Friday 30 November 2012

A Trio of Divers

Dungeness - 0900hrs - Cold, sunny, nw 2 - The first proper frost of the winter last night and a cracking sunny morning to follow. Kicked off at the Point where a short seawatch delivered a superb flight view of a knuckle-headed Great Northern Diver alongside a Red-throated for comparison. Plenty more Red-throats, Great Crested Grebes, Guillemots, Kittiwakes coming and going and on the sea, plus 12 Common Scoters, 8 Shelducks and a few Gannets down-Channel.
New Diggings - Found a diver close to the causeway road, looking into the light, which eventually showed well enough to be identified as a juv Black-throated Diver. Loads more wildfowl on ARC, particularly Gadwall and Pochard of which there must have been several hundreds. In the car park at least 20 Tree Sparrows, 15 Chaffinches and a Brambling.
Walland Marsh - A drive across the Marsh delivered hundreds of winter thrushes feeding on hawthorn berries and in the stubble fields. Ten Corn Buntings at Midley was noteworthy, plus small flocks of Linnets, Mipits and Chaffinches. Raptors included 2 each of Kestrel and Common Buzzard.
Scotney - A text from PB told of a Slavonian Grebe at the western end of the pits. All the usual feral geese, ducks and plovers here plus a Merlin overhead chasing a Mipit.
ps: Five Waxwings were reported in the lane opposite Cheyne Court triangle last thing this afternoon, (TH, PB). Elsewhere today, Smew and Great White Egrets on the bird reserve, Glaucous Gull at Dungeness and more Waxwings in Folkestone.
Promises to be an interesting weekend ahead ...

Thursday 29 November 2012

Song Thrushes & Siskins

Lade - 0800hrs - Cold, sunny, nw 4 - Another nippy morning, but good to see the sunshine again. Seemed to be a bit of cold weather movement going on today with at least 10 grounded Song Thrushes on the storm beaches and several more coming in high off the sea, along with small flocks of Starlings and Siskins. On the pits 3 Shelducks were new and the Long-tailed Duck was on south pit for a change.
ARC - 1500hrs - More Song Thrushes and Siskins on the walk down to the pines where also 2 Redpolls, Greater pecker, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. Three Marsh Harriers headed towards the bird reserve at dusk, while Kingfisher, Dabchick and Bittern noted from Screen hide. The day ended with a stunning blood-red sunset.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Tawny Owl

Lade - 0900hrs - Cold, cloudy, n 4 - A nippy morning with a brisk wind out of the north. Plenty of birds about though, including good views of 2 Kingfishers perched in brambles in the shelter of the willows. A passerine flock held several Goldcrests, Long-tailed Tits and a Chiffchaff. Two Cetti`s Warblers also seen nearby and at least 4 Water Rails calling. On the pits an influx of Pochards with at least 200 on north pith where the Long-tailed Duck remained.
The skies above the farmland towards the airport was full of birds, thanks to a marauding Peregrine, mainly Lapwings, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves and Starlings. Also, 3 Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel.

New Romney - On the outskirts of town around midday I heard the distinctive `kee-wick` call of a Tawny Owl from a clump of trees. Quickly grabbing the bins I located it atop a poplar being mobbed by 2 crows and a Magpie. Needless to say it didn`t stay put for long and soon flew off to the north. This was my first ever sighting of a Tawny Owl on the Marsh; a classic time of year for juvs being `moved on` from their natal woodlands by the adults.
Scotney - A massive flock, several thousand strong, of Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Starlings on the wet fields, plus scores of Wigeon, Teal and the flock of feral Barnacles.
Lade - Finished off at the aerial mound for roosting birds in the willows, where the highlight was 35 Magpies, plus 50 Woodpigeons and 3 Little Egrets.

Tuesday 27 November 2012


Dungeness - 0830hrs - Mild, cloudy, w 2 - The day started mercifully dry and with little wind, however that all changed around noon as showers set in and the wind swung round to a chilly northerly. Wandered down to the Patch where very little of note apart from the expected Black-backs and Bhgulls over the boil. Offshore a few distant Kittiwakes, Gannets and auks, plus a steady flow of Red-throated Divers both ways; a Great Northern was noted on the sea by PB at 0930hrs. The Glaucous and Yellow-legged Gulls were on the shingle by the fishing boats. Few passerines of note apart from Pied Wagtails and Greenfinches.

                                          Brents, Lade

Lade - At least 4 Marsh Harriers hunting behind the `mirrors`; no doubt taking advantage of the weather conditions. On north pit 3 Brents briefly dropped in and the Long-tailed Duck remained on station at the swing bridge end.

