Wednesday 29 June 2016


Scotney - 0730hrs - cool, cloudy, sw 4-5 - A blustery morning at Scotney commenced with 25 Curlews and our first Green Sandpiper of the `autumn` on the front pits, along with a Wigeon, five Egyptian Geese and about a thousand Greylag Geese. The Little Owl was on its favoured barn in the yard while the usual Yellow Wagtails, Skylarks and Corn Bunting were either seen or heard on the farmland. The back pits yielded a few Avocets and Black-headed Gulls with fledged chicks, but only a couple of pairs of Common Terns still remained on the breeding island.
  At the Sussex end the Spoonbill flew over before eventually settling down amongst the geese and a Cuckoo could be heard singing on the ranges. Later on the Spoonbill moved to the eastern end of the pit by the farm.

                               Little Owl in its favoured barn, Scotney

RSPB - Along the access track, Hobby, Cuckoo and Kestrel noted, plus a Brown Hare and a young Fox. A quick look at Burrowes delivered eight Black-wits roosting on an island in front of the VC and small parties of Swifts over the water.

                                Roosting Blackwits in the glare

Dungeness - 1430-1600hrs - SW 4 drizzle - Timing is everything in seawatching and as we joined CP and MH at the boats two Manx Shearwaters clipped the point heading west; Manxies tend to be scarcer here in summer than Balearics. And that was about it really on the seabird front, apart from  30 Gannets, five Common and three Sandwich Terns and a Kittiwake for the rest of the watch.
  However, there was a decent movement of coasting Swifts over sea and land, all heading south and west. PB joined the party and by the time we left over 1,000 Swifts were logged, plus another 200 on the walk back to the road.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

2014 Kent Bird Report & Grassland Butterflies

Lade - 0800hrs - warm, dry and sunny, se 2 - With light airs and a milky sun half-heartedly filtering through wispy clouds heralding favourable weather conditions for insects, there was only one place to start. Infact, I ended up spending a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours camped along the old railway track to the south of the lakes checking out the grassland butterflies.
  A riot of wild flower blooms and scent amongst the swaying grasses had enticed good numbers of fluttering Small and Large Skippers and at least two Essex Skippers. Common Blues, Meadow Browns and Small Heaths were everywhere and even one or two late first brood Small Coppers, plus Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and a Painted Lady.

                          "Now its butterflies... almost as boring as seawatching..."

                               Grassland butterfly habitat, the old railway track, Lade

                                Marbled White - first of the summer

                                Small Heath - a common grassland butterfly

                                Small Skipper on Viper`s Bugloss

  Best of all though was that prince amongst grassland butterflies the Marbled White, our first of the season with about ten in total on the wing, all in pristine nick. The one I managed to photograph was a basker, but most of the others were attracted to the blue blooms of bugloss and scabious. A lazy flapper, Marbled Whites don't appear to have any rhyme or reason to their flight pattern and quite often drift over into our garden from the shingle ridges. Once mated the females fly around randomly laying or dropping eggs at will. They are single brooded and only have a short flying season of a few weeks, so its very much a case of enjoy these black and white beauties while you can.

                                Galium Carpet - a localised coastal moth

                        Green Pug - one of these easiest of the tribe to identify!

  The moths in the garden trap were pretty decent too last night with a flurry of five species of pugs including Common and Green Pugs, new for the year, plus Galium Carpet amongst 21 species of macros.

