Saturday 31 October 2015

Woodcocks and Dusky Warbler

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, se 2 - 1000hrs - We spent most of the day wandering around the peninsula in balmy, almost summer-like weather conditions and getting further views of the Dusky Warbler in a private garden at the Sanctuary. Inevitably we bumped into some old birding faces from Bedfordshire amongst a steady procession of twitchers paying homage to the warbler.
Out on the desert and along the edge of the trapping area Barney was on top form flushing at least 3 Woodcocks, our first of the autumn; also noted 2 Coal Tits of the continental variety, 2 Chiffchaffs, 10 Goldcrests, 20 Robins, 2 Stonechats, 3 Black Redstarts, 30 Goldfinches, 20 Linnets, 5 Reed Buntings, a Grey Plover over calling and a trickle of Skylarks overhead. There was no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler seen earlier in the north-east corner of the trapping area.

                                Woodcock flusher

After a bite to eat we spent the afternoon by the fishing boats where there was limited seabird activity apart from a few distant auks, Gannets and Kittiwakes, plus 5 Brents and 2 Red-throated Divers west bound. We then joined Mick the gull aficionado who was on site at high tide with his usual bucket of fish guts, bread and popcorn to entice a Caspian or Yellow-legged Gull into camera range, but there was little happening so we yarned on a bit before departing to watch 30 blokes from the southern hemisphere knocking lumps out of one another at Twickenham.

                                Gulls and Turnstone, Dungeness

Friday 30 October 2015

Gravel pits

Lade - mild, cloudy, se 3 - Decided on a tour of the local gravel pits this morning commencing at the local patch where, due to a brisk southerly wind, north lake was the favoured water for over a thousand Coots, grebes and wildfowl. There was plenty of activity in the shelter of the willow swamp with a large mixed tit flock dragging in several Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and at least one Firecrest. Also noted Kingfisher, 2 Cetti`s Warblers and calling Water Rails.
ARC/New Diggings - From the causeway road 2 Black-necked Grebes, a Great White Egret, two Ravens over and a late Swallow.
Scotney - All the usual feral geese, Lapwings, Goldies, Wigeon and diving ducks, plus 5 Ringed Plovers, 2 Dunlins, 2 Redshanks, a Ruff and several Marsh Harriers and Kestrels out back.
Pigwell  - Pretty quiet wildfowl wise but a passerine flock in the bushes by the farmhouse proved interesting with a number of finches, tits, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Reed Buntings and Goldcrests. A recently ploughed fields attracted large numbers of corvids, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves and 30 Skylarks.

                               Barnacle Geese, Scotney

Greatstone Beach - Checked the sands from the Tavern this afternoon on an ebb tide where there were thousands of Black-headed and Common Gulls present. All the usual waders including 100 Knots, 25 Barwits and 15 Ringed Plovers.

Thursday 29 October 2015


Dungeness - mild, dry, cloudy, se 4 - Haven`t done much seawatching of late due to being away and the winds being `wrong` before that. However, with a favourable southerly airflow we did a couple of hours at either end of the day from the fishing boats with the regulars.
A steady flow of several hundred Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks made up the bulk of the seabirds passing down Channel, most of `em close to shore with the Gannets plunge diving for fish en-route.
In the morning singles of Pomarine and Arctic Skuas, 2 Red-throated Divers were logged plus several small flocks of coasting Pied Wagtails, Mipits, Goldfinches and a Swallow, while in the afternoon the additions were 10 Sandwich Terns, 15 Brents, 20 Common Scoters, 6 Dunlins, an aberrant white-winged Herring/Yellow-legged Gull, a Med Gull and a Gadwall.  
The Dusky Warbler was again present in cover in the Sanctuary area.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Night flight

Lade  - warm, dry, sunny, s 2 - One of the great joys about living down here on the edge of the sea on the Dungeness National Nature Reserve is the ebb and flow of two of our most charismatic waders as they move between roost sites and feeding grounds at high and low tide respectively. Oystercatchers and Curlews are birds I see and hear on a daily basis and currently there are about a 1,000 present on the bay.
Yesterday evening whilst sitting in the garden in balmy weather conditions, moon-watching, the tide turned and over they came. The Curlews are always first and tend to fly high over the cottage, but my favourites are the Oystercatchers with their constant clammering and low angle of flight. You can hear the swish of their wing beats and see their white bellies as they almost skim the roof. A marvellous spectacle.

