Wednesday 31 August 2016

Roseate Tern

Lade - warm, misty, light airs - 0600hrs - With dew on the plants we headed straight for the ponds, a notable local sun trap where any grounded warblers would be drying off in the sunshine. Sure enough several Willow Warblers filtered through the willows, one in near full song, with at least four Cetti`s Warblers noisily crashing about lower down. In the reedbeds several Reed Warblers and a Sedge, plus five Common Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat nearby popped out of cover to take in the drying rays. Around the willow swamp, Kingfisher, Water Rail and two Common Sandpipers noted, while a couple of hundred Greylags flew over south lake as we walked the desert by Mockmill where six Wheatears and two Whinchats present.

                                A migrant Sedge Warbler

                                Goldcrest, first autumn record

   Back home, whilst having breakfast in the garden, the first Goldcrest of the autumn was heard in the fir trees and it also came down to drink from the pond. The buddleia was once again busy with insects, including two Hummingbird Hawk-moths and several Painted Ladies, but the garden moth trap was quiet with a paltry 15 species, but did harbour a tatty Jersey Tiger; I also made my annual hash of misidentifying a Yellow-barred Brindle, as the proprietor of the Kerton Road CafĂ© so diplomatically reminded me !!
ARC - 1030hrs - Nothing much doing here on the wader front apart from 10 Dunlins, five Ringed Plovers, four Snipe and a Little Stint amongst the usual eclipse ducks.
Greatstone Beach - 1330hrs - On a falling tide we wandered down towards the Tavern to scan the sands which was heaving with birds on the Lade side due to a beach full of holidaymakers further along. Of interest was a large flock of terns comprising 325 Sandwich, 25 Common, two Black and a cracking adult Roseate Tern that flew in with a group of Commons. Immediately it drew the eye being much paler than its cohorts with a distinctive thin, black wedge on the outer primaries. On the deck it showed a black cap, flecked white, a black bill with a reddish base, and there was even a hint of pink on the breast.
  As for waders at least 450 Dunlins and 50 Sanderlings were counted along with 320 Oystercatchers, 12 Ringed Plovers, six Knots, two Turnstones and a Barwit, while the Curlews flew in just as we were leaving.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Drift Migrants

Dungeness - 0730hrs - warm, misty, light airs - A few drift migrants grounded around the point first thing included several Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats and Wheatears, a Spotted Flycatcher and Common Redstart. At the Patch 20 Common Terns and a Yellow-legged Gull amongst the throng.

                               Wheatear and Redstart at Dungeness

Lade  - Similar fare here with Wheatears and two Whinchats on the Desert and 10 Willow Warblers in the Willow Swamp. On the beach this evening the Sandwich Tern count topped at 280, otherwise all the expected waders and gulls.

Monday 29 August 2016

Wader days

Lade - 0730hrs - cloudy, dry, n 2 - A better than normal early autumn session over the local patch with something of interest at every turn. A Willow Warbler in the back garden is always a good sign and as we trudged down Taylor Road a Whimbrel flew over calling - with a Tree Pipit! Out on the Desert a grounded Hobby sat on the shingle as breakfast flew past in the form of Sand Martins, while a Kestrel and Marsh Harrier hunted Mockmill.
  Our timing was perfect to accurately count the Curlews flying to roost on the high tide: 385, plus 15 Barwits and two Grey Plovers. Also flying over were two Snipe and a Ringed Plover. The now expected hundreds of Sandwich Terns also came off the sands and headed along the beach towards Dungeness.

                                Dabchicks showed well on Ternery Pool

Rye Harbour NR - 1000hrs - A circuit of the beach reserve with CP delivered a decent crop of waders including four Curlew Sandpipers, 80 Dunlins, 70 Oystercatchers, ten Ringed Plovers, six Knot, six Redshanks,Turnstone, Curlew and Common Sandpiper. Also of note, 15 Little Egrets, 10 Shelducks, 10 Dabchicks, Wheatear and Whinchat.