2014 Kent Bird Report

Last week the latest Kent Bird Report hit the door mat with a mighty thump - and at 208 pages no wonder, a weighty tome indeed. In this digital age I still find it somewhat reassuring to be able to dip in and out of a `proper` paper journal, so`s it can be read at various locations around the cottage, including in the bath!
  At this juncture I really should admit to being a bit of a bird report junky, and until recently had hundreds of back editions from various counties across the land. My favourites are from where we`ve previously lived and birded, so Hertfordshire, Devon, Bedfordshire and now Kent, along with Norfolk and the Isles of Scilly, two areas I`ve spent loads of birding time down the years.
  However, back to the Kent Ornithological Society`s latest masterpiece. It follows the standard bird report format with the bulk of the pages devoted to the Systematic List for 2014, sandwiched between a couple of gems. Aspects of the Year by Norman McCanch I very much enjoyed, as he recounted the birding year by calendar month, preceded by a brief weather report which is often relevant to the effects it can have on our birds; eg. the south-easterly airflow in April that delivered a flock of Black-winged Stilts and a Purple Heron to Dungeness. Apparently January was the wettest since 1766 and I can still recall the high temperatures of late October while searching for migrants in shorts and T shirt.
  In these days of seemingly endless grim news regarding our lowland breeding waders it was a pleasant change to read an uplifting account of The Breeding Waders in North Kent by Alan Johnson. Concentrating principally on Lapwing and Redshank chick productivity it highlighted the success RSPB and other conservation organisations are having with these declining shorebirds, as I discovered from a tour of Elmley last year with the site manager; the key to success being predator control, particularly foxes and crows. However, the majority of the North Kent marshes will only remain wader-friendly as long as landowners are compensated by EU agri-environmental schemes. Only time will tell whether or not the UK government will continue funding payments after Brexit.
  And so to the Systematic List which itemises every species recorded during the year, together with relevant details such as first and last dates for migrants, wildfowl and roost counts, breeding and ringing data etc. For many of our migrants and farmland birds its a sorry old tale of terminal decline, but its not all doom and gloom as, for example, shown by the heron tribe and raptors that, on the whole, are doing rather well. Twitchers can ponder birds either ticked or dipped and there are 56 stunning full colour plates of Kent`s birds for everyone to enjoy.
  Having been involved in writing bird reports for many years in Bedfordshire I know how much time and effort goes into producing such a journal, and the editorial team, list writers and everybody else involved are to be congratulated on a job well done - I`m already looking forward to the 2015 report!
  Anyhow, with the rain hammering down outside, I`m off to the bath tub to glean more fascinating information about Kent`s birds (I really must get off the Romney Marsh more often) and if you haven't got a copy, check out the KOS website for details -

                          Front cover - Melodious Warbler, by Stephen Message

Sunday 26 June 2016

Green Woodpeckers

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, w 3 - A much drier morning with only the odd spot of light drizzle to spoil an otherwise beautiful summers day. Moth numbers continue to be low in the garden trap with just 12 species of macros, although the dreaded Uncertain was new for the year.
  A circuit of the local patch delivered a nice crop of grassland butterflies including both Large and Small Skippers, plus plenty of Silver Y moths. On south lake Pochards have increased to over 100 and it was good to see several broods of Great Crested Grebes with young on the water. Cuckoos were still active around the reed beds, but the main bird news was the willow swamp Green Woodpecker pair showing off their four fully fledged juvs on the causeway shingle. At least 100 Swifts hawked insects over south lake, with 20 House Martins on north lake, while two Med Gulls and five Sandwich Terns overflew the site. Also, at the north-eastern end of the lake there was a fine display of Dark Mullein.  The walk back along the beach delivered the expected Curlews, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers, plus two beached Barrel Jellyfish.

                                Dark Mullein - an abundant plant beside north lake

                               Large Skipper - a common grassland butterfly

                                Jackdaw, Lade

  Truth be told I`m still walking round like a condemned man after the referendum result on Friday. I just cannot believe how stupid this country can be at times. The questions that keep going round and round in my head are how on earth could Cameron be so naïve as to entrust the British public with such an important decision in the first place, and why didn't more young `uns exit Facebook for ten minutes and get off their lazy arses and vote? And now the bloody politicians, many of whom were responsible for all the lies in the run-up to the vote, are in melt down arguing amongst themselves and resigning to save face; talk about "fiddling while Rome burns". It seems that these and many more imponderables are affecting plenty of other folk in this confused country of ours at the moment, if the news broadcasts are anything to go by.
  Anyhow, at least Glastonbury is looking good tonight, so I`m off to watch ELO on the legends slot, followed by Cold Play later on, and tomorrow stick my head in the sand like an ostrich and not listen to any more news...

Friday 24 June 2016

Black Kite and Moths

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry sunny, sw  3 - A stunning start to the day weather wise, and a `new dawn` (for good or ill) following yesterdays Referendum; I always thought it was a dodgy decision by Dave to throw it open to the great British public - 40% of whom still believe in fairies... But there you go, we`re stuck with it now and have got to make the best of it.
  However, some quality migrants in the moth traps both here and at the Kerton Road café including Bordered Straw and White-point and Lime Hawk-moth respectively, the latter a species I`ve yet to record at Plovers.

