Monday 30 September 2013

One less Curlew

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, sunny, e 3 - Not quite so windy this morning so a bit better for passerines, mostly Chiffchaffs, Robins and a Blackcap in the willow swamp. Overhead a trickle of Mipits, Swallows and Goldfinches, plus 2 Grey Wagtails. On south lake 12 Shelducks, 2 Little Egrets and the reappearance of a Black-necked Grebe.
The high tide had forced the beach waders off the bay with around 300 Curlews flying in to roost on the open shingle ridges on the desert. However, one of them came to grief as a Peregrine struck from on high, bringing instant death to the unfortunate individual as it `exploded` in a shower of feathers.
The adult male Peregrine mantled its prey and tucked in while the remaining Curlews then returned to roost in safety nearby. The falcon got a decent meal before being driven off by 5 Magpies who finished off the corpse.
PS: The only other local news that came my way concerned a Grasshopper Warbler (PB) by the Willow Trail and a Ring Ouzel (SB) at the pines on ARC. Pectoral Sandpiper and Great White Egret were still present on the bird reserve.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Coasting Swallows

Lade - 0700hrs - cloudy, dry, ne 4 -This infernal easterly airflow is beginning to cheese me off. You`d have thought that by now it would have delivered the goods, but if it has the wind is so strong down here on the coast that any self respecting passerine is keeping firmly into cover and out of the way. Wandering around the local patch this morning was only notable for a steady flow of Swallows heading north, presumably coasting up the Kent coast looking for the shortest crossing point.
On south pit 12 Shelducks and 50 Wigeon amongst the usual wildfowl.
ARC - Called in Hanson hide late morning where the same bunch of waders were on show that have been around all week. The 2 Pectoral Sandpipers were adopting a low profile but 5 Curlew Sandpipers and 4 Little Stints were far more obliging, including an adult stint in winter plumage. Other waders included 10 Dunlin, 4 Ruff, 3 Greenshank, Blackwit and Snipe amongst 200 Lapwings and Goldies. All the usual wildfowl, Little Egrets, plus Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler from the Willow trail
PS: News from elsewhere  concerned a Two-barred Crossbill found by Neil Burt in Challock Forest near Ashford, while down here at the rarity hotspot of Dungeness a Goldeneye on Burrowes officially confirmed the arrival of winter (MH).

Saturday 28 September 2013

Wildlife Walk

Lade - 0730hrs - mild, cloudy, ne 4 - A brisk overnight wind made for a poor return in the garden moth trap, which wasn`t helped by getting up late and a Great Tit taking full advantage...
Several Chiffchaffs hereabouts this morning plus a few Mipits and Goldfinches over and a Stonechat on the shingle scrub. Checked the willow swamp for warblers but could only muster up a few more Chiffs and a Blackcap.

                                Reynard, RSPB

                               Great Green Bush-cricket, RSPB

RSPB - 1100hrs - A Wildlife Walk at the bird reserve with a mixed age group highlighted just what there is hereabouts of a wider natural history interest if you leave the birds to one side for a minute. We kicked off in the car park looking at some typical autumn moths potted earlier at the KRC and then moved on to the mini-beast area. The tin sheets and railway sleepers yielded several voles (Bank or Short-tailed), Common Lizards, Smooth and Crested Newts, while nearby we found a cracking Great Green Bush-cricket and a sluggish Common Blue butterfly on the wing. Migrant Hawker and Ruddy Darter dragonflies were noted around the car park as well as the mangy old, resident Fox.
As for birds we only had time to check out Burrowes. From Dennis`s hide a large flock of Golden Plovers landed on the shingle near the roosting Black-backs as a Marsh Harrier flew over. On the pit the expected range of wildfowl included Wigeon and Pintail, plus Little and Great White Egrets, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Dunlin, Blackwit and a Pectoral Sandpiper in front of Makepeace hide, while Chiffchaffs, Robins and Long-tailed Tits called from the willow scrub.
When there`s a nipper in the group it always reminds me how rubbish my eye sight is. One young lad enthusiastically called out stuff way before any of us oldies - oh, the joys of youth.
So there we go, a very enjoyable couple of hours all round really, with the Bush-cricket the undoubted highlight.

Friday 27 September 2013

Red Underwing

Dungeness  - 0730hrs - cool, cloudy, ne 3 - At The Patch 2 Little Gulls and singles of Med Gull and Arctic Tern amongst the melee of commoner gulls and terns, while an attack from one of the loitering Arctic Skuas sent them into a frenzy several times. Offshore a few passing Gannets, Sandwich Terns and Brents.
Migrant wise, 5 Chiffchaffs along the fence line by the hide, plus 2 Grey Wagtails, 15 Greenfinches, 30 Linnets, 10 Mipits and a Yellow Wagtail overhead. Around the Sanctuary 10 Goldfinches, 2 Stonechats, 5 Swallows, a Wheatear and a Rock Pipit over.
Called in at the Kerton Road Café where a Red Underwing had been trapped, otherwise the selection of moths was pretty much the same as our garden trap.

