Tuesday 29 July 2014

A few more waders

Lade - 0700hrs - wet, cloudy, ne 3, warm and sunny later - A circuit of the local patch delivered little of note in a blustery wind apart from ten Common Terns over south lake.
Dungeness - A few Gannets and Common Scoters on the sea, plus a Black Tern at the Patch amongst the usual gulls and Common Terns.
ARC - Similar to yesterday on the wader front with Common and Wood Sandpipers, five Redshanks, 100 Lapwings, 2 Dunlins and a Snipe. Two each of Garganey and Wigeon amongst the ducks.

Monday 28 July 2014

Trio of sandpipers

Lade - 0700hrs - cloudy, mild, nne 4 - A much fresher morning with an increasing northerly airflow throughout the day and the odd light shower. Passerines were at a premium due to the wind although at least two Willow Warblers noted in the swamp. Sand Martins continue to pulse through and 20 Swifts went south high up. On the margins the regular Common Sandpipers while the Oystercatcher chicks had survived another night.
                                              Kent Black Arches, Lade

Scotney - Haven`t been here for a while, but there was little of note apart from loads of moulting ducks and feral geese, a few Lapwings, 10 Curlews and singles of Redshank, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Whimbrel.
ARC - Wader wise it was surprisingly good, considering the shortage of suitable islands, with my first two Golden Plovers of the `autumn` amongst the Lapwings from Hanson, plus a Wood Sandpiper that went over calling heading for Dengemarsh. Several Common Sands, LRP and Green Sandpiper noted from Screen hide, while on the water at least one Garganey was present amongst the hundreds of ducks. Large numbers of Sand Martins hawked low over the water on the far side.

Sunday 27 July 2014

`My` birds

Lade - 0500hrs - warm, dry, cloudy, light airs - Phew, a muggy old night made for difficult sleeping, so we were up and about early before doing breakfast for guests. Plenty of moths in the garden trap including Canary-shouldered Thorn and Spectacle new for the year, plus double figures of Garden Tigers and Scalloped Oaks.

                                Canary-shouldered Thorn, Lade

Whilst emptying the mv a sea mist briefly rolled in, after which the sun broke through and a snatch of Willow Warbler song was heard in a neighbouring garden. Walking down to the pits several more were seen and heard, including one perched on overhead wires amid a flock of Linnets. Checked the gravel pits to the south where all was quiet now the gullery had dispersed. Family broods of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Shelduck were on the water, plus migrant Dunlin, LRP and Common Sandpiper around the margins. Barney added Cuckoo (a juv) to his `flushed list` whilst snuffling around looking for rabbits in the scrub, whilst Kestrel and Marsh Harrier were hunting over the Desert.

                                Willow Warbler, Lade

When you watch a local patch on a near daily basis you tend to get attached to regular breeding birds. Take for example the Scaffold Island Oystercatchers (mmm, good name for a band, perhaps...). Well, today their two fledged young had made it off the island and on to the storm beaches between south lake and the houses. The adults were in close attendance piping away at the dog walkers who were  oblivious to their anxieties. I know most of the walkers hereabouts, being one myself, and after explaining to several what was going on they were as keen as me to see no harm came their way. Anyhow, the young `uns could fly if necessary so I felt ok about leaving `my` Oycs to their fate.

                                Oystercatcher, Lade

                                Woodpigeon family, Lade

Similarly, in the garden `our` Woodpigeons have brought forth their latest brood of squabs to flying stage and were being `eyed-up` by Mrs PT`s cat, Jim, with whom I have a love/hate relationship. He`s cracking on now in cat years (8) but his low point for me was when he brought in a Firecrest, followed by a Reed Warbler about five years ago. Now he`s slowed up he tends to concentrate more on rodents, which is ok by me as the little buggers are everywhere. However, after a few squirts from the water pistol he forgot all about the Woodies and soon retreated back into cover for the morning and yet more sleep.
Whilst swimming in the bay around midday at least 20 Sandwich Terns were noted coming and going having successfully caught small fish on the high tide.

Saturday 26 July 2014

First Willow Warbler

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 2 - The new Beckinson Mk2 was a roaring success yielding 48 species including Herald and Lychnis new for the year of over 200 insects.

