Wednesday 31 January 2018

Lade car parking

Lade -cold, showery, sw 4 - In contrast to the weather glories of yesterday this morning was a shocker with heavy, wintry showers throughout blowing through on a scudding wind. We did the circular walk and got a right old soaking on the return leg. With the tide up several small flocks of waders had pitched up on the beach to roost, among them Sanderlings, one of my favourite waders of which there are currently about 700 hundred on the bay.
  On the pits the Long-tailed Duck remained on south lake amongst the usual ducks, grebes and Coots. 

                                Mixed flock of Turnstone, Dunlin and Sanderling

                                Sanderlings, Lade beach

NB: The recent influx of visiting birders to Lade pits has caused one or two parking problems for local residents in Derville and Seaview Roads, particularly at weekends, with driveways being blocked and, in at least one instance, damage to a garden wall. Both these roads are narrow, dead ends with limited turning options and are best avoided when visiting site.
  The official RSPB line is to guide birdwatchers to the car park (free) at Lade toilet block on the coast road, opposite the Taylor Road junction and follow the footpath sign down Taylor Road and onto the NNR. However, I can see no problem parking closer to site along Leonard Road, between the Derville Road and Beechmont Close junctions, or in either of the two cul-de-sacs of Prior and Channon Roads, both of which have turning circles.
  I`d like to think that most visiting birders park considerately anyway, but hopefully if the above parking suggestions can be used it may avoid any further incidents and subsequent complaints to RSPB who now own and manage Lade pits. 

Tuesday 30 January 2018

A day of Twos

Lade - cold, dry and sunny - A stunning morning following an overnight frost with bright sunshine throughout and, for once, not a breath of wind. South lake still had wisps of mist rolling across the surface first thing within hundreds of ducks, grebes, gulls and Coots scattered across the mill-pond. The two Long-tailed Ducks showed well alongside 12 Goldeneyes, including several stunning drakes, while a pair of Great Crested Grebe performing their head-shaking nuptials hinted of the coming spring. But for now this was a winters day to saviour.

                                Early morning mist over south lake

   The Dartford Warbler has become a regular late autumn migrant, in small numbers, to the scrublands across the Dungeness NNR over the past few years. Normally the majority move on as winter arrives, but not so this year with a minimum of ten individuals scattered across the peninsula from Lade to the Kerton Road triangle, the Dungeness Estate and the bird reserve. There are probably a few more yet to be discovered on the more remote parts of the Desert, Galloways and the Army ranges.
  This morning while trying to photograph the `resident` bird at Lade, to my surprise, up popped a second one, both of whom seemed to be following a pair of Dunnocks around, probably as some sort of early warning safety policy in case of a Sparrowhawk attack. Elsewhere, Stonechats are popular indicators of a Dartford Warblers presence. 

                                Dartford Warblers and Dunnock enjoying the sunshine

Dungeness - 1400hrs - On the way back from Lydd this afternoon we called in at Hanson hide where two Bewick`s Swans had just dropped in on ARC amongst the ducks and Lapwings. The first I`ve seen on here in good light this year, and they posed well for the photographers in the hide. On the far side of the lake a Black-throated Diver was down more than up as it fished and a Bittern could just about be discerned on the edge of a reedbed across the near channel. From Screen hide we had flight views of a Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier.

                                Bewick`s Swans, ARC

  A superb days local birding with the twos prevailing of: Long-tailed Duck, Dartford Warbler and Bewick`s Swan.

Sunday 28 January 2018

A thousand Oystercatchers

Lade - mild, cloudy, sw 3 - There was not much change on the local patch over the weekend apart from two Long-tailed Ducks showing on south lake yesterday (could only find one today) and a noticeable increase in diving ducks. Shovelers were still present in good number topping out at 220. Chiffchaff and Goldcrest continue to be latched onto a large tit flock in the willow swamp while several different Marsh Harriers hunted over the site.
  From the Tavern viewpoint 1,050 Oystercatchers was our first four figure count for a while with a combined Sanderling and Dunlin flock in similar numbers. Also of note 60 Knot and 30 Barwit, plus a Bonxie harrying the waders and gulls along the tideline.   

