to wsw5 - A cracking start to the day with Feathered Brindle and a migrant Scarce Bordered Straw in the garden moth trap. Chiffchaffs in the garden throughout the day and a steady passage of Swallows south, along with a few Mipits and Goldfinches.
Checked the pits around mid-day: Green Sandpiper on the islands, 3 Little Egrets, 2 Water Rails, 10 Chiffchaffs, Reed Warbler, Jay and Greater pecker. On north pit c1,500 Greylags and 2 Kestrels.

                                          Feathered Brindle

                                          Scarce Bordered Straw

Dungeness - 1030hrs - An hours seawatch from the hide in blustery conditions produced a steady flow of Gannets and Sandwich Terns, plus 30 Wigeons, 12 Common Scoters, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Little Gulls, 2 Med Gulls, 2 Arctic Terns, Kittiwake, 3 Arctic Skuas and hundreds of Swallows out. At the Patch, 2 Arctic Terns, 1 Common Tern, 2 Little Gulls and a Common Tern. There was no sign of yesterdays Sabine`s Gull.
Two Black Redstarts, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Wheatear around the power station wall.

Thursday 27 September 2012

An Odd Duck & Jays

Scotney - 1000hrs - cool, cloudy, dry, nw2, sunny later - Picked up the Joker for a short mornings birding locally. Once again Chiffchaffs were much in evidence in both our gardens and elsewhere today. Following heavy overnight rain we decided to check out the fields beside the pits which were full of  birds: c1000 Golden Plovers, 500 Lapwings, Grey Lags, Woodpigeons, Starlings, 20 Barwits and 5 Curlews all busily feeding, plus plenty of hirundines over the water.
Dengemarsh - Onto the bird reserve where BP informed us of a Spoonbill on Burrowes, plus Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher at Christmas Dell. We had the Great White Egret on Dengemarsh, plus Marsh Harrier and all the usual common wildfowl.
Burrowes - A quick check for the Spoonbill from Dennis`s hide drew a blank, although a Common Sandpiper and 2 Common Terns noted.
ARC - From Hanson an odd dabbling duck caught our eye. Slightly larger and longer than Teal, so more Garganey size with a two-tone bill and reddish breast and underparts, but otherwise similar to Teal. A presumed hybrid, as couldn't find anything quite like it in Wildfowl, but if anyone has an opinion please e-mail me. My digi-pics arent up to much, but hopefully Plodding Birder should be posting some proper ones

                                          Teal type dabbling duck, ARC

                                         Scarce Bordered Straw, Kerton Road Cafe

No sign of the Pec Sand, but 2 Black Terns and a Black-necked Grebe remained from yesterday and plenty of Chiffchaffs in the willows.
PB reported a sprinkling of common migrants at the Point this morning; Redstarts, Blackcaps, Chiffs etc.
Jays have been on the move of late and I had 2 flying down the avenue in Littlestone this afternoon, while 2 at the Kerton Road Cafe this morning was a site first, where 2 Scarce Bordered Straws were trapped last night.
Finally, large numbers of Swallows were streaming over the cottage this evening heading south in clear, calm weather at last.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Bonxies and Spoonbills

Dungeness  - 0930hrs - mild, sunshine and showers, ssw3 - Another day of mixed weather commenced with a seawatch at the fishing boats where PB et al had recorded several Sooty Shearwaters earlier. During my hour there was a steady passage of Gannets, Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns, 4 Little Gulls, 10 Bonxies, 2 Med Gulls, Guillemot, Common Scoter and Kittiwake. Regular pulses of hirundines, mainly Swallows, pushed out across the choppy waters heading for France.
It seemed odd to be out and about birding without my canine mate snuffling around the boats looking for rats or a fishermans bag to cock his leg up. Barney had a lump removed from his nape on Tuesday so is confined to kennels (Mrs PT currently fussing over him in front of the fire) for a week. His doggy street cred is now completely blown away as he resembles an extra from a Frankenstein movie with a cropped back and head complete with an impressive set of stitches! (see below for the gruesome details).

                                          Spoonbill, roosting on knees, ARC

                                  Juv Kittiwake, Dungeness (a digi-scope flight shot!!!!)