                                Bordered Straw, Plovers - a classic south coast immigrant

                                Cream-spot Tiger, Kerton Road - a localised resident

                  Lime Hawkmoth, Kerton Road - a scarce resident down here on the shingle

Dungeness - A wander along the foreshore from the lifeboat station to the fishing boats delivered plenty of Skylarks, Mipits, Stock Dove and Pied Wagtail breeding activity, but there was no sign of any Wheatears. Diamond-back Moths were everywhere in the ground cover along with many Silver Ys and a single Hummingbird Hawk-moth briefly on one of the old fish hut walls.
RSPB - 1000hrs - Spent a very pleasant session guiding Margaret and about 20 of her old friends from north Kent around the circular walk. We concentrated mainly on the terrific display of wild flowers and insects including the likes of Common and Blue-tailed Damselflies, Four-spotted Chasers, Black-tailed Skimmers, Emperors, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Heath and Common Blue.

                                Four-spotted Chaser - an abundant medium-sized dragonfly

  And the birds weren't bad either with the group having superb views of 6 Hobbies, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Common Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Little Egret, Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and brief flight views of the Cattle Egret amongst the cows on hayfield 3. Small parties of Sand Martins over Dengemarsh were an indication that migration is already underway and a Cuckoo was heard along with several Cetti`s Warblers. From Makepeace hide a Peregrine showed distantly and whilst there all the gulls and wildfowl took to the skies. We couldn't see anything but later heard that a Red Kite had flown over Burrowes.
  However, on the way home just before 1400hrs I pulled into Lade car park, as I could hear and see the Herring Gulls throwing a wobbly along the coast road, and sure enough a kite was soaring overhead. On closer inspection it was clearly a Black Kite and I watched it disappear north before alerting a couple of other local birders who lived that way. News then came through on Twitter that Dave Bunney at Dungeness had also not only seen it but photographed it too! For pics check out the  @LeyshonOwen Twitter account or the DBO website. This is my second Black Kite at Lade in 10 years.
  So, quite a day, that kicked off with some cracking moths, followed by an enjoyable ramble with Margaret and her pals and finished with a quality rarity - and all within a mile and a half of home. I love Dungeness National Nature Reserve!

Wednesday 22 June 2016


Lade - muggy and overcast - A humid morning with mist first thing and light airs, perfect for checking on the local breeding birds of which a total of 41 species recorded. On the dry scrub Common Whitethroats and Dunnocks appeared to have fared well, but Linnets less so with a drop in numbers this year, while Mipit and Skylark were both noted feeding fledged young. Around the willow swamp there was plenty of Cuckoo, Reed Bunting, Cetti`s and Reed Warblers activity, and a couple of Little Egrets perched in trees hinted at what might develop in future. On the open water only Great Crested and Little Grebes showed a few fledged young; I still haven't seen any other water fowl with fledglings. Non breeders noted included several Swifts, 2 Med Gulls, 45 Pochards and a roving adult female Marsh Harrier.
  And so to Jackdaws. Last week I saw an adult Jackdaw snatch a Cootlet off the water, well today a whole gang of them, at least 80, were noisily swarming over the willow swamp. Goodness only knows what carnage was caused to the breeding birds as when they visited my garden recently they cleared out most of the Collared Doves, Blackbirds and Woodpigeons. Still, that`s nature for you, and as Clint Eastwood memorably stated in The Outlaw Josey Wales, "Buzzards gotta eat, same as the worms".

                               Dunnock - a common, breeding resident

                                A few of the Jackdaw gang perched on the 30` mirror

                                Whitethroat - the commonest nesting migrant on dry scrub

  As for plants a spike of White Mullein was already up over a metre tall amongst the Ox-eye Daisies and Valerian, while the first Rest Harrow and Evening Primrose flowers were in bloom. Any botanists interested in grasses could do well to walk the old railway line track south of the lake towards the gravel pits where there are numerous examples of this complex family of plants.

                                Dungeness in the mist

                                White Mullein - localised biennial, only found at one spot at Lade

                                Nottingham Catchfly is abundant this year

And so to moths, unsurprisingly, given the weather conditions, there was 20 plus species in the garden trap this morning, although numbers continue to be low, with five new for the year including the giant Privet Hawk-moth to the diminutive Cream-bordered Green Pea.