                                Red Underwing, KRC

ARC - A repeat of yesterday with 2 Pec Sands and a Little Stint reported earlier, 4 Curlew Sandpipers, 10 Dunlins, 6 Snipe, 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshanks and a Blackwit, but flighty.
Watched a juv Marsh Harrier tucking into a recently caught Coot, which it had managed to concealed under willow scrub thereby avoiding the attentions of passing corvids.
Dungeness - An hour from the boats delivered a few distant Gannets, 20 Sandwich and 10 Common Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 auks, 25 Brents and a Sanderling.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Sandpipers & Brents

Lade - 0700hrs - cloudy, mild, ne 3 - A noticeably fresher feel to the weather this morning with the wind picking up from the east. Little of note migrant wise on the bird front or in the garden moth trap.
ARC - 1100hrs - Quiet here too with virtually nothing on the shingle ridges on arrival, although a few Goldies and Lapwing eventually drifted back along with a Pectoral Sandpiper, 6 Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 4 Curlew Sandpipers and a Little Stint. At the south end 7 Blackwits, 2 Ruff and another, or the same, Pec Sandpiper.
Burrowes - The 7 Blackwits moved in front of Firth hide, alongside a Knot, while 2 more Curlew Sands were on the islands round the corner, as well as 3 Black-necked Grebes and all the usual wildfowl.
Dungeness - An hour from the boats this afternoon produced an odd Brent Goose movement with 180 going down, 65 coming up and 12 coming across - make what you can of that! The usual 2 Arctic Skuas were mugging the Sandwich Terns and 2 distant divers went west.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Two Pectoral Sandpipers

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, misty, occasional sun, nw 2 then e 2 - A muggy old night and day so plenty of autumnal type moths in the garden trap. Over the pits a definite clear out of migrants with only a scattering of Chiffchaffs and a few hirundines around the pits. Overhead a few Mipits, Linnets and Skylarks south.
Dungeness  - A midday seawatch off the boardwalk was largely quiet apart from the usual terns coming and going and a Red-throated Diver on the sea, plus 35 Brents and 20 Common Scoters westbound. Three juvenile/dark skuas were of note comprising 2 Arctics and another which appeared to be smaller and a candidate for a possible Long-tailed, but only had bins views in poor light.
ARC - Eventually nailed the  2 Pectoral Sandpipers from Hanson although the waders were nervous flying up and down due to passing raptors. Amongst 500 or so Goldies and Lapwings were 3 Curlew Sands, 6 Snipe, 2 Ruffs, 2 Curlew, 2 Knots, 8 Dunlins and a Little Stint.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

First Goldcrest

Lade - 0630hrs - damp, misty start, followed by warm sunshine, e2 - With clear skies last night and a drop in temperature everywhere was dripping wet with condensation this morning. In contrast to yesterdays spectacle not a single hirundine was seen across the local patch, although there was still  decent number of Chiffchaffs in the reed swamp along with several Reed and Sedge Warblers and Blackcaps. Overhead a few Mipits and Linnets passed south. The easterly airflow had already worked its magic with the first Goldcrest of the autumn in the garden fir trees; hopefully, the coming week will see a few Yellow-broweds come our way...
Moth wise it was largely a repeat of yesterday but with lesser numbers, plus a well worn Snout. By midday there were one or two butterflies on what remains of the Buddleia blooms.

                               Comma, Lade

ARC - An afternoon visit to Hanson hide yielded 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 7 Dunlin, 6 Snipe, 2 Barwits and singles of Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper amongst several hundred Goldies and Lapwing that were regularly spooked, presumably by an unseen raptor.

Monday 23 September 2013

Mega Viz Mig

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, dull start, sunny later, S2 - From the moment I set foot outside to turn the moth trap off I just knew it was going to be, `one-of-those-days`, or at least mornings, as migrants were everywhere. Swallows were streaming over the cottage from the off and as we walked down Taylor Road to the storm beaches several hundred had already passed over us. Scanning across the desert the air was thick with Swallows and there were hundreds more over the pits and flying south along with pulses of House Martins. From the aerial mound 300 were perched on power lines and as we walked back along the beach hundreds more were skimming over the shingle passing only inches away. This viz mig went on until mid-morning after which it petered out and picked up again in late afternoon. I wouldn`t like to hazard a guess at numbers but it must`ve involved many thousands. Almost every dog-walker we met commented on this fantastic spectacle, and even after a lifetime of birding visible migration on this scale remains a thrilling sight.
There were plenty of Chiffchaffs still in the bushes and willow swamp, along with single figures of Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, plus Wheatears and Mipits on the desert and Grey Wagtail and Hobby over. Greenshank and Kingfisher were also noted (OL). There was also a noticeable influx of Robins this morning with birds calling from cover all over the site.
The garden trap was full of common autumn moths of 25 species, while a Brown-spot Pinion was trapped 200 yards down the road.
ARC  - Called in at Hanson around midday where the usual range of waders  on show included Little Stint, 6 Snipe and a Common Sandpiper amongst the legions of Lapwings. At the south end the now regular flock of Blackwits and Ruff were still present.
Lade - A late afternoon walk along the beach in warm sunshine yielded more hirundines, 2 Wheatears, 20 Sandwich Terns, 25 Knot, 200 Dunlin, 100 Sanderling and 500 Oystercatchers and Curlews. Back home a Comma was on the Buddleia and a bush-cricket on the garden wall.