Monday 26 November 2012

Wet, Wet, Wet...

Dungeness - 0900hrs - Mild, very wet, windy, w 4 - Another day dominated by the weather with heavy rain for much of the day turning our local, poorly constructed roads into water courses. I cant remember seeing so much standing water around the peninsula; still, at least we haven`t got any rivers to cause the problems they`re experiencing in the West Country.
Birdwise it was a bit of a waste of time with little of note. Called into Hanson hide where just the usual wildfowl struggling to feed in the tempest, including 2 Goldeneyes. A Great White Egret was seen from the causeway road, while out on the Estate had distant views of the 3rd winter Glaucous Gull over by the fishing boats.
Lade - 1500hrs - However, the second soaking of the day did yield the Long-tailed Duck on north pit, but had to take shelter under the old conveyor belt bridge whilst scanning south pit such was the rain intensity. Anyhow, Barney seemed to enjoy himself chasing a border collie along the main track for all he was worth. Wish I had some of his energy...

Sunday 25 November 2012

Wildfowl, Egrets & Marsh Harriers

Lade - 0800hrs - Mild, sunshine and showers, w 5 - Another stormy night with gale force winds lashing the peninsula, and finally putting paid to the garden fence and summer house roof. The strong wind continued throughout the day along with some hefty showers.
All the usual wildfowl including 2 Goldeneyes and a Long-tailed Duck on north pit. Despite the wind 3 Marsh Harriers were already hunting over the farmland near the airfield. Two Little Egrets and a Kingfisher also noted.
RSPB Reserve - 1030hrs - Crossing the causeway road 6 Little and 2 Great White Egrets noted on New Diggings, plus 200 Lapwings, 2 Goldeneyes and a Pintail on ARC. Led a walk for RSPB and 12 beginners during which we concentrated on wildfowl on Burrowes, of which there were large numbers of Coot, Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck and Pochard, plus odds and ends of Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Grey Lag. At least 6 Marsh Harriers were noted over the Oppen Pits battling against the wind and rain; I guess they`d had a tough day yesterday in the constant rain and were desperate for food. The only little `uns we had was a flock of Long-tailed Tits in front of Firth hide, several Goldcrests and Robins in the nearby willows and 5 Linnets over Scott hide.

                                          Wigeon, Burrowes

Friday 23 November 2012

Duck, Swan & Crane

Lade - 0830hrs - Mild, cloudy, sw2 - Following a rough old night with gale force winds and heavy rain today dawned relatively benign. The Long-tailed Duck was still present on north pit, and remains remarkably faithful to the section of water opposite the bend in the causeway and the `mirror` swing bridge. Had good views of Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler here, plus a Firecrest in a mixed flock of tits, Goldcrests and Chiffchaff. Also, Kingfisher, Little Egret and Green Woodpecker.
There was a bit of excitement (we don`t get out much down here!) on the beach this morning where a putative acoustic mine was beached following last nights storm. The Coastguards had cordoned the area off while the Bomb Squad dealt with the offending item. In the end it turned out to be part of a trawl bobbin!
Walland Marsh - Plenty of Fieldfares in the hedgerow lanes across the Marsh, plus small flocks of Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows at the usual sites and a few Mipits, Skylarks, Goldfinches and 2 Greater peckers. Raptors included a stunning male Hen Harrier near Hawthorn Corner and a Buzzard feeding on a Mallard near the model flying club. Chatted to BB and DG at Midley where the 2 Whooper Swans were still within the Mute flock. Also had distant flight views of the Common Crane near Newlands Farm.

                                          Long-tailed Duck, Lade

                                          Putative "Mine", Lydd-on-Sea

                                          Whooper Swan, Midley

                                          Fox, Dungeness

Burrowes - Hundreds of wildfowl here plus 4 Great White Egrets from Dennis`s hide; earlier 5 Avocets briefly dropped in. From the access road a blackish fox showed no fear as I got out of the car to snap a pic; it looked in poor condition, as many are down here.
Scotney - A bit like a WWT reserve these days what with all the feral wildfowl including Barnacle, Snow/Emperor and Bar-headed Geese and a Black Swan. Also, several hundred Lapwings and Golden Plovers, plus a lone Avocet.
ARC - 1500hrs - From Hanson all the usual wildfowl including 2 each of Pintail and Goldeneye, 3 Marsh Harriers, Long-tailed Tits and calling Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler. From Screen hide a superb end to the day with a golden light on the reedbed where a Bittern showed well, sky-pointing as a Sparrowhawk went over, plus several `pinging` Beardies, Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers.
ps: Anyone planning a visit this weekend should be able to connect with most of the above, and don't forget the 2 Snow Buntings at St Mary`s Bay and the Glaucous Gull at the fishing boats.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Long-tailed Duck

