Wednesday 31 July 2013

Balearic Shearwater

Dungeness - 1400-1600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, w 3 - An afternoon seawatch from the boats in the company of MH, TG et al was memorable for cracking views of a Balearic Shearwater (199th Marsh year tick) moving down-channel at 1505hrs. An adult Arctic Skua came close chasing the terns of which there was a steady flow, including a very early juvenile Arctic Tern. Numbers during the two hours as follows: Gannet 34, Common Tern 125, Black Tern 4, Arctic Tern 1, Little Gull 1, Kittiwake 5, Sandwich Tern 4, Guillemot 1, Arctic Skua 1, Balearic Shearwater 1, Common Scoter 81 east, 30 west.
As always there was plenty of lively banter, anecdotes and jokes, most that`d I`d heard before (even Barney looked bored), but as usual the old boys told `em like they were on their first outing!
On the bird reserve up to five Wood Sandpipers still on ARC from Hanson (MB).

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Roseate & Black Terns

Dungeness - 1600-1730hrs - cloudy, mild, drizzle, sw 4 - Having spent most of the day off the Marsh it was good to get out and about this afternoon and feel the weather. We opted for a seawatch from the fishing boats which proved to be a good move as there was a steady movement of seabirds, mostly terns, down-Channel. The highlights were two close Roseate Terns (198 for the year) that I presumed were the pair that have been seen off and on at Dunge during the summer, and more regularly at Rye Harbour in the evenings. At least 30 Black Terns moved through, including one flock of eight adults in full breeding plumage (what gorgeous birds they are) plus, c250 Common Terns, 50 Gannets, 10 Sandwich Terns, 2 Little Gulls and singles of Med Gull and Kittiwake. DW turned up and promptly found three distant Manxies, while a Balearic Shearwater had gone through earlier.
So, all in all, 90 minutes well spent.

                                Oh no! Its surely not seawatching time again...

                                1st summer Little Gull, Dungeness

Monday 29 July 2013

Black-necked Grebe

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw 4 - A breezy night kept moth numbers down in the garden trap with Least Yellow Underwing new for the year and another Shaded Broad-bar the highlights. There was also an influx of Garden Tigers and Knot Grass for some unexplained reason.

                                     Least Yellow Underwing

                                Shaded Broad-bar

ARC - Called in Hanson hide where the usual suspects and the Monday club were already grilling the waders scattered across the shingle ridges. Still four each of Wood Sandpipers, Dunlins and LRPs, plus singles of Redshank and Snipe amongst a couple of hundred Lapwings. A Black-necked Grebe in partial breeding plumage was new for the autumn and several parties of Sand Martins passed overhead.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Rain at Last

Lade - 0530hrs - sunshine, cloudy, sw 3 - Having largely missed most of the recent wet stuff of late, yesterday evening certainly made amends with a couple of hours of torrential rain. Combined with a much fresher atmosphere this morning it was no surprise that moth numbers were down, although Silver Ys and Scalloped Oaks were most numerous and Shaded Broad-bar was new for the year.
We had a wedding party in last night and then various friends came and went so consequently didn't get outside the garden today, but still very convivial and even managed a year tick as a Clouded Yellow zipped through the garden four times before I could confirm its identity.
Hedge and Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and Small Heaths were also noted during the afternoon having been blown over from the NNR.

                                Hedge Brown

          Marbled White - the hot July sun has certainly benefited this smart grassland butterfly, which is flying in record numbers this summer across the Dungeness NNR.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Bits & Pieces

Lade - 0600hrs - sunshine & showers, humid, ne 2 - A stormy old night with lightening over the Channel and heavy rain for a while. Didn`t seem to bother the moths though with another good catch of 48 species, but only Dot Moth new for the year.

                                    Dot Moth

                                    Dusky Sallow

ARC - 1600hrs  - From Hanson hide Lapwing numbers had increased to around 350 along with eight Golden Plovers in their midst. Other waders on show included four LRPs, three Wood and two Common Sandpipers, plus singles of Dunlin and Ruff; a Little Stint was also reported earlier.
On Burrowes two more Common Sands and an Egyptian Goose.

Friday 26 July 2013

Sandpipers and Moths

Lade - 0530hrs - warm, dry, sunny, e 2 - Last night was near perfect for moth trapping with light airs, cloud cover and high humidity, so it was with much excitement that I sprang out of bed to cover up the trap before the local Blackbird got stuck in. There was eight species around the trap, always a good sign, but only a total of 45 species, so slightly disappointing, but three new for the year in Magpie, Least Carpet and Oak Eggar bringing the seasons tally so far up to a respectable 124 species.
Down at the Kerton Road Café two Scarce Chocolate-tips were trapped last night; Dungeness being just about the only place this moth is resident, although they may well have been migrants of course.