                                Barney, feeling sorry for himself at being left at Plovers

ARC  - From Hanson hide the 2 Spoonbills were still asleep, with one of them roosting on its knees; which immediately transformed it into a gull! The long-staying Pectoral Sandpiper was the only wader on the islands that I could see, while out on the lake a Black-necked Grebe struggled in the  choppy conditions amongst hundreds of hirundines, mainly Sand Martins and 2 Black Terns. Also noted, 6 Pintails, 2 Shelducks and a Garganey within scores of Wigeons, Shovelers, Teals, Gadwalls and Pochards etc.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

White-breasted Cormorant

Dungeness - 0845hrs - Cool, cloudy, heavy showers, sw3 - Another blustery autumnal day with heavy showers rattling across the peninsula accompanied by occasional thunder and lighting. Very little moving on the sea with just the regulation Gannets and Sandwich Terns, and most of them were distant. The adult Yellow-legged Gull remained amongst the gulls by the fishing boats.

                                          Yellow-legged Gull, Dungeness

                                         Juv Cormorant, probably of race sinensis, ARC

ARC - 0930hrs - The main talking point from Hanson hide was a juvenile Cormorant with almost pure white underparts and part of the face; the general consensus was that it was probably of the Continental race sinensis.The Pectoral Sandpiper remained from yesterday along with the 2 Spoonbills (out of sight whilst I was there). Also, 5 Dunlins, 2 Shelducks, 5 Pintails and all the usual wildfowl. Despite the increasing wind a few Chiffchaffs were noted from the Willow Trail along with Long-tailed Tits, Robins and a Reed Bunting.

Monday 24 September 2012

Firecrests & Spoonbills

Dungeness  - 0830hrs - Calm, cloudy, mild drizzle, s1 - News came through first thing concerning a Yellow-browed Warbler in a private garden on the Estate, which despite a stakeout proved to be a no show. However, compensation was more than made good by crippling views of up to 3 Firecrests. These gorgeous little sprites performed low down in cover, at times only a few feet away.
A steady southwards passage of Swallows was already underway, before the wind increased and the rain came.

                                          Spoonbills, ARC

                                          Great Crested Newt, ARC

ARC - 1530hrs - By now a near gale force wind was lashing the peninsula, although the rain had eased, and there was even a glimmer of sunshine. From Hanson most birds were hunkered down on the shingle ridges trying to hang on against the tempest. Two Spoonbills were doing what they seem to do best at Dungeness; ie sleeping, and the Pec Sand showed briefly at distance. The only other waders were several Lapwings and singles of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. A small influx of Lesser Black-backs was noteworthy, while Wigeon numbers continued to increase. A Sparrowhawk came in low over the water flushing birds from the ridges.
Of note on the access track were a couple of Great Crested Newts crossing between ponds.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Sooty Shearwaters

Lade - Cool, cloudy, rain by mid-rain, heavy pm, ese5 - An early morning foray over the pits was largely fruitless due to the strong easterly and the only migrants of note was a flock of 100 Swallows over south pit. The promised wind and rain eventually arrived by mid-morning.
Dungeness  - 0830hrs - Joined the Ashford Three at the boats for a seawatch in blustery/showery conditions. They`d already had 4 Sooty Shearwaters (one so close you could see its tubular nostrils!) and over the coming hour I also scored with a distant bird moving east. A scattering of Gannets, Guillemots and Sandwich Terns were feeding offshore, along with singles of Red-throated Diver, Little Gull and Kittiwake. Several small groups of Common Scoters and Brents moved down-Channel, plus 2 Arctic Skuas offshore and at least 10 porpoises. Best of all though was the sight of a steady passage of Swallows pushing out into the easterly and heading for the Continent.
Also noted earlier, a Leache`s Petrel (BM).
Scotney - 1500hrs - In driving rain at least 20 Barwits feeding on the grass beside the lake alongside a number of Curlews, Lapwings and Golden Plovers.
ARC - The Pectoral Sandpiper showed briefly at the southern end from the causeway road alongside 2 Dunlins.

Saturday 22 September 2012

More Chiffchaffs & Brents

Lade - 0630hrs - Cool, clear, ne3 - A chilly old wind from the north, which eventually went east by evening, but bright sunshine for most of the day. Predictably there was little of note in the moth trap this morning, apart from the seasons first Autumnal Rustic; it wont be long now before the trap is packed away until spring.
                                          Autumnal Rustic