                                Grounded Song Thrushes, Lade

Song Thrushes are birds I only see down here on the coast in the autumn and last night there was a drop in of around 15 birds scattered across the shingle scrub along with several Redwings and Blackbirds. Goldcrests were still present around the willow swamp, while south lake was packed out with the usual wildfowl, Coots and grebes.
An evening visit to Mockmill yielded a single Short-eared Owl hunting over the sewer which spent some time defending its catch from a female Kestrel that persistently harried it on the ground. Huge numbers of corvids flew over at dusk, mainly Jackdaws, to roost over the Oppen pits way.

Monday 26 October 2015

Dusky Warbler

Dungeness - mild, dry, sunny, se 3 - With John and Linda down for a days birding the portents were good as the fabled south-easterly airflow washed over the peninsula. We kicked off with a 30 minute seawatch from the hide during which time at least 50 Gannets, most of them very close to shore, passed up-Channel, plus singles of Med Gull and Brent Goose. As we made our way to the Patch hide we were delayed by several Black Redstarts, Mipits, a Grey Wagtail, Chiffchaff, 10 Swallows and a number of Goldcrests along the way.
  We then flushed a small, brown warbler from the sea samphire by the power station wall and over the next hour or so had frustrating views of this little skulker as it flew between patches of cover. From the flight views the dark back appeared uniform in colour and eventually we glimpsed a strong off-white supercilium. I began to consider it being Dusky/Radde`s Warbler so alerted DW at the Obs who in turn informed the troops. The bill appeared to be tiny - and then it called twice, a hard and distinctive `check` note, similar to Lesser Whitethroat, which for me was the clincher, it had to be a Dusky Warbler. Unfortunately, it then flew along the wall, round the corner and out of sight in the direction of the lighthouse garden. However, it was relocated within the hour in Westbeach scrub, confirmed as Dusky Warbler and photographed by MC ( ).
  Although the rarity stole the show this morning we also had plenty of other migrants around the point including: 20 Black Redstart, 20 Pied Wagtail, 20 Mipit, 50 Goldfinch, 20 Goldcrest, 10 Blackbird, and a Ring Ouzel in the moat.  Also seen this afternoon a Great Grey Shrike in the long pits/trapping area (TG) and a Dartford Warbler near the estate entrance (SG).

                               Black Redstart, one of the many seen today

Burrowes - The main spectacle here was a mixed flock of Great White and Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Cormorants feeding on a shoal of fish at the north end, while a redhead Goosander and 2 Goldeneyes were our first of the season. Also noted a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull, Kingfisher, Chiffchaffs, Tree Sparrows, Snipe, Turnstone, Golden Plovers and Pintails, plus a Continental Coal Tit by the return trail.

                                Great White Egret, Burrows

Scotney - All the usual feral geese on the front fields, plus 300 Golden Plovers, 500 Lapwings and a Ruff. Outback more geese, egrets, a Black-necked Grebe, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Peregrine, 4 Kestrels, 20 Skylarks, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Swallows and a Stonechat, but no sign of the Rough-legged Buzzard.
A circuit of the range road revealed little apart from 5 Mistle Thrushes and Stonechats.
In summary a great days birding for the guests with 87 species clocked up in fine autumn weather.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Staying local

Lade  - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - A cracking morning with broken sunshine and hardly a breath of wind, ideal conditions for checking out the local patch. Virtually the first bird we saw was a Short-eared Owl flushed from cover by a spaniel, which then headed out over the desert and dropped down again onto a grassy ridge. Marsh Harriers and Kestrels were most apparent behind the `mirrors` plus a single Buzzard. The roosting Curlew flock was difficult to count but probably around 300 strong.
South lake was crammed full of even more waterfowl that normal, mainly due to the activities of a fisherman on north lake cruising around in an electric boat disturbing everything. I don't suppose it`ll be long before there`s an incident of sorts over here; a couple of weeks ago it was canoeists, today fishermen, none of them wearing life jackets.
A large passerine flock moved through the willow swamp included at least 18 Long-tailed Tits, several Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, plus a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Cetti`s Warbler and Water Rail nearby. There was still plenty of Linnets and Goldfinches around and 2 Redpolls flew south calling.