ARC - 1600hrs - From Hanson hide a flock of 41 Black-tailed Godwits, mainly of the race islandica, with at least two paler birds of the nominate race. This was the largest flock of Blackwits I`ve seen at Dungeness, a fabulous sight and sound. Also present 100 Goldies, Lapwings, Dunlins, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plovers, two Little Stints and a Garganey.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Wood and Curlew Sandpipers

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw 2-4 - Its been slim pickings on the local patch over the weekend with a blustery wind making for difficult viewing conditions at times. A few Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins continued to drift south, along with Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats in the bushes, plus a Wheatear and Whinchat yesterday near Mockmill. On the bay the 300 plus Sandwich and Common Terns roosting at low tide included up to six Black Terns.
Dengemarsh Gully/Galloways - 0700hrs - The gully was virtually devoid of birds this morning, although it was a little better on the road down to the sea at Galloways where six Whinchats were the highlight, plus Wheatear, Common Whitethroat, Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard.

                                One of six Whinchats by the Galloways bend

RSPB - A Wood Sandpiper in front of Firth hide was good to see as they`ve been few and far between this autumn. Also on Burrowes, Ruff, Common Sandpipers, Greenshank four Great White Egrets and a Black Tern. Over the road on ARC two Little Stints were present, plus Green and Common Sandpipers, LRP, Blackwit and Lapwings. Later in the afternoon the first two Curlew Sandpipers of the season dropped in, while a Glossy Ibis was reported from the hayfields.

                               Wood Sandpiper from Firth hide

Friday 26 August 2016

Another interloper...

Lade - Late news from yesterday evening concerned yet another interloper at Plovers when a prickly customer in the shape of a Hedgehog was discovered curled up asleep in one of our outbuildings. This was the first we`d seen here in five years or so, but what with all the garden and road traffic hazards hereabouts I decided to relocate it onto the National Nature Reserve where it would be safer.

                               Now snuffling around in Mockmill

Dungeness - 0645-0845hrs - Humid, misty, nw 2 - The prospects looked good for grounded migrants this morning, what with a few showers in the early hours, so we set off earlyish for a circuit of Long Pits and the Trapping Area. A Tree Pipit overhead calling was our first of the season, along with a few hirundines and Yellow Wagtails, but apart from a Common Redstart and a few Lesser Whitethroats at the northern end of the pits it was pretty quiet. Small numbers of Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats and a Chiffchaff was about it elsewhere.

ARC - 1100hrs  - The islands in front of Hanson hide were packed out with Golden Plovers and Lapwings, Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall, plus three Little Ringed and two Ringed Plovers, two Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Blackwit and a Little Stint. On Burrowes the highlight was four Great White Egrets in the willows opposite Dennis`s hide.

                                Sunset over Littlestone

Thursday 25 August 2016

Night of the bush cricket

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3 - With the overnight temperature hovering around 20C, and high humidity, it proved to be a stinker for trying to get some sleep, even down here on the coast where normally its a bit fresher. And then at 2am with the window wide open we had an interloper in the form of a `singing` cricket which sounded incredibly loud in the dead of night in a confined space.
As I couldn't sleep I then spent the next hour crawling around the bedroom with a torch trying to locate the noisy insect, but once it sensed the light it ceased its racket and I could not find it. Anyhow, as it had stopped `singing` I drifted off to sleep, only to be rudely woken later by Mrs PT when the cricket hopped up on the bed and crawled over her arm!  Being a caring naturalist I soon had the critter potted up and into the fridge til daybreak, and nodded off back to sleep...
  It proved to be a splendid Great Green Bush-cricket, which was duly released into the garden.

                               Great Green Bush-cricket

And so to moths, predictably there was a decent haul of 41species of macros including Jersey Tiger, Gold Spots, Burnished Brass and a migrant Gem, new for the year. The garden buddleia bush was on top form attracting at least four Hummingbird Hawk-moths, a count of 25 Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Admirals, Small and Large Whites, Holly Blue, Silver Ys, a Comma and several bees that I`m still trying to identify.
  All quiet over the pits with the only warblers of note 10 Common Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat feeding on blackberries.

