Monday 31 August 2015

An afternoon of waders

RSPB - showery, mild, n 2 - 1300hrs - A late start due to a change over day and a wet morning. Had to call in the visitor centre, where a few long-faced birders were still searching the car park scrub for this mornings Icterine Warbler, without success. Over the road the White-winged Tern had been joined by a second bird, while all the usual waders were around the site, including Goldies, Lapwings, Ruff, Snipe, Common and Wood Sandpipers.

                                Yellow Wagtails, Scotney

Scotney - The heavy rain earlier and overnight had certainly done the trick here with the front fields full of birds. Apart from the usual array of feral geese and ducks, around 100 Starlings, Linnets, Pied and Yellow Wagtails were busily feeding on the turf along with 100 Lapwings, 50 Curlews, 10 Dunlins, 10 Redshanks, 5 Snipe and 4 Ringed Plovers. At least 5 Common Sandpipers flitted around the margins then, just as we were leaving, a large flock of waders swept in from the west to feed comprising 25 Ruffs (of all shapes, sizes and plumages), 6 Knots and 3 Blackwits.

                                Dunlin, Greatstone Beach

Greatstone Beach - 1530hrs - Perfect timing (more luck than judgement!), and with only a few holidaymakers around a large host of shorebirds had just arrived back on the sands as an ebb tide revealed food aplenty. This allowed a reasonably accurate count as follows: 630 Dunlins, 210 Sanderlings, 410 Oystercatchers, 260 Curlews, 35 Ringed Plovers, 25 Knots, 12 Barwits, 2 Grey Plovers and the first 6 Turnstones of the autumn. Amongst the hundreds of Common and Black-headed Gulls were 50 Sandwich, 10 Common and 2 Arctic Terns.
A tidy afternoon with 18 species of waders noted.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Swallows and a Honey Buzzard

Lade - 1030hrs - warm, dry, cloudy, ne 2 - Once the guests had departed we did a circuit of the local patch where this autumns` first large scale movement of Swallows was underway with hundreds of birds feeding over the lakes and shingle ridges. Every so often a group would rise up high and head south only to be replaced by more birds streaming in from the north. As always a moving sight and hopefully the first of many such days to come.
A trickle of Yellow Wagtails and Mipits also passed over, plus our first local Grey Wagtail of the year, and two Wheatears on the Desert. A flock of 50 small waders whipped over south lake from the west comprising mostly Ringed Plovers along with a few Dunlin and Sanderling, while around the willow swamp several Common Whitethroats, Reed and Willow warblers noted. The highlight on north lake, for about ten minutes, was two Black Terns.
In the humid atmosphere a Clouded Yellow flew over the ponds and up to 10 Common Blues were on the wing along the main track. Back home in the Plovers garden the insect interest continued with Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Painted Lady, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood all visiting the various nectar-rich flowers.
Lydd Allotment  - This afternoon whilst toiling away picking beans, cobs and flowers on the allotment several Tweets alerted us to a small movement of Honey Buzzards crossing the peninsula, and low and behold it wasn't long before one flew over being mobbed by a crow - oh, the wonders of social media, thanks PB!
ARC - Plenty of activity here too with the juv White-winged Tern still out over the lake amongst 5 Black Terns and hundreds of Swallows and martins. Waders included Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Knot and Redshank, plus the usual Golden Plovers and Lapwings, while the bushes down towards the pines held two Spotted Flycatchers, a Lesser Whitethroat and several Willow Warblers. Two Ravens flew through and several parties of Yellow Wagtails headed south.

Saturday 29 August 2015

White-winged Tern

Lade - mild, cloudy, se 2 - We flogged around the local patch this morning without much success in what appeared to be perfect drift migrant weather conditions. However, several each of Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat were noted around the willow swamp, along with a couple of hundred hirundines over south lake, mainly Sand Martins. Even Mockmill let us down with just a single Lesser Whitethroat of any note.
The Plovers moth trap held mostly Setaceous Hebrew Characters with the only quality insect being a worn Bordered Straw.
ARC - Having not been in Hanson hide for a few days I was not surprised, but a little dismayed, at how quickly the water level had risen, covering most of the smaller islands. However, 100 Golden Plovers and Lapwings were present, plus a Ruff, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Garganey and two flyover Ravens. Eventually, the juvenile White-winged Tern put in an appearance, amongst a flock of 7 Black Terns, and even briefly landed on an island for a spot of preening.

