Tuesday 31 May 2016

Devil Birds

Lade - overcast, rain, n 5 - A turbulent period of weather to say the least with a blasting wind out of the north forcing down hundreds of Swifts to feed low over the lakes, accompanied by a host of House Martins and Swallows. Apart from the aerial masters there was little change from last week, although few song birds were noted due to the wind strength.
  Another check in the afternoon produced similar fare apart from a few more House Martins. On the water the first stripy juvenile Dabchicks and Great Crested Grebes were on show, while a Cuckoo called from the willow swamp.

                               Swifts, Lade

Dungeness We joined DW and PB in the Patch hide, sheltered from the blustery wind, where there was a steady trickle of Gannets offshore; the mass of terns over the boil included several hundred Common Terns, three Little and two Black Terns. However, on the beach amongst the Herring Gulls was a white-winged gull, which at first glance suggested Glaucous Gull on the bill length and pattern alone, but on closer inspection, and having studied the pics below, perhaps not...
  On the evidence of even my ropey snaps our bird is clearly nearer Herring Gull size and has an extensive primary projection overlapping the tail, which points more towards an Iceland. Also the head appears more rounded and gentle looking, and quite unlike the flatter, meaner looking Glaucous; although whether the bill is shorter than the primary projection is open to conjecture. On the plumage front the bird appears to be in its second calendar year or 1st summer. It`s certainly an odd looking individual and may, of course, be some sort of hybrid, perhaps a Glaucous x Iceland...

                                White-winged Gull, The Patch

                                Immature Lesser Black-backed Gull, The Patch

And while we`re on the subject of confusing immature gulls DW commented on the Lesser Black-backed type beast above, also a 2nd year bird and a likely candidate for Baltic Gull due to the state of moult and whitish head and breast; although what an intermediate between Baltic and British race bird looks like I`m unsure. Confused? Join the club!
Burrowes - Hundreds more Swifts here, plus a Whimbrel over and all the usual wildfowl on the islands including a pair of Wigeon.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Silent Fields

Maiden Newton, Dorset - We spent the weekend in deepest Dorset at Maiden Newton visiting family, which was a pleasant change of scene from the Marsh flatlands. The village is set in classic Hardy country in the Frome valley surrounded by rolling chalk downland, much of it sheep-grazed on the lynchets and with many grass leys lower down where silage-making was in full swing. These chemical-soaked lands are largely bereft of song birds with just the occasional Yellowhammer or Whitethroat breaking the silence. Corvids were everywhere though in huge numbers and Buzzards were common place.

                                Silent Fields

Along the river valley it was more promising for wildlife with roe deer flushed from the lush herbaceous cover, brown trout in the stream, plus Little Egrets, Grey Wagtails and a White Wagtail. Woodland cover along the railway embankment was good for Bullfinches, Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests. It looked perfect habitat for Cuckoo, Turtle Dove and Snipe, but unsurprisingly there were none, while churchyards and walled gardens locally also lacked any Spotted Flycatchers. On the plus side House Martins were nesting in the village and through the night Tawny Owls called regularly. We also noted a Red Kite at Moreton to the east of Dorchester.

                                Barney and Olly

                               Frome valley marsh

                                River Frome

                                White Wagtail

Thursday 26 May 2016

Laughing Gull

Dungeness - 0800hrs - warm, dry and sunny - As predicted yesterdays Laughing Gull at Hastings sea front decamped to The Patch this morning and put on a fine show for a small gathering of local birders. It was a cracking adult in full breeding plumage, and as gulls go was a very smart beast indeed. When we arrived it was sat on the beach amongst the riff-raff, but it also flew out over the Patch to feed before settling once more on the beach.
  This was a new bird for me at Dungeness, where the last record was of a 2nd year individual on 10-13th November 2005.

                                Adult Laughing Gull, Dungeness

Lade - Some of the more mature birders out there may remember some good nights (and even a lock-in or two) at The Ship pub, Lade. For the past seven years it has laid derelict, but the builders have now moved in and demolition commenced today to make way for four houses.

                                The Ship, Lade

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Sussex birding

Castle Water - cool, dry, sunny, n 2 - Spent the day birding the borderlands of Sussex with CP commencing at the viewpoint and then walking round to the hide at Castle Water. A pair of Marsh Harriers were active over the reedbed while Kestrel, Buzzard, Hobby and Sparrowhawk were all logged. Long-tailed Tits appeared to have had a good breeding season with family parties calling from the roadside scrub; also Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Cuckoo, Swifts, hirundines (mostly House Martins), Yellow Wagtail, Reed Buntings and Linnets around the site. 