                                Gold Spot

                               Gem, an irregular migrant

                                One of four Hummers on the buddleia

Dungeness - 1430-1600hrs - Probably the quietest seawatch of the year in the company of PB, MH and BC. Still, the cooling breeze off the sea and lively banter made up for the lack of birds.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Phew, what a scorcher

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny,  se 2 - We were out early over the local patch, but there were few migrants apart from the ubiquitous Sand Martins, Yellow Wagtails, Common Whitethroats and a Whinchat in Mockmill. Unusually, a party of eight Sandwich Terns were fishing over south lake and every so often they would dunk in the fresh water and bathe.
  On a rising tide this afternoon a count of 320 Curlews, 450 Oystercatchers and 25 Ringed Plovers were logged. Terns comprised 200 Sandwich and 100 Common before the tide swept in sending the lot, plus hundreds of Dunlins and Sanderlings, to roost.
  With the temperature nudging 30C, at high tide I joined my daughter Lucy and grandson Albert for a refreshing swim in the bay, along with Sandwich Terns swirling noisily overhead and two Grey Seals bobbing up and down further out. The garden buddleia attracted two Hummingbird Hawk-moths this afternoon.
  An evening recheck of the bay revealed an Arctic Skua harrying the terns out on the sands amid thousands of gulls and the usual waders. At one stage, just before sunset, hundreds of Black-headed Gulls deserted the bay and flew over the shingle beach to feed on a mass emergence of flying ants in the dead calm. An impressive spectacle indeed.
ARC 1230hrs - Plenty to see from Hanson hide including 100 Golden Plovers, 30 Lapwings, three Little Ringed Plovers, Ruff and Blackwit amongst the eclipse ducks.

Tuesday 23 August 2016


Lade - 0600hrs - warm, sunny, se 2 - Another session working Mockmill first thing, under a clear blue sky, largely drew a blank as there were few grounded migrants of note, just a few Common Whitethroats and Willow Warblers, but not a sniff of a Sedge Warbler anywhere. Linnets have been thin on the ground this year, so a flock of 30 feeding on bugloss was noteworthy. Several Yellow Wagtails passed overhead along with a steady procession of Sandwich Terns from the bay.

                               Linnets on Vipers Bugloss seed

  The Plovers moth trap was full of mostly common species with only Cream-bordered Green Pea and the first Riband Wave for ages of any note. However, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on the garden buddleia was a first for the autumn, while it was good to see a few Small Tortoiseshells on the blooms amongst the Peacocks and Red Admirals.

                               Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Small Tortoiseshells

ARC/Burrowes - From Hanson hide a nervy flock of 62 Golden Plovers comprised almost entirely adults apart from two juveniles. The only other waders on the islands were Lapwings, Redshanks, Common Sandpipers and a Little Ringed Plover. Nothing much on Burrowes apart from a few more Common Sands and three Great White Egret, although two juv Buzzards overhead got the gulls going. A Diamond Dove was reported from Dengemarsh Road (SM), new for the plastic year list.
Walland Marsh - Superb evening out on the Flatlands with CP in warm, still conditions with farming operations still in full swing. The highlights were six each of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier, two Barn Owls, Kestrel, 20 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Tree Sparrows, Bearded Tits, hundreds of hirundines and a Whinchat.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Windy weekend