                                Lade bay looking towards Hythe

Dungeness - Plenty to see here this morning with a 1st winter Little Gull at the Patch, a Dartford Warbler by Channel View and the usual Caspian Gull at the fishing boat puddles. Offshore, Razorbills were in the ascendancy over Guillemots, plus the usual Kittiwakes, Great Crested Grebes and only a few Red-throated Divers and Gannets further out.
  A tour of the bird reserve delivered a drake Smew, 10 Goldeneye and six Goosanders on Burrowes, plus a male Peregrine that flew in for a bathe scattering the thousands of Lapwings and gulls. From Christmas Dell, Slavonian Grebe and a redhead Smew, and two Great White Egrets on Dengemarsh. The Boulderwall fields were full of thousands of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Wigeon, Coot, feral geese and Starling, plus another Great White and two Little Egrets. From the causeway road the Black-throated Diver could be seen on ARC. All in all a pretty decent mornings birding.
                                Bathing male Peregrine

                                White Nun on Burrowes

Elsewhere today the two Tundra Geese were still among the Greylags from the double bend at Scotney and the Bewick Swan flock was reported on Walland Marsh near the wind farm.

Friday 26 January 2018

Fog and Lemsips

Lade - For the past few days I`ve been laid low by a nasty bout of man-flu which has restricted birding activities and made me stir crazy - and that`s after just one day indoors! "What would you be like if you had a `proper` illness", said my sympathetic partner, and she`s right of course, as I pathetically mooched about the cottage sneezing and moaning and generally feeling sorry for myself. Even Barney gave me a pull-yourself-together kind-of-a-look.
  And then last night I saw the weather forecast, sunshine and light winds for Friday, excellent, just the job for a morning in the field... Except they failed to mention anything about the thick fog which shrouded the peninsula for most of the morning, followed by low cloud, and lack of sunshine. Still, they got the wind speed about right, so it wasn't a completely useless forecast.
 However, off we went into the mist to Dungeness where it was so dense that a seawatch was pointless. We then joined PB, who`d just reported a Glaucous Gull at the Patch, for a plod around the bushes via the moat and down to the Trapping Area, where a few passerines such as Dunnock, Starling and Blue Tit was about the sum total.
  A scan across south lake at Lade delivered the wintering Long-tailed Duck in the murk among the usual wildfowl, after which we called it a day and headed home for the Lemsips.
  Elsewhere today, when the mist lifted, two Dartford Warblers were noted at the point, a Black-throated Diver on ARC, plus Smew and Slavonian Grebe from Christmas Dell hide on the bird reserve.

Wednesday 24 January 2018


Dungeness - mild and windy - Joined the local seawatchers at the fishing boats this morning with a brisk south-westerly wind running up-Channel. Plenty of auks, Great Crested Grebes, Gannets, Kittiwakes and the like were on the move or fishing, some close to shore, plus several Fulmars and two east bound parties of Brents totalling 100 birds. The usual 1st winter Caspian Gull was loafing by the puddles.

                                Seabirds off Dungeness

Lade - Difficult viewing conditions on south lake today, but the Long-tailed Duck was still present. In the shelter of the willow swamp Chiffchaff, Cetti`s Warbler and Goldcrest noted.

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Boulderwall wetland

Boulderwall Fields - 0800hrs - mild, wet and windy - Had to call in at the RSPB workshop this morning so checked out ARC first where 30 odd Bewick`s Swans left the roost heading for a days grazing on Walland Marsh. The Black-throated Diver was on the water but distant, while the usual wintering wildfowl included several Goldeneye, Pintail and Shelduck. Down at the pines a Sparrowhawk broke cover and both species of woodpecker were noted.
  There was plenty of Tree Sparrow and tit activity on the bird feeders, plus Greenfinch and Reed Bunting. The recent heavy rainfall has transformed Boulderwall fields into a wetland haven with hundreds of Wigeon, Coot, Curlew, feral geese, Stock Dove, Lapwing, Starling and gulls enjoying the rich pickings. A Peregrine flushed thousands more Lapwings and Golden Plovers from the fields towards Lydd. We walked around to Gun Club pool where a redhead Smew was present and a wisp of four Snipe flushed by a passing Marsh Harrier. Great White and Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Stonechat, Cetti`s Warbler, Meadow Pipit also noted, plus two Foxes. 
  Elsewhere on the bird reserve this morning the Glaucous Gull was on Burrowes, a pair of Smew at Christmas Dell and a Slavonian Grebe on Lade south.