                                Common Terns

                                Black-headed Gulls

                                2nd year Mediterranean Gulls

                                Turnstone in breeding plumage


                               Sandwich Terns

Rye Harbour - Moving on to the beach reserve it was terrific to see a suite of breeding waders, many with young, including Avocets, Ringed Plovers, Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers and Redshanks; the only down side was the lack of Lapwings, which may be due to the large number of Avocets not prepared to tolerate another black and white wader on their manor. On the passage wader front 10 Dunlins, two Grey Plovers, three Knots and singles of Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and a stunning summer plum Turnstone were most welcome.
  The seabird colony was full of activity with hundreds of Black-headed Gulls and their young, although we did see a Herring Gull make off with one unfortunate chick. Over 100 pairs of Sandwich Terns were bringing in the `right` size fish and at least 10 pairs of Mediterranean Gulls were present, plus several 2nd year birds. Up to 10 Little Terns were on Flat Beach, while most Common Terns were still performing their nuptials, alongside several pairs that seemed to be on eggs.  Also noted across this superbly managed site Little Egret, singing Skylarks, Linnets, Whitethroat, Wheatear and Hobby.
Pett Level - The roadside pools attracted a variety of wildfowl including six Dabchicks, Pochard and Shoveler. Little Egrets seemed to everywhere and two Marsh Harriers quartered the wet fields.
A top days birding with Chris, and Barney enjoyed himself too; as I tap away on the laptop the old boy is snoring contently, slumped across my feet!

Sunday 22 May 2016

Gull-billed Tern

Lade - drizzle, cloudy, light airs - The main target bird here was Cuckoo which we eventually saw after hearing a calling male, but they are nowhere near as obvious as in previous years. The first Common Blue of the spring made a brief flight in the muggy conditions, as did a Painted Lady on the causeway.

                               Common Blue, Lade

ARC - Pretty quiet here apart from stunning views of up to 10 Hobbies hawking flying insects above the willows near Hanson hide. The only bird of note on the lake was a Dunlin on the Cormorant island.
  A great weekend of birding with an old pal from Bedfordshire and Karen during which time we rattled up one or two goodies amongst 86 species with the Hen Harrier being the highlight. It was just a shame that they`d headed on back before the Gull-billed Tern appeared.

                                Gull-billed Tern, Burrowes

Burrowes - 1500hrs - Just as we were  beginning to think that it would be a barren spring for rarities down here up pops a cracking Gull-billed Tern on the bird reserve. When I arrived it was working its way up and down the length of Burrowes lake and was best viewed from Dennis`s hide. I managed one or two poor images with the bridge camera, but there should plenty of decent pics on local blogs or the DBO website. The last Dungeness record was also on Burrowes during the afternoon of 25th May, 2006.

Saturday 21 May 2016


Dungeness - warm, cloudy, drizzle, sw 2 - Spent the morning with the guests on the estate doing a mixture of history, plant hunting and birding. Wheatear, two Black Redstarts and all the usual common species were noted on the land, while the sea delivered a few Gannets and terns offshore, plus hundreds of gulls at the Patch.

                                Hobbies, Dengemarsh
RSPB - The afternoon was spent on the bird reserve where the highlight was up to 15 Hobbies over Dengemarsh hunting flying insects; if there is a smarter and more watchable migrant I`d like to know what it is. Also around the circular route, two Black-necked Grebes, Wigeon and Teal on Burrowes, Garganey and fledged Lapwings on the hayfields, plus Raven on the pylons, singing Lesser Whitethroat by Christmas Dell and a single Cuckoo along the access road (what on earth has happened to this once common migrant, as there are so few around this year).

Friday 20 May 2016

Montagu`s Harrier

Dungeness - 0800hrs - cool, cloudy, sw 3 - Wandering around the beach opposite Jarman`s I could only find a single Wheatear amongst several Mipits, Pied Wagtails and a singing Skylark. In the hide we joined PB and BH for a brief seawatch where there was a steady flow of Gannets and terns offshore, plus a Great Northern Diver east.
Back home the garden was alive with this years` crop of Starlings and their juvs.