Lade - Despite the brisk wind over the weekend small parties of Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins continued to drift overhead, pressing south, while grounded migrants could only be detected by their calls as they sheltered in cover; around the willow swamp Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats were plentiful. Three Common Sandpipers were present on the margins of south lake, plus a Green Sandpiper on north lake.
  Elsewhere, it was a similar picture on ARC where small waders were largely absent apart from the odd Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover coming and going, plus Ruff and Little Stint on Burrowes. At the fishing boats a morning passage of Balearic Shearwaters, Gannets and terns petered out by the afternoon, along with a few Fulmars and Arctic Skuas.
Dengemarsh - 1000hrs - On Sunday Mrs PT joined us for a circuit of Dengemarsh in blustery, but mild weather conditions. By Springfield bridge plenty of Sand Martins were on the move and every field seemed to hold Yellow Wagtails. A Great White Egret, three Marsh Harriers, a Black-tailed Godwit and two Common Sandpipers were noted around the lake, while two Black Terns flew through. Common Terns continue to bring in fish for youngsters on the rafts amid all the usual wildfowl and grebes. From the back track to Lydd, three Common Buzzards over the farmland being mobbed by crows, a Hobby fizzed through and a couple of Corn Buntings flushed by Barney from a stubble field.

Royal Naval Birdwatching Society - When at sea, during the 1970s, I was a member of the Society and occasional contributor to their newsletters and journal, Sea Swallow. Every so often a local birder kindly passes on the latest copy for me to peruse and there is always much to enjoy for the lover of seabirds, both from the north Atlantic and around the globe. Volume 64 (2015) is packed full of a wide variety of fascinating papers and notes, including an obituary to Bryan Nelson (of Gannet fame) news, reviews and sightings.
  Closer to home though is a paper entitled The fate of Dungeness. The first part was written by Bill Bourne in 1967 and reproduced from the Seabird Bulletin of that year, during which he reflects on visits to Dungeness and Rye Harbour following WW2; fascinating stuff, including comments on Kentish Plovers when they still nested on the outfall of the River Rother, long after the Dunge birds had ceased to be.
   The second part of the paper is written by current Dungeness Bird Observatory warden David Walker during which he sympathises with Bill Bourne regarding the many losses. However, David complements the first part of the paper by bringing the Dungeness story full circle and up-to-date, as well as putting a positive spin on the more recent conservation work carried out by both RSPB and DBO, despite the ongoing effects of nuclear power generation, mass tourism and climate change.
   For any Dungeness aficionados out there it is a worthy read, and if you cannot come by a copy Volume 64 will soon be uploaded onto the Society`s website:

Friday 19 August 2016

Waders and Terns

Lade - 0600hrs - humid, overcast, light airs - In fact, perfect conditions for moths, and indeed the tally in the garden mv reached a more respectable 32 species with Burnished Brass, Small Blood-vein and Waved Umber all new for the year. Flounced Rustic was the most numerous at 21. Whilst emptying the trap Sandwich Terns were noisily passing over the cottage as they had been throughout the night.
  With the smell of rain in the air we set out yet again towards Mockmill where a party of six grounded Yellow Wagtails was flushed off the Desert along with two Mipits and a Wheatear. The sewer scrub was alive with Reed and Sedge Warblers, Common Whitethroats and Willow Warblers, a few Linnets and Reed Buntings, but nothing of any quality. There was no change to the usual wildfowl and hirundines on south lake. Kestrel and Marsh Harrier also noted.

                               Burnished Brass and Small Blood-vein

RSPB - After dropping off Barney and a spot of breakie my first stop was ARC where Lesser Whitethroat and Cetti`s warbler were added to the warbler tally around the willow trail, plus Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, several Robins and a Water Rail. From the hide singles of Wigeon and Pintail amongst hundreds of common wildfowl along with Lapwings, Dunlin, three Little Ringed Plovers, Turnstone, a Greenshank over and a Kingfisher in front of the hide.

                                Juvenile Moorhen, ARC

  On Burrowes further wildfowl included three Garganey and another Pintail, two Great White Egrets, Common and Sandwich Terns and a colour-ringed Mediterranean Gull. From Makepeace hide I joined MH and PB where we enjoyed a `shank-fest` with 11 Greenshanks (one flock of seven), six Redshanks and an orange colour-flagged Spotted Redshank. Several Common Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers and Lapwings completed a fine suite of waders.