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Mild, sunny, ssw 6 - Driving down the coast road I followed a Merlin doing a steady 30 mph into the head wind. At the point wandered down to The Patch in very windy conditions, where just the usual gulls and very little else moving on the sea. A few passerines on the land including 15 Goldfinches, 12 Greenfinches and a scattering of Mipits and Pied Wagtails, while a pair of Ravens made light of the wind over the power station.
Lade - 1500hrs - The wind had picked up to near gale force by now making viewing very difficult. On north pit the Long-tailed Duck was in its usual spot over near the swing bridge. Few birds came to roost in the willows apart from 20 Magpies, 2 Little Egrets and 50 odd Woodpigeons.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Grebes & Guillemots

Dungeness - 0745hrs - Mild, cloudy, ssw 5 - Another blustery day with the wind swinging round to the west and reaching near gale force by early afternoon. An hour and a bit at the fishing boats delivered scores of Great Crested Grebes and Guillemots on the sea, plus 5 Red-throated Divers. As yesterday there were plenty of Gannets on the move offshore, but fewer Kittiwakes, 10 Common Scoters and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. A grey seal was also noted. The 3rd winter Glaucous Gull was on patrol as usual, and must be a candidate for the most photographed of its kind ever.
  Didn't do much else this afternoon due to the weather, but noted one of the Great White Egrets hunkered down on New Diggings on the bird reserve as I crossed the causeway road.

                                          3rd winter Glaucous Gull, Dungeness

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Snow Buntings & Scaup

Dungeness - 0845hrs - Mild, cloudy, mainly dry, ssw5 - Joined PB at the fishing boats for a brief seawatch with a blustery onshore wind bringing plenty of seabirds close to shore. Large numbers of Guillemots and Great Crested Grebes were on the water along with a scattering of Red-throated Divers. More auks passed around the point, plus a steady flow of Gannets and mainly Kittiwakes. Six Common Scoters moved west as did a cracking close drake Red-breasted Merganser.
The Glaucous Gull was on patrol along the beach and the adult Yellow-legged Gull was roosting amongst the Herring Gulls. A 3rd winter Caspian Gull was reported from The Patch.
St Mary`s Bay - 1400hrs - Managed to find the 2 Snow Buntings on the beach easily enough, but trying to digi-scope them was another matter, what with the wind and fading light, so all I got was a couple of dreadful record shots. Fascinating watching them delicately stripping dead grass seeds from the stems.

                                          Snow Buntings, St Mary`s Bay

Scotney - In the gloom just managed to see the female/immature Scaup at the Sussex end of the pit found earlier by OL; Scaups having become something of a scarcity over recent winters at a site that formerly was noted for them. All the usual feral wildfowl around including Bar-head Goose and Black Swan, plus 100 Goldies on the grass fields beside the lake at the Kent end. OL also reported the Common Crane and 2 Whooper Swans at Midley this afternoon.

Monday 19 November 2012

Long-tailed Duck

Lade - 0800hrs - Mild, dry, cloudy s2 - Wandered down to Kerton Road pit first thing but nothing much to report on the water. En-route a trickle of Mipits, Skylarks, Goldfinches and a Redpoll overhead. The Long-tailed Duck remained on north pit along with a couple of Goldeneyes. Several Marsh Harriers hunting over by the airfield, plus 2 Kestrels and a Common Buzzard.
ARC - 1200hrs - Several more Goldeneyes on the lake amongst the Wigeon, Pochard and Teal, a Med Gull over and 2 Marsh Harriers was about it. On New Diggings 3 more Goldeneyes and a Great White Egret and another on Burrowes.
ps: The Glaucous Gull was seen at the point and 2 Snow Buntings were on the beach at Littlestone (PB).

Sunday 18 November 2012

WeBS, Harriers & a Crane

Lade - 0800hrs - Cool, dry, sunny, light airs - After the gloomy weather conditions of the past few days was good to see sunshine and blue skies; just the job for counting wildfowl and raptors. A thorough check of boths pits resulted in the most numerous waterfowl being 352 Coots, whilst in amongst the diving ducks were 2 Goldeneyes and a juv Long-tailed Duck on north pit. Plenty of other bird activity around the site including both woodpeckers, 2 Kestrels, 4 Marsh Harriers and singles of Reed Bunting, Cetti`s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Kingfisher.