                                Corn Borer, Lade

                                  Herald, Lade

                                     Lychnis, Lade

Also in the garden was the first Willow Warbler of the return passage. Several parties of Swifts over south lake were also heading out and two Common Sands and a Greenshanks noted around the margins.

Friday 25 July 2014

Beckinson Mk2 Moth Trap

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 2 - Slightly disappointing catch from last night, particularly as the wind slackened off in the early hours, with only Sharp-angled Peacock new for the year. Been running my home-made Skinner trap of late, which is a bit rough and ready, but this morning I picked up the modified Beckinson Mk2 from the KRC, so have great hopes for tonight...
Also on view was a Tissue - no, no, not a Kleenex, a scarce moth, the first in the recording area for 50 years apparently.

                                Brimstone, Lade

                                Beckinson Mk2, in situ

On the pits a pair of Shelducks were new on south lake, while Common Sandpipers were up to three.
ARC - Very little to see from Hanson hide apart from eclipse wildfowl, including two Wigeon, plus  Common Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier and a family of Green Woodpeckers around the car park.

Thursday 24 July 2014

A host of moths

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 2 - Phew, what a stinker of a day. Thankfully, down here we had a freshening wind off the sea to ameliorate the temperature, but even so in the sheltered back garden the thermometer hit 25C by early afternoon. Anyhow, the garden Skinner trap was rammed with moths of 40 species with four new for the year - Chinese Character, Swallow Prominent, Reed Dagger and Webb`s Wainscot; the latter two species are in the Nationally Scarce B category, but annual in moth traps hereabouts. Silver Ys were in double figures and eight Poplar Hawks were also of note. Working in the garden this afternoon it was good to see the buddleia festooned with butterflies mainly Peacocks and Large Whites, a few Red Admirals, but hardly any Small Tortoiseshells.

                                       Chinese Character, Lade

                                                 Reed Dagger, Lade

                                Swallow Prominent, Lade

                                              Webb`s Wainscot, Lade
Dungeness - Checked the Patch where amongst a couple of thousand gulls I could only find two Yellow-legged Gulls and a Kittiwake of any interest, plus a very pale immature Herring Gull type. Common Terns were in short supply with around 20 over the boil and several Sandwich Terns drifted by. Bumped into DW who was on a butterfly hunt after logging Clouded Yellow yesterday.
Lade - Mrs PT joined us for a stroll along the beach this evening in glorious sunshine. As ever it was packed out, with all of five people seen between the boardwalk and the Tavern, plus half a dozen kite-surfers way out over the sea. The usual shorebirds were noted including six Ringed Plovers and four Barwits.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Jersey Tiger

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 4 - With a brisk overnight wind coming off the sea I wasn't expecting much in the garden mv this morning. However, the summer house doors were plastered in moths, mostly micros, but also a cracking Jersey Tiger to complement five Garden Tigers in the trap. Not sure why there were loads of Buff Ermines, but there were, plus Toadflax Brocade and the first Flounced Rustic of the season - bah! Also, a very smart reed-bed pyralid, Chilo phragmitella.

                                       Chilo phragmitella, Lade

                                Garden Tiger, Lade

                                Jersey Tiger, Lade

Always a great sight to watch the Curlews (158) flighting off the beach and tumbling down onto their high tide roost site on the shingle. Also in the company were five Barwits and a Grey Plover, while two Common Sandpipers flitted across south lake. All three hirundines hawked insects over the willow swamp and a Marsh Harrier drifted behind the `mirrors`.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Angle-striped Sallow

Lade - warm and cloudy early on, sunny and hot later, ne 3 - Another bumper catch of moths in the garden mv with an influx of 15 Silver Ys, Scalloped Oaks, Poplar Hawk-moths, Common Emeralds and the migrant micro, Evergestis extimalis. At the Kerton Road CafĂ© a migrant Angle-striped Sallow was on a day trip from a trap on the High Weald.
Very little of note on the pits apart from 100 House Martins feeding over the willow swamp.

                                     Angle-striped Sallow, KRC

                                 Evergestis extimalis, Lade

                                Magpie, Lade

ARC - 1900hrs - Called in to Screen hide this evening on the way back from the allotment where a Kingfisher was a surprise find zipping across the reedbed calling. On the lake the usual hundreds of eclipse ducks, plus 10 Lapwings and a couple of Redshanks on an island.

