Sunday 16 March 2014

Red Kites & Harriers

Lade - 0200hrs - Was rudely awoken by Barney in the early hours due to a kerfuffle in the garden, When I let the old boy out a fox launched itself over the garden wall like an Exocet. Once things settled down I was surprised to hear a light a passage of Redwings passing overhead in bright moonlight, a species that has been largely absent from these parts this winter. 
0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, w2 - A cracking spring morning proved warm enough for Mrs PT to join us on our usual Sunday circuit of the pits and foreshore. The monthly WeBS count didn`t take long as there were only a few laggard ducks left over from the winter, including 20 each of Wigeon and Teal, plus a single Goldeneye. Scanning from the aerial ramp with thermals bouncing off the shingle two Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk were soon up and soaring into the bright blue sky and it was no surprise when a call came through from PB alerting us to a couple of Red Kites over the water tower. About an hour later one flew down the coast getting a hammering from the Herring Gulls, while another was reported over Greatstone by MH; these may well have been the water tower birds from earlier. Walking back along the beach with the tide flooding in at least 150 Dunlin and 100 Sanderling were scurrying around feeding up until the last minute.
After a brew and a biscuit back at Plovers we set off again to check out the gravel pit to the south where at least 200 Black-headed Gulls were on the nesting island along with four Med Gulls. A high tide roost of up to a thousand large gulls was also present, no doubt pushed off their usual Dungeness haunts on this sunny Sunday. Included in the melee was a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull and, presumably, the long staying 1st winter Glaucous Gull from Dungeness. Skirting around the margins we managed two Redshanks and six Oycs plus eight Shelducks and four Shoveler on the lake. A Scandinavian Rock Pipit was amongst a group of Mipits and Pied Wagtails, while a single Black Redstart was along the fence line; at least two Mipits and ten Skylarks were in song.

                                Adult GBB & 1st winter Glaucous Gull

                                1st winter Glaucous Gull & 2nd winter Herring Gull

                                1st winter Glaucous Gull, Lade

Walland Marsh - 1600hrs - This evening we accompanied Marshman on the final harrier count of the `winter` at our usual stakeout on Walland. The weather was more mid-summer than mid-March with warm sunshine and a pleasant breeze out of the west. A flock of 40 Fieldfares was a good start along with three hares in a ploughed field. A feral Greylag Goose flock attracted 18 White-fronts and 2 Bean Geese (probably the two that were seen back in January at Scotney), plus 8 Shelduck nearby. Cracking views of Bearded Tits were had along the edge of the reedbed, along with calling Water Rails and toad. Also noted singles of Green Sandpiper, Great White and Little Egrets, 20 Lapwings and a scattering of Grey Heron, Dunlin, Snipe and Reed Bunting. Raptors included five Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk. From the lookout point 19 Marsh Harriers came to roost with the final bird settling down at 1840hrs in bright moonlight, a fine end to another superb days birding across the Romney Marsh.

                                Moonrise over Walland Marsh

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