News Day (+1) Bird Count - 0700hrs - dry, bright and sunny, cold n 3 - With CP at the helm I joined MH and PL for our annual, leisurely jaunt around the Marsh, commencing off-piste in the Orlestone Forest at Appledore. With the overnight rain clearing just in time for the dawn chorus, we cleaned up on the woodland birds without moving from the car park! Several Tawny Owls were vocalising in the half light and a Woodcock flew through as Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest, two woodpeckers, Jay and Bullfinch were all added to the day list.
Back on the flatlands (phew, I got altitude sickness up on the Weald!) we paused along the canal at Warehorne bridge where the muddy margins attracted a bonus bird in the shape of a Green Sandpiper, plus a Kingfisher, Little Egret and plenty of winter thrushes in the fields. Driving across Walland, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Golden Plover, Peregrine and 29 Bewick`s Swans were all noted, but passerines were few and far between and partridges absent.
At Scotney we walked outback in bright sunshine and located a range of wildfowl including 10 White-fronted Geese, a Brent and 30 Shelducks, 10 Corn Buntings, two Stonechats, another Peregrine and several Redshanks on the front fields. Galloways and Dengemarsh delivered a flock of Linnets, Mipits, Curlew and Ruff, a scarce bird in these parts nowadays.
En-route to Lade Bay we passed a straggle of twitchers on the Desert searching for the grey stonechat. On the beach with the tide flooding in we eventually located eight species of waders.
Moving on to Dungeness the expected seabirds were noted offshore and a Caspian Gull on the shingle opposite the Fish Hut.
The bird reserve was packed out with visitors enjoying the fine weather; I often wonder where most of them disappear to for the rest of the year! Anyhow, around the circuit we logged the wintering Ring-necked Duck and Long-eared Owl, Smew, Pintail, Great White Egret, Raven, Bearded Tit and, best of all the magical sight and sound of the Bewicks Swan flock from Walland flying in to roost on ARC.
We finished the day at the Woolpack reedbed where eight Marsh Harriers came to roost with several more birds in the area, plus Buzzards. On the way home we jammed a Little Owl near Old Romney bringing our combined day total to 108 species. A great days birding was enjoyed by all and many thanks to Chris for driving.