Monday 21 July 2014

Whimbrels and Hawk-moths

Lade - 0600hrs - muggy and overcast, nw 2 - An oppressive night with high humidity, more akin to the tropics than Romney Marsh, drove us out for an early morning wander. We worked Mockmill Sewer which was alive with juv Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats and Linnets. Been a while since I ventured out here, perhaps a month ago, when the adults were still in full song. Not so today though with just the occasional cursory burst from fraught looking adults now finishing off second broods and going into moult. At the southern end of the sewer Barney flushed a Snipe, something of a red-letter bird in these parts, from a spectacular splash of Purple Loosestrife. A few Marbled Whites were on the wing and will probably be the last of the summer as they appeared early this year and only have the briefest of flight periods.

                                Purple Loosestrife, Mockmill Sewer

                                Marbled White, Lade

Out on the Desert a roosting flock of 160 Curlews (many in heavy wing moult) were flushed by a Marsh Harrier revealing four Whimbrels and a Grey Plover in their midst. Throughout the day a further three Whimbrels were heard over the cottage heading south, plus one Greenshank.
On south lake a Common Sandpiper along the margins and a Black-necked Grebe amongst scores of Dabchicks and Great Crested Grebes.

                                Poplar Hawk-moths, Lade

                                         Ruby Tiger, Lade

Back at base the moth trap yielded Fan-foot and Ruby Tiger, new for the year, and an influx of five Poplar Hawk-moths.
An afternoon visit to the gravel pits in heavy rain revealed two Green Sandpipers and another Whimbrel, plus hundreds of immature gulls including two adult Meds and a juv Yellow-legged, ten Shelducks and five Teal. A pulse of 50 Sand Martins moved south.

Sunday 20 July 2014

`Mirror` Open Day

Lade - 0700hrs - muggy, cloudy, misty - A good night for moths with 40 species in the garden trap, although Drinker was the only newcomer for the season. Kids love moths, particularly the big `uns like hawks and tigers, and this morning I had a nearly 4 year old assistant to help with the identification...

                                Moth assistant



                                  Marbled Green
                                        Smoky Wainscot

                                 Least Carpet

A Whimbrel went south down the coast calling, along with a couple of Yellow Wagtails, as we walked over towards the pits. Today was a `Mirror` Open Day and already there were plenty of folk en-route to the swing-bridge where OL and staff were on hand to guide and inform.
All the usual wildfowl on the lakes, plus two Common and one Green Sandpiper on south lake. A family of Green Woodpeckers showed well on the causeway and young Reed Warblers seemed to be everywhere. Despite the gloomy weather conditions there was much insect activity around the ponds with hundreds of damsels and brown butterflies drying out following last nights heavy rain.
Judging from the amount of cars parked hereabouts I would estimate that by mid-afternoon several hundred people had visited site, before the rain set in.

                                Lade `Mirrors`

                                   Green Woodpecker, juv, Lade

Friday 18 July 2014

Dungeness moths & extreme weather

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, e 3 - Despite a muggy night the brisk easterly kept moth numbers low, although a Toadflax Brocade was good to see. Very sultry over the pits with Yellow Wagtail and Mipit overhead and hundreds of Black-headed Gulls feeding on flying insects coming off the shingle ridges.

                                Toadflax Brocade, Lade

KRC - Joined Mrs Moth to check her traps where 30 species noted include more Toadflax  Brocades, Pale Grass Eggars and a Sussex Emerald the highlights; numbers were low here too.

                                   Pale Grass Eggar, KRC

                                Sussex Emerald, KRC

Dungeness - At the Patch a handful of Common Terns (including a 1st summer bird) and gulls over the boil, plus a 1,000 or more gulls on the beach, mostly Black-headed and Herring and at least one juv Yellow-legged Gull.
Lade - Sitting in the garden at lunchtime (hot and muggy) I heard a distant drone that I initially put down to a jet engine warming up on the airfield - until that is the sound appeared overhead and I realised it was a massive swarm of bees, that continued south towards Dungeness...
The wind slackened off this afternoon and on the high tide I went for a long swim off the boardwalk; most refreshing, and I even got a bit of birding in as a pair of Sandwich Terns fished nearby and scrutinised the human whale attempting front crawl...
As the evening wore on the wind dropped completely and storm clouds gathered from the south along with a great bank of rolling white cloud. What followed next was incredible - a typhoon-like wind whipped across the peninsula containing plant and soil debris causing havoc in the back garden and covering cars hereabouts. Looking up the sky was jet black, streaked grey as the white roll passed overhead, akin to something like you see in one of those Armageddon disaster movies. The wind then dropped and torrential rain commenced with thunder and lightening all around; it was the most spectacular weather phenomenon I`ve ever seen down here.

