Wednesday 12 March 2014

First Sand Martins & Wheatear

Lade - 0630hrs - misty, murky, cold start, sunny later, ne 2 - An early morning walk with Barney over the pits before doing breakfasts paid off handsomely with 2 Sand Martins over south lake, my first of the spring. While Sand Martins are a numerous autumn passage migrant down here, surprisingly spring birds can be few and far between.
Dungeness - 0845hrs - En-route to meeting Wendy and Doug at the point for a days birding I stopped off by Jarman`s where a Wheatear was flitting about by the old sheds. It was a shy and retiring individual and I only managed a poor record shot, but as it was the first one and all that I`m afraid you`ve got to suffer the appalling pic below (sorry SG!!). Anyhow, Wendy and Doug turned up and saw it and we also enjoyed Skylarks, Mipits, Linnets, Pied Wagtails and a Black Redstart in the same area. Several more Black Redstarts (seven at least) and a Stonechat were seen around the power station and Obs, while a 30 minute seawatch from the hide delivered single figures of Gannet, Red-throated Diver, Kittiwake and hundreds of gulls. We then trekked out to the Trapping Area for the Hume`s but drew a blank, although it was reported earlier.

                                1st Wheatear, Dungeness

                                Black Redstart, DBO

Dungeness - En-route to the reserve three Black-throated Divers were noted on New Diggings. From Dennis`s hide overlooking Burrowes we had good views of a drake Scaup which was our first of the year (not that I`m keeping a year list...); this former regular wintering duck has now almost changed status to that of an irregular passage migrant. We spent a fair bit of time checking every duck across the pit but could find no sign of yesterdays Green-winged Teal. However, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes were noted, plus three Smew and eight Pintail. Also noted around the site Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Little and Great White Egrets.

                                Scaup, Burrowes

                                1st winter Glaucous Gull, Dungeness

Dungness - A return to the point for seconds on the Wheatear drew a blank but we did have good views of the 1st winter Glaucous Gull on the shingle. In all a decent days birding in great company with three firsts for the year and lots else besides.
NB: Also reported today from Dengemarsh Gully, Wheatear, Firecrest and a fly over Shore Lark (AP).