The overnight showers delivered plenty more Chiffchaffs to the willows at Lade pits, they seemed to be everywhere with at least 100 birds, but very difficult to assess numbers with any degree of acuracy. Also noted several Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Common Redstart. The Green Sandpiper was still present on the muddy islands. Very little overhead passage apart from a few Yellow Wagtails, Mipits and 2 Bramblings, the first of the autumn. Goldfinches too were much in evidence with birds in the garden and calling overhead. On the storm beaches Wheatear, Reed Bunting and a few grounded Mipits.
RSPB - 1100hrs - ARC was quiet with just a large flock of 200 Golden Plovers and Lapwings, Snipe and Blackwit; just missed the Pectoral Sandpiper. The bushes around the car park and willow trail were alive with Chiffchaffs, tits and Chaffinches, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Reed Bunting.
The Great White Egret was reported from Dengemarsh and a scattering of common migrants included Brambling, Spotted Flycatcher and Common Redstart at the Tower pines (NB).
Dungeness - 1600hrs - At the Patch 3 Little Gulls, 2 Black Terns, 2 Med Gulls, Common and Arctic Terns. Offshore 3 Brent Geese moved down Channel, (my first of the autumn) and an Arctic Skua was getting stuck into the Sandwich Terns.

Juv Semipalmated Sandpiper V adult Little Stint

Dungeness ARC - 9th-17th September 2012 - A few thoughts on the stint/sandpiper debate surrounding the bird present at Dungeness ARC pit on the aforementioned dates. The first thing to say was that it was not seen at close range making detailed observations of feather minutia difficult to observe and none of my digi-pics were of any use. However, having studied Plodding Birders pics posted yesterday, which I am almost certain is of the same bird throughout, and comparing it with a juv Little Stint, I would proffer the following comments.
When first seen it was with an obvious juv Little Stint and appeared to be slightly larger and with a stockier bill base. Overall it appeared greyish above, white below with a flared supercilium and black bare parts which I took to be an adult Little Stint in winter plumage. This was my first mistake, as having studied PBs pics it is clearly a juvenile, judging from the condition of the neatly fringed back and wing feathers.
With the age sorted out the following point towards a juv Semip:
- obvious back V markings absent, although one pic shows a faint double line down the back
- neat double row of dark patterned scapulars (too distant to discern anchor markings) contrasting with greyer wing coverts and pale edged tertials
- white flared supercilium with contrasting dark streaked cap and obvious ear covert patch; brownish-grey breast sides.
Combine this with the size (larger that Little Stint) and stouter bill, in conclusion it was almost certainly a juv Semipalmated Sandpiper.
Fair play to Chris Batty for flagging it up and Plodding Birder for posting the pics; and if it is finally adjudged to be a Semip by the great and good, then it looks as though I cocked up, together with a few other locals! I should add that I`ve seen loads of Semipalmated Sandpipers in North America, so there really isn`t any excuse!
Please feel free to comment.
The great thing about this birding game is that you never stop learning.

Friday 21 September 2012

Little Stint/Semipalmated Sandpiper?

ARC, Dungeness RSPB Reserve -Following several telephone conversations this afternoon concerning the identity of a small calidris photographed at ARC on Monday 17th September by PB I decided to back track a little.
On Sunday 9th September I noted what I considered at the time to be, " a largish adult Little Stint almost in winter plumage" (check Plovers blog for that date). SB came in the Hanson hide and I asked his opinion as it looked a bit odd. SB commented on the thickness of the bill base, but we both agreed it was a Little Stint approaching winter plumage. I took a few digi-pics which turned out to be useless due to the range and that was that. Thankfully, PBs pics were much better.
The bird was also present throughout its stay with a juv Little Stint and it did appear to be appreciably larger, but I put that down to individual variation. In hind sight (which I have a first class honours degree!) I now regret not taking field notes.
I also saw the bird on 17th September for the last time, which was almost certainly the same individual that had been present since the 9th, and am now in the process of checking through pics of both species and deliberating; this may take a while...

Hirundines & Chiffchaffs

Lade - 0700hrs -  Cool, cloudy, light airs - An odd sort of a day weather wise with cloud cover for most of the day and not much wind. It certainly had an effect on hirundines with huge numbers all along the storm beaches and coastline from Greatstone to Kerton Road. The power lines were covered in them and there was a good mix of all three species, although mostly Swallows from what I could make out. Eventually they assembled at Dungeness and headed south over a mill-pond like Channel - what a fantastic sight. Numbers were difficult to assess but must`ve involved many thousands of birds.
The bushes around Lade and in our back garden saw a steady passage of Chiffchaffs throughout the day with more in the Trapping Area at Dungeness.
Dungeness - 0900hrs - The Patch held pretty much the same birds as yesterday, so 4 Little Gulls, 3 Black Terns and singles of Kittiwake, Common and Arctic Terns. Offshore a few Gannets and Sandwich Terns drifted by along with a maraudering Arctic Skua. A stunning adult male Black Redstart was singing from the power station with 2 others and 3 Wheatears elsewhere.