Thursday 17 July 2014


Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, se 3 - We were up and out early this morning to beat the heat, but to be honest, what with an onshore breeze that increased throughout the day it was never really that uncomfortable. On the gravel pits singles of Common Sandpiper and LRP around the margins, 80 Oystercatchers on the main island, plus plenty of common wildfowl and loafing gulls. On the desert clumps of bushes in the lee of the wind were swamped with browns, Marbled Whites, one or two Common Blues and hundreds of damselflies.
Dungeness - An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon yielded very little apart from a few passing terns and Gannets, but just as we were about to leave a Manx Shearwater scuttled by and onto the year list.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Dog days

Lade - 0600hrs  - warm, dry and sunny, sw 3 - Plenty of activity over the pits with loads of extra wildfowl and gulls on south lake, presumably due to a mass insect hatch amongst the surface water weed. Two Common Sandpipers flitted over the water and a couple of Mipits headed south.
Barney got the No 1 treatment from Mrs PT`s clippers the other day as the old boy was suffering in the heat, although I still cannot entice him in for a swim...
RSPB - Called in throughout the day where the only waders I could find were the two Black-wits at the south end of ARC and a Common Sandpiper on Burrowes, plus a few Lapwings and Oystercatchers, although duck numbers were on the rise on both lakes.
Lade - An evening walk along the beach in glorious sunshine was notable for hundreds of gulls pouring back onto the mudflats to feed as the tide receded, along with a number of Sandwich Terns.
Here`s a thought though, I am constantly amazed at how few locals use this fabulous beach - just why is that? You would think that it would be full of kids paddling and mucking about in the sand or playing footie, but no, there was not a single juvenile human to be seen. So where are they all? I see `em getting off the bus, or being shepherded home in mummies car (oops, I`m beginning to sound old...), so they`re definitely hereabouts, just can`t image what they get up too... can you?

                               "Its too damn hot, even with me coat missing"

                                Lade Bay on a glorious July evening

NB: Anyhow, a couple of footnotes, first off many thanks to one and all who pulled over with offers of help as my car expired on the Lydd Road yesterday. It was pretty spectacular (and expensive)as any of you will appreciate if you`ve ever had a turbo diesel engine seize - I really thought it was going to blow up!
Secondly, that blessed unidentified tree up near Park Wood that I posted a while back. I`m now pretty sure after an e-mail from Bill Mclay, who directed me to a spot on pic of it on the internet, that it was a Silver-variegated Norway Maple, Acer platanoides, drummondii. I kid you not, that tree has been more problematic than a phylloscopus warbler in moult! 

Monday 14 July 2014

Rye Harbour waders

Lade - 0600hrs - sunny, warm, sw 4 - A stunning morning with blue skies from the off and a much fresher feel following yesterday evenings thunderstorms. Plenty of common moths in the Skinner, including Oak Eggar and whilst emptying the trap a Grey Wagtail flew over the garden heading south, a very early migrant as they`re not usually expected until the end of next month -  and new for year! Now, where`s that year list...

                                Oak Eggar, Lade

Rye Harbour NR - We spent most of the morning at Rye with Mrs PT (I think after 40 years she`s actually showing an interest...) looking for waders where we eventually rattled up 12 species, including passage Whimbrel, Greenshank, Ruff and Common Sandpiper on the lagoons down towards Harbour Farm. On Flat Beach it was good to see Avocet, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Redshank with well grown young where also 55 Dunlin, Curlew, LRP and Ruff. On Ternery Pool 65 Redshanks at roost on the islands, while an unseasonal Red-breasted Merganser was noteworthy.
On the tern front it appeared that the Sandwich Terns had deserted the main island on Ternery Pool, although we did see four adults and two juvs on Flat Beach where plenty of Common Terns seemed to be faring well. From the John Gooder`s hide 18 Little Terns counted but apparently they too have failed to breed successfully again due to a shortage of small fish or sand eels. Also noted Med Gull, Kestrel, Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, Whitethroat, Mipit and Skylark around the site.
As always a pleasure to visit, and we look forward to many more visits for shorebirds as the season progresses.