                                          Lade `Mirror`

                                         Romney Bay Hotel, Littlestone

Littlestone - A stroll along the beach in warm sunshine, while pleasant, failed to deliver yesterdays Snow Bunting. All I could muster were several Mipits and Pied Wagtails, roosting Turnstones and Sanderlings on the shingle, plus a grey seal just offshore.
Somewhere on Walland Marsh - 1500hrs - Accompanied Marshman on the monthly harrier roost count on a glorious afternoon/evening with absolutely no wind and bright skies. En-route plenty of winter thrushes seen along the lanes, plus more thrushes and Lapwings on the walk to the roost site. The adult Common Crane showed well throughout the stake out before flying off at sunset. Bearded Tits and Water Rails sounded off in the reedbed while at least 30 Snipe came and went, also 4 Ruff, 50 Golden Plovers and 200 Lapwings. Raptors included at least 4 Common Buzzards, Peregrine, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, plus a total of 29 Marsh Harriers coming to roost over a 25 minute period. We also had flight views of a Bittern and an `eared ` owl. As we left over 1,000 Grey Lags came in to roost on the open water. A fitting end to a terrific day.

                                          Common Crane, Walland Marsh

Saturday 17 November 2012

Grey Wagtail & a `Ringtail`

Pigwell Pit - 1100hrs - Mild, overcast, light airs - Checked out the washout pit at Pigwell this morning and the nearby fishing lake both of which were devoid of wildfowl. The sewage works did however deliver 2 Grey Wagtails, which are never easy to see down here, plus 10 Pied Wagtails, 3 Mipits and a Stonechat. A stubble field was full of corvids, Woodpigeons and Stock Doves and a flyover Common Buzzard received the full treatment from the Herring Gulls.
Scotney - A thorough search of all Crane friendly fields drew a blank but did see 3 Marsh Harriers and a `ringtail` on the Sussex side, plus loads more corvids, gulls, Lapwings and Starlings in the fields. The flooded fields beside the pit at the Kent end was also full of birds with rough counts of 500 Goldies, 300 Lapwings, 200 Wigeons, 200 Starlings and a scattering of Dunlins, Redshanks and Curlews.
Greatstone Beach - 1530hrs - As always a marvellous spectacle with the waders and gulls streaming back onto the sands to feed: 550 Oystercatchers, 150 Sanderlings, 100 Dunlins, 25 Barwits, 15 Grey Plovers, 10 Knots and 5 Redshanks. Of the gulls at least 200 Common Gulls was a notable count.

                                         Greatstone Beach

ps: Elsewhere today a Snow Bunting was seen on the beach at Littlestone (PB), while Pallas`s Warbler, Glaucous Gull and Little Auk were reported from Dungeness.

Friday 16 November 2012

Pallas`s Warbler & White-fronts

Lade - 0830hrs - Overcast, misty, occasional drizzle, se2 - I donned the welly boots this morning and waded into the willow swamp in search of passerines, but all I could muster up were 5 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff in the canopy, plus 2 Cetti`s and 2 Water Rails down below. Elsewhere around the site small numbers of grounded Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings noted along with singles of Greater and Green peckers, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Every patch of scrub seemed to have a Wren in it, so maybe they too were migrants. The usual wildfowl on the pits including 2 Goldeneyes, plus a flock of 5 flyover Shelducks and 2 Snipe.

                                          Greater pecker & Kestrel, Lade

The new Patch Hide, plus 3 dodgy looking geezers... (especially the one with the moustache!)

Dungeness - Yesterdays Pallas`s Warbler and Firecrest remained in the Old Lighthouse garden but were nowhere near as obliging today, much to the frustration of a steady flow of birders (TG had another PW in the Trapping Area this morning). Wandered over to the Obs noting a few Goldcrests, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes along the way, plus more Wrens, 15 Greenfinches, a Brambling and 12 Goldfinches. It was then onto the new Patch hide with OL, PB, & TG where we met representatives from the power station for a few piccies in the hide for publicity purposes. Nothing much on the sea apart from a passing Gannet and Red-throated Diver, although the viz was terrible. At the boats the Glaucous and Yellow-legged Gulls were still present.
Dengemarsh Gully - Very little here apart from more Wrens and Goldcrests, a few Song Thrushes and Redwings plus singles of Merlin and Little Egret.
ARC - Whilst chatting to a couple of birders in the car park a flock of 7 White-fronts flew over heading east and were my first of the autumn. More `crests and Chiffs on the walk to the pines where a Great White Egret flew over in the gloom.
Lade - Finished up back at the local patch for roosting birds. Magpies reached 25 in number and a couple of hundred Starlings came in, plus 50 Woodpigeons and 2 Little Egrets. The Long-tailed Duck reappeared for the first time this week in the gully by the swing bridge and in fading light 2 Marsh Harriers headed towards roost sites on the bird reserve.
In summary, a tidy days birding in typical murky November type weather.