                                Least Carpet


Oak Eggar - the females come to light early in the night while the darker males fly in the afternoon

ARC - From Hanson another decent showing of waders on the shingle ridges with two Wood Sandpipers the highlight, supported by four LRPs and Common Sandpipers, plus singles of Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and Redshank and 220 Lapwings. Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk kept the waders and ducks on their toes while a pulse of 20 Sand Martins moved south.
More Common Sandpipers were recorded on Burrowes, and at the Midrips where also Wood and Curlew Sandpipers and Greenshank (OL, TH).

                                 Wood Sandpiper, ARC

Thursday 25 July 2013

Moths & Marsh Harriers

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry & sunny, sw 3 - Another glorious summers morning commenced with a trap full of moths to sift through from last nights catch. Despite there only being 37 species, four were new for the year with a cracking Ruby Tiger and Dusky Sallow, a not-so-good L-album Wainscot (what a name!) and a very worn Peacock. Migrants included Silver Y and White-point, plus an unusually dark Lackey.

L-album Wainscot - formerly considered an immigrant but now breeds locally on Marram grasses

                                Lackey - a reddish-brown specimen

                                   Ruby Tiger - common enough, but simply stunning

ARC 1300hrs - Called in Hanson hide where passage waders on show, apart from 100 Lapwings, included four each of LRP`s and Dunlins, plus singles of Blackwit, Common and Green Sandpipers. ARC is looking spot on for the forthcoming wader passage with plenty of low islands suitable for tired shorebirds, courtesy of the current heat wave, and you can rest assured that with daily coverage not much will be missed by us locals. However, whether or not we`ll be able to identify it all remains to be seen...
After a while a Sparrowhawk shot through and flushed everything followed by a juv Marsh Harrier, which proved most entertaining as it practiced stooping on Cormorants and Greylags; it`s a learning curve when you`re young! Probably up to five juvs have fledged from the Hooker`s reedbed and these early weeks away from the nest site are testing times for young Marsh Harriers, although there should be plenty of easy prey available. However, the old female was hunting over by the water tower and the fledgling soon flew off in her direction, no doubt hoping for a free meal. A Hobby overhead completed a trio of raptors.

                                Juv Marsh Harrier, ARC

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Scarce Dungeness Moths & Wood Sands

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw 3 - Another poor night in the garden trap due to the brisk overnight wind. However, not so elsewhere across the peninsula where a number of rare/scarce moths were in situ at the Kerton Road Café including Dingy Shell, Silver Barred (RDB immigrant), Campion and Confused (along with the Uncertain, that has to be one of the more poignant moth names...)
Plenty of Tufted Ducklings on the water at south pit, plus Red-crested Pochard and two Little Egrets.

                                      Confused, KRC

                                 Silver Barred, KRC

                                Supermarine Spitfire, Lade

RSPB - Burrowes was pretty quiet with only a couple of Dunlin and Ringed Plover on the wader front, plus four Little Egrets and a Kestrel over. On Dengemarsh the Great White Egret flew across the reedbed where we also had brief flight views of a Bittern. Several juv Marsh Harriers were finding their way around, as were a family party of Green Woodpeckers. Over the road on ARC two more of Dunlin, LRP and Common Sandpiper from Hanson, while two Wood Sandpipers in front of Screen hide didn`t stay for long but constituted a Marsh year tick (196); thanks to Wendy and Doug for the tip off. The Swallow chicks were doing well in the hide and several pulses of Sand Martins passed over heading south.

                               Swallow chicks, ARC

The Tree Sparrow colour ringing scheme continued apace this morning at Boulderwall with mist-netting in progress. Around 50 birds have now been marked and any sightings around the Marsh away from Boulderwall would be greatly appreciated by the Society, either at the VC or via the RSPB website.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Small Ranunculus & Common Sandpipers

Lade - 0600hrs - Muggy, stormy, light airs - Following last nights thunder and lightening show, plus one or two downpours, there was a reduced number of moths in the garden trap; however, a Small Ranunculus was new for the site. This RDBK moth was formerly thought to be extinct but has now turned up across the south-east.

                                 Small Ranunculus

                                Small Dusty Wave

A 1st summer Little Gull on south pit was the first here this year while three Common Sandpipers flitted around the margins.
ARC - From Hanson hide the usual motley collection of world weary birders, gulls and wildfowl, plus two Common Sandpipers, six Dunlins and 100 Lapwings. The Water Rails and Dabchicks seemed to have found their voices again and on the walk back to the car park a small flock of Long-tailed Tits worked the willows.
Lade North - 1600hrs - Three more Common Sandpipers around the margins, plus Sparrowhawk, Whimbrel and Blackwit over.