                               Lade north

On a falling tide we checked the beach where eight species of waders were present plus hundreds of gulls, mainly Black-headed, plus 3 Meds and 2 Little Gulls, 5 Brent Geese and a Shelduck.
This evening with a glorious sunset in the offing I couldn`t resist another look for Short-eared Owls of which there were two quartering Mockmill, while hundreds of corvids flew to roost along with several Marsh Harriers.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Rough-legged Buzzard

Lade - mild, overcast, sw 3 - First off we checked both lakes where high numbers of wildfowl were still present. The water weed has become so thick in places that it now supports standing Lapwings. A late Swallow and 3 Chiffchaffs were the only migrants of note.
Scotney - We just missed the Rough-legged Buzzard from the double bends but had brief views later from the farm scanning towards Horsebones as it headed out onto Walland Marsh. At least 5 each of Marsh Harrier and Kestrel noted, plus scores of Skylarks, Mipits, Linnets, Pied Wagtails, 5 Corn Buntings and 2 very late Yellow Wagtails around the sheep flock by the farmhouse. The front pits were full of the usual feral geese and ducks, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, 5 Curlews, 2 Redshanks, Little Egrets and the like.

                               Yellow Wagtail, Scotney

Hookers - News came through this aft of a Great Grey Shrike seen from the back track to Lydd where we joined DW, GH and SG for a fruitless scan, although it had been seen just before we arrived. A couple of Great White Egrets and Marsh Harriers flew over before the rain came sending us scurrying for cover and home.

Friday 23 October 2015

Goshawk - bird of the week

Forest of Dean - Looking back over the past week at our stay in the forest there have been more than one or two highlights. The past couple of nights we finally caught up with wild boars, or at least the sound of them as they grunted away into the early hours. When I checked the woodland floor at the bottom of the valley this morning it was as if a tractor and plough had been in there; those beasties certainly can shift some soil in their quest for food.
The Dippers have been great to see along the Wye, as were the black-capped tits and Hawfinches in the forest, but the stand out bird of the week has to be Goshawk, a bird I rarely see now. We had some cracking views, particularly yesterday morning when I watched a bird hunting along a valley and take a Pheasant. Mind you that was no real problem as some of the birds reared for game shooting locally were almost tame, an easy meal for such a powerful raptor.
Whilst on the subject of plastic Pheasants, travelling home along the M4 today we noted hundreds dead on the motorway and at one spot near Swindon saw several fly strait into the side of lorries and explode in a cloud of blood, guts and feathers. I`ve always thought what a pointless waste of time and money (quite apart from the cruelty of it all) the Pheasant shooting industry is, rearing a tame bird just so some `sportsman` can blast it out of the sky at point blank range.

                                Magpie fungus (probably), Forest of Dean

Lade - Anyhow, we arrived home late afternoon and couldn`t resist a run out over the local patch. As it was calm we set out across the desert to Mockmill and settled down to watch, and it wasn`t long before at least 3 Short-eared Owls were quartering the rough ground towards the airport, all the while being hassled by crows. A Merlin shot through chasing Mipits (without success) and 5 Marsh Harriers headed to roosts towards the bird reserve. As the light went the Water Rails began to squeal and a huge flock of 500 or so Jackdaws passed west.