Thursday 15 November 2012

More Pallas`s Warblers

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Mild, cloudy, se2 - A wander around the point delivered a few migrants in the shape of Goldcrests in the scrub with one or two Redpolls, Siskins and Bramblings overhead. Barney flushed a few Song Thrushes, Redwings and a Woodcock from the moat and that was about it really. However, at Dengemarsh Gully a Pallas`s Warbler was reported (BM) while a long anticipated Waxwing flew over Boulderwall (SB).
1400hrs - A call from DW and another showy Pallas`s, this time in the lighthouse garden. It appeared to have a paler rump than yesterdays bird so was considered to be different, but once again it performed to order low down, and in good light, feeding amongst the tree mallows. A Firecrest was also noted in the garden.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Pallas`s Warbler

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Mild, sunny, e2 - Parked up by the lighthouse and together with Barney we worked the grassy ridges nearby looking for buntings. Whilst chatting to PB near the boats a Lapland Bunting duly flew over calling, heading west, but despite a search up the beach it was not relocated. A few Skylarks, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Starlings about the place, plus half a dozen Goldcrests in a private garden. A Little Owl was reported earlier on one of the old fishing sheds (DB).

                                          Magpie, Dungeness

Just arrived at Greatstone when DW called telling of a Pallas`s Warbler in the Obs garden. This elicited a rapid about turn in order to see one of my favourite migrants; and I was not to be disappointed. Together with a group of locals we all had crippling views of this stripy sprite as it performed within a flock of Goldcrests in full sunshine as we watched from the moat; and it even survived a Sparrowhawk attack! At one stage it was feeding out in the open on tree mallows, beside the oil-tank, affording some of the best views I`ve ever had of this super Sibe. It is rare that you get such an opportunity to watch a Pallas`s at close range and it certainly makes a change from the norm of a combination of neck ache and restricted canopy views. Digi-scoping is out of the question with such a bird, but there should be some good pics around on Plodding Birder`s blog and the DBO website.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Lapland Bunting

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Mild, overcast, sw2 - A brief seawatch from the fishing boats resulted in plenty of Kittiwakes, Gannets and Guillemots milling around offshore, plus 3 Red-throated Divers and a single west bound Common Scoter. The 3rd winter Glaucous and adult Yellow-legged Gulls remained in the area.
ARC - The usual wildfowl, including 4 Goldeneyes and Shelduck, and Lapwings from Hanson hide, plus 3 Snipes, Sparrowhawk and a female Marsh Harrier with a piece of what looked like string attached to its leg. From the pines cracking views of an adult male Merlin on the Desert and `pinging` Beardies in the Tower Pit reed bed. The car park scrub was full of birds: tits, finches, Tree Sparrows, Starlings, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, plus a fly over Brambling.
Littlestone - 1230hrs - Another look for the Snow Bunting drew a blank but did discover a very flighty Lapland Bunting on the foreshore which eventually flew off towards the hotel. Also, several Skylarks and Pied Wagtails on the golf links.
Lade - 1500hrs - Checked out the willows for roosting birds this evening. Of note were 34 Magpies, 150 Woodpigeons, 20 Blackbirds and a single Little Egret. Hundreds more Woodpigeons, Stock Doves, Lapwings and Starlings on the move by the airport.  
ps: The Penduline Tit was reported this afternoon from Hanson hide (per SB).

Monday 12 November 2012

Snow Bunting & Common Crane

Lade - 0800hrs - Mild, overcast, dry, w1 - Very little change wildfowl wise on the pits although I couldn't find the Long-tailed Duck. Virtually no overhead passage apart from one flock of 20 Goldfinches.
Littlestone Golf Links - 1230hrs - Had brief views of a Snow Bunting on the deck at the St Mary`s Bay end of the rough track before it was flushed by a dog. Despite wandering down to the outfall pipe at St Mary`s Bay I couldn`t relocate it. On the shingle at high tide 40 Turnstones and 20 Sanderlings.

Scotney Gravel Pits -1430hrs - In poor light with a steady drizzle managed distant views of the Common Crane in a stubble field to the west of the pits in Sussex, along with hundreds of corvids, gulls, Lapwings and Starlings, plus a bedraggled Marsh Harrier. All the usual feral geese and ducks on the fields by the pits on the Kent side.
Littlestone - Another attempt at the bunting in rain and a blustery wind drew a blank.