                                Starlings, Plovers

Birdwatching Break - 1300hrs - With Darren, an old birding pal from Bedfordshire, and his partner Karen down for a weekends birding we took a while to get underway. After catching up on the birding news and gossip from the old county we started at the Tavern and a scan of Greatstone beach. Amongst the Oystercatchers and Curlews were two Barwits and a Knot with a separate flock of 100 Dunlins and Sanderlings, plus 12 Tundra Ringed Plovers.
Scotney - Moving on to the farm we started well with a Little Owl on the first barn, followed by several Corn Buntings and Yellow Wagtails on the field with the suckling herd. We also noted Reed Buntings, Linnets, Skylark, Little Egrets, Stock Doves, a Common Buzzard, several Avocets, Common Terns, and all the usual feral geese about the site.

                               Little Owl, Scotney

Galloways - Turning down Galloways Road by the guard hut we had stunning views of a ringtail Montagu`s Harriers that flew beside the car at one stage, before disappearing onto the ranges. Several Stonechats were seen on posts, plus Mipit and Whitethroat.
Springfield Bridge - Three Marsh Harriers and a host of Swifts and hirundines were noted from the bridge. In summary a pretty decent start to the weekend with the Monty`s the surprise bird.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Turtle Dove quest

Walland Marsh - cool, cloudy, sw 3 - 0700hrs - A wander around Cheyne Ct in breezy conditions delivered the expected Marsh Harriers and Lapwings, a few Yellow Wagtails, two Corn Buntings, good views of Bearded Tits and a surprise drake Garganey amongst the regular farmland birds such as Skylark and Linnet, although no Turtle Dove. Driving the lanes and pausing at previous favoured locations yielded two singing doves and another flushed from overhead wires. Also noted were a few Yellowhammers, Tree Sparrows and Buzzards.
RSPB - 1030 - A circular walk around the reserve for a north Kent U3A group resulted in most of the regular breeding birds and one or two migrants, despite the occasional shower and blustery wind. On Burrowes Teal, Wigeon and Shovler were still present, plus a host of rain-dodging Swifts over the lake and a summer plum Turnstone in front of Makepeace hide.We enjoyed particularly good views of Sedge Warblers, Marsh Harriers and Lapwing, along with vocalising Bittern, Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. On the down side all three `tern` rafts on Dengemarsh have now been commandeered by Common Gulls and we saw a harrier take a Lapwing chick on Hayfield 1.
Kenardington - Finishing off my Turtle Dove quest this afternoon a fourth bird for the day was singing from cover along the canal bank. The small marsh was alive with hirundines hawking insects, three Cuckoos cavorted over head and four Little Egrets busily snapped up frogs.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Dengemarsh Delight

Dengemarsh - 0730hrs - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - Infact, the perfect weather conditions for a two hour circuit of the marsh, with not another human being anywhere, apart from the Grid linesmen hollering away from their cradles! Cutting across the farmland track two Corn Buntings sang from fence posts while several Yellow Wagtails flashed across the corn fields. The ditches were full of Reed Warblers and Buntings and a Skylark sang overhead. By Badgers, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers joined in, a Tree Sparrow chupped from cover and the first of many Hobbies and Marsh Harriers were on the wing.

                                National Grid linesmen

  From the ramp a Bittern boomed, Bearded Tits pinged, Cuckoos called and a Greenshank went over unseen. Loads more warblers were in song as we moved round to the lake where Common Terns were coming and going. Across the still waters the presence of drake Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall and Garganey all suggested that ducks were tucked up somewhere on nests. More Bearded Tits were heard, and seen from Springfield Bridge, and surprisingly a Water Rail.

                                Garganey, Dengemarsh

  On the hayfields Redshank and Lapwings chicks were noted along with plenty of feral goslings (food for the foxes) and Cootlets, plus Grey Heron, Little Egret and Shelducks. On the shingle ridges at the back of hayfield 3 a Greenland Wheatear had dropped in en-route to the northern lands.
 So, nothing much to write home about really! Or, as I`ve said many time before on this blog, we  take way too much fore granted down here.
Tavern Beach - A check of the beach in less than favourable light conditions, nonetheless delivered a decent crop of migrant waders including 15 Knots, 21 Barwits and a mixed bag of 50 Sanderling and Dunlins, many in nuptial plumage. However, bird of the day went to a stunning Little Tern feeding along the receding tide line.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Hirundines and a Short-eared Owl

Saturday - Lade - 0700hts - cool, cloudy, ne 3 - Having neglected the local patch this past week it only seemed right and proper to spend Saturday morning mooching around checking on the breeding birds. However, the cool weather had driven down several hundred hirundines and Swifts to feed over south lake, so we got waylaid for a couple of pleasurable hours sifting through these tired migrants. Comprising mostly House Martins and Swallows the light conditions were ripe to find a red-rumper in their midst, but it was not to be. It didn't really matter though as sitting down on the lakeside bank, in the lee of the wind, watching these amazing creatures fluttering around and landing on the bushes nearby was satisfying enough. Every so often a group of Swallows would flop onto the shingle to seek warmth from the stones warmed by shards of sunlight poking through the clouds. Fabulous stuff.