                                Mixed flock of shanks

                                Juvenile Mediterranean Gull with green colour ring

Lade again - A quick check of north lake this afternoon from Seaview Road revealed 10 Black Terns brought down by the drizzle that soon left high to the south. A scan of the beach from the Tavern later delivered a whole host of Dunlins, Sanderlings, Curlews, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers, plus 25 Knots, 15 Barwits and three Grey Plovers.
Dungeness - An hour from the fishing boats with MH and PB delivered a steady passage of Common and Sandwich Terns in an increasing south-westerly blow, plus 25 Black Terns and four Little Terns. A few Gannets drifted by and two Arctic Skuas chased the terns.
In summary a pretty decent days birding with 84 species noted and all within two miles of the cottage.

Thursday 18 August 2016

Stone Curlew

Lade - 0600hrs - cloudy, still, misty - Light airs and high humidity overnight had little effect on  moth numbers resulting in another poor catch with the only bright spot being five species of pugs, including White-spotted and Cypress Pugs. We slogged over the shingle again to Mockmill for little reward; there was fewer warblers in the bushes than yesterday, and no sign of any chats. However, our first Kingfisher of the autumn put on a show around the willow swamp and a flock of 100 Sand Martins and Swallows briefly dropped in over south lake.

                                Fox cub keeping an eye on Barney

                                Toadflax Pug

Conningbrooks Lakes - 1100hrs - Had to go to a steamy Ashford to check out this new country park site for a forthcoming article and take a few pics. Needless to say it was pretty quiet in the midday heat with only a few Willow Warblers in the trees, Green Woodpecker, a Hobby and a Kingfisher along the River Stour of note. Whilst there a phone call from PB delivering news of a rarity back on the Marsh forced my hand to return to paradise...

                                Conningbrooks Lake

Dengemarsh - 1430hrs - The only bird on a bone dry and furrowed Hayfield 3 was a fabulous Stone Curlew, a proper rarity in these parts and only my fourth record in 11 years. This was, of course, a passage bird as the last breeding record at Dungeness was way back in the early 1970s.

                                Stone Curlew in the heat haze

Wednesday 17 August 2016

First Whinchat

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 3 - Its that time of year again when I start to think about my bogey bird, the Aquatic Warbler. Although numbers are declining at their central European breeding grounds, about now they`re on the move west along the coastline of the Low Countries and into northern France where a bird was mist-netted on Monday at Wissant. It seems that each year fewer and fewer reach our shores, but we still have plenty of suitable habitat hereabouts and geographically we`re in the zone, although a south-easterly wind off the continent would be more helpful.
  And so it was, more in hope than expectation, that we struck out early slogging across the shingle towards Mockmill sewer with its riot of bramble, juncus and herbaceous growth. Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers, Common and Lesser Whitethroats were all noted feeding amongst the cover, and occasionally popping up to greet the sunshine. Every Sedge Warblers` streaking and stripes were scrutinised, but to no avail, and none had spiky tails. Just need that little bit of luck, and a southerly blow, maybe Friday...
  However, also noted in the scrub was our first Whinchat of the autumn, plus two Wheatears on the Desert. On south lake more Pochards have moved in reaching 200 or more and two Whimbrel passed over calling. Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and Hobby all noted.

                                First Wheatear of the autumn

RSPB - 1000hrs - A circular walk for five RSPB guests yielded the following highlights: four Great White Egrets, four Common Sandpipers, two Redshanks and a Ruff on Burrowes, eight Greenshanks over Dengemarsh, four Yellow Wagtails over the return trail, two Marsh Harriers (including a stunning juvenile female) and a Common Buzzard. Due to the bright sunshine and brisk wind only a few common warblers and hirundines were noted. Duck numbers continue to steadily build on Burrowes and Dengemarsh.

                                Three of the four Great White Egrets on Burrowes

Lade Bay - 1600hrs - We walked the foreshore from the boardwalk to the Tavern where hundreds of Dunlins, Sanderlings and Ringed Plovers were feeding out on the gloopy mud. Some of the Dunlins were very approachable and took no notice of the holidaymakers running around nearby. Good numbers of Knot, Curlew, Barwit, Oystercatcher and two Grey Plovers were also noted further out on the bay, plus 120 Sandwich and 50 Common Terns, two Shelducks and a Whimbrel overhead calling.