                                  bush-cricket, Lade

                                        Autumnal Rustic

Black Rustic



Sunday 22 September 2013

Lunars & Bass

Lade 0700hrs - overcast, misty, drizzle, mild - Haven`t posted much moth news of late as conditions have been unsuitable. However, all that changed last night with temperatures remaining high (15C), plus low cloud cover and light airs making for near perfect trapping conditions. As a result the trap was full of moths this morning, but mostly with yellow underwings, Setaceous Hebrew Characters and the like, although the first Lunar Underwings was a reminder that the moth season was well into its final quarter.

                                        Lunar Underwing

The local patch was once again alive with Chiffchaffs, perhaps quite not as many as yesterday, but still must`ve been at least 100 hereabouts. As it was windless we decided to work Mockmill Sewer and predictably it was full of migrants. While Chiffs were in the ascendancy there was also a sprinkling of Reed and Sedge Warblers, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, a Blackcap, 6 Reed Buntings, 2 each of Spotted Flycatcher, Skylark and Whinchat, plus Blackbirds, Robins and Dunnocks. Overhead a trickle of Swallows and Mipits passed south and a Merlin zipped through. It was one of those mornings when you thought that any minute now something really good was going to show itself...
Dungeness - 1300hrs - An hour at the boats was largely uneventful except for several of the beach  fisherman landing some fine Bass driven in by 2 Harbour Porpoises. Birdwise it was dead with just 2 Arctic Skuas harrying the Sandwich Terns, a couple of distant Gannets, a Grey Plover over calling and an adult Red-throated Diver (presumably the one that`s been knocking around for a while now).

                                Sea Bass, Dungeness

RSPB - A scoot around the bird reserve revealed Firth hide to be the best spot with 6 Blackwits, 4 Ruff, Golden Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper on show, plus Little Gull, 3 Black-necked Grebes and a Peregrine over. All three species of hirundines were noted and there was plenty of Chiffchaff activity in the willow scrub. A Kingfisher on the Discovery pond was my first of the autumn. ARC was full of Lapwings and Goldies, a scattering of Ruff, Dunlins and singles of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Egyptian Geese, Marsh Harrier and hundreds more hirundines, while the willows down towards the pines were alive with Chiffchaffs. Despite a good look around I could find no sign of the reported Pectoral Sandpiper.
Back at Lade the hirundine passage appeared to have picked up this afternoon with steady pulses of birds south along the beach.

                                Curlew Sandpiper, Burrowes

Saturday 21 September 2013

Chiffchaffs & Swallows

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs  - A circuit of the local patch was all about two species - Chiffchaffs and Swallows. Chiffs were simply everywhere; in the back garden, across the willow and gorse scrub, just all over the place, there must`ve been hundreds, while the buddleia scrub by north pit held a flock of at least 20 birds. Other migrants about the site included 3 Spotted Flycatchers, several Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Sedge and Reed Warblers. Swallows were on the move from first light with birds streaming south over the shingle and along the beach, as well as a few House Martins, Mipits and a Yellow Wagtail. All the usual wildfowl on the lake plus 2 Little Egrets.
Many more warblers, Swallows and Mipits were reported across the Peninsula today.
By late afternoon a small flock of Chiffchaffs were bathing in the bird bath and preening on the garden furniture. Great stuff.

Friday 20 September 2013

Shelducks & Spotted Flycatchers

Lade  - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, nw 2 - A good few migrants about this morning with at least 30 Chiffchaffs hereabouts. There was plenty of activity in the willows by the ponds with at least 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Common Whitethroats and singles of Reed and Sedge Warblers, while south lake was smothered in feral geese and common wildfowl including 16 Shelducks. Several huge carp breached in the middle of the lake causing the Coots to scatter. Nothing much in the storm beach scrub apart from several Mipits and Linnets. A number of insects were enjoying the warm weather with Small Heath and Small Copper along the main track and scores of Migrant Hawkers and damsels by the ponds.

                                Shelducks, Lade

ARC - 1330hrs - Very little of note in front of Hanson apart from Lapwings and a flock of 8 Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin. A Common Buzzard moving along the coast disturbed the gulls, while a Honey Buzzard was reported heading south earlier (CP). Checked the south end where 7 Blackwits, 2 Ruff and a Barwit but there was no sign of the reported Pec Sand; 2 Curlew Sands were seen on Burrowes earlier although yesterdays Spoonbill had moved on to Rye Harbour.
Lade - Back home I headed for the aerial mound to scan for any raptors on the move, of which there 3 more Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk in 30 minutes.