Sunday 11 November 2012

An even later Swallow

Lade - 0900hrs - Mild, dry, sunny, w1 - Following the gloom of yesterday this morning dawned sunny and cold but soon warmed up enough for a red admiral and an unidentified hawker to take wing in the garden. Gave the local patch a thorough going over and there was plenty to see. Raptors were much in evidence with several each of Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier and a single Common Buzzard out hunting. From the aerial ramp a late Swallow zipped through constituting my latest ever here. Occasional Siskins, Goldfinches and Skylarks moved overhead while the willow swamp held the usual squealing Water Rails and calling Cetti`s Warbler, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest.
North pit had the majority of diving ducks including 3 Goldeneyes and the juv Long-tailed Duck.
On the beach this afternoon all the expected waders including 30 Knots, 25 Barwits and 10 Grey Plovers, plus 5 Brents, 2 Shelducks and 30 Wigeons.

                                         Goldeneye, Lade

ps: The Common Crane was relocated around midday in a stubble field at the western end of Scotney Pits (NB).

Saturday 10 November 2012

Black-throated Diver

Dungeness - 1030hrs - Mild, rain, cloudy, w1 - A grim, overcast day with mist early on and rain of sorts all day. A 90 minute seawatch from the hide delivered little until 1100hrs when the mist lifted. Over the next hour a down-Channel movement of 125 Gannets (almost all adults), 65 Kittiwakes, 45 auks, 10 Brents, 2 Common Scoters, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Red-throated Divers and a close (inside the buoy) adult Black-throated Diver in partial breeding plumage. On/in the sea, 20 Great Crested Grebes, several auks, 3 porpoises and a grey seal. A flock of 50 Starlings and 20 Goldfinches came in and the Glaucous Gull remained on the beach by the boats.
Scotney - 1400hrs - Had a look for yesterdays reported Crane without success. All the usual feral geese on the grass fields, plus 500 Goldies and Lapwings, hundreds of Wigeon, Teal, and Starlings.
Burrowes - Very little of note apart from 2 Great White Egrets and a Raven.
ARC - The usual wildfowl including 3 Goldeneyes, plus protracted, yet frustrating, views of a Bittern from Screen hide. Also, Bearded Tits `pinging` from the reedbed.

Friday 9 November 2012

A Late Swallow

Dungeness - 0845hrs - mild, cloudy, ssw3 - Was good to get out and about across the Marsh, having spent yesterday driving around the M25. Anyhow, a seawatch from the hide with a brisk onshore wind delivered a steady flow of close Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks, plus a few divers and 3 Common Scoters. At The Patch an adult Med Gull was on the beach amongst the Black-heads.
The 3rd winter Glaucous Gull was on patrol by the boats, with an adult Yellow-legged on the beach.
Called in at the Kerton Road Cafe where the moth trap was being checked, resulting in 9 species including migrant Gem and Pearly Underwing. Driving across the Desert a brown Merlin flew low over the storm beaches.

                                          Pearly Underwing, Kerton Road

Lade - The juv Long-tailed Duck was still on north pit, but tucked away in the corner by the swing bridge to the `mirrors`. A Black Redstart was on the small dish, while Buzzard and Marsh Harrier hunted on the fields behind. Water Rail, Chiffchaff, Cetti`s Warbler and Goldcrest all called from the willow swamp. Whilst scanning the ducks on south pits a late Swallow whipped through heading south.
RSPB - Nothing much of note on Burrowes apart from a few Pintails and a fly over Great White Egret, but a redhead Smew had been reported earlier. From Hanson very few wildfowl, although 3 Goldeneyes, Kingfisher, Chiffchaff and Water Rail noted, plus 2 more Great White Egrets, a fly over Bittern and 2 Marsh Harriers from Springfield Bridge.
ps: Other local news concerned the 2 Whooper Swans at Midley and a report of a Common Crane (per MM) at Scotney, plus a Black Swan and all the usual feral geese

Wednesday 7 November 2012


Dengemarsh Gully - Mild, sunny, sw 2 - 0900hrs - The gully is one of Barney`s favourite sites, a place where he can tear about without restrictions. To be fair it was very quiet bird wise with just one or two Great Tits, Song Thrushes, Robins and Blackbirds, plus singles of Goldcrest, Reed Bunting and Kestrel. However, on the return walk he did flush a Woodcock, the first I`ve seen so far this autumn.