                                Two of the hundreds of Dunlin on the mud

Monday 15 August 2016

Prince Caspian

Dungeness - 0730hrs - warm, dry, sunny, e 4 - At the Patch up to a couple of thousand Black-headed and Herring Gulls were mostly on the beach until a pair of Peregrines drifted over, after which they then went berserk, calling raucously and flying out over the boil. The raptors eventually settled on A station and the gulls returned to their normal loafing and swimming habits. At sea a few passing Gannets and Sandwich Terns, plus a smart light phase Arctic Skua beating up a Sarnie.
  A skulking warbler in the rock samphire beside the power station wall got us going for a while, until it flew up onto the razor wire and revealed itself as a Common Whitethroat. Otherwise the bushes around the point were devoid of passerines.

                                Gull frenzy

                                One of the culprits

Greatstone Beach - 1200hrs - My timing was off meaning that the waders were too far out on the sands and there was a number of kite surfers taking advantage of the easterly blow which also kept them on the move. However, a count of 210 Sandwich Terns was noteworthy.

                                Juvenile Caspian Gull

                                Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

Dungeness - 1500hrs - An hour at the fishing boats with TG, PB and DC produced very little movement on the sea apart from a few Sandwich Terns. However, bread and bait thrown by the gull fans attracted a small flock of Herring type gulls that included yesterdays juvenile Caspian and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls. Several other indeterminate birds were also present along with a juv Lesser Black-backed.

Sunday 14 August 2016

Plumed Fan-foot

Lade - warm, dry, overcast, light airs - I had high hopes for a decent moth catch last night and although numbers continued to be stubbornly low there was a Plumed Fan-foot, which was new for the garden trap site and the 318th species of macro-moth. It was a poor specimen, but new none the less, and long expected as it now regularly comes to light at local moth traps across the Dungeness NNR.

                               Plumed Fan-foot - new for the Plovers trap

  Over the pits and around the willow swamp Willow Warblers continue to trickle through along with Common Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers. Common and Green Sandpipers noted around the margins and a count of 56 Knots was noteworthy on the bay amongst hundreds of Dunlins and Sanderling, that now includes juvenile birds.

                               Golden Plovers still in summer plumage

RSPB - Over the weekend we had 55 Golden Plovers and a leaucistic Pintail on ARC, a Great White Egret on Dengemarsh and all the usual wildfowl and common waders elsewhere. Today Whinchats were reported from Dungeness and Galloways, plus another Caspian Gull at the fishing boats.
Folkestone - At a family gathering in Grove Road this afternoon someone pointed skywards and said, "look and all those seagulls". So I did, and there up in the wild, blue yonder was an astonishing sight of around 200 Mediterranean Gulls hawking insects over the town. Also noted along the tree-lined railway embankment a Sparrowhawk feeding two noisy fledglings every so often with prey.

Friday 12 August 2016

First Lesser Whitethroats

Long Pits - 0730hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw 2 increasing to 4 through the morning - A circuit of the pits was completely devoid of any waterfowl of any kind. There were no ducks, geese, swans, grebes, Coots or Moorhens on the water, nothing, how odd? Thankfully, it was a little more promising in the surrounding willow scrub, particularly along the spine at the northern end where a large flock of 50 plus passerines comprised mainly Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats. Also in the mix were several Chaffinches and Reed Buntings, a Spotted Flycatcher and our first two Lesser Whitethroats of the return passage. Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers, Common Tern, Kestrel, Raven and Sparrowhawk also noted.
  On the western side of the pits, near the laboratory, there is a patch of purple heather in flower, reminding me that today is the Inglorious Twelfth. How the seed got to Dungeness is a mystery, but the romantic in me likes to think it was transported here from the British uplands, by a migrant Ring Ouzel. Well, I can dream...