                               White-winged Tern, ARC

Dungeness - We finished off with an hour at the fishing boats this afternoon, along with a band of hardy locals. Apart from a few terns (including 2 Black Terns), Gannets, a Fulmar and two Balearic Shearwaters, that were closer to Cap-Griz-Nez than Dungeness ( I really must get a new `scope...) all was quiet. The highlight being a Herring Gull rescue from an anglers line, and the state-of-the-art Trinity House Vessel, Galatea steaming imperiously up-Channel, a magnificent sight.

                               THV Galatea, Dungeness

Friday 28 August 2015

A fall of migrants

Dungeness - 0600-0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw 2 - I only had the chance of three hours in the field today, so elected for an early start down at the point, a decision that proved most profitable.
Firstly, an hour from the seawatch hide delivered 2 Balearic Shearwaters, both just outside the buoy, plus a steady flow of Gannets, Commic and Sandwich Terns, 3 Arctic Skuas and 5 Black Terns. The Patch was alive with mainly Black-headed and Herring Gulls, while two Whimbrels flew south calling.

                                          Wheatear and Willow Warbler, Dungeness

Around the lighthouse garden several Willow Warblers basked in the warm sunshine and two juvenile Kestrels noisily flew around the old light. Moving over to the Desert and southern end of the Trapping Area it was apparent that a decent fall of migrants was underway with 20 Wheatears, 4 Whinchats, 2 Stonechats and a Common Redstart noted. Several Common Whitethroats, 10 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher were along the edge of the Trapping Area, while a Grey Wagtail flew over calling. Several pulses of Sand Martins moved south as 20 Yellow Wagtails and 30 Mipits came and went. Finally, whilst chatting to DW two Common Buzzards passed overhead and 3 Black Redstarts showed well along the power station fence, including a cracking adult male in song. A superb session, and just what I needed to set me up for a day in Folkestone...

Thursday 27 August 2015

Black and White-winged Terns

Wednesday - Chobham Common and Bagshot Heath - After dropping off family in Windsor yesterday I headed off to check out several heathland sites straddling the Surrey/Berks border for articles, although I didn`t expect to be sitting in the car for three hours sheltering from thunder, lightening and torrential rain! Eventually, the storm passed over by early afternoon leaving many of the surrounding roads impassable due to flood water and broken cars and at one spot sewer covers had lifted and a great geyser of foul water was spouting forth.
Needless to say the heathlands were awash with run off and there was little wildlife activity. The purple heather was in full flower though and looked most spectacular, while the habitat still appeared in good order at a couple of old haunts that I used to visit for Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler. Infact, Chobham was were I saw my first breeding Red-backed Shrike, in 1968, when together with Mutley Clarke and Kevin Downer we cycled down from Rickmansworth, happy days...
By late afternoon the sun broke through bringing forth a number of Red Kites just about everywhere we went, a species I most definitely would not have seen 40 odd years ago.

                               Chobham Common

                                Bagshot Heath

Thursday - Lade - wet, cloudy, sw 5 - 0700hrs - The poor weather continued, but despite the strong wind there was a decent flock of migrants in the shelter of the ponds comprising 10 Willow Warblers, 5 Common Whitethroats, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Spotted Flycatcher. Several hundred martins were over north lake with at least 100 House Martins. An Old Lady was of note in the Plovers moth trap.

                                Old Lady, Plovers

                                Willow Warblers, Lade Ponds

Out on the bay on an incoming tide there was still up to 500 Dunlins and Sanderlings, plus 20 Knots. 10 Ringed Plovers and 10 Barwits; the Curlews and Oystercatchers had already departed to roost.
An afternoon visit yielded 5 Black Terns over north lake, a Hobby and two Whimbrels south.
ARC - News came through of more Black Terns over ARC, plus a juvenile White-winged Tern, our fourth of the year on the bird reserve.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

A scattering of chats

Lade - cool, sunny, sw 2 - 0600hrs - We made the most of the early morning weather conditions with a tour of the local patch and straight away it was apparent there`d been a fall of chats with a couple of Wheatears and Stonechats at the bottom of Taylor Road. Criss-crossing the Desert and storm ridges eventually delivered a tally of 10 Wheatears, 4 Stonechats and 3 Whinchats; up to 10 Common Whitethroats were also in the mix, while Barney flushed two Snipe from Mockmill Sewer. Around the Willow Swamp a handful of Willow and Reed Warblers, Robins and tits noted, plus 100 Sand Martins and 20 Swifts over south lake and 2 Whimbrels over calling.
As is often the case when there`s a break in weather fronts, raptors were out in force taking advantage of the calm to hunt following another wet night. Four different Marsh Harriers quartered the rough ground behind the `mirrors` along with 2 Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.
ARC - 1200hrs - The distant cormorant island once again proved attractive to feeding waders with yesterdays Temminck`s Stint still present alongside a Little Stint, 3 Dunlin, 2 Ruff and a Common Sandpiper. Elsewhere, 3 Wood Sandpipers, 2 more Ruff, 2 LRPs, Redshank, a mixed flock of 150 Golden Plovers and Lapwings, 2 Black Terns, Garganey and Pintail.
And then the rain and gale force winds hit the peninsula...