                                Jackdaws heading to roost

                                Short-eared Owl, Mockmill

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Tree Fever

Forest of Dean - We`ve covered a fair bit of ground these past few days, up hill and down dale, amongst the forest and watercourses and visited the RSPB reserve at Nagshead, Symonds Yat, Tintern and Highmeadow, plus various other viewpoints along the way, some affording commanding views across the woodland canopy and river Wye.
In places the forest has retained an atmosphere of the old wild wood with some fine stands of oak, beech and yew, many on the steeper slopes seemingly untouched by human hands, despite evidence of coal mine shafts and charcoal pits locally. At this time of year the deciduous trees are on the turn with maple, chestnut and beech providing great splashes of colour amongst the leaf fall, and with the weather being kind the light has only added to the spectacle.
However, while its not the best time of year for birds there has still been plenty to see (and mostly hear) with all the expected woodland species on offer. Roving flocks of tits and Goldcrests are everywhere, including Marsh Tit and at one location Willow Tit, a species now finished in Kent. On the finch front, Chaffinches are abundant followed by Goldfinches, plus scatterings of Siskins, Redpolls and Crossbills and one flock of 5 Hawfinches at the Nagshead reserve feeding on beech mast, while Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay and the two woodpeckers are commonplace. 
As for raptors, we`ve had two more sightings of Goshawks, of which I suspect there is a very healthy population hereabouts and Peregrines at Symonds Yat, where there was also a flock of 12 White-fronts on the river Wye below.
We`ve not encountered wild boar as yet, but their presence is notable throughout the forest where they`ve turned over the grassy rides searching for food, while roe deer have been glimpsed twice now.

                                Symonds Yat

                                            Ancient Yew, Tintern

                                Nagshead RSPB reserve, Forest of Dean

In places the forest setting is like something out of a Tolkien novel - at any moment you quite expect to see a hobbit pop out of a grassy bank, or an elf up in the canopy, or maybe some black riders cantering down a green lane on great slavering steeds...
Actually, I think I`m suffering from Tree Fever, as while a change of scene is good for the soul, and the Forest of Dean is undeniably beautiful, and I`m loving it, and I`m getting some work done, I am missing the wide open spaces and big skies of Romney Marsh, the shingle and sea. It just too claustrophobic here, too many trees, I need more light... more wind... back home soon...

Sunday 18 October 2015

Dippers and a Goshawk

Forest of Dean - We`ve now moved north and left a bit, pitching up on the western Marches of the Forest of Dean near the Welsh borderlands, or as Pat succinctly put it, "in the middle-of-nowhere", and its great; it must be about as remote as you can get in this over-crowded island of ours. At night time all that can be heard is the belching and farting of dairy cattle, the `steep` calls of migrating Redwings and distant, hooting Tawny Owls. There`s not a speck of incandescent light anywhere, just stars and a waning moon, superb.
However, come daybreak and the atmosphere soon changes, as the maize harvest is well underway and the narrow lanes become hazardous highways as tractors and trailers commute between field and silo, at breakneck speed, with this valuable forage crop used to feed cattle, sheep and the like. Having not been down this way for a while I was surprised at the acreages that are now grown on such poor soils (red, shale and acidic), but apparently it is a recent phenomenon made possible by new plant varieties that allow this hungry crop to flourish under certain local conditions, providing it is grown on hill tops and slopes with a southern aspect, where it receives maximum sunlight, and is regularly fertilised with slurry in the early stages of growth, of which there is a regular supply hereabouts.

                               Dipper - River Wye, Redbrook

                               River Wye - a national jewel

Anyhow, we`ve spent a fair bit of time this weekend walking the River Wye between Chepstow and Monmouth, and what a stunningly beautiful river it is, meandering and bisecting the tree-clad valley complete with autumnal tones and all. And, I`m pleased to report that Dippers are commonplace, at least along this section of the river; we even noted one in the centre of Monmouth from the town bridge. Grey Wagtails too were abundant, while Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Little Egret and Shelduck were also present. Buzzards mewed overhead and 2 Red Kites twisted and turned along the watercourse.

                                Forest of Dean - view from the terrace

                                Barney - chilling, after a hard morning chasing squirrels

                                Buzzard - a tatty adult

Back at base camp this afternoon the sun broke through, elevating the temperature and bringing forth a flurry of raptors. So, it was a case of large mugs of tea all round, feet up, a bone for Barney and a spot of scanning from our terrace overlooking the wooded hillside. At least 10 Buzzards came and went during our two hour watch, plus several Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and a single, whopping great Goshawk that launched into a Buzzard sending it spiralling down into the canopy; infact, I`m pretty sure it killed it! Jays were constantly on the move over the tree-tops, en-route to storing acorns in secret places, plus a string of Redwings, Ravens, Chaffinches and several Great Spotted Woodpeckers over.