                                          Dengemarsh Gully

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Starlings & Skylarks

Lade - 0800hrs - Cold, frosty, sunny start, overcast and drizzle by mid-afternoon - The first heavy frost of the autumn/winter brought a distinctly end of migration feel to things this morning. However, small flocks of Starlings continued to stream in off the bay and head inland. It appears that a Waxwing invasion is underway, mainly in Scotland and down the east coast of England, but also birds have been seen as close as Thanet, so I spent a bit of time checking the Starling flocks out, just in case...
Every so often a trickle of Skylarks would pass overhead and it occurred to me how few have come our way this autumn. The only other passerines on the move were 20 Chaffinches, plus a high-flying spotted woodpecker...
On the pits all the usual wildfowl, plus Long-tailed Duck and Goldeneye on north pit. Also, 2 Marsh Harriers over the farmland and a pale Buzzard on the 20 foot `mirror`.

                                          Buzzard, Lade

Monday 5 November 2012

Target Brambling

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Cold, murky start, light airs, sunny by midday, n3 - Spent the day birding with Wendy who set me a tough challenge of finding a Brambling; and not just a skanky fly over job!
We kicked off with a seawatch from the hide and over the coming hour had a pretty decent return with plenty of Kittiwakes milling around along with a trickle of Red-throated Divers, distant auks and Gannets, 6 Med Gulls, plus 15 Common Scoters, 30 Brents and 4 Eiders down-Channel and at least 180 Great Crested Grebes on the sea. The 3rd winter Glaucous Gull was noted heading towards The Patch. Several groups of Starlings came in off the sea during the watch, while throughout the day others were seen elsewhere, piling in from the east. Passerines around the Point included small numbers of Goldfinches, Pied Wagtails, Dunnocks, Mipits, Greenfinches, Blackbirds, Robins and singles of Stonechat, Song Thrush and Redpoll.
Midley - A run out onto Walland delivered the 2 adult Whooper Swans with the Mutes, plus plenty of Chaffinches, Mistle Thrush, Kestrel, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and a few winter thrushes. Opposite the sparrow feeding station a patch of spilt grain proved most productive with up to 30 Tree Sparrows, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and joy upon joy a single Brambling, which showed well in the bright sunshine. Wendy was happy, and I couldn't believe my luck as Bramblings are far from easy to find down here on the Marsh.
ARC - News came through of a Penduline Tit from Hanson hide (BB & SB) just as we were heading back that way. Predictably, it was not seen again after the initial sighting, but no doubt it`ll crop up again sometime this week. The water level on ARC has risen so rapidly that all the low shingle islands are now covered, making for distant views of the dabblers. A few Lapwings were belly deep on one island and the only other waders we could find were a few Golden Plovers and a Dunlin. On the way out we missed a couple of late Swallows heading south (DB), while a flyover Shore Lark was reported earlier by SB.
Burrowes - At least 3 Great White Egrets and 6 Little Egrets here, plus all the usual wildfowl and a Long-tailed Duck, which looked a different bird from the one on Lade (still present earlier PB), being brighter on the face. A Raven was noted over the power station, another Marsh Harrier and more inbound Starlings.
Dungeness - Finished off at the boats where the adult Yellow-legged Gull showed well. The Glaucous Gull proved a little more difficult but eventually we found it over by the shoreline as the sun was setting.
In summary, a fair days birding with the highlight for Wendy the Eiders, Long-tailed Duck, Glaucous Gull, and bird of the day - Brambling!

                                          Starling in the mist, Dungeness

                                          Finch and Sparrow flock, Midley

                                          Long-tailed Duck, Burrowes

                                         Egrets and Heron, Burrowes
                                         Three master, Dungeness

Sunday 4 November 2012

Purple Sandpipers

Dungeness - 1030hrs - Cold, wet, se6 - A shocker of a morning with heavy rain and a strong, gusting gale force wind that backed westerly by midday - Arrived at the fishing boats only to find a nail had caused a slow puncture in the car. So, as PB confirmed all was quiet it was off to Folkestone to spend some money. The 3rd winter Glaucous Gull was on the beach amongst the roosting gull as I gingerly drove away.