                               Cream-bordered Green Pea - tiny moth with a long name

                                Privet Hawk-moth - one of our largest

                                Evergestis limbata - a localised south coast micro-moth

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Cattle Egret

Dengemarsh - mild, misty, cloudy, brighter later, sw 2-4 - A grim start to the day at a saturated Dengemarsh following yesterdays deluge. On the lake there was loads of feral geese and swans, Cormorants, gulls, Common Terns and grebes and wildfowl. From Springfield Bridge we watched a male Marsh Harrier bring in a large prey item that looked like a Rabbit, which the female eagerly claimed in a mid-air food pass. Reed Buntings, Bearded Tits, Reed, Cetti`s and Sedge Warblers were all busily feeding fledged young in the reedbeds, while both Tree Sparrow and Yellow Wagtail flew over calling.
  The hayfields are now thick with herbaceous growth and of little use for passage waders with only limited amounts of open water; infact its so overgrown a Spoon-billed Sandpiper could easily go undetected, now there`s a thought... However, back to reality, and on No. 3 a Redshank and Lapwing were fretting as though young were nearby, alongside a few Oystercatchers, Shelducks, Grey Herons and Little Egrets. At the back of the hayfield, in amongst the cows, we had brief views of an adult Cattle Egret, now in its third day at Dengemarsh. On hayfield 2 a couple of Hobbies sat on posts looking fed up with the drizzle; with the solstice now upon us we could do with a settled period for the breeding birds` sake alone.
New Romney - Up to four Common Buzzards were soaring over the northern outskirts of town around midday, once the sun broke through, along with two Sparrowhawks,

Monday 20 June 2016

Balearic Shearwater

Lade - The past few days have been pretty much the same with plenty of Swifts over the lake on Saturday and today, in the murk and rain, while the sunshine of yesterday brought forth a number of grassland butterflies. Several Cuckoos continue to be active around the site, but I guess it wont be too long now until the adults depart south.
Dungeness - 0900-1030hrs - Heavy rain, low cloud, sw 4 - A grim morning was brightened considerably by a tidy seawatch from the fishing boats with the highlight being our first Balearic Shearwater of the summer heading down-Channel at 0930hrs. Common Terns were in the ascendancy with at least 250 passing west during the watch, plus 80 Gannets, 20 Sandwich Terns, 14 Little Terns, one Arctic Tern, 5 Kittiwakes, 2 Fulmars and 20 coasting Swifts. Some of the terns, including a Little, paused to feed en-route.
  Despite the atrocious weather conditions both Skylark and Mipit were in song on the foreshore and a Wheatear flew along the concrete road as we walked down to the boats.
RSPB - A few Swifts over Burrowes and the usual wildfowl was about it here, where the water level has risen again following the recent rains.
  News from yesterday afternoon concerned a Cattle Egret found by Ken Churcher on Hayfield 3, which may still be on site somewhere and waiting to be relocated, when the rain stops...

Friday 17 June 2016

A Walland Wander

Walland Marsh - 0730 - 1200hrs - humid, dry, cloudy, light airs - We spent the morning in company with CP on Walland in near perfect weather conditions for checking out breeding birds at several locations across the Marsh. The main site was alive with Skylarks, Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings feeding recently fledged young, alongside a good sprinkling of Bearded Tits, Corn Buntings, Whitethroats, Tree Sparrows, Sedge Warblers and Yellow Wagtails. Along the back lanes and by-ways we also encountered a few Yellowhammers, Linnets, Greenfinches, Cuckoo, Buzzards, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher and a Turtle Dove.
  But it was Marsh Harriers we`d particularly come to check on and over the course of the morning confirmed three nesting females at separate widespread locations, all of which received food from male birds via overhead food passes, often with much communicative whistling. Some interesting interaction was noted at one site where an adult female repeatedly dive-bombed a Buzzard that had strayed into its territory, while one of the items of prey being brought in to feed the young harriers was clearly an enormous Marsh Frog.
  As ever a superb morning in the field with Chris, made even more enjoyable by his extensive local knowledge and native instinct as to where to go next and what to expect.

Thursday 16 June 2016

The Desert

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny - A simply stunning morning with blue skies, high clouds and a light zephyr coming up from the south, perfect weather conditions infact for checking out the Desert and Mockmill sewer. We headed south to start with, beside the quarry, and then struck out across the shingle ridges, looping back round north along Mockmill towards the airport fields behind the `mirrors`.