Friday 16 October 2015

Tawny Owls and Bullfinches

Dorset - We`ve spent the past couple of days in Maiden Newton, a small village to the west of Dorchester in what could best be described as classic Hardy country, so lots of cutsie, chocolate-box thatched cottages and smelly dairy farms. The rolling chalk downland, fast flowing streams with hedgerows and copses all over the place are in complete contrast to the topography back home on the shingle, and of course the wildlife is different too. The weather has also bucked up with clear skies and light airs replacing the blasting wind and showers back east.
  Wandering around the lanes and tracks birds seemed to be everywhere with plenty of Redwings and a few Fieldfares already plundering the rich harvest of hedgerow berries, amongst the abundant Song Thrushes and Blackbirds. Finches and buntings were well represented, including Bullfinches and Yellowhammers, two birds I rarely see at home, along with Grey Wagtails along the river Hook.
   But the main difference was at night time with a cacophony of Tawny Owls in the river valley trees. At this time of year the adults are re-establishing their winter territories and chivvying juvenile birds away to find their own patch. There must be a reasonable population hereabouts as the kerfuffle continued throughout the night.

                               Rivers Frome and Hook, Maiden Newton

  This morning we walked the river valley where more wagtails and wayside birds noted, plus 12 Siskins feeding on alders and singles of Kingfisher, Little Egret and Grey Heron along the watercourse, where the invasive Himalayan balsam was flourishing.
Up on the lynchetts Common Buzzards and Ravens were a given and there was even a light viz mig of Mipits, Skylarks and Chaffinches overhead. Best of all though was watching a family group of Roe Deer hugging the corner of a beech hangar, completely oblivious to our presence as we hunkered down in a hillside hollow. 

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Northerly blast

Dungeness - cold, sunny, n 3 - The cold northerly airflow continued to sweep across the peninsula, but at least this morning the sun broke through. At the Patch several thousand gulls comprised mainly Black-headed and Herring Gulls with at least 2 Meds, a 1st winter Caspian and several Kittiwakes on the beach.

                                Sea Kale, Dungeness

                                The Patch

Around the point small parties of Goldfinches and Linnets were present with more overhead, along with a few Siskins and Redpolls. In the bushes several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, but with the wind increasing throughout the day sending any migrants present into cover.
Also noted this morning, a Short-eared Owl coming in off the sea and a Jack Snipe in the trapping area.
Littlestone - A walk along the beach resulted in a count of 73 Turnstones, 15 Grey and 12 Ringed Plovers. There was no sign of any owls on the golf links, but with bits and pieces of rain around it was not too surprising. Several Stonechats noted, plus two small flocks of Skylarks and Mipits.

Monday 12 October 2015

Pallas`s Warbler and Ring Ouzels

Dungeness - cold, cloudy, ne 2 - A cracking morning migrant hunting at the point culminated in brief views of a Pallas`s Warbler at the north-east corner of the trapping area, which was later netted and ringed at the Obs. Although the stripy sprite was bird of the day the main event concerned a large arrival of thrushes with at least 30 Ring Ouzels scattered across the point, most of them nervy and on the move, along with a number of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and my first Redwings of the autumn. Finches were also prominent with small flocks of Siskins, Redpolls and Goldfinches, plus 2 Bramblings (new for the year) and an overhead trickle of Skylarks, Swallows and Mipits. Goldcrests and Robins were widespread, along with several Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, at least one Firecrest, 4 Stonechats, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Wheatear.
An afternoon visit to try and photograph an ouzel resulted in failure, while a circuit of the moat with PB delivered a late Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and several Goldcrests.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Garden Gold

Lade - cool, cloudy, ne 3 - I try to spend at least one day at the weekend birding from the cottage and leaving the car idle; not always easy down here if something good turns up nearby. As the gravel workings to the south was closed we spent a couple of hours first thing checking out the lake and adjacent rough bits and pieces. All was pretty quiet apart from a Rock Pipit around the pit margin, plus several Pied Wagtails, Mipits and Skylarks, while Goldfinches and Linnets were all over the place. Two groups of Redpolls and Siskins zipped over and 5 Swallows skimmed the water.