                                         Hirundines, Dungeness

                                         Chiffchaff, DBO

Thursday 20 September 2012


Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, w1 - An early morning sortie over the pits delivered good numbers of Chiffchaffs in the willows; one isolated bush held 15 birds and there must`ve been at least 50 in the area. Not much else migrant wise apart from 2 Blackcaps, Reed and Cetti`s Warbler. The Green Sandpiper remained on the muddy islands and a Kingfisher was a nice surprise as they`re not particularly common here, although this is the time of year that they seem to appear as the youngsters disperse from breeding sites. All three hirundines were over the water in good numbers and a few Mipits drifted south. Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawks also noted.
ARC - 0900hrs - Came out of Hanson just as work commenced to clear in front of the hide. Six Dunlins, 5 Goldies and a Blackwit was about it wader wise, plus all the usual wildfowl and hundreds of Sand Martins over the water. Another Kingfisher posed briefly for a digiscope shot.

                                          Kingfisher, ARC

Burrowes - 1330hrs - From the centre 3 Avocets, while from Firth the Pectoral Sandpiper eventually showed well after being flushed by a Sparrowhawk! 12 Pintails and 50 Wigeons scattered around the pit.
The Patch - Terrific session here in good light with quality birds comprising 4 Little Gulls (one very dark winged juv), 3 Black Terns, and singles of Guillemot, Kittiwake, Common and Arctic Terns. Together with TH and a group from London we watched an adult light phase Arctic Skua chase a Sandwich Tern just offshore. Further out another 50 Sandwich Terns and 20 Gannets noted, plus several pulses of Swallows making a late afternoon crossing to France.
On the walk back a Black Redstart performed well on the power station wall.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Jay & Water Rail

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, sunny, w2 - With a clear sky last night and low temperatures there was a  predictable low number of moths in the trap this morning; of just 3 species to be precise.
Anyhow, it was a stunning morning weather wise (apart from the ever present westerly airflow) with a cobalt sky and an autumnal nip in the air, infact ideal conditions in which to flog around the local patch.
Overhead passage over the next 2 hours comprised a pathetic trickle of Mipits, Sand Martins, Swallows, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Reed Bunting (O! for an easterly wind...). Raptors fared a little better with 3 Sparrowhawks, (including one chasing hirundines without much success) and singles of Merlin, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier. The willow scrub between the two pits held most of the passerines with at least 20 Chiffchaffs, 4 Cetti`s Warblers, 2 Blackcaps and singles of Reed and Sedge Warblers, plus loads of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits and a few Blackbirds, Robins and Chaffinches. Most surprising was a Jay squawking from the willows which set off several Water Rails. Over the past week or so I`ve noticed one or two Jays around the Marsh, but this is the first of the autumn on the coast. On the muddy islands Shelduck, Green Sandpiper and Water Rail amongst scores of Teals, Gadwalls, Coots and Moorhens, plus plenty of Dabchicks and Great Crested Grebes along the reedbed edge. This area looks superb for a rare crake and I shall continued to watch and hope throughout the next month or so.
I guess the spectacle of the morning was the flight of the Greylags returning from their nocturnal forays on Romney Salts; it even made Barney looked up briefly, before returning to sniff something disgusting. I know we treat them like lepers, (feral geese that is, not my dog!) but hey, they give us something to count, and sadly I tallied at least 1,300 as they splashed down on south pit. Without exception all the dog walkers comment to me what a great sight these geese make, so perhaps some of their enthusiasm is rubbing off...

          Lade South - the reedbed here gets the early morning sun and often attracts Accros

                                         Grey Lags flighting in to south pit

ARC - 1130hrs - From Hanson it was a case of the same old same old, I`m afraid, only without the Little Stints. In an hour all I could muster up were 6 Dunlin, 2 Blackwits and 25 Golden Plovers amongst 100 Lapwing. Wigeon numbers have steadily increased to 25 and 6 Pintails showed well close to the hide. A couple of Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier kept the waders and wildfowl alert while over the water there was plenty of Sand Martins. Bumped into BP on the way back to the car park who`d seen a Great White Egret on Dengemarsh but no sign of the Pec Sand on Burrowes.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Grey Wagtails

Lade - 0630hrs - cool, dry and cloudy, w2 - Haven't posted much about moths of late, that`s because by and large there haven`t been any or, at most, just a few old favourites: SHCharacters, yellow underwings, Mully Waves, Flounced Rs and the like. However, despite only 5 species this morning one was a Dusky Thorn, and new for the year.