Monday 24 August 2015

Distant stints

ARC - 1500 & 1800hrs - mild, sunshine and showers, sw 3 - News came through this afternoon of a Temminck`s Stint on the Cormorant island. However, the light was poor, initially, and views were distant, while the bird was alongside a classic juvenile Little Stint, which looked huge by comparison (how often do you see the two species side by side...). Due to the dramatic size difference and lack of plumage details, Least Sandpiper was mooted, but the bird was behaving like a Temminck`s Stint with a jerky and precise feeding action. The legs were pale, greenish yellow, and due to its size the bird had to be either a Temminck`s, Least Sandpiper or Long-toed Stint (well, we can dream!). Anyhow, during the course of the afternoon and early evening a number of observers with high powered scopes, plus the improving light conditions, confirmed it as a Temminck`s, the clincher being the white outer tail feathers noted in flight. Mind you, I`d still like to see it on a closer island tomorrow, if it remains overnight.
Other birds noted included Wood and Common Sandpipers, Ruff, LRP, Garganey, Black Tern and Peregrine.

Sunday 23 August 2015

Yellow Wagtails and Arctic Skuas

Lade - warm, overcast, dry, sunny, e 2 - 0600hrs - Another muggy night delivered a host of moths in the Plovers mv, including three Bordered Straws, Archer`s Dart,White-point and Dark Sword-grass.
We scoured the local patch in what appeared to be good drift migrant conditions, and indeed a steady overhead passage of Yellow Wagtails was underway (c100 during two hours) and even a few Mipits and Linnets. At first glance the Desert seemed barren, but eventually yielded six Wheatears and two Whinchats, plus one party of 20 grounded Yellow Wagtails.
South lake was thick with hirundines, mainly Sand Martins and 50 Swifts, at first but on the return walk the lot had gone - they`d probably sensed the incoming rain and decided to head for France early. Around the margins two Common Sandpipers and a Snipe fed amongst the water weed.
The willow swamp was a little disappointing with just a few Reed Warblers and a single Sedge of note.

                                        Archer`s Dart, Plovers

ARC - On the way back from the allotment a call into Hanson hide revealed the usual mob of Golden Plovers and Lapwings on the islands, plus six Ruffs, two Wood Sandpipers, three Snipe, five LRPs, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint and Spotted Redshank. Leaving the hide more Yellow Wagtails passed overhead and ten Swifts, just as the first spots of rain fell.
If the rainfall levels actually occur as forecast by the Met Office this coming week I doubt whether many of the wader-friendly islands will be above water come next weekend.
Lade - With the rain band quickly passing over this afternoon a recheck of the local patch revealed 100 Swifts over south lake, another 50 Yellow Wagtails overhead and a Pied Flycatcher in the willows beside the ponds.
Dungeness - After having a look at another Pied Flit in the lighthouse garden we joined TG at the fishing boats for an hour seawatching, which was notable for up to six Arctic Skuas tooing and froing chasing Sandwich Terns. Also, a trickle of Common Terns and Gannets, two Kittiwakes, a distant Balearic ( which I missed) and two pulses of Swifts out totalling 100 birds. More Yellow Wagtails were on the beach beside the concrete road and two Wheatears.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Moth heaven

Lade - hot, dry, sunny, e se 2 - When I went out to check the garden MV last night several small pipestrelle type bats were hawking insects by the fir trees and the light was swarming with moths, so it was no surprise this morning that over 50 species of macros were present. And there were some real crackers with several new for the year including Square-spot Rustic, Gold Spot, Sharp-angled Peacock, plus a second emergence White Spot. Still, looking at the weather forecast for next week the muggy, moth-friendly conditions look to be short lived with wet, windy and cool temperatures to follow by Monday.

                                Gold Spot, Plovers

                                          White Spot, Plovers

We flogged around the local patch in blistering heat and apart from a couple of Willow Warblers in a tit flock migrants were absent. However, it was not so barren for raptors with a 30 minute scan from the aerial mound delivering two each of soaring Common Buzzards and Marsh Harriers, plus Kestrel and Sparrowhawk over.
ARC - On the way back from the allotment we called into Hanson hide where waders were few due to being flushed by a group of holidaymakers walking between the hides. However, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper and three Snipe were present amongst the Golden Plovers and Lapwings on the steadily disappearing islands. Out on the lake a Garganey, six Wigeon, two Red-crested Pochards and our first Pintail of the autumn noted amongst the common ducks.