Thursday 19 September 2013

First Brents & Turtle Dove

Dungeness  - 0900hrs  - cool, dry, cloudy, nw 2 - Driving along the coast road it was immediately apparent that a large movement of hirundines was underway with birds streaming south, and at least one Swift. At the Obs a circuit of the moat produced 50 plus Mipits and plenty of Chiffchaffs in the bushes plus 2 Whitethroats and a Blackcap with more Chiffchaffs elsewhere as well as several Wheatears and up to 50 Linnets in bound. A Raven was active around the power station and 3 Sparrowhawks were noted.
At the boats a 30 minute seawatch produced the usual 2 Arctic Skuas, a few Sandwich Terns and Gannets, 20 Common Scoter and the first 6 Brent Geese of the autumn.

                                          Brents, Dungeness

ARC - The Pec Sand showed well at the south end amongst a mixed flock of Blackwits, Dunlins and Ruff, a Black-necked Grebe and all the usual wildfowl. Management work was underway in front of Hanson so we worked our way up to the pines where there were more Chiffchaffs, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Green Woodpecker.
Ray and Stuart finished on 103 species with waders being the highlight, particularly the Pectoral Sandpiper.
On the way back from Ashford I crossed the Marsh via Snave where a Turtle Dove perched on overhead wires by the church was my sole record of the autumn so far.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Terns & Waders

Dungeness - mild, dry, cloudy, occasionally sunny, nw 2 - By the power station a few Mipits, Linnets, Wheatears and Black Redstarts, but nothing of note in the bushes. A brief seawatch yielded 2 Arctic Skuas and 50 or so terns feeding offshore, plus passing Gannets. A good spell at The Patch with 10 Black, 2 Arctic, 1 Little, 20 Sandwich and 50 Common Terns and 2 Little Gulls amongst the commoner riff-raff gulls. Offshore a flock of 20 Common Scoters noted.

                                Ruff & Pectoral Sandpiper, ARC

RSPB - From Hanson hide there was a large mixed flock of 120 Golden Plovers and 300 Lapwings on the shingle ridges, plus 2 Little Stints, 6 Blackwits, 6 Dunlin, 4 Ruff, 2 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, Barwit and a Snipe. Also noted plenty of Wigeon and Pintail, 2 Garganey, Marsh Harrier over, Sedge, Cetti`s and Reed Warblers. The scrub towards Tower pits was busy with Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, common finches, tits, Robins and a cracking Pied Flycatcher.
We rechecked the south end where the juv Pectoral Sandpiper showed well in the sunshine along with 2 Ruff and a Dunlin.
Burrowes was quieter with few waders, but the 4 Black-necked Grebes were still present along with Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard over. Around the circular walk we eventually got Great White Egret and Raven on Dengemarsh, Hobby and Bearded Tits from the ramp and 2 Whinchats on the return trail.
Checked Dengemarsh from Springfield Bridge with little of note, but by the farm a wagtail flock comprised 20 Pieds and 4 Yellows.
Scotney - Our final port of call produced all the usual plastic wildfowl including Ruddy Shelducks and Egyptian Geese, plus 30 Golden Plovers and 50 hirundines.

                               Great White Egret, Dengemarsh

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Pectoral Sandpiper

Picked up Ray and Stuart from Ashford this morning who`re down for a three day bird tour.
Dungeness RSPB - We kicked off in the rain at Burrowes looking for the Pec Sandpiper of which there was no sign. However, there was still plenty of interest with 6 Snipe, 2 Ruff, 2 Dunlin and singles of Barwit, Little Stint and Ringed Plover in front of Firth hide, plus Pintail, Wigeon and Little Egret. From Makepiece 4 Black-necked Grebe, 3 Egyptian Geese, several more Ruff and Dunlin and hundreds of Sand Martins over the water driven down by the heavy rain. From the access road Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Stonechat and 2 Wheatears.

                                Snipe and Little Egret

Over the road we had to work to find the Pec. From Hanson hide hardly any waders apart from Little Stint and Ringed Plover, plus Black-necked Grebe, 3 Garganey and 2 Pintail. Also noted Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Water Rail and a Peregrine. From Screen hide 2 Ruff, Dunlin and the usual wildfowl.
Eventually we nailed the Pectoral Sandpiper, at the south end in a mixed flock of 9 Blackwits and 4 Ruffs at around 5pm just as the power station was chucking out!
In summary a wet afternoon was more than compensated for by a decent crop of waders.