                                          Dusky Thorn

On the storm beaches a light pre-dawn shower had grounded a few Chiffchaffs and Mipits,  Blackcap, Reed Bunting and Wheatear. Best of all were 2 Grey Wagtails overhead calling, along with several parties of Mipits, Goldfinches and Swallows. More Swallows and Sand Martins milling about over south pit, plus an influx of 180 Gadwalls and about 500 Grey Lags.
Spent most of the day up London treating Mrs PT to a belated birthday present (Jersey Boys). On the way back on the train I was again reminded how lucky I am living and working down here on the Marsh; fancy having to do that commute everyday...
As we drove across the causeway road at Dungeness the last rays of sunshine were bouncing off New Diggings and shining on the old lighthouse, as a Marsh Harrier flew over going to roost. Pure magic.

Monday 17 September 2012


Lade - 0700hrs - mild, dry, sunny - A wander around the storm beaches produced several grounded Chiffchaffs and half a dozen more calling from gardens hereabouts. A light passage of Mipits and Swallows south. A belated WeBS count was notable for 58 Great Crested Grebes.
In Ashford this morning two more Chiffs in the churchyard and 3 in the back garden at Plovers.
ARC - 1100hrs - From Hanson the only waders of note were the long-staying adult and juv Little Stints and 5 Dunlins. Plenty of Sand Martins and Swallows over the water and all the usual wildfowl. From the Willow trail more Chiffchaffs, Long-tailed Tits and a single Spotted Flycatcher.
The Pectoral Sandpiper was reported from Burrowes.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Rye Waders & Eider

Lade - 0900hrs - mild, cloudy, w4 - Kicked off the day at the local patch with a number of passerines in the willows including Chiffchaffs, Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, amongst numerous Blue and Great Tits, Blackbirds and Chaffinches and 4 singing Cetti`s Warblers. Dabchicks were much in evidence and several skeins of Greylags noisily moved down the coast numbering around 500.
On the sands from the car park the usual Curlews and Oystercatchers.
After calling in at the Kerton Road Cafe to check out the moths it was onto Galloways via Dengemarsh Road where a flock of 100 Greenfinches was noteworthy, plus 2 Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel.
Scotney Pits - The grassy spit held 100 Golden Plovers, 4 Barwits, plus singles of Blackwit and Curlew.
Rye Harbour - 1100hrs - With a high tide flooding into the new salt marsh and the beaches covered, Flat Beach was heaving with waders with no where else to go. From the hide 200 Dunlin, 150 Ringed Plovers, 50 Oystercatchers, 50 Lapwings, 10 Golden Plovers, 10 Turnstones, 6 Barwits, 5 Redshanks, 2 Sanderlings, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank. Also, 100 Great Black-backed Gulls, 20 Sandwich Terns, 10 Little Egrets, 6 Shelducks, 5 Yellow Wagtails and a Rock Pipit.

                                          Eider, River Rother, Rye Harbour

Bird of the day, however, was a very confiding Eider swimming close to shore at the mouth of the River Rother; much to the amusement of Liz from the North-East!
Walland Marsh - 1400hrs - Crossing the Marsh we had Tree Sparrows at the usual spot, a flock of 150 Yellow Wagtails on a recently harrowed spud field, Sparrowhawk, Jay and Green Woodpecker.
ARC - 1530hrs - Not much change from yesterday with 8 Dunlins and singles of Little Stint, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper the highlights.
Also reported around the bird reserve today, Pectoral Sandpiper on Burrowes and Great White Egret at Dengemarsh.
In summary, 90 species noted during the two days with plenty of waders, wildfowl (inlcuding Eider!) and raptors to enjoy for our guest.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Pectoral Sandpiper & Raptors

Dungeness - 0900hrs - Warm, dry and sunny w2 - A weekend bird tour with Liz from Northumberland commenced with a short seawatch comprising a trickle of of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, Kittiwake, 20 Swallows out and several Porpoises. On the land 3 Sparrowhawks, and a few more Swallows and Mipits over.
RSPB - 1100hrs - The Pectoral Sandpiper showed well from Firth hide this morning and has now remained faithful to this area for a week. At Dengemarsh we had brief flight views of the Great White Egret while 2 Hobbies and a Peregrine put on a much better show from the ramp, where a Kingfisher was present. Near the car park 2 Wheatears and 8 Yellow Wagtails on the shingle and a steady flow of Sand Martins and Swallows heading south. On the circular route also noted Redshank, Dabchicks, Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, Green Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Cetti`s Warbler, Chiffchaff and Little Egrets.