                                Tired hirundines, Lade

As for the breeding birds, Whitethroat, Reed, Sedge, and Cetti`s Warblers were all recorded in good numbers, plus Cuckoo, Stonechat and Green Woodpecker along with double figures of Little and Great Crested Grebes on the water.
 All was quiet in Kerton Road pit with no sign of any Black-headed Gulls this year due to thick vegetation on their former nesting island. A few Shelducks and Oystercatchers were present around the quarry and a Common Sandpiper flitted over the lake.
ARC/Tower Pits - On the way back from the allotment this afternoon we strolled down to the pines with SB checking the many hirundines and Swifts overhead along with several Hobbies.

Sunday - Lade - 0800hrs - cool, sunshine, se 2 - The wind backed off this morning bringing a warmer feel to the day with sparkling light over the gravel pit lakes. The only noteworthy bird was a Short-eared Owl over Mockmill being mobbed by four crows. Walking back along the beach 20 Grey Plovers, 50 Knots and 25 Barwits were amongst the Oystercatchers and Curlews on the sands.
At around 1230hrs whilst working in the garden the Herring Gulls alerted me to a high northbound  Red Kite.

Friday 13 May 2016

A passage of Red Kites

Lade - 0600hrs - Another muggy night delivered our first Poplar Hawkmoth of the year and White Ermine amongst 10 species of macros. Two Med Gulls flew over calling and a Cuckoo was seen again from the garden.
Around midday two Red Kites flew over the cottage heading towards Romney, part of a small passage of birds that passed over the Marsh today

                                Poplar Hawkmoth
                                White Ermine

Dengemarsh - 0700hrs - cool, sunny, ne 5 - A definite edge to the wind this morning as the predicted cold front approached bringing dipping temperatures. A circuit of the marsh was notable for a variety of ducks including Garganey and Teal on the hayfields, plus Shoveler and Pochard on the main lake. More small Lapwing chicks were noted on the hayfields along with the inevitable crows looking for an easy meal, also a Redshank with young. Several Marsh Harriers were active over the reed bed, plus Cuckoo, and a single Hobby. On the walk across the farmland Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Linnet and Skylark all in song. There was no sign of yesterdays Montys, or at Galloways.
Dungeness - A Serin had been seen earlier at the point around the old light, but there was no sign of it by the time we arrived for a look.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Spotted Flycatchers

Lade - 0600hrs - Following a wet, humid night the garden moth trap was full of mostly Tawny Shears, Shuttle-shaped Darts and light Feathered Rustics. Amongst the ten species was a smart Sallow Kitten on the summer house frame. Whilst emptying the trap a Cuckoo called nearby and eventually flew over the garden.

                               Sallow Kitten, Plovers

Long Pits - 0730hrs - A circuit of the pits delivered plenty of Whitethroats and Blackcaps in the willow scrub and Reed Warblers in the reed bed, plus several Chiffchaffs and singles of Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. The icing on the cake came from two typical late migrants, Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler, both at the northern end by the road. A not so common, Common Sandpiper flew low over north lake along with a Common Tern, while two each of Med Gull, Sandwich Tern and Shelduck passed overhead, plus several Swifts and Swallows

                               Lapwing chicks and prostrate broom, Desert

Tower Pits - Was good to see two Lapwing chicks on the Desert with the parents in close attendance. Another Spotted Flycatcher was at the pines, but the oddest sighting was a large bat flying around the trees and out over the water; probably a Daubentons?

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Appledore Rain Forest

Park Wood - muggy, misty, light airs - With poor visibility on the coast we headed for the woods this morning - and into a monsoon at Appledore! As we pulled up in the car park the tempest eased, but rain water continued to stream off the canopy for the next half an hour; and with steam rising off the woodland floor the atmosphere was more tropical rain forest than English deciduous wood. However, the extreme weather didn't seem to bother the Nightingale symphony, which the guests enjoyed, along with all the usual woodland species, most of which were only heard due to the leaf cover being almost complete.