Monday 16 September 2013

Egyptian Goose

Lade - 0700hrs  - cool, sunny, w 3, showery later - Every so often I spend a birding day locally, which is not only good for the old carbon footprint but also saves on fuel as the car remains firmly on the driveway. However, these high and mighty principles can be difficult to adhere to at this time of year when the sweet shop down the road is full of lovely waders. Truth be told though I`ve always enjoyed a local patch and let`s face it Lade pits and the surrounding environs ain`t such a bad place; while Barney, my birding companion, simply loves this sort of a day, as there`s no sitting around seawatching, just good old fashioned, honest-to-goodness local patching (if there is such a word) across the shingle (really must get a pair of those back-stays) with the added bonus for him of other dogs to sniff around and chase.

                                Egyptian Goose & Shelducks, Lade

Anyhow, today was red-letter day as an Egyptian Goose on south lake, beside a family party of Shelducks, was a site tick - what a start, it couldn`t get much better, could it...? Well actually it didn`t really as the brisk westerly meant that many passage migrants remained in cover. However, we did eventually come up with 20 Chiffchaffs in the reed-swamp along with lesser numbers of Reed and Sedge Warblers and a single Common Whitethroat. On the storm beaches there were 10 grounded Mipits, while overhead a few more passed south along with a couple of Yellow Wagtails. As the tide came in 80 Curlews, 10 Redshanks and 5 Ringed Plovers flew over to roost on the desert, while the Black-necked Grebe remained on south lake and 2 Marsh Harriers hunted behind the `mirrors`. Back home and several more Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler in the garden.
An afternoon visit, whilst dodging the heavy showers, produced  a few more warblers, a Merlin and 50 House Martins feeding over the willows.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Ortolan Bunting

Lade - 0630hrs - cool, sunny, still, cloudy by late morning, sw 5 - A stunning start to the day with hardly a breath of wind, bright sunshine and plenty of migrants across the local patch. Surprisingly Willow Warblers were more plentiful than Chiffchaffs with 20 and 10 of each respectively in gardens and scrub plus 2 Common Whitethroats, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat. By the main track beside south pit 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Wheatears and a Whinchat plus a Pied Flycatcher on the fence by the holiday camp. At least 30 Mipits grounded on the storm beaches with a trickle overhead along with several Skylarks, Reed Buntings, Yellow Wagtails, Goldfinches (first of autumn) and a Tree Pipit. A Merlin zipped through and 2 Marsh Harriers hunted behind the `mirrors`. A flock of 10 Pintail were on south lake.

                                Spotted Flycatcher, Lade

Dengemarsh Gully -1030hrs - News broke of an Ortolan Bunting (203) found by SM, which on arrival was proving to be very elusive. However, for once, I just happened to be standing in the right place when it was relocated by the sluice and had the briefest of views of the bunting on the deck amongst the shingle before it scuttled over a ridge and was lost to sight. A good find and only my second at Dunge in 8 years. There was also plenty of Willow Warblers in the scrub plus Blackcap, Whinchat and 3 Wheatears.
Dengemarsh - 1600hrs - Couldn`t resist a look at the plastic (2 red rings) Marbled Duck from Springfield Bridge, and glad I did as despite its origins they`re always smart birds. A Bittern flew over the reedbed as well as a Marsh Harrier and several flocks of Sand Martins. I called it a day as the wind was approaching gale force and the rain had arrived.
Called in the bird reserve today to see some old birding pals from Bedfordshire. They`d had a great day around the peninsula seeing a wide range of migrants that we tend to take for granted down here.

Saturday 14 September 2013

More waders & raptors

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cool, overcast, dry, nw3 - A seawatch from the hide delivered a few Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns plus a couple of Arctic Skuas duffing up the terns. At The Patch at least 8 Black Terns and 3 Little Gulls amongst the Common Terns and gulls. Best of all though was a Merlin in off the sea and powering inland.

                                Greenshank, Burrowes

Burrowes - Cracking afternoons birding commenced with a good cross section of migrants and resident species alike. Waders included 6 Ringed Plover, 4 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin and a Barwit. Elsewhere around the pit 20 Pintails, 4 Black-necked Grebes, Little Gull, Black Tern, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Hobby, plus plenty of hirundines, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Whinchat by the Discovery Pond. From the access road the Great White Egret flew towards Dengemarsh and another Whinchat was in the scrub by Boulderwall, plus 10 Tree Sparrows around the feeders.
ARC - The combination of a Peregrine a Spitfire and a Hurricane kept the waders and wildfowl on the move. Eventually they came down with 150 Goldies and 200 Lapwings on the shingle ridges infront of Hanson where also, 18 Blackwits, 2 Greenshanks and an adult Little Stint. There were 4 more from Screen hide plus 2 Snipe, 6 Blackwits, 2 Curlews, a Dunlin and 4 Garganey. Around the water tower a late Swift with the Sand Martins and Swallows, several Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap in the pines, while 2 Hobbies were hawking insects along the railway line.