                               Blackbird, Goldfinches and Starling, Plovers

Back home most of the day was taken up with working in the garden, at times in warm sunshine, accompanied by the tinkling sound of Goldfinches and the high pitched, incessant calls of Goldcrests in the pine trees and shrubs. I spent way too much time trying to photograph the charms and waifs, although the crests proved too much of a challenge for the bridge camera.
We`ve got a soft spot for Starlings here at Plovers and find them immensely pleasing as they cackle away enjoying the sun whilst sheltering from the wind.
A few months back I posted a pic of `our` Blackbird, a tatty adult male that had raised three broods, the last one on his own when his mate died, and am pleased to report that he is now in fine fettle, mainly due to Pat who feeds him every morning.
NB: The Common Crane was again reported on the bird reserve today on the fields at Dengemarsh and Boulderwall, while a Pallas`s Warbler was noted in the trapping area at the point.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Local patch blitz

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, e 3 - Spent the morning on the local patch checking every nook and cranny. A circumnavigation of the lakes took in stubble and tilled fields by the airport for grounded migrants: 5 Corn and 10 Reed Buntings, 15 Skylarks, 10 Mipits, 5 Pied Wagtails, 2 Wheatears and a sparrow flock with 8 Tree Sparrows. Stonechats, Goldfinches and Linnets were everywhere, plus a few Siskins and Redpolls overhead. At the north end 100 Lapwings, 20 Golden Plovers, 12 Curlews and 6 Mistle Thrushes present amongst hundreds of Woodpigeons, Stock Doves, gulls, Starlings and corvids on a recently drilled field. A decent raptor count comprised 5 Marsh Harriers, 5 Kestrels, 4 Buzzards, 3 Sparrowhawks and a Merlin.
The willow swamp and ponds were alive with Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Blackcaps, 5 singing Cetti`s Warblers, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, calling Water Rails, a Kingfisher and 10 Swallows over. The lakes continue to attract large numbers of Coots, grebes and dabblers, while a gull roost on north lake harboured 2 Med Gulls.
The beach had all the usual shorebirds and gulls, 55 Sandwich Terns, 3 Brent Geese and a marauding Arctic Skua, not a bird I often see here.
I`m not much of a lister but a quick tally up from this mornings effort revealed 83 species, not bad for a morning stroll...

                                            Dark Mullein, Lade

                               1st winter and adult Mediterranean Gulls, Lade

An afternoon run out with CP commenced at Dengemarsh where we jammed the Common Crane in flight en-route to hayfield 3. Galloways was quiet with just a few Stonechats and Kestrels of note. On Walland Marsh, Tree Sparrows were seen at Midley and several Marsh Harriers and Buzzards on the wetland, but as the wind picked up small birds were hard to come by. We finished off at ARC where  2 Red-crested Pochards were still at the far end by the pines along with 250 Mallards, plus 2 each of Buzzard and Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawk and several Chiffchaffs within a tit flock.

Friday 9 October 2015

Common Crane

                                Dengemarsh Gully

Dengemarsh Gully- warm, dry, sunny, light airs - 0845hrs - For a change of scene we headed out to the gully, which so often disappoints, although not this morning. A light viz mig of mainly Skylarks, Mipits, Redpolls, Reed Buntings, Goldfinches, Chaffinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, plus a few Siskins and Pied Wagtails was still underway, but quickly fizzled out as the morning warmed up.
On the ground most of the activity was in the brambles and elders at the northern end of the gully which attracted at least 30 Blackcaps to feed on blackberries and one Lesser Whitethroat. Twenty Chiffchaffs also noted, along with similar numbers of Goldfinches and Redpolls feeding on weed-seeds, Linnets, Mipits, Great Tits, Robins, Chaffinches, Goldcrests, 10 Stonechats, 3 Wheatears, Cetti`s Warbler and a Firecrest.
Present, towards the bird reserve flying around were several Marsh Harriers and two each of Great White Egret, Raven and Peregrine.