Monday 22 January 2018

Glaucous Gull & Dartford Warbler

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, sunny later, light airs - Spent the day guiding for Cedric from Sussex in spring-like weather. We kicked off at the fishing boats where the sea was covered in Cormorants, Great Crested Grebes and Guillemots, plus a scattering of Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Gannets, a Bonxie and a flock of 110 Red-throated Divers moving between the bays. News from PB at the Patch told of a 1st winter Glaucous Gull showing well on the beach and just as we arrived a 1st winter Caspian Gull dropped in! A Peregrine and Kestrel were located on the power station structure, while a tour of the point turned up a pair of Stonechats by West Beach, with a smart Dartford Warbler in tow, a Black Redstart by the moat and a flock of 20 Mipits, Pied and a Grey Wagtail by the seawatch hide corner. Dunnocks seemed to be everywhere in the scrub, singing, courting and establishing territories.

                                1st winter Caspian and Glaucous Gulls

                                Dunnocks were highly active this morning

                                Male Stonechat

Lade Bay - We checked the bay on a rising tide at three locations clocking up seven species of waders including both godwits and Knot. At Lade car park a chuckling Starling showed well in bright sunshine.

                               Starling with bracelet

Scotney - All the usual feral geese were on the front fields, plus Pintail and Wigeon, while outback more feral geese and swans and two Grey Wagtails around the farmyard.
Dengemarsh - Finished up at Springfield Bridge where the Linnet/Chaffinch flock noted on the weedy field, plus Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret, Golden Plover and the usual range of wildfowl on the reserve.
  A decent days birding for our guest, in fine winter weather, during which time we noted a typical range of wintering species with particularly good views of the Glaucous Gull and Dartford Warbler. 

Sunday 21 January 2018

Dreary days

Lade - cold and cloudy, wet - A weekend of dreary, dull weather with rain throughout, particularly Saturday which was a complete washout in more ways than one. Since moving down here I`ve very much missed Saturday afternoon footie (QPR, Dunstable Town, etc) now that my playing days and dreams of running out as centre half for the R`s are long over. So, when our Lucy suggested watching her local team, Folkestone Invicta I was very much up for it, only to have my hopes dashed by the rain and a waterlogged pitch (by the way there was a Med Gull amongst a flock of Common and Black-headed Gulls on the pitch, so all was not lost!). Still, spare a thought for the Lowestoft supporters who`d already travelled down for an abandoned match. Oh well, we`ll try again at the next home game.

This morning we carried out the monthly WeBS on the local patch where 1,232 sundry wildfowl were counted. Highlights included 230 Shoveler, 12 Goldeneye, a rehead Smew and Long-tailed duck, although the Slavonian Grebe appears to have moved to New Diggings on the bird reserve. Before the wind picked up and the rain set in a Dartford Warbler showed in its usual spot, plus Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Green Woodpecker and Goldcrest elsewhere around the site.
Walland Marsh  - This afternoon I joined CP for the monthly harrier count at our usual spot out on the Marsh under glowering skies and steady rain. The weather conditions were so bad that no birds came to roost, which prompts the question just where do they go?

Friday 19 January 2018

Weekly summary

Lade -cold, dry and sunny, light airs - A stunning morning with bright sunshine throughout and plenty to see on the local patch. A single Long-tailed Duck remained on south lake among a range of wildfowl including nine Goldeneye, 150 Shoveler and 20 Wigeon, plus two redhead Goosander that touched down for ten minutes before heading back towards the bird reserve. The Slavonian Grebe, however, was not seen but could still be lurking in the reeds somewhere across the site. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker were all noted, while the wintering Dartford Warbler briefly popped up atop the gorse scrub by the tunnel. Walking back along the beach numerous dogfish, sea mice and cockles were washed up from the recent stormy weather and six species of shorebirds were noted on the sands.

                               Common Gull, Lade sands

  Elsewhere today, the wintering Smew and Black-throated Diver were reported from the bird reserve and two Bean Geese were seen at Scotney among the Greylags. On Walland Marsh 42  Bewick`s Swans were counted earlier in the week near Cheyne Court, but not viewable from roads, with 30 odd flying in to roost on ARC pit at dusk most evenings. White-fronted Geese have also been mobile between the Dengemarsh and Scotney area and a Glaucous Gull has been coming and going on Burrowes. The wintering Long-eared Owl/s have not obliged this week.