                               Common Terns, Rye

                               Red-breasted Merganser, Rye

                                            Lesser Burdock, Rye

Sunday 13 July 2014

A few more returning migrants

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, drizzle sw 3 - Another disappointing night around the moth trap due maily to a brisk south-westerly that increased through the day along with bright sunshine. However, Common Rustic and Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing were both new for the year.
The monthly WeBS count on the pits yielded large numbers of Coot and common wildfowl, plus a Common Sandpiper and 50 Sand Martins.

                                 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Lade

Dengemarsh - 1100hrs - A full circuit from ARC car park delivered plenty of insects on the wing despite the brisk wind. Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats and Reed Buntings were just about still in song and on the track out towards Lydd we noted five Yellow Wagtails and a singing Corn Bunting. From Springfield Bridge a Common Sandpiper flew low over the lake and the usual Common Terns, Bearded Tits, Marsh Harriers and a single Hobby were noted on the walk round to the viewing ramp, plus a pair of Wigeon on the New Excavations which were our first of the return passage.
However, the hayfields looked a sorry old state; full of long grass and dry as a bone, without a bird present, and by the Corral a large Mink ran across the track which was an equally depressing sight.
Once back at the car we drov to the VC to check out a photographic display by Justin Sutcliffe, complete with his award winning photograph of Romney Marsh, a part of the, `This Was Once Sea` exhibition. Personally, I didn`t think much of the pics, one or two were ok, but others were out of focus, in an arty-farty kind of a way, or irrelevant - still, what do I know...
Anyhow, was good to have a natter with local birders including, as always, NB and family.
It was also a relief to see a few islands on Burrowes, what with the wader passage underway, where  Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpiper and a Ruff were present.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Common Sandpiper

Lade - 0700hrs - overcast, drizzle, light airs - With muggy weather conditions overnight I was expecting a load of moths in the trap this morning, and while there was 32 species there was little of any quality apart from Sussex Emerald, Kent Black Arches and the pyralid Ringed China-mark.

                                 Ringed China-mark, Parapoynx stratiotata

                                Blood-vein, Lade

Over the pits, with barely a breath of wind, juv Linnets and Whitethroats appeared to be everywhere. The first Common Sandpiper of the season flew over south lake calling, three whistling Greenshanks went south along the coast, while an accurate count of roosting Curlews tallied 155. Above the willow swamp hundreds of Sand Martins fed on emerging insects. Several noisy parties of Sandwich Terns flew over the site from the bay, coming and going Rye way, some with fish, although I hear tell that few young have fledged. Common Terns, presumably from the bird reserve, seemed to be finding plenty of small fish in the lakes hereabouts.
ARC - An afternoon visit to the screen hide and at the south end yielded 13 Little Egrets and 11 Grey Herons amongst the usual wildfowl. Plenty of Sand Martins and Swallows about.
NB: The identity of the Park Wood tree has been solved by Mrs Moth, it is a Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, also known as False Acacia, which is an introduced species from south-eastern USA and widely planted as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.

Friday 11 July 2014

Bits & pieces

Lade - 1200hrs - mild, rain, cloudy, nw 2 - Heavy overnight rain continued through the morning with a fine drizzle and a muggy atmosphere. On south lake a Black-necked Grebe was new in along with another Greenshank. A roost of 150 Curlews on the storm beaches were disturbed by a male Marsh Harrier which also contained five Barwits and a Grey Plover. Around 100 Sand Martins and a few Swifts hawked insects over the willow swamp while a Hobby zipped through.
ARC - At the south end from the causeway road two Blackwits and a Redshank amongst a motley collection of Little Egrets, Cormorants and eclipse ducks.

                                Blackwits, ARC

Dungeness - The Patch was quiet this afternoon with singles of Med Gull, Kittiwake and Yellow-legged Gull the only noteworthys amongst a couple of hundred large gulls and 50 Common Terns. On the walk back a Green Sandpiper flew over calling and headed out to sea.
An hour from the fishing boats delivered a handful of terns, Gannets and little else, while a Grey Seal was once again patrolling just offshore.

                                Great Black-backed Gull, Dungeness