                                          Pectoral Sandpiper, Burrowes

At ARC from Hanson a selection of waders included 100 or so Lapwings and Goldies, 6 Dunlins, Ringed Plover, Little Stint and briefly a Pec Sandpiper (presumably the one from Burrowes), plus 5 Pintails, 6 Wigeons and all the usual eclipse wildfowl.
Also reported on the bird reserve today was a Curlew Sand on ARC, Spot Flit at the pines, Cuckoo and Redstart at Christmas Dell.
Dungeness - 1600hrs - Back at the fishing boats nothing much was moving but the Yellow-legged Gull showed well.
Throughout the day we saw plenty of butterflies, mostly whites and Red Admirals, but also Small Heaths, Speckled Wood and 2 Small Coppers, plus hundreds of Migrant Hawkers and Ruddy Darter dragonflies.

Friday 14 September 2012

Little Stint

ARC - 1100hrs - mild, dry, cloudy, w3 - A change over day, so birding restricted to a quick look from Hanson, where the Joker and BP were holding court. A small flock of Dunlins held a juv Little Stint, plus good views of 5 Pintails in front of the hide, 10 Wigeons and all the usual common wildfowl.
Also today, 4 distant Balearic Shearwaters from the Point (MH), plus Pectoral Sandpiper and  2 Gwegrets on the bird reserve (BP).

Thursday 13 September 2012

Warblers & Churches

Dungeness - 0900hr - Coolish start, sunny and dry, n2; warm later, w3 - An interesting day out and about across the Marsh and one in which wherever we went I seemed to bump into birders from home and away; starting off with the Dover Crew at Dunge, moving on to one of the Ashford Birders fishing on the RMCanal at Kenardington and ending up chatting to Bill Haines from London at Springfield Bridge. Also met a coachload of tourists, (complete with a Blue Badge guide) at St Clements Old Romney, touring Marsh churches. As I said, a day full of surprises.
Anyhow, the seawatching was slow from the hide with distant Gannets and Sandwich Terns, 2 Little Gulls, a Kittiwake and a few hirundines of note, plus up to 20 Porpoises and a Grey Seal. A mooch around the Moat delivered Sparrowhawk, Mipit and a few Yellow Wags over.
RMCanal, Kenardington - 1130hrs - A cracking session here with plenty of passerines either side of the bridge including 10 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Reed Warblers, Sedge Warbler, 10 Chaffinches, 10 Greenfinches, 20 Linnets, 4 Goldfinches, 2 Bullfinches, Reed Bunting, 2 Yellowhammers, Treecreeper, 10 each of Blue and Great Tits and a Spotted Flycatcher. Also noted a Mink.
                                         Juv Yellowhammer, RMCanal

                                          Little Owl, Dengemarsh

                                         Grey Heron, ARC

We then visited Fairfield, Brookland and Old Romney churches.
Galloways - 1600hrs - Three Stonechats, 4 Wheatears and a Kestrel here.
Springfield Bridge - 1630hrs - Finally nailed a Little Owl on the chicken sheds, plus 4 Stock Doves and 6 Pied Wagtails, a Stoat, a Great White Egret over Dengemarsh and a Merlin chasing Linnets.
ARC - 1715hrs - Finished the day at Hanson hide where just 2 Little Stints, 6 Dunlins and 3 Pintails of interest.
The bird tally for the week ended on 112 species with Pec Sand and GWEgret the only rarities but a good supporting cast of waders, wildfowl and raptors for the guests to enjoy.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Waders & Raptors

Scotney - 0900hrs - Mild, sunny, w3, cloudy by late afternoon - En-route to Rye we stopped off at Scotney where a flock of 110 Goldies and 50 Lapwings contained 4 Barwits, 3 Redshanks, Knot and Curlew. Pulled over at Jury`s Gap where a passage of raptors included 5 Common Buzzards, 4 Marsh Harriers and 2 Sparrowhawks.
                                          Goldies & Barwits, Scotney