Monday 22 July 2013

Fen Wainscot & dipped Rosy Terns

Lade - 0500hrs - warm, dry and sunny, hot later, e 2 - Another predictably busy night around the traps with 50 species here at Plovers, the best catch of the year so far for species diversity, which included Fen Wainscot, a localised reed-loving moth which I`ve only recorded once or twice before.

                                Fen Wainscot

                                Peppered Moth

Dungeness - Following a tip-off from PB, and desperate for a Marsh year tick (stuck on 196), we hot-footed down to The Patch as two Roseate Terns had been found roosting on the beach amongst the gulls. Unfortunately, by the time I got organised they`d done the off and were probably back at Rye Harbour.
There was nothing much of note over the boil, although the unidentified seal was nearby, which is now being touted as a Harbour Seal. 
ARC - 1900hrs - En-route to watering duties at the allotment we wandered up to Screen hide on a very humid evening. All the usual wildfowl, gulls and terns on the pit, plus 50 Lapwings and four Dunlins. Good to see two pairs of Oystercatchers with well grown chicks while the Swallow nestlings are growing fast.

Sunday 21 July 2013

An odd Seal

Dungeness - 0530hrs - warm, dry and sunny, ne 2 - An early morning visit to the point in search of yesterdays putative Bearded Seal duly delivered; well, sort of. From the seawatch hide I could see a seal swimming just offshore near The Patch. As it drifted east a fisherman greeted it with a hail of stones, even though the seal had far more right to be there than the worm-drowning, litter-lout of a rod-wielding yobbo. Anyhow, I wandered down to The Patch getting fleeting views of the seal as it snorkeled every 10 minutes or so about 20yds offshore. All I could discern was a brownish, pale faced, Harbour type seal with pale-ish whiskers, so I couldn`t really add anything more to the debate over its id, and I had no chance with the camera; however, Plodding Birder blogger has a cracking shot of it hauled out on the beach from yesterday.
Also on the beach and around the boil up to six Med Gulls and four Little Gulls.

                                    Elephant Hawkmoth


Lade - Another busy night around the moth trap with Lackey and Cabbage Moth new for the year, plus three species of hawkmoths including a crisp Elephant, but no migrants. At Littlestone 33 species were recorded in a garden trap including a scarce Coronet and a more regular Coast Dart.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Pale Grass Eggar

Lade - 0700hrs - cloudy, mild, dry, ne 4 - A breezy sort of a day with cloud cover throughout. A reasonable catch in the moth trap last night including the first Pale Grass Eggar of the season.
Several Whimbrels went south over the cottage this morning.

                                Pale Grass Eggar

Dungeness Bird Observatory - Joined a convivial band of regulars past and present at the Obs this afternoon for a barbeque reunion. The main talking point was a seal that showed well at the Patch earlier and showed all the signs of a Bearded Seal, a sea mammal from Arctic waters.
Other local news concerned Roseate Tern and Bonaparte`s Gull at Rye Harbour.

Friday 19 July 2013

Snakes Alive!

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 4 - A brisk wind off the sea ensured that not only moth numbers were lower than of late but also the afternoon temperatures were tempered by the north-easterly. Footman were once again most numerous and a tatty Toadflax Brocade was the only moth of note.
Being around the cottage for most of the day (entertaining our nearly-three-year-old grandson and listening to TMS) it`s surprising what you can observe, even in a small coastal garden. At high tide the Oycs and Curlews drifted over from the bay to roost on the shingle ridges while there was a constant coming and going of Sandwich Terns. A few Swifts passed south, probably on the way out, and a Hobby caused the Starlings to cease their chattering.
As the day warmed up Small Heaths, Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns fluttered over from the desert and a hawker dragonfly dipped across the pond all too briefly. Around midday there was a right old kerfuffle when a Grass Snake slipped across the parched lawn heading for the pond; Mrs PT`s cat was on the case and didn`t quite know what to make of it. Anyhow, I quickly intervened and put it behind the compost heap were it could find safe refuge from the Lade Tiger. Grass Snakes are common place down here, along with Slow Worms, while Adders are absent.

                                                Lime Speck Pug

                                                    Mullein Wave

                                Grass Snake, Plovers

Cockles Bridge - En-route to the allotment this morning we pulled into the lay-bye to be confronted by a Red-legged Partridge with nine chicks. Ok, I know they`re plastic but at least this hen bird had performed successfully in the wild, unlike the poor buggers I saw in pens the other day prior to being released for `sporting` purposes. Still, hopefully the Marsh Harriers and Buzzards should profit from one or two...