                                Garganey, ARC

Lade - Too hot to do much this afternoon so with high tide around 4pm we went for a cooling swim in the bay, accompanied by screeching Sandwich Terns overhead etched in a clear blue sky - perfection.

Friday 21 August 2015

Seabirds and waders

Dungeness - warm, dry, sunny, s 2 - Spent the day guiding for John from Hereford with a brief of trying to find a few seabirds, Corn Bunting and Turtle Dove, a tall order for the latter two species now the breeding season is over.
However, an hour at the seawatch hide delivered a few Gannets, Common Scoters, Sandwich and Common Terns, an Arctic Tern, two small flocks of Dunlins and Knots and a dark phase Arctic Skua, plus 10 Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal, so not too bad a start considering the calm weather.
At the Patch there was little of note, but along the power station wall Clouded Yellow and Hummingbird Hawk-moth noted. The bushes were devoid of migrants, although we did manage to find six Wheatears on the beach opposite Jarman`s.

                                Wheatears, Dungeness

Scotney - The usual Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Curlews, Common and Green Sandpipers, Little Egret, two Spoonbills and masses of feral geese on the front fields, while up to 30 Yellow Wagtails and two Whinchats out back and one brief view of a Corn Bunting.
Midley - A few finches and Tree Sparrows around the drying barns with more at Bayham Farm, plus a Turtle Dove amongst numerous Stock and Collared Doves, tits, finches, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier.
ARC - A cracking mid-afternoon session here with a host of waders including 150 Golden Plovers, five Wood Sandpipers, four Knots, Redshank, Grey Plover, Snipe, LRP, Dunlin and Blackwit. Also, a Garganey amongst the dabblers, two Red-crested Pochards on the water, four Black Terns over the lake and two Sparrowhawks that flushed the lot.

                                Red-crested Pochards, ARC

                               Passage waders, ARC

Dungeness - We finished the afternoon on a high with an hour at the boats being entertained by a group of fishing Sandwich and Common Terns, a juv Arctic Tern, a few Gannets and Common Scoters, close Harbour Porpoises and, best of all, a stunning close Balearic Shearwater - result!
We rattled up 75 species during the day for John, which included some quality birds for a land-locked birder, with the shearwater being the highlight.
Lade - An evening visit to the beach was memorable for a large flock of small waders close to shore opposite the boardwalk comprising 600 Dunlins and 200 Sanderlings.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Waders, terns and a smart moth

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, rain clearing, sw 2 - A mid-morning saunter down the point and a glance at the sea revealed a few Gannets offshore and a party of 12 Common and two Black Terns west; while the early morning seawatchers reported a decent passage of terns and waders, plus a couple of Arctic Skuas. Also, two Clouded Yellow butterflies, one along the power station wall and another in the moat.
Whilst chatting to PB news came through from DW of `very interesting` moth at the Obs - and what a cracker it was too, a pristine Bedstraw Hawk-moth, a rare migrant and new for the DBO trap site.

                               Bedstraw Hawk-moth, Dungeness Bird Observatory

ARC - Another good show of waders from Hanson hide this afternoon with at least seven Wood Sandpipers the highlight, along with 200 Lapwings, 50 Golden Plovers, four Knot, three Blackwits, Ruff, Greenshank and Dunlin. Also two Garganey amongst the dabblers and two Red-crested Pochards within the diving ducks out on the lake.

                               Arctic Tern juvenile, Dungeness

Dungeness  - Back at the fishing boats the regulars were just leaving, having not reported much apart from a small flock of terns feeding close to shore and a single Balearic in two hours. Anyhow, we decided to tough out an hour, during which time I attempted to photograph a juvenile Arctic Tern with the bridge camera; flight shots being a `challenge` with such a camera, but the terns were very close, diving down for sprats and eventually I got one acceptable shot. The obvious field mark that straight away picks out a juv Arctic from a Common in flight are the white secondaries and rump. On closer inspection the primaries are paler with a dark hind wing-bar, a thinner black carpal-bar, a paler underwing and a smaller, all dark bill. As always a smart bird, and I couldn`t help but wonder where on earth that little bundle of feathers will be by the end of the year...
Also, two Harbour Porpoises came in close, as did a Grey Seal, and just as we left a pulse of 150 Sand Martins headed out to sea, with many more coming down the beach as we drove off the estate. 