                                Yellowhammer, Kennardington

Kenardington - Dropping down on to the Marsh a walk beside the canal delivered a decent crop of wayside birds including Lesser Whitethroat, two Cuckoos, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Reed Bunting,  Yellowhammer and three Little Egrets in the marshy field.
During the three days we clocked up 97 species of birds, the highlight for the guests being the Black Terns at the Patch, Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings at Scotney farm, Garganey and Hobbies at Dengemarsh and the Nightingales at Park Wood.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

May migrants

Dungeness - muggy, drizzle, e 3 - Started the day on the beach opposite Jarman`s for Wheatear and Mipit, which we soon nailed despite the murky weather conditions, plus Stock Dove and Pied Wagtail.
At the Patch 500 Common Terns made for a fine spectacle as they worked the scum line and sat on the beach allowing close scrutiny for any oddities. At least 10 spanking Black Terns were also in attendance coming and going.

                                Black Terns, Patch

RSPB - At Boulderwall the usual Tree Sparrows were logged, while from the access road two Whimbrels showed well and a steady trickle was heard going over throughout the day along with two Greenshanks. More Common Terns were on Burrowes, plus several parties of Swifts overhead, and a laggard Wigeon and three Egyptian Geese were amongst the common wildfowl.
Dengemarsh delivered our first Hobbies of the spring with up to eight feeding on flying insects and sat atop posts on the field opposite the viewing ramp, where Cuckoo, Whitethroat, Cetti`s, Reed and Sedge Warblers all noted. Four Med Gulls flew over calling and at least six Sedge Warblers sang from the bramble scrub near the hide. Unfortunately, two of the `tern` rafts have been commandeered by Common Gulls leaving the smallest raft in front of the hide for the Common Terns. On the hayfields the highlight was three Garganey on hayfield 3 with Lapwings, Redshanks, Little Egrets and Oystercatchers elsewhere. Several Marsh Harriers and Raven were also noted. Over the road on ARC all was quiet apart from a Cuckoo and 10 Common Terns over the lake.

Monday 9 May 2016

Arctic Waders

Dungeness - warm, dry, sunny, e2 - 0800hrs - We were en-route to the sea when news broke of a Bee-eater flying over the Trapping Area (OL), but despite a thorough search and scan with a few other locals the rainbow bird did not reappear. Several grizzled skippers and small coppers were already basking in the warm sunshine along the pilots path.

                                Grizzled Skipper, Dungeness

Scotney - This afternoon we commenced a three day Birdwatching Break for Marion and Alison from Hampshire. At the farm Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings performed to order, along with a good supporting cast of Linnets, Reed Buntings, Skylarks, Pied Wagtails, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and a Little Owl. On the grass around the pits Egyptian and Barnacle Geese were amongst the other plastics, plus Shelducks, four Ringed Plovers, two Whimbrels and a Redshank, while on the back pits, 10 Avocets, two Med Gulls over and a cracking summer plum Knot noted.
Dungeness - Half an hour from the concrete road delivered a few Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns, plus a flock of five Arctic Terns up-Channel. On the sea a Guillemot was amongst 10 Great Crested Grebes.
Greatstone Beach - We mopped up here on a falling tide from the Tavern with 20 Grey and 10 Tundra Plovers, 50 Barwits, 100 Knots, 100 Dunlins, 30 Sanderling, many in summer plum, plus Oystercatcher and Curlew to bring up eight species of beach waders. A great end to the day with the Arctic waders the undoubted highlights.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Moths, at last...

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, e 2 - This weekend the wind backed off and summer rushed in catching us unawares, so out came the shorts and away went the thermals. With night time temperatures in the teens centigrade, even down here on the coast, it seemed at long last worthwhile flashing up the garden moth trap. A grand total of 15 species were duly caught and logged including a Herald, but hopefully numbers and variety will now pick up as the month progresses.

