Thursday 30 October 2014

The Levellers and some Brents...

Lade - 0800hrs - mild, sunny, sw 2- Whilst clearing the moth trap this morning (one Silver Y and 4 Black Rustics) I was relieved to be able to hear a Goldcrest in the garden firs, having been to a Levellers concert in Folkestone last night. Walking back along the Leas after the gig it felt like having a swarm of bees buzzing around in my head, but by this morning the sound was mercifully down to a low drone; Mark Chadwick and the band certainly gave it the full decibel level at the Leas Cliff Hall. My moshing days are well past and even standing around for three hours attempting some mild bobbing (ridiculous, I know...) is getting a bit much now I`m knocking on the Number 60 door. I thought I must be getting past it, but a quick scan around revealed much older and more decrepit humanoids than myself (Mrs PT was, obviously, exempt from my snap survey). As always at a Levellers gig there was a wide range of followers, mostly though grungy anarchic types covered in tattoos and piercings (and that`s just the women!), but a good few sensible under 40`s, and in these sanitised times it was naughtily pleasing to smell dubious substances wafting amongst the fug of heaving bodies.
Hang on though, ain`t this supposed to be a birding blog... right, back to business...
Anyhow, with me ears still ringing we worked the local patch in glorious late autumn sunshine and a warm zephyr blowing up from the south. An increase in Wigeon, Pochard and Shovler was noteworthy and a Goldeneye dived near continually on north lake. A few Chiffchaffs called from the willow swamp along with Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers, while a Merlin chasing a Skylark provided the spectacle of the visit; the scrub behind north lake held small numbers of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Reed Buntings.

                                Red Admiral, Lade ponds

Dungeness - A quick look at the Patch revealed a late Common Tern amongst the gulls. The land yielded two Ring Ouzels in the cafĂ© scrub, Blackcap and Chiffchaff in the lighthouse garden and a Black Redstart by West Beach. There were plenty of Red Admirals still on the wing and at least one Small Copper, while the sunshine had brought forth gorse blooms as though it was April. There was little overhead movement apart from a few Skylarks and Goldfinches. Driving off the estate a flock of 80 Brents passed west opposite Jarman`s and a taster of things to come...

                                Gorse, Dungeness

Scotney - All the usual stuff here, so hundreds of Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Wigeon, feral geese and the like. Five Kestrels and a Marsh Harrier also noted.
Dungeness - 1445-1615hrs - A seawatch from the fishing boats in the company of DW, BC, MH and TG, in superb afternoon light, was memorable for a passage of around 1,700 Brent Geese, and there were many more throughout the day (see DBO website for the final tally). In my humble opinion the autumn Brent movement is one of the great birding spectacles at Dungeness; I mean, come on, what is there not to go all dewy-eyed about as these fabulous little geese come out of the North Sea and head down-Channel in braying, straggly flocks, whether near, far, high or low, but always, in the words of my four year old grandson - "awesome". There was a pretty decent supporting cast too: 130 Little Gulls, 30 Med Gulls, 100 Kittiwakes, 10 Scoters, 10 Dunlins, three Curlews, a Whimbrel, three Gannets, two auks, two Shelducks, eight Mergansers, three Sandwich Terns, two Common Terns and an Arctic Tern that landed on the beach in front of us preening. A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining seawatch, Dungeness at its very best, and I make no apologies for posting more crappy pics of those superb geese.
PS - Lade - 1900hrs - A large flock of braying Brents went over the cottage this evening into the moonlight, a fantastic end to a memorable day.

                               Arctic Tern, juv, Dungeness

                                Brent Geese, Dungeness

                                In the words of The Levellers - What a Beautiful Day.


  1. Thanks Linda, but the light at Dungeness today was a photographers dream, even with a cheapo bridge camera like mine. Dungeness really is a special place and even after nine years living down here it never ceases to amaze, particularly on such a day with those sensational little geese on the move.