Thursday 26 March 2015

Willop Basin

Dungeness - cold, wet, cloudy, ssw 5 - 0730hrs - With the wind at last swinging round to a favourable direction we headed down to the seawatch hide to join the hard core regulars. However, it proved to be slow going and with the rain lashing into the hide not exactly comfortable, so we only lasted an hour; actually, I couldn't stand the pitiful look on Barney`s muzzle when he realised it was seawatching time again. Anyhow, five Fulmars was about the highlight along with our first Sandwich Tern of the year, plus 50 Brents, 10 Common Scoters, 10 Red-throated Divers and a few Gannets.
Willop Basin -  Around noon on the way back from Folkestone I stopped off at Willop Basin, an area of low-lying farmland, drainage sewers, paddocks and rough ground behind a pumping station. The corn fields often flood attracting gulls, wildfowl, waders and the like. Its best viewed from atop the impressive Dymchurch sea defence wall, which also affords views across the bay.
Today it was pretty quiet with two Brent Geese and four Curlews of note on the arable land, plus four Tree Sparrows by the paddocks, a collection of large gulls, two Grey Herons and a Dabchick on the main sewer. But its one of those sites that`s got a good birdy feel to it, the sort of place that could turn up something ludicrously rare one day...
Willop Basin is regularly checked by local birders and often features on the highly recommended Folkestone & Hythe Birds website

                                Brent Geese, Willop Basin

                               Sea Defences, Dymchurch
                                Willop Basin, Dymchurch

Dungeness - In bright sunshine the old lighthouse garden held two cracking Firecrests, but trying to photograph them amongst the thick vegetation with a bridge camera proved hopeless; there were a number of other Firecrests reported across the peninsula today.
Another 45 minute seawatch from the boats produced a Sandwich Tern, plus a trickle of Red-throated Divers, Common Scoters and a Fulmar.
On the way off the estate a scan of the beach opposite Jarman`s yielded four Wheatears, two Black Redstarts and a Range Rover stuck in the shingle (when will they ever learn...).
The low-loaders were taking away the diggers and dozers from the shoreline so I presume that`s it for the shingle movement until next winter.


  1. Even more Wheatears and Redstarts!
    How was one rock the sea defences, or was it for plugging any hole that appeared.

  2. Wheatears always seem to turn up at that same spot at Dungeness each spring and are now a near daily feature. As for Willop, as an ex gas engineer with a civils background I look on in awe at such large scale sea defence projects. Dymchurch is one of the places along the Marsh coastline most susceptible to the `scour`, along with Jury`s Gap where the EA are currently concentrating their efforts. A nice touch to have a commemorative stone too, tax payers money well spent for once.

  3. Yes, I agree re. the stone.

    We're still in winter mode here on Sheppey in respect of migrants, although it appears that the Whitefronts have finally left us.

  4. Our wintering White-fronts went a while ago, although a transient flock did drop in at Scotney last week. Just had a Firecrest in the garden firs, so off to see what else has dropped in overnight hereabouts...