Friday 13 September 2013

Another wader day

Lade  - 0700hrs - dull, drizzle, mild, w 2 - One of those strange mornings when it was warmer outside the house than in! Plenty of moths in the garden trap but nothing much of note apart from a few White-points.
A 30 minute viz mig from the aerial mound overlooking south lake delivered a trickle of hirundines, Mipits and Yellow Wagtails, 3 Reed Buntings and the first Siskin of the season. Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk noted plus Green Sandpiper in the reed swamp along with scores of Teal, Gadwall and Coot, 2 Little Egrets and a Shelduck. Up to 20 Chiffchaffs around the site along with Reed and Sedge Warblers. On the walk back a Raven flew over `cronking`, which was the first for many months.

                                Greenshank, Burrowes

Burrowes - Couldn`t resist seconds on the Semi-p which had been relocated from Makepeace hide but was distant, alongside 2 juv Little Stints and several Dunlin. Other waders on Burrowes included 30 Golden Plover, 10 Ringed Plover 7 Blackwit, 2 Ruff and a Greenshank, plus 2 Black-necked Grebes and a steady flow of hirundines over the water.
ARC - Called in at Screen hide late this afternoon where a juv Marsh Harrier was doing its best to flush the waders and ducks. Eventually things settled down when a number of waders landed that comprised the Burrowes flock from this morning, including the Semi-p! Snipe and Curlew also here but I missed an Osprey (PB) by 10 minutes...
PS - A late text from PB pointed me in the direction of the KOS website recent picture gallery where there are pics on two dates of the Semi-p/s?. The one on the 10th which showed well in front of Firth hide I`ve no problem with - but the pic of the bird on 13th looks completely different, showing much colder grey tones without any rufous back markings and a less distinctive head pattern. As I only saw it distantly on Burrowes and ARC I`m now confused, is it a different bird or have we cocked it up? Just hope its there again today, preferably up close and in front of Firth hide...

Thursday 12 September 2013

Grounded Migrants

Lade - 0700hrs - murky, dull, drizzle, mild, w 2 - A miserable morning with mist and low cloud, but in the words of Nick Drake it got, `Bryter Layter`. Ran the garden moth trap last night and caught another Gem, several White-points but not much else.
However, due to the manky weather there was a bit of drop in on the local patch with the first decent autumn movement of Mipits. At least 100 were grounded on the storm beaches plus a steady trickle overhead along with several Yellow Wagtails and singles of Grey Wagtail and Tree Pipit, both of which are scarce migrants here. Scattered elsewhere around the scrub were 2 Wheatears, Whinchat and Common Whitethroat. On the pits hundreds of feeding hirundines, a Hobby over and the Black-necked Grebe still present. We changed our normal route to include the foreshore where 10 more Yellow Wagtails, 5 Mipits and a Wheatear were noted. As the sun broke through several Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler moved through the back garden fir trees.
ARC - An early afternoon visit yielded very little as the Peregrine had been through and flushed most of the waders with only returning Lapwings to be found. The Black-necked Grebe was present out on the lake which was swarming with hirundines.

                                Black Terns, The Patch, Dungeness

The Patch - 1600hrs - A decent hour in front of the hide with 12 Black Terns the highlight. Also, 3 Little Gulls, an Arctic Tern, 50 Common and 30 Sandwich Terns, plus all the usual gulls. Offshore two pale phase Arctic Skuas were terrorising the passing terns. 
NB: Had several enquiries concerning the Semi-p but as far as I`m aware it hasn`t been seen so far today.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

No show Semi-p

Lade - 0630hrs - cool, cloudy, nw 4 - A quick look over the pits yielded very little in the chilly, blustery conditions apart from 50 House Martins and a Grey Plover overhead calling.
Burrowes - Quite a few long-faced twitchers who`d been here since first light looking for the Semi-p, of which there was no sign. However, there remained a decent spread of waders including 80 Golden Plover, 15 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 3 Snipe, 2 Ruff, Greenshank, Barwit, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. Up to 20 Pintail were new in, plus more Wigeon, a Black-necked Grebe, Sparrowhawk and a Black Tern. From the access road 2 Hobbies sat slumped on the shingle looking pretty miserable due to the low temperature.

                                Black-necked Grebe, Burrowes

ARC - Mostly Lapwing here, plus 10 Golden Plovers, 3 Blackwits, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Black-necked Grebe and Garganey amongst the regular wildfowl and all three hirundines over the water.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Burrowes

Lade - 0700hrs  - cool, cloudy, drizzle, nw 2 - Several Chiffchaffs in the garden this morning, plus a steady stream of hirundines overhead and on south lake, mainly comprising House Martins.
However, all plans for further birding here were scuppered as news broke of the first proper rarity of the year at Dungeness...