                                          Rye Sluice

                                          Bar-tailed Godwit, Rye

                                          Greenshank, Rye

Rye Harbour - 1030hrs - A good session here, and thanks to Barry Yates for site access for the group. The new sluice by Lime Kiln Cottage afforded cracking views of a Greenshank, 5 Little Egrets and a Curlew snapping up tiddlers. On Flat Beach an enormous flock of 300 or so Ringed Plovers and Dunlins swirling around eventually disappeared out on to Camber Sands. Also here, 6 Shelducks, 2 Goldies, 4 Barwits, 4 Redshanks, 2 Knots, 4 Turnstone, Ruff and another Greenshank.
Passerines included Skylark, 10 Yellow Wags, 5 Mipits, 2 Wheatears and a steady passage of Swallows out. Ternery Pool was predicatably quiet with just 9 Dabchicks and a Merlin of note.
Pett Pools - 1330hrs - Very little of note on the pools apart from a few Dabchicks and common wildfowl, a juv Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.
Walland Marsh - 1600hrs - Drove across Walland searching for farmland birds with little success apart from 20 Tree Sparrows on the usual feeders, plus Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. A few flocks of Lapwings and corvids on the recently harvested spud fields and that was about it.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Great White Egrets

Dungeness - 0900hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, w4 - An hours seawatch from the hide produced at least 100 Gannets, mostly fishing offshore, a steady flow of Sandwich and Common Terns, Kittiwake, 2 Peregrines (chasing Common Terns)  2 distant Manxies, an Arctic Skua and several small groups of Swallows leaving these shores (and hopefully avoiding the French guns on the other side). Opposite Jarman`s, 5 Wheatears and a Black Redstart.
RSPB - 1100hrs - On the access road Hobby, Marsh Harrier, 2 Mipits, 4 Wheatears, 2 Yellow Wagtails. From the car park a Great White Egret over. On Burrowes good numbers of Sand Martins and the Pec Sand in front of Firth.
At Dengemarsh 2 Great White Egrets (100 metres apart), 4 Little Egrets, Marsh Harrier and a Herring Gull on one of the rafts that had just devoured what looked like a juv Coot, judging from the colour of the feet sticking out of its gullet.
                                         Herring Gull with a throat full of Coot, Dengemarsh
                                          Adult Yellow-legged and Herring Gulls, Dungeness

Returned to the Point for another seawatch from the boats, which was largely a waste of time, although had good views of several porpoises and an adult Yellow-legged Gull beside an adult Herring Gull.
Littlestone - 1500hrs -  Did well here with Oystercatchers, Curlews, Barwits, Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and a Redshank. Plenty of Sandwich Terns on the beach and 2 Grey Seals offshore
An evening foray for owls was largely a disappointment with just a Little Owl near Hawthorn Corner of any note. No sign of the reported Seos at Galloways.

Monday 10 September 2012

Waders & Wildfowl

Lade -0600hrs - mild, cloudy, sw3/4 - A blustery start to the day affected the number of moths in the trap with low counts all round. Very little of note over the storm beaches apart from 5 Yellow Wagtails and 30 House Martins south.
Bird Tour - Picked up Bill, Anne and Maggie from Ashford station around lunchtime, down from the West Midlands for a weeks birding on the Marsh.
Kicked off proceedings at Burrowes for the Pec Sandpiper which showed intermittently from Firth hide. Also, hundreds of Sand Martins over the water, plus a host of common wildfowl including 30 Wigeon and 4 Pintails, Common Sandpiper and Turnstone. From the access road 30 Yellow Wagtails and a Green Woodpecker.
Over on ARC from Hanson, Marsh Harrier, 3 Little Egrets,  2 Sparrowhawks, Little Stint, 7 Dunlins, 2 Garganeys, 2 Pintails and a Common Sandpiper.

                                         Pec Sand, Wigeon and Pintail, Burrowes

Sunday 9 September 2012

Pectoral Sandpiper

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny from the off, hot later, ssw3 - The last of the sunny days for a while, if the Met Office is to be believed. Nothing of note around the moth trap this morning apart from an influx of Mullein Waves and Angle Shades for some strange reason. The only visible migration over the back included a couple of Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears on the move.
Dungeness - 1100hrs - Flogged around the Desert searching for yesterdays shrike to no avail. A few Wheatears, Willow Warblers and Whitethroats in the moat was about all we could muster up. The Patch was even worse with just 10 Common Terns and a few distant passing Gannets.
Burrowes - 1400hrs - Just when I thought it was going to be a duff day the Pec Sand from yesterday came out of hiding and showed very nicely in front of Firth, before it was flushed back into cover by a Little Egret. Thought one must be due seeing as there are plenty around the country at the moment, and as always a quality wader, one I never tire of seeing.