                                          Hythe Seafront

                                          Hunkered Turnstones

                                          Purple Sandpipers, Hythe

Hythe 1300hr - Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, and on the way back from Folkestone I called in at Hythe seafront, opposite the Hotel Imperial, where an impressive sea was pounding the shore to such an extent that the Turnstones would have needed Velcro to remain on the concrete blocks! Around 78 were hunkered down on the shingle beach along with 3 Purple Sandpipers in their midst. Every so often a huge wave would cover the Purps, who continued to feed perilously close to the breakers, but it didn't seem to bother them one jot. Managed a few dodgey digi-pics in difficult viewing conditions.
A Bonxie was noted offshore along with a trickle of Gannets and 10 Kittiwakes.
Whilst there I watched a bloke throwing a ball for his dog - into the sea!! At one stage the spaniel appeared to get into trouble (surprise, surprise) at which point matey was considering going in after it. He then received a right good soaking, which seemed to bring him to his senses, after which the dog ran up the beach onto the safety of the promenade deck; obviously having a bit more sense than his owner.
Lade 1600hrs - A stroll across the Desert to the back of south pit yielded a distant Short-eared Owl hunting the rough grassland over by the airport, plus hundreds of corvids and Woodpigeons going to roost and a stunning sunset to end an odd sort of a day.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Bewick`s Swans

ARC - 1230hrs - Cold, dry, sunny, sw3 - From Hanson hide a family party of newly arrived Bewick`s Swans (2 ads, 3 juvs) was hopefully a prelude to the main flock that should be back on the Marsh by the months end. All the usual wildfowl crowded onto what remains of the shingle islands, plus 50 Lapwings, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and a Chiffchaff by the car park.

                                          Bewick`s Swans, ARC

                                         Long-tailed Duck, Lade

                                          Black Redstart, Lade

Scotney - The fields beside the pits are always worth a look after heavy rain and today proved the  point with birds everywhere. The main contingent were feral geese with 1,200 Grey Lags, 75 Barnacle/hybrid Geese and 20 Canadas, plus 500 Golden Plovers, 200 Lapwings, 200 Wigeons and assorted Starlings, Teal, Redshank and Dunlin.
Lade - 1400hrs - The juv Long-tailed Duck was in the same position on north pit as yesterday, but still tantalisingly out of range for a decent dig-pic. A Goldeneye was amongst the many common diving ducks, grebes, and briefly, 3 Brents, plus 2 Chiffchaffs and Cetti`s Warbler in the willows and a Black Redstart along the caravan park fence.
ps: Elsewhere today at least 3 Great White Egrets were on the bird reserve, plus a group of Crossbills at the firs. The 2 Whooper Swans remained within the Mute flock at Midley.

Friday 2 November 2012

Long-tailed Duck

Lade - 1000hrs - Weather wise a repeat of yesterday with heavy rain throughout the morning turning brighter by mid afternoon, w2 - A juvenile Long-tailed Duck (found by OL yesterday) remained on north pit at the causeway end. This is the first one for a couple of years and the hope is that it will settle down for the winter. Joined PB on the causeway in dreadful light to capture a couple of digi-scope record shots. Elsewhere, all the usual wildfowl, plus Goldeneye, calling Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers. Kestrel and Marsh Harrier noted on the farmland along with up to 10 Blackbirds in the scrub.

                                          Long-tailed Duck, Lade Pits

Burrowes  -  1300hrs - Plenty of common wildfowl from the Visitors Centre, plus 2 Great White Egrets of up to 5 in the area at the moment.
Driving into New Romney from Lydd this afternoon a loose flock of 8 Jays flew across the road by Hammonds Corner.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Whooper Swans & Short-eared Owl

Dungeness - 1030hrs - Cold, wet, w3 -  Following on from last nights hosing, heavy showers continued throughout the morning and early afternoon making for flooded roads across the Marsh and turning fields into lakes.However, the sun did eventually break through to deliver a fine sunset.
On the Point the 3rd winter Glaucous Gull was still present, not far from a film shoot who looked as though they were enjoying the weather... Nearby, on the concrete road, a glum looking PB had drawn a blank with a seawatch, so I thought it best to move on.
Midley - Caught up with the Whooper Swans found at Midley by NB last weekend; a good find as they are not an annual visitor down here. When I arrived the two adults were about as far away as possible across the oil-seed rape field, munching on the greenery alongside a host of Mutes. Along the lane with the dead elms a large flock of winter thrushes noted, plus a female Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Greater pecker.

                                 Distant, duff views of 2 adult Whoopers Swans, Midley

ARC - 1500hrs - The usual dabblers on the vanishing islands, plus 50 Lapwings and 5 Golden Plovers. In the willow scrub, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits and Chiffchaff.
Lade - 1600hrs - Whilst taking Barney for a walk we finished the day in some style with a Short-eared Owl quartering the Desert just south of the pits. Also, a trickle of Pied Wagtails heading towards their power station roost site.