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Grey Ghost on Walland Marsh

Lade - cool, cloudy, rain, se 2 - A decent batch of moths in the garden trap this morning included another Scarce Chocolate-tip and, new for the year, Yellow-barred Brindle. Very little happening over the pits, apart from a few Willow Warblers, but the bay was an altogether different proposition with over a thousand waders to sift through on a flood tide. At midday we wandered down to the Tavern where most of the little `uns were feeding and with the beach devoid of holidaymakers enjoyed a pleasant hour wader watching. A juvenile Little Stint was the pick of the bunch amongst hundreds of Sanderlings and Dunlins, while a flock of 30 Redshanks dropped, the highest number this month, plus small numbers of Knot, Ringed Plover and Grey Plover.

                                Scarce Chocolate-tip, Plovers

Dungeness - An hour at the fishing boats with PB this afternoon delivered little movement on the sea apart from a trickle of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, plus two Arctics.
Greatstone Beach - Couldn`t resist another look at the beach on an ebb tide this evening with CP. If anything there was even more Dunlins and Sanderlings than this morning and up to 100 Ringed Plovers.
Walland Marsh - Despite the murky weather with a steady drizzle we pressed on to Walland where our first Marsh Harrier was the pale and distinctively marked adult male we saw on our last visit. Another five individuals came and went, but as we were watching them a stunning adult male Hen Harrier emerged from a pea field and flew around nice and close showing off its Bullfinch-like rump and grey plumage before drifting away; later we picked it up again, distantly, just before nightfall. Also in the area 100 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Reed Buntings, Linnets, Tree Sparrow, Kestrel, Reed Warbler and Bearded Tit.
On the way home we noted two Foxes on the lane and a Badger bounding around in a stubble field at a fair old lick.

Monday 17 August 2015

A trio of Tigers

Lade - warm, dry, cloudy, ne 2 - The past couple of days have been much of a muchness on the local patch front with a trickle of Common Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher in the willow swamp, plus a few Yellow Wagtails and loads of Sand Martins over. Reed Warblers are still feeding second brood youngsters and this morning three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were a nice surprise on the wooden power line poles. The island at the south end of the lake, which was about a foot above the water level, has now submerged after last Thursday`s deluge. The beach continues to yield several hundred Dunlins and Sanderlings, a few Knot, Grey Plover and Barwit, plus yesterday a flock of 50 Tundra Plovers.
  With light winds overnight the Plovers moth trap has been busier than of late with several Jersey Tigers and more Bordered Straws the highlights, plus Copper Underwing and Garden Dart new for the year.

                               Copper Underwing, Plovers                               

                                A trio of Tigers, Plovers

ARC - A nice collection of waders were on show from Hanson hide this afternoon with 30 Golden Plovers amongst the Lapwings and a roosting Spotted Redshank. On distant islands four Wood Sandpipers, two Ruffs and a Common Sandpiper added to the collection, while the Black-necked Grebe was viewable from the south end. Outside the hide on a patch of ragwort a Jersey Tiger posed for the camera.

                                Jersey Tiger, ARC

                                Roosting Spotted Redshank, ARC

Lade - Whilst checking the shorebirds late afternoon a Tweet came through from PB of a juv White-winged Tern off the fishing boats heading our way, but despite an extensive search we had no joy. At least 100 Sandwich and 20 Common Terns were sat out on the sands and the small wader flock hit 500 with Dunlins and Sanderlings in the vanguard and 50 Tundra Plovers still present. Small numbers of Knot, Barwit, Grey Plover and Redshank also noted, plus the usual Curlews and Oystercatchers.

Saturday 15 August 2015

Returning Cattle Egret

Lade - warm, dry, cloudy, nw 2 - A fresher feel to things this morning due to the wind swinging round to a north-westerly vector. A decent catch of moths in the Plovers trap with the uninspiring White Satin Moth new for the site; also of note five Bordered Straws and four White-points.
Of note in the willow swamp was a migrant Spotted Flycatcher, our first of the autumn, plus several Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats and a Whimbrel over calling.

                                             White Satin, Plovers

Boulderwall - A Cattle Egret pitched up on the fields at Boulderwall this morning, typically amongst the cows, complementing the two Great White Egrets on Dengemarsh. By the time we arrived this afternoon it was lurking at the back end of Cook`s Pool showing intermittently amongst the reeds. A few Yellow Wagtails went over, as did a Sparrowhawk with prey, while a Grey Heron dispatched a large fish just in front of us.
ARC - From Screen hide just the usual Lapwings, several Common Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers, plus a Hobby over chasing Swallows.