                                The Desert, looking south towards Dungeness

  The Desert hereabouts reminds me somewhat of La Crau in the Rhone delta of southern France, but without the bustards, sandgrouse and shrikes! Never mind, you can`t have it all, and it was a delight to be serenaded by the sweet cadence of Skylarks and Mipits overhead; not to be sniffed at in these chemical-drenched times in which we live. However, the herbicide-free storm beach tops here were a riot of colour from flowering plants such as Foxglove, Viper`s Bugloss, Nottingham Catchfly and stonecrops, to name but a few.

                               English Stonecrop and Foxgloves

  At the southern end of Mockmill where the freshwater rises from the stones lush herbaceous vegetation was the order of the day, so plenty of Ragged Robin and willow-herb amongst the juncus and nettles. Further along in the dense tangle of herbage and thorn scrub Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats were plentiful, the adults` beaks crammed full of insects for hungry youngsters calling deep within the impenetrable cover. Linnet, Reed Bunting, Wren, Blackbird, Dunnock and a pair of Stonechat were also represented along with a sharming Water Rail.

                                Mockmill Sewer

  Scanning from the fence line at the edge of the Desert, looking north across rough grassland towards the airport runway, a harrowed field attracted two Hares, 21 Curlews, 10 Lapwings and a variety of corvids and gulls, while a Marsh Harrier drifted through and a Kestrel hovered in the distance. More Skylarks and Mipits were in fine voice here too.
  The reedbeds and sallows on the margin of south lake were full of chugging Reed Warblers and the explosive song of Cetti`s, plus several Cuckoos going about their devious business. As the morning wore on more more damsels and dragons appeared on the wing and as we walked back for a late breakfast plenty of Common Blues, Small Heaths and our first Meadow Brown of the summer fluttered amongst the long grass.

                               Treble Lines

  In the garden moth trap Small Square-spot and Treble Lines were the only NFY species of macros.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Barney at 10

Lade - cool, cloudy, sw 2 - My faithful mutt, Barney, is ten years old today; how sad is that when you can remember the dog`s birthday, but not some of your family members`! Anyhow, we had our usual early morning chat and I asked him if he wanted to do anything special, but no, he said he was  perfectly happy with his usual run out back, though if I could lay on a cat for him to chase that would be a bonus, or maybe a Border Terrier bitch in season would be nice (that`s enough of that sort of talk), otherwise no fuss...
  Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the Swifts had returned over south lake, about 100 of `em, hawking insects rising off the scrub and whizzing past my head. I could watch Swifts all day, devil birds, rain-dodgers, tick-bearers, denizens of the skies, terrific value and surely in every birders` top ten.
  The garden moth trap was reduced to only 10 species of macros last night, due to the brisk wind, and it wasn't much better at the Kerton Road café where half a dozen White-spots were the highlight. The café botanist commented on how abundant the delightfully named, and endemic to our area (probably) Stinking Hawksbeard is this summer on her SSSI. So, after a crash-course in Crepis foetida identification (drooping buds and leaves that smell like TCP when crushed) I shall be keeping an eye out for it on my local patch of herb-rich shingle.


Dungeness - A wander around the Trapping Area/Desert delivered very little  apart from a few  Swifts heading south. An afternoon guided walk for RSPB delivered the usual wide range of flora and fauna with the highlight bird wise being half a dozen Hobbies over Dengemarsh.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Summer Doldrums

Lade - cool, cloudy, drizzle, brighter later, sw 2-5 - Its that time of year when the birding scene is at it flattest, which hasn't helped what with the wind picking up throughout the day. Yesterday was a decent Swift day with a couple of hundred over the lake and track hawking insects in the rain, while at least four Cuckoos were noted. A total of 18 Curlews left their roost on the shingle as the tide receded, while a few more NFY moths appeared in the garden trap, including Elephant Hawk-moth and Cabbage.

                                Elephant Hawk-moth, Lade

Dungeness - 0730hrs - A stroll down to the Patch yielded 100 Common Terns over the boil and the usually array of mainly immature Herring Gulls on the beach. Offshore a steady trickle of Gannets were toing and froing, a few Sandwich Terns fished along the surf, a party of Swifts coasted west dodging the rain and two porpoises were noted.
  We then flogged around the Desert, Trapping Area and Long Pits with just the usual Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Cetti`s and Reed Warblers to break up the monotony; there was no sound from yesterdays Nightingale. A female Black Redstart showed on the power station fence, a Raven cronked overhead and that was about it really.  