                                         Pectoral Sandpiper, Burrowes

ARC - A feast of waders from Hanson with the bulk comprising 500 or so Goldies and Lapwings, 8 Dunlins, 3 Snipes, 3 Ringed Plovers, Blackwit and Common Sand, plus quality in the shape of 3 flyover Whimbrels, a juv Curlew Sandpiper and an interesting Little Stint which I made a largish adult almost in winter plumage. Also noted Pintail, Wigeon, Black-necked Grebe, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, 5 Little Egrets and a Wheatear on the approach to the hide.
ps: Not a bad day around the Peninsula with the juv Montys Harrier back on the Midrips (PB), plenty of chats at Galloways (DB) where 2 Short-eared Owls were seen yesterday evening (OL), GWEgret and Hobby at Dengemarsh, plus a morning report of a Red-footed Falcon by the railway gantry (Obs unknown).

Saturday 8 September 2012

Sunshine and a Shrike

Lade - 0630hrs - Bright sunshine all day, hot later 25C, s2 - Plenty of common moths in the trap this morning including some old favourites in the shape of Light Emerald and Angle Shades.
Very little movement bird wise, apart from a few Yellow Wagtails and Swallows.
                                          Angle Shades
                                          Light Emerald

Galloways - 1145hrs - A scattering of up to 10 Stonechats, 2 Whinchats and 2 Wheatears around the range road.
ARC - From Hanson the obligatory Golden Plovers and Lapwings, 8 Dunlins, 2 Common Sands, Blackwit, Snipe, Pintail, Little Gull, and 4 Wigeon. Sedge and Willow Warbler in front of the hide.
ps: A juv Red-backed Shrike was reported from the Desert this afternoon (DW) and a Pectoral Sandpiper on Burrowes (NB).

Friday 7 September 2012

Whinchats & Sparrowhawks

Lade - 0630hrs - Warm, dry and sunny sw2 - Glorious autumnal morning with bright sunshine from the off. A foray over the back delivered a cracking Whinchat on the broom,plus 20 Yellow Wags, 20 Swallows, 5 Mipits, 2 Redshanks and a Sparrowhawk over the storm beaches. On south pit a single Black-necked Grebe amongst an influx of 100 Shovelers.
                                          Whinchat, Lade
                                          Starling, Dungeness

Dungeness - 1030hrs - Had a wander around the Peninsula with Barney today (just when is that mutt going to start speaking back to me...) starting at the Patch where 50 Common and 3 Arctic Terns was about it, apart from 3 Wheatears on the beach and 2 Sparrowhawks over.
On the bird reserve throughout the day probably saw up to ten each of Sparrowhawk and Whinchat  with the majority of the latter between the Corral and Boulderwall, but also at Dengemarsh, where the Great White Egret was present, and at Galloways. The scrub at the entrance to Tower pits was profitable with a passerine flock containing mainly Chaffinches and Great Tits, but with Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat and several Chiff-Willows. At Screen hide 2 Common Sands and a Ringed Plover with the same from Hanson plus the usual Goldies and Lapwings, Little Egrets, 5 Dunlins, eclipse ducks, a Barwit, 2 Pintails and a Garganey. Another passerine flock near the hide contained mostly Long-tailed Tits.
Scotney - Walked along the cycle path checking the grass for waders but only came up with Goldies, Lapwings and a few Curlews, Redshanks and a Blackwit. Two distant Marsh Harriers on the ranges and another Sparrowhawk and Whinchat. In all a decent days birding in pleasant weather.
ps: About 2200hrs went into the garden to check the moth trap when noted the House Sparrows were all of a kerfuffle; unsurprisingly, as an owl was sat atop the fir trees! Only had the briefest of glimpses before it flew silently off but it could only have been a Long-eared Owl trying its luck at the roosting birds.

Thursday 6 September 2012

More of the Same

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, misty start, warm dry and sunny later w2 - Another Latticed Heath in the trap last night, plus Grass Emerald and all the usual Flounced and Square Spot Rustics. Very little bird movement over the pits apart from a few Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins.

                                          Latticed Heath
                                     Blackwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover & Lapwings, ARC

ARC - 1630hrs -  A quick look from Hanson revealed the 3 Black-necked Grebes from Kerton Road pit in amongst a flock of 30 Great Crested Grebes. Amongst the hundreds of Golden Plovers and Lapwing were 5 Dunlins, 4 Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Sands, Blackwit, Pintail, Garganey and Common Tern. Several Chiffs and a Cetti`s calling.
The Great White Egret was reported from Dengemarsh.