Lade - Another grim nights catch in the garden mv was considerably enlivened by a spanking Gold Spot, one of my favourite moths.

                                Gold Spot, a fine specimen

ARC - Plenty of feral geese, common ducks and Lapwings on the islands from Hanson hide, plus singles of Pintail and Wigeon, a Green Sandpiper, Dunlin and a Great White Egret that flew in high from the east and landed on the edge of the reedbed by Screen hide.

                               Great White Egret dropping in from the east

Burrowes - Pretty quiet here with two each of Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank and Little Ringed Plover the highlights. Two Garganey had been seen earlier, along with two Great White Egrets, while during the evening a Little Stint and Spotted Redshank were reported.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

More Willow Warblers

Dungeness - 0730hrs - cool, sunny, nw 3 - A chilly start to the day with a north-westerly airflow giving a distinctly autumnal feel to proceedings. We checked the bushes around the lighthouse where  a few Willow Warblers and two juvenile Stonechats was about all that could be mustered. However, on the sheltered eastern side of the trapping area up 20 Willow Warblers were enjoying the warm sunshine, snapping up insects along with a handful of Common Whitethroats, Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits. In the sun traps beside banks and low cover numerous Common Blues, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns basked, plus several Painted Ladies attracted to the flowering thistles and ragweed.

                                Common Blue and Painted Lady

                               Willow Warbler
                      North-eastern corner of the Trapping Area, a favourite migrant trap

Lade - It was a similar picture around the willow swamp with Willow, Sedge and Reed Warblers feeding in the shelter of the ponds and Common Whitethroats in the dry scrub.

ARC - An afternoon walk down to pines revealed yet more Willow Warblers and a host of Swallows and Sand Martins on overhead wires. A flock of 100 Lapwings over contained six Redshanks.

Monday 8 August 2016

Passage warblers

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, nw 2 - Another stunning morning with a cool north-westerly airflow tempering the warm sunshine. We continued on from yesterday with our final breeding bird survey of the season across the local patch, noting late broods of Tufted Ducks and grebes, of which there were many I`m pleased to report, while juveniles of Marsh Harrier and Kestrel that bred near the airport hunted over the site. Mockmill was alive with Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats, Linnets and Reed Buntings, all busily feeding amongst the tangle of juncus, bramble and blackthorn.
  Wildfowl numbers continue to build on south lake with Gadwall and Pochard now well over 100 a piece, along with the first groups of Teal and Shovelers, plus Common and Green Sandpipers on north lake. Yesterdays 400 Sand Martins in the drizzle were reduced to less than 100 today. Around the willow swamp there was plenty of Sedge, Reed and Willow Warbler activity, many of which were probably passage birds.

                               Juvenile Sedge Warbler with insect prey

  A brief scan of the skies from the aerial ramp revealed two Common Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk, several high Swifts, plus five Yellow Wagtails, two Pied Wagtails and Mipit over south.

Saturday 6 August 2016

Melodious Warbler

Hastings Country Park - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3 - We spent most of the day at this stunning coastal country park complete with panoramic sea views towards Beachy Head to the west, and across Rye bay east. The old quarry attracted a few Whitethroats with Willow Warblers and Blackcaps in the wooded glens. Yellowhammers, Linnets and Goldfinches were common place and we had cracking views of a family of Peregrines, plus Buzzards, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Plenty of grassland butterflies were noted as well as many Migrant Hawkers.

                               Views across Hastings Country Park

                               Goldfinches were plentiful in the scrub

Dungeness - 1600hrs - Back home news broke of an early Melodious Warbler, found in every birders favourite back garden (well done Dave, another great find and thanks for sending the pics on) on the estate. By the time we arrived on site the warbler was showing intermittently low down in a clump of pines, but had put on a good display earlier when the photos below were taken.

                         Note classic `hippo` head shape and plain greater coverts

                Melodious Warbler - note short primary projection and uniform wings (by Dave Bunney)