Sunday 12 June 2016

Common Blues

Lade - Saturday - Humid, dry, cloudy, e 2 - Yesterday was perfect weather conditions for carrying out a butterfly transect, being muggy with light airs and milky sunshine poking through from time to time. The walk along the old railway line track from the quarry to the aerial mound (about 800yds) delivered 52 Common Blues on the wing, plus 12 Small Heaths and two Painted Ladies. I couldn't resist a few more close up pics of an exquisite Bee Orchid. 

                                Common Blues, Lade

                                Bee Orchid, Lade

Sunday - warm, cloudy, rain, sw 2  - A fresher feel to the weather this morning with the wind swinging round to the south-west and rain on the way. However, there was a decent catch of 21 species of macro moths in the garden trap, but only Buff-tip new for the year.
  A circuit of the site revealed little of note apart from Reed and Cetti`s Warbler chicks out of the nest, plus a 1st summer Little Gull hawking insects over north lake amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls, plus a few Swifts and House Martins. Along the foreshore 15 Curlews and 25 Oystercatchers were present, while a trickle of Sandwich Terns and Med Gulls passed overhead.
  I haven't quite worked out what`s been predating the waterfowl hereabouts as very few ducklings, cootlets and the like have fledged; the Great Crested Grebes pictured below the exception. Mink have not been seen here for many years, so I don't think they`re the culprits. It may be weather related of course, what with the recent cold periods and some of the torrential downpours flooding nests. Maybe repeat broods will be more successful.
  All the `No Fishing` signs erected by RSPB have now gone missing and several fisherman were in the usual swims around the lakes and in the willow swamp.

                                1st summer Little Gull, Lade north

                                Great Crested Grebe family, Lade south

Friday 10 June 2016

Orchids and House Martins

Lade - cool, cloudy start, warmer later, ne 2 - Early summer on the local patch is often of interest for a wide range of flora and fauna with birds taking a bit of a back seat, what with flower season now in full swing. I managed to locate Common Spotted, Pyramidal, Bee and Southern Marsh Orchids around the site, although the latter were nowhere near as numerous as in previous years.
  A couple of Grass Snakes were noted by the ponds and everywhere around the willow swamp came the sound of carp thrashing in the shallows, spawning. Up by the swing bridge I counted over 30 monster 20lb plus fish pass through the channel and numerous smaller specimens.
  As the sun broke through a few Painted Ladies, Common Blues and Small Heaths took wing, while by the ponds Common and Blue-tailed Damselflies had emerged along with Four-spotted Chasers, Black-tailed Skimmers and our first Emperor of the summer. 

                                Common Whitethroat

                                Painted Lady on Valerian

                                Spawning carp

                                Reed Warbler

                                           Bee,  Pyramidal and Spotted Orchids

On the breeding bird front it was good to see first broods of fledged Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers out and about, while Reed Warblers were singing from every available clump of reeds. Cuckoos were also going like the clappers and I noticed at least two females flopping around in the reeds, presumably seeking out suitable nests for egg-laying. Large gangs of Jackdaws were active in the willow swamp making a right old racket as the juveniles begged for food, and I watched an adult swoop down over the lake and snatch a Coot chick off the water, a behaviour that was new to me. Whilst on the subject of Jackdaws, they were also in the garden today working the fir trees and laying waste to the Collared Dove nests.
  The garden moth trap was much reduced in numbers due to a fresh north-easterly coming off the sea last night, but did included Willow Beauty and Spectacle new for the year.
Burrowes - A brief call in the bird reserve yielded the usual fare on Burrowes including a pair of Wigeon, Pintail and Teal amongst the eclipse ducks, plus Cuckoo.

                                Common Whitethroat, Burrowes

Lydd Allotment - This afternoon at the allotment I got distracted by a group of House Martins collecting mud from puddles for nest material. They took absolutely no notice of me and Barney as we (or rather I!) toiled away nearby. The adjacent newish housing estate is home to a small colony of these fabulous little hirundines which sadly, in common with many of our summer migrants, seem to be in steady decline and are now Amber listed.

                                House Martins, Lydd Allotment