Friday 14 August 2015

A day of chats and waders

Dungeness - 0730hrs - misty start, warm, dry sunny later, sw 2 - Spent the day guiding for Diana from London and Steve from California. We kicked off with a seawatch from the hide with the usual Gannets and Sandwich Terns drifting by, plus singles of Kittiwake, Common Scoter and our first Red-throated Diver of the autumn, an adult in breeding plumage. Moving onto the Patch where it was heaving with mainly Herring, Black-headed and Black-back Gulls, but in amongst the throng were two each of Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls, 10 Common Terns and singles of Arctic and Black Terns.
Best of all though was along the wall and in the compound of A Plant where five Wheatears, two Black Redstarts, four Willow Warblers, a Whinchat, several Pied Wagtails and Linnets posed for the guests. The usual Kestrels were present around the old light, while opposite Jarman`s we noted at least 10 Wheatears and two Stonechats.

                               Whinchat amongst the razor wire, Dungeness

RSPB  - From the causeway road a Curlew Sandpiper showed well at the south end of ARC. A circuit of the bird reserve clocked up all the expected species so, two Great White Egrets, five Marsh Harriers, Hobby, Kestrel, Common Whitethroats, Reed and Willow Warblers, two Tree Sparrows, Common Sandpiper, two Wheatears and most surprisingly a flyover Wigeon (our first of the autumn) and a Barn Owl sat on the edge of a willow by the viewing ramp.
Scotney Pits - The two Spoonbills were on the pit to the east of the access road, which was handy, while the front field was smothered in hundreds of feral geese, including the Barnacles and Snow/Emperor types returned from their `northern` breeding grounds in, well, north Kent, I think...
Anyhow, moving onto `proper` birds a good selection of waders was on offer with 500 Golden Plovers and Lapwings providing the spectacle, plus 20 Blackwits, five Ruff and two Grey Plovers the quality. Also noted here, 10 Redshanks, 20 Curlews, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and ten Yellow Wagtails down by the farm.

                               The Barnacles are back, Scotney

ARC - We finished off with hundreds of Lapwings, five Dunlins and a Little Stint from Hanson, plus all the usual eclipse ducks and a Peregrine that spooked the lot.
A terrific days birding around the peninsula, in great company, during which time we rattled up 82 species with the morning chats and afternoon waders the highlights for our guests.

Thursday 13 August 2015

Greatstone waders

Lade - am. muggy, cloudy, rain, ne 3 - Infact that doesn't even begin to describe the extreme weather of late morning as an incredible thunder and lightening storm hit the peninsula, followed by torrential rain so intense for about an hour that I thought the ground floor of the cottage was going to be flooded. Fortunately, only the porch and garage went under water, but I suspect many folk locally weren`t so lucky.
Greatstone Beach - By mid-afternoon the storm clouds passed and the sun broke through so we headed for the beach on an ebb tide with hardly any holidaymakers around and had a terrific hour of wader watching. The icing on the cake were two Curlew Sandpipers and a Little Stint, plus 25 Knots, 10 Grey Plovers, 300 Dunlins, 150 Sanderlings, 250 Curlews, 300 Oystercatchers, 10 Barwits, 10 Ringed Plovers and two Redshanks. Also present hundreds of Black-headed and Common Gulls, two Med Gulls, 100 Sandwich Terns and six Teal.

                               Waders, gulls and Sandwich Terns, Greatstone Beach

Dungeness - Called in at the boats and joined TG and PB on what was a pedestrian seawatch comprising a trickle of Gannets and Sandwich Terns. I attempted to visit Hanson hide but chickened out due to the flooded access road into the car park.  

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Temminck`s Stint

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, drizzle - Following a day off the Marsh yesterday it was good to walk the local patch this morning with my hairy mate, despite the murky weather conditions. The Curlew flock came off the bay with the incoming tide and eventually 288 went to roost on the Desert, plus four Barwits. At least five Common Sandpipers fed on the water weed on the margins of south lake, while hundreds of Sand Martins swarmed over the surface.

                               Roosting Curlews, Lade Desert

ARC - Called in at Hanson hide on the way back from Lydd mid-morning, expecting to see yesterdays Curlew Sandpiper, only to be surprised by a Temminck`s Stint, recently discovered by the locals, scurrying about amongst the Dunlins and LRPs. In recent times this tiny wader has become something of a rarity; the last one I saw locally was back in 2011, also on ARC. With their short legs, low slung body and precise feeding gait Temminck`s Stint are distinctive enough, but can easily be overlooked when creeping about on a shingle island. It was also handy having other small waders nearby such as Dunlin and Common Sandpiper, that looked gigantic in comparison. Also present were Wood and Green Sandpipers, two Ruff, Blackwit and loads of Lapwings, plus a Black Tern and several Yellow Wagtails.