                                Note the anchor markings on the lower scapulars

                                Note the toe webbing on the left leg and thick bill base

                                Note the dark crown and lack of white lines on mantle

                               Note dark crown, lores and ear coverts, contrasting broad supercilium suffused breast sides and white centred tertials and wing-coverts

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Burrowes - Arrived in Firth hide to the news that the Semi-p was on a far island and out of sight. However, eventually it moved into view, but all you could make out was a small sandpiper scurrying around amongst the foam. It then flew off and we had a nervous half an hour wait until it returned, thankfully right in front of the hide and showed like a good `un.
Conveniently it was with Dunlins for comparison and appeared to be much smaller and obviously a stint/peep. My heavily cropped pics above don't do it justice but in the field it was a neat, scaly looking individual which made it a juvenile. First impressions were the greyish tones to the upperparts (lacking any white stripes on the mantle), a distinctive head pattern and a thick bill base, all different from juv Little Stint. On closer inspection the crown, ear-coverts and lores were dark grey with a contrasting white supercilium. Feather detail was a bit difficult due to the range and light but eventually you could make out the white centred wing-coverts and tertials and dark markings on the lower scapulars; the webbing between the toes was just about visible on a couple of occasions.
A very smart bird indeed and much appreciated by the usual suspects in the hide; as one local wag commented (who shall remain nameless...), "everyone was so engrossed in studying the bird you couldn`t get a `peep` out of them".
Needless to say this was a personal Dunge tick and new for the year (203). Well done to PB, the finder.
Also on site, hundreds of hirundines, plus Ruff, Greenshank, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, a Spotted Red and Whimbrel over, Black-necked Grebe and Black Tern, while 2 Spoonbills flew through earlier. 

Monday 9 September 2013

Purple Sandpiper

Lade - cool, cloudy, showery, n 2 - sw 4 - A cool cloudy day peppered with light showers, while the  wind was all over the place. A good thrash around the local patch revealed little in the way of migrants apart from Reed and Sedge Warblers in the willow swamp, 50 Sand Martins/Swallows over the water and 2 Yellow Wagtails south. There were however the usual hundreds of common ducks, geese and grebes, including a Black-necked Grebe and Garganey, on south lake but no sign of any waders.

                                Purple Sandpiper, Dungeness

Dungeness -  A couple of hours seawatching from the boats this afternoon with PB and DW yielded a few dozen Common and Sandwich Terns too-ing and fro-ing and feeding just offshore, distant Gannets, up to 6 Arctic Skuas, a Little Gull, Sanderling, a flock of 13 Common Scoters and 3 Harbour Porpoises. However, half way through the watch a small, dark wader flew past and pitched up on the beach for a quick nap amongst the gulls. On closer inspection it proved to be a Purple Sandpiper, a scarce, but near annual autumn migrant down here and only my second on the Peninsula. After taking a few pics we left it in peace and returned to the boats whereupon a few minutes later it flew back east along the shoreline.
NB: news from the bird reserve today concerned diminishing numbers of waders on Burrowes and ARC but nothing new to get excited about (PB).

Sunday 8 September 2013

Warblers & Raptors

Somewhere in southern England... cool, still, sunny, sw 3 later - Set off early this morning with a car load of RM locals for a ringing demonstration. On arrival our hearing was assailed (or at least it was for the youngsters in the group!) with tapes of bird song, guaranteed to entice nocturnal migrants down to feed in the thick cover, and bounce into some of the 4,000 feet of strategically erected mist nests in scrub and reedbed. Our host for the morning was superb, showing us a range of migrants and resident species in the hand and giving us an insight into the tricks of the trade and results of their work. On average they ring over 40,000 birds a year (of which over 90% are trapped during the autumn) on a scale that is unmatched anywhere else on Earth, so it was odds on we were in for a treat. Half a dozen ringers were working flat out processing numerous warblers of which we clocked up nine species in the hand, including the elusive Grasshopper Warbler; of the `hundreds` (up to 800 some years!) of Groppers that are ringed here annually nearly all are caught during the first net round of the morning and in the lowest mist net panel. Was also interesting to learn than many juvenile migrants from western Britain and Ireland, `coast` eastwards so as to shorten the sea crossing, whereas the more experienced adults just `go for it`, so`s to speak.
As well as the warblers we also had Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart and Whinchat in the hand, plus calling Tree Pipit and Tawny Owl by the car park.


                                Grasshopper Warbler

                                Lesser Whitethroat

                                    Common Redstart

                                 Sedge Warbler

We than went for a wander racking several Buzzards, Hobby, an unusual leucistic Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Yellow and Grey Wagtail overhead, plus plenty of hirundines and Goldfinches,
Thanks are due to all concerned for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative morning.
Scotney - Back on the Marsh and a stop off produced a pair of Peregrines dicing with death amongst the wind turbines, Marsh Harrier, 3 Wheatears, Mipits, Yellow Wagtails, Sand Martins plus all the usual wildfowl including 2 Ruddy Shelducks and 7 Egyptian Geese.
A skirt around Galloways yielded nothing more than half a dozen Stonechats and a couple of Common Whitethroats.
ARC - A selection of waders on the shingle ridges included 50 Goldies, 5 Dunlins and singles of Redshank, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank, plus all the usual ducks and egrets; earlier this morning from the causeway road we also had a Merlin which made for a pretty decent raptor day to go with the warblers.