                                Red-legged Partridges, Cockles Bridge

Thursday 18 July 2013

Moths & Curlews

Lade - 0500hrs - warm and sunny, hot later, e 3 - Another good night for moths with hundreds in the trap this morning, mainly Pygmy and Scarce Footman but also three new for the year - Common Rustic, Marbled Green and Shore Wainscot - plus another Sussex Emerald, bringing this years total up to a respectable 105 species.
More by luck than judgement as we walked the local patch just before high tide the Curlew flock passed overhead, and circled around calling looking for a clear roosting spot on the shingle ridges. This enabled an accurate count of what was 95 Curlews and a single Barwit; two Ringed Plovers also joined the flock, while the Oystercatchers went to roost on the working gravel pit to the south.
The water level is dropping nicely for the forthcoming wader passage with an island showing at the south end of the pit that already attracted a couple of Sandwich Terns and 20 Black-headed Gulls.
                                                   Three classic coastal moths
                                          Galium Carpet

                                     Marbled Green

                                     Shore Wainscot

Cockles Bridge -Pulled over to have a scan around when a female Marsh Harrier flew over the Dungeness Road and worked the adjacent barley field. I watched this same bird (primary missing on left wing) the other day and noticed its tactics; she flies along the tramlines on the lookout for prey and on this occasion pounced on a juv Yellow Wagtail, after which she made off back towards the bird reserve with a distressed adult in her wake.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Moths, Sparrows & Owls

Lade - 0500hrs - warm, dry, sunny, hot later, e 2 - An early start to check the garden trap which was a bit down on yesterday species wise with only Lychnis new for the year. Fairly quiet over the pits with only a couple of Marsh Harriers and a Common Sandpiper of note.
Kerton Road Café - An overwhelming session here with Mrs Moth and her trap stuffed full of insects, the bulk of which were Scarce and Pygmy Footman, Dark Arches and Tawny Shears. However, there was still plenty of interest amongst the circa 2,800 moths of 49 species, including 33 Sussex Emeralds and 2 Small Blood-veins. The side wall of the bungalow was still covered in moths when I arrived and the Stinking Hawksbeard was in full flower.

                                KRC trap

                                Small Blood-vein, KRC

                                Stinking Hawksbeard, KRC

Farmland Bird Survey - Carried out a bird survey on a nearby farm specifically for Tree Sparrows which were present at two locations, with juveniles noted at one site. Linnet, Yellow Wagtail, Skylark also breeding, plus a Barn Owl in an outbuilding with noisy owlets which must`ve been suffering in the heat. A Little Owl was seen nearby with two juvs and an adult at another site near Lydd.
                                          Barn Owl pellets

                                          Dark Tussock, KRC
                                                Scarce Footman, KRC
                                          Juv Tree Sparrow

                                Little Owl, Lydd

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Loadsa Moths

Lade - 0600hrs - overcast, muggy, 20C, se 2 - Following yesterdays exertions swimming in the bay I overslept this morning and as a result the local Great Tit and Blackbird were causing carnage around the moth trap; the tit actually managed to get into the top of the trap. However, 42 species were eventually extracted with the highlights being two Sussex Emeralds, five Swallow-tailed Moths and, new for the year, White-line Dart.

                                Swallow-tailed Moth

                                White-line Dart

Dungeness - The Patch was virtually birdless with only a few Bhgulls over the boil. A couple of distant Gannets went up, plus a Common Scoter, while the Black Redstart continues to sing from the power station. Checked out the Obs lodger which looked in fine fettle flying around the mess room and crapping on my shorts!
                                Fully fledged House Martin, DBO

Kerton Road Café - Assisted Mrs Moth this morning (which took 90 minutes) processing her main trap. It was a bit overwhelming with every egg tray stuffed with moths. The final species count was 58 but the abacus was needed to tally up the numbers, so as yet unknown, but must`ve been in the high hundreds. Highlights were 26 Sussex Emeralds (24 males, 2 Females), Shaded Broad-bar, July Belle, Common White Wave and a cracking Archer`s Dart. Also of note, in the fridge and trapped locally, was the RDB3 noctuid, Olive Crescent.

                                       Archer`s Dart, KRC

                                          Sussex Emeralds, KRC

                                          Sussex Emerald, KRC

Dungeness - 1500hrs - Went back to the point for an hour staring out across a mill-pond like sea. Sum total was, 12 Common Scoters, 3 Gannets and a Kittiwake east, plus six Harbour Porpoises close to shore.
ps: The final tally of macro moths at the KRC was nearly 1,400.