                               Temminck`s Stint, ARC - record shot

Screen hide - 1500hrs - Couldn't resist seconds on the stint this afternoon and watched it for 30 minutes from Screen hide feeding and bathing alongside three species of sandpipers, Dunlins, LRPs and ten Blackwits. Also a Garganey amongst the Gadwall and a Hobby over. 

Monday 10 August 2015

Webb`s Wainscot

Lade - mild, cloudy, sw 2 - An overcast day with the threat of rain that never materialised. The past couple of nights have been uneventful in the Plovers moth trap, apart from a Webbs`s Wainscot which is just about annual here, although numbers remain in the low 20s of macro species. A couple of Willow Warblers fed in the garden first thing and a Greenshank went over calling.

                                             Webb`s Wainscot, Plovers
ARC - From Hanson hide the now expected large numbers of eclipse wildfowl, Lapwings, Coots and grebes, plus Wood Sandpiper, Blackwit and three each of Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Dunlin. Plenty of Sand Martins over the water, several Willow Warblers in the scrub by Tower Pits and a Hobby overhead was about it. 

Saturday 8 August 2015

Drift migrants

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, e 3 -With an overnight easterly sea breeze it was no surprise to find the first drift migrants of the season on the local patch and elsewhere around the peninsula this morning. The highlights were two Whinchats and five Wheatears on the desert, plus 10 Common Whitethroats in the scrub and a trickle of Yellow Wagtails and Mipits over.
The garden moth trap delivered too with a late Sussex Emerald and the seasons` first Pale Grass Eggar, a Dungeness speciality, amongst 35 species of macros which also included Dark Sword-grass, new for the year.

                                Pale Grass Eggar

Galloways - With the ranges silent we walked the road down to the sea and back where more drift migrants were grounded in scrub and turf, mostly by the half-way gate and near the gatehouse entrance. Totals as follows: five Whinchats, 10 Wheatears, 10 Stonechats, 20 Common Whitethroats, two Lesser Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler, plus numerous Mipits, Linnets, Blackbirds, Wrens, Dunnock and Robin.
Dengemarsh - From Springfield Bridge two Great White Egrets and a Raven over, plus the usual wildfowl and harriers.
ARC - Single figures of Wood, Common and Green Sandpipers, Golden Plover, Redshank and Dunlins amongst 100 Lapwings viewable from Hanson hide.
Dungeness - 1400-1530hrs - A seawatch from the fishing boats produced very little apart from a few Common and Sandwich Terns, Kittiwakes, three Common Scoters, a Med Gull and several Porpoises.

                                Not more seawatching ...

Friday 7 August 2015

Black Stork over Plovers!

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, sw 2 - After spending yesterday in the field I decided on a quieter day checking the moths (that didn't take long...) and local patch where the highlight was the number of Common Blues on the wing: 52 to be precise, along the track beside south lake.

                               Common Blue, Lade

Returning home I stuck the phone on charge (where there`s dodgy reception) and headed for Mrs PT`s sewing hut in the garden and a session slapping on the paint and listening to the Test Match.
Sitting outside having lunch around 1330hrs I heard the Herring Gulls kicking off again (a Buzzard went along the coast earlier and got the full treatment) and expected to see a Grey Heron or another Buzzard, but almost fell over when the bird in attendance was none other than a Black Stork! Grabbing the bins I watched it drift out of sight towards Dungeness and then rushed in to retrieve the now fully charged phone to get the news out; only to find it was full of missed calls (thanks to one and all) tweets and texts!
Apparently the stork had been picked up over Hythe late morning and was then tracked down the coast to the point, across the RSPB reserve, over Galloways and back east where it was lost from view. PB managed to photograph it in flight, which was the kind of view I had, and no doubt will post a pic on his blog soon: 
Needless to say this is the rarest bird I`ve ever seen from Plovers and ranks way ahead of Bee-eater, Waxwing and Firecrest.

Thursday 6 August 2015

An 80 species day, despite the wind...

Lade - warm, dry, cloudy, sw 5 - A Leopard Moth was only the second trap record amongst 25 macro species, including another July Highflyer.

                                Leopard Moth, Plovers

Dungeness - 0830hrs - Weatherwise the day started and finished on a bright note with cloud cover in between and even a little drizzle, but it was the brisk wind out of the south-west that made it hard going for our four guests. We kicked off with a 30 minute seawatch from the hide noting a trickle of distant Gannets, Kittwakes, Common, Sandwich and five Black Terns, plus a Yellow-legged Gull at the Patch. Elsewhere around the point we managed to log Black Redstart, Wheatear, Skylark, Linnet but not a single warbler. The Kestrel family put on a fine show around the old light.