Saturday 7 September 2013

Balearic Shearwater & Gem

Lade -0700hrs - Chilly damp start, breezy, sunny later, sw 4 - A distinctly cool, autumnal feel to the weather this morning. Unsurprisingly there were few moths of note in the trap apart from a migrant Gem, which was new for the year. Birdwise just a few Willow Warblers and a single Garden Warbler was all I could muster up on the migrant front, while the Black-necked Grebe and a Green Sandpiper remained on south lake.

                                Gem, Lade

Dungeness - By the time we arrived the wind had picked up considerably, but still managed to jam a Balearic Shearwater from the seawatch hide, plus plenty of passing Gannets and terns. At the Patch 3 Black and 2 Arctic Terns, a Little Gull and hundreds of Common Terns and gulls, although viewing was difficult due to the wind. Couldn`t find anything on the land apart from a single Wheatear.
Scotney - The plastic wildfowl were still present, Egyptian Geese and Ruddy Shelduck, plus 50 Golden Plovers and a scattering of Curlews and Lapwings.
Burrowes - Seemed to have been a clear out of waders with just 8 Dunlin, 3 Blackwits and singles of Little Stint, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover. Also noted Black-necked Grebe, Hobby and a Red-crested Pochard on New Diggings.
PS: I have a large number of unbound back issues of British Birds & Birding World magazines that I want to dispose of. If anyone is interested please let me know; the deal is though, you have to take the job lot.

Friday 6 September 2013

Wader heaven

Lade - mild, dry, light airs, cloudy, cool, wet, dry, sw 2 - A mixed bag of weather today with the rain eventually arriving just before midday. Bird of the day was a juv Little Stint on the local patch feeding alongside Common and Green Sandpipers on the muddy islands amongst the reed swamp where also 12 Dabchicks, Garganey, Water Rail and Little Egret. Black-necked Grebe and Red-crested Pochard still on south lake. As for passage migrants, few and far between with singles figures of Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Reed and Sedge Warblers, plus 20 Swallows, 10 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Mipits and a Grey Wagtail (scarce here) overhead.

                                Dabchick, Lade

                                Grey Heron on 200` `mirror`, Lade

ARC - Called in at Hanson hide around noon where a Peregrine was spooking the waders. Eventually a few Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Lapwings, Golden Plovers returned to join 5 Snipe, 2 LRPs and a Greenshank. Also noted 2 Garganey, 3 Little Egrets, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Hobby and 2 Marsh Harriers. In front of the hide a Water Rail showed several times with her two fluffy, black chicks, plus Cetti`s and Reed Warblers.

                                Blackwits, Burrowes

Burrowes - A mid-afternoon visit with the Joker produced a decent return in front of Firth hide where 9 Blackwits, 5 Snipe, 10 Dunlins, 8 Ringed Plovers, 4 Ruff, 3 Redshanks, 3 Greenshanks and a Garganey, although the 14 Curlew Sandpipers from earlier had moved on. From Makepeace Common Sandpiper and 20 Wigeon and a Hobby from the access road.
Dungeness - Joined DW for a brief seawatch from the boats where a few terns were on the move plus distant Gannets and a Guillemot.
NB: Anyone coming down for the weekend can be assured of a wide range of passage waders, including Blackwits, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint, with the best viewing currently in front of Firth and Hanson hides. Water Rails with juvs have been showing well at both Hanson and Screen hides on ARC, while Great White Egret, Garganey, Black-necked Grebe are all present around the RSPB reserve. Osprey and Honey Buzzard have been through the Peninsula this week, plus Black Terns at the Patch and a steady flow of passerines including Pied Flycatchers, Whinchats (particularly Galloways) and Yellow Wagtails (largest numbers at Scotney). With all the extra birders in the field surely something rarer will be found...

Thursday 5 September 2013

Waders & Yellow-barred Brindle

Lade - 0600hrs - misty start and finish, hot and sunny in between, w 2 - Another poor day for passerines with just Reed and Sedge Warblers noted around the reedbeds. Plenty of wildfowl on south lake including the long-staying Red-crested Pochard and a Black-necked Grebe. A Turnstone was an usual find on the island plus Whimbrel over calling and 2 Buzzards behind the `mirrors`.
On the moth front several White-points were noteworthy, plus from yesterday a Yellow-barred Brindle which was new for the garden trap.

                                Juv Black-necked Grebe, Lade

                                Yellow-barred Brindle, Lade

Burrowes - Plenty of interest here with a hatful of waders (some probably having vacated ARC where vegetation clearing was underway) including 7 Blackwits, 5 Ruff, 5 Dunlins, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and a Little Stint, plus Snipe, Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and Ringed Plovers many of them in front of Firth hide. Also noted Peregrine, Black-necked Grebe and Garganey.

                                Ruff, Burrowes

Lade - Yellow Wagtails and a few Whimbrel continued to pass overhead this afternoon until a smothering sea mist rolled in and dropped the temperature.