                                       Angle Shades, Herald and Tawny Shears

We`ve been out and about early on the local patch these past two mornings to avoid the heat (can`t believe I just wrote that!) and there`s been plenty to see. On the bird front Cuckoos were calling like the clappers around the willow swamp, while Reed Warblers and Whitethroats are well and truly in and singing for all they`re worth. Skylark, Mipit and Stonechat were all in song on the Desert, as Buzzards and Marsh Harriers thermaled up into the ether. A trickle of migrants continue to drift over with Common Tern, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, several Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, plus a Red Kite just after midday on Sunday.
On the shingle ridges the yellows of broom are just starting to emerge amongst a whole riot of flowering plants. Another couple of weeks and it should look a real picture. Around the willow swamp marsh frogs were calling, grass snakes swam in the shallows and the first hairy hawker dragonfly of the spring basked in the sunshine. Along the old railway track path beside south lake, small coppers, small heath, green veined white and small tortoiseshell were all on the wing, plus holly blue and orange tip in Plovers garden.
What a marvellous time of year early May is for natural history.

Friday 6 May 2016

A morning of Pomarine Skuas

Dungeness - 0700-1000hrs - warm, dry, hazy sunshine, e 2 - A terrific morning of seawatching from the hide and boardwalk dominated by an up-Channel passage of Pomarine Skuas. By the time I left site the tally had passed the 60 plus mark with many more to follow no doubt, and a welcome return to form after a disappointing spring last year. They powered through in small, loose flocks. typically of three to five, mostly pale phase birds with variable sets of spoons, but also several dark morphs, and some close to shore. The highlight of spring migration at Dungeness without a doubt.
Also on the move a steady flow of Common Scoters, Common and Sandwich Terns, Gannets, Whimbrels, 18 Little Terns, a Garganey, two Little Gulls and a Black Tern working the scum line in front of the Patch.

                           "Four Poms coming, they`re over the Patch now!"

                                Black Tern working the scum

               Pomarine Skua (top and left a bit!) over the Dungeness cardinal buoy

PS: The final total of Pomarine Skuas passing Dungeness today reached an impressive 119 individuals (with 100 by midday). For full details see: www.ploddingbirder.blogspot.co.uk

Thursday 5 May 2016

Divers and ducks

Dungeness - 0845hrs - warm, dry, sunny, se 3 - We spent the morning at the point seawatching from the hide where there was a steady trickle of Gannets, Common Scoters, Kittiwakes, Common and Sandwich Terns and singles of Whimbrel, Brent, Arctic Skua and Red-throated Diver. However, the quality was provided by two Great Northern Divers and a Long-tailed Duck, only the second I`ve seen on a seawatch at Dungeness in 10 years.
Throughout the day news came through of Pom Skuas passing Selsey Bill and Splash Point further west and a number were noted off Dungeness. For details of the final tally see the DBO website (www.dungenessbirdobs.org.uk )
Together with Ray and Stuart we clocked up 106 species of birds in three days, the highlights being three species of divers, the flock of Little Terns on Burrowes and the views of Nightingales in Park Wood.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Little Terns & Grey Partridge

Dungeness - 0845hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw2 - A glorious morning to be in the field, but not for seawatching! All we noted during an hour from the hide was a steady trickle of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns up-Channel, plus 25 Common Scoters, 2 Brents and singles of Black-throated Diver and a pale phase Arctic Skua. The warm sunshine had brought forth several small coppers and our first small heath of the spring.

                                Small Copper, Dungeness

RSPB - No doubt about bird of the day: a flock of eight delightful Little Terns on Burrowes among 50 Common Terns. Also on the lake the long-staying Black-necked Grebe, but little else. Around the circular walk the usual warblers, Marsh Harrier, booming Bittern, Swifts and Yellow Wagtails over, Buzzard, Redshanks and Lapwings with chicks on the hayfields. From the access road four Whimbrels and Tree Sparrows on the Boulderwall feeders.

                                Common Tern, Dengemarsh
                                Comma, Return Trail

                               Grey Heron with marsh frog, hayfields
Scotney - An afternoon visit to the farm yielded the usual Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings, plus Avocets, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, Egyptian Geese, Kestrel and a Common Sandpiper on the front lake.
Dengemarsh - A superb evening with light airs and a stunning sunset. Just before Springfield bridge on road side wires a cock Whinchat showed well, plus Yellow Wagtails, Linnets, Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, two Marsh Harriers and a booming Bittern at Hooker`s.
Galloways - At least six Stonechats along the road to the sea, plus Mipit, Linnets and singing Grey Partridge out on the ranges, our first record of this rapidly declining species for two years. Also noted three foxes and two hares. By the watch tower near Brett`s a Little Owl showed briefly to round off another bird-rich day across the Dungeness peninsula.