Scotney - All the usual stuff here, so loads of Yellow and Pied Wagtails, Corn Bunting and two Spoonbills out back, while 50 Curlews, two Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and feral Barnacles, Egyptian Geese on the front fields.
RSPB - Around the bird reserve there were few waders apart from Whimbrel, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpipers and Dunlins, Black-necked Grebe on Burrowes, two Great White Egrets on Dengmarsh, Garganey on ARC, Kingfisher, Marsh Harriers, plus hundreds of Swifts and Sand Martins. Due to the wind we didn't see a warbler all day, but still managed somehow to rack up 80 species, much to the satisfaction of one and all.

                                Great White and Little Egrets, Dengemarsh

                                Black-necked Grebe, Burrowes

NB: A Whiskered Tern was noted amongst a large movement of Common and Black Terns off Dungeness this afternoon (PB).

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Red-crested Pochards and a Black Tern

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, se 2 - The past couple of days on the local patch have been pretty similar with small numbers of Sedge and Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats, Sand Martins, Swifts and Whimbrels passing through the site and overhead, while moth numbers have remained stubbornly low in the garden trap.

                                     Common Darter and Sedge warbler, Lade ponds

Dungeness  - At the point this morning a trickle of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns passed the buoy with two Yellow-legged Gulls at the Patch. Along the power station wall two family parties of Black Redstarts and Pied Wagtails, plus two Willow Warblers. The Peregrine family were active around the power plant sending the Feral Pigeons and gulls skywards. Opposite Jarman`s two brood of Wheatears, Mipit and Skylark noted.
ARC - A Wood Sandpiper showed well from Hanson hide along with Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and five LRPs, while two distant Red-crested Pochards (eclipse drake and a female/juv) were our first of the autumn out on the lake amongst hundreds of common wildfowl. Walking along the track back to the car park at least two Clouded Yellows flew over along with several Painted Ladies and a couple of Willow Warblers in the bushes. From the causeway road a Great White Egret flew towards the reserve.
Lade - With only a breath of wind and an ebb tide it was the perfect evening for a walk along the beach to check for shorebirds. The bulk numbers comprised 1,000 Black-headed Gulls, 300 Common Gulls, 300 Oystercatchers, 230 Curlews, 100 Sandwich Terns, 50 Common Terns, 30 Dunlins, 10 Sanderlings, three Med Gulls and my first ever Black Tern on the sands amongst a flock of ten Common Terns.
Brilliant stuff, and all a mere 200 yards from the front door of Plovers!

                              Rubbish shot, but Black Tern (second from left) was my first here

NB: Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters were reported off Dungeness this morning.

Monday 3 August 2015

Whimbrels and Hen Harrier

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, sw 3 - Numbers of moths in the garden trap continue to be stubbornly low despite the night time temperature remaining in the mid-teens. New for the year though was a Marbled Green, while another Jersey Tiger was most welcome. A couple of Willow Warblers moved through the garden leylandiis and two Whimbrel flew down the coast calling. Very quiet over the lakes with a just a couple of Swifts of note pressing south.

                                   Jersey Tiger

                                 Marbled Green

Burrowes - It was a fairly quiet sultry scene on the bird reserve apart from a Great White Egret on the fields at Boulderwall and two Whimbrels flying over calling on the walk to Firth hide. Another bird then dropped in front of the hide and spent the next 20 minutes drinking, bathing and preening, affording a different Whimbrel experience to the normal one of birds on pastureland probing turf, or simply flying overhead calling. I got the feeling that this individual had flown some distance judging by the amount of water it was taking onboard. Our closest breeding grounds are in northern Scotland and Scandinavia, but it may well have travelled from much further afield, en-route to winter quarters along the west coast of Africa. 

                                Whimbrel bathing, Burrowes

ARC - From Hanson hide three Wood Sandpipers and a Little Stint were the highlights amongst 200 Lapwings, a Redshank, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and three Little Ringed Plovers.
Walland Marsh - We had a run out on the Marsh with CP this evening in humid conditions with threatening black clouds over the Isle of Oxney nudging our way. The standout bird was an adult female Hen Harrier amongst five Marsh Harriers, two Buzzards, Kestrel and Hobby on the raptor front. Also noted, Yellow Wagtails, Reed Buntings, Skylark, Mipit, Little Owl and two Turtle Doves.
A good evening for mammals too with Badger, Fox, two Leverets and several small bats noted.

                                Sunset over the Isle of Oxney