                                Goldfinches and Wheatear, Dengemarsh Gully

Lydd Camp - With the ranges silent we took the track through the gorse scrub by the watch towers searching for Dartford Warbler without success. Plenty more Stonechats, Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Redpolls were noted, plus a `kettle` of 5 mewing Common Buzzards overhead.

                                Common Crane, Dengemarsh

Dengemarsh - The local grapevine was roused into action early this afternoon when DB and family spotted a Common Crane circling over the peninsula that eventually landed on the flooded field adjacent to Springfield Bridge. Always a treat to see this magnificent bird, and my first for the year (202). Cranes are just about annual down here and this one was a smart adult bird that showed well before eventually flying off towards Hooker`s, but still visible from the ramp.   

Thursday 8 October 2015

A fall of Reed Buntings

Lade - cool, dry, sunny, light airs - 0700-1000hrs - Following three days of gloomy weather it was great to wake up to sunshine this morning. Viz mig was light as we headed across the shingle to Mockmill with a trickle of Skylarks, Reed Buntings and Mipits overhead, plus a few high Siskins, Redpolls and Chaffinches. Working the sewer from the south Barney flushed a couple of Snipe and a sun trap brought forth several late flowering patches of Ragged Robin and Nottingham Catchfly. A Hare shot out, scurrying over the stones towards the water tower.

                               Mockmill Sewer, Lade

                                Reed Buntings, Lade

                                Robin, Lade

And then it happened, that magical moment that occurs every so often in birding - migrants started to drop out of the ether. It comprised mostly of Reed Buntings; at least 100 eventually scattered along the sewer scrub, sitting in the blackthorn twittering away to one another, while others soaked up the sun after their nocturnal flight, or flopped around in the fireweed and reeds refuelling on weed-seeds and insects. This concentration was bound to attract other species and pretty soon about 20 Skylarks grounded, along with 20 Mipits and 15 Blackbirds. The sewer was soon alive with birds and over the coming hour or so Chaffinches, Song Thrushes, Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks, Linnets, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, 4 Cetti`s Warblers, 3 Stonechats and our first Ring Ouzel of the autumn joined the party.
A Fox was also enjoying the sunshine and 420 Curlews came in to roost on the storm beaches.
A terrific session on this under watched part of the Marsh hinterland.

                                Curlews coming to roost, Lade
                                Sunbathing Fox, Lade

Dungeness - A 30 minute seawatch from the boats this afternoon with TG delivered a few passing Sandwich Terns and Med Gulls, 3 Arctic Skuas and a couple of Gannets.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Whiskered Bat

Lade - warm, cloudy, w 2 - Nothing much this morning on the local patch migrant wise apart from a trickle of south bound Swallows, a Wheatear and a few Goldfinches overhead. However, another visit just before dusk delivered a bird new for the Marsh year list (not that I really keep one of course, but that does make 201...) in the form of a Short-eared Owl being mobbed by two crows high over the desert.

                                Grey Heron, Lade

RSPB - A guided walk around the circular route was memorable for a small bat roosting in Makepeace hide that was identified by DW as a Whiskered Bat, mainly on its ear structure.  Whiskered Bats are known to summer roost in out buildings, but its not often you get such a close view of these fascinating little creatures of the night, a real privilege.

                                 Whiskered Bat, Makepeace hide

As for birds, a typical range of resident and migrant species was noted including up to 6 Kingfishers across the lakes, 8 Great White Egrets and 8 Pintails on Burrowes, 2 Ravens over Dengemarsh, a single Yellow Wagtail on the hayfields, plus Long-tailed Tits, Stonechats, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Goldcrest, Cetti`s Warblers, Marsh Harriers and Kestrels along the route. The Lapwing roost on the shingle contained 2 Golden Plovers and there was a steady stream of several hundred House Martins, Swallows and at least 2 Sand Martins overhead.

                                Great Crested Grebe, Burrowes

                                Great White and Little Egrets, Burrowes

                                    Great White Egret, Burrowes