Thursday 18 January 2018

Blackbird singing at dawn

Lade - cold, sunny, w 5 - A bumpy old night as gale force winds rattled up the Channel, but nowhere near as strong and wet as forecast. At this low point of the winter it is always good to be reminded of warmer times ahead and those glimmers of coming spring. Foxglove and mullein rosettes are sprouting on the shingle ridges, while one day last week a bumble bee broke cover in a sheltered spot by the ponds. Yesterday a `tumbling` pair of Ravens at Dengemarsh suggested that their breeding cycle was well underway and this morning in the half-light of dawn I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Blackbird singing from the garden fir trees. Even though it only sang a half-hearted lament for ten minutes or so it was real treat; spring is just around the corner.
Dungeness RSPB - A guided walk for a U3A group from Lewes this morning, around the circular trail, produced all the expected wintering species including a Black-throated Diver on Dengemarsh and a pair of Smew on Christmas Dell pool. The group also had particularly good views of several Marsh Harriers, Goldeneyes and Great White Egrets, plus Buzzard, two Egyptian Geese, Green Woodpecker and Fieldfare. A Dartford Warbler was also noted in gorse scrub at Dengemarsh, while a flock of 20 Curlews showed well on the Boulderwall fields. Once again the roosting Long-eared Owl proved elusive behind the Dipping Pool.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Waders and raptors

Dungeness - cold, sunny, nw 5 - Spent the day in the field guiding for Lizzie from Sheffield. We started off at the point where the 1st winter Glaucous Gull put in a brief appearance at the Patch amongst a mass of gulls over the boil. A male Peregrine and Kestrel both showed well perched on the power station superstructure sheltering from the rasping north-westerly wind. Unsurprisingly, due to the wind direction, there were few seabirds on offer from the fishing boats, but persistence paid off and we eventually had decent views of a handful of Guillemots, Razorbills, Red-throated Divers and Gannets. Several Kittiwakes fed closer to shore amongst the gulls, while the regular Caspian Gull was at the puddles.
  We then moved on to Lade for the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe, where also Goldeneye, Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier noted. On the bay, from the Varne boat club, a host of waders comprising nine species were duly logged, including a flock of 30 Black-tailed Godwits.
  At Dengemarsh hundreds of Golden Plovers showed well on the fields, plus Black-throated Diver, Raven and Linnets from Springfield Bridge. Also noted the Boulderwall Tree Sparrows, Smew and Glaucous Gull on Burrowes and at least three Marsh Harriers to roost in the Oppen Pits.
  A decent days birding for our guest during which we recorded a typical range of wintering birds with waders and raptors the highlights.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Bewick`s Swans

Lade - mild, dry, sunny, w 3 - After yesterdays washout it was good to get out and about in the sunshine. We had a quick look at the local pits where the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe were both on south lake and the Dartford Warbler was chattering occasionally in the gorse scrub.

                                Bewick`s Swans (from the archives)

Walland Marsh - We then spent the rest of the day searching for Bewick`s Swans at some of their favoured haunts across the flatlands for todays national co-ordinated survey. This winter so far numbers have been low and all I could find was 42 (a flock of 36 and another of six) well away from the road in fields at the back of the wind farm. Also noted around the Marsh, 25 White-fronts, thousands of Golden Plovers and Lapwings, hundreds of Fieldfares, several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers, 100 Linnets and 50 Skylarks in game cover, 10 Tree Sparrows and five Corn Buntings.

Sunday 14 January 2018


Lade - mild, dry, sunny, light airs - A weekend of benign weather with the overcast skies of yesterday giving way to glorious sunshine today and light winds throughout. With a poor weather forecast for the coming week I decided to tackle the shorebirds this weekend, spending ages counting and recounting the waders on flood and ebb tides between Lade car park and the Varne slipway to come up with a more or less comprehensive count, or at least best endeavours: Oystercatcher 855, Curlew 483, Ringed Plover 12, Grey Plover 28, Knot 36, Sanderling 258, Dunlin 506, Barwit 42, Turnstone 20 and Redshank eight. There was also many thousands of gulls present, including a few roosting Kittiwakes and Mediterranean Gulls, plus several Shelducks and two Brent Geese.

                                Gannet corpse, Greatstone beach

  The gravel pit lakes continue to hold two Long-tailed Ducks and a Slavonian Grebe, up to 14 Goldeneyes, an increase in Shovelers to 160 and a couple of Shelducks. A Dartford Warbler continued to be elusive in the gorse scrub by south lake while Cetti`s Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Water Rail and Kingfisher were all noted across the site.
Dungeness - Yesterday morning a brief look at the sea yielded thousands of Guillemots, Razorbills, Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants plundering the fish shoals along with plenty of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Red-throated Divers and at least one Bonxie.
  On the bird reserve a pair of Smew were on Burrowes while the Black-throated Diver was still on Dengemarsh lake.

Friday 12 January 2018

Two Long-tailed Ducks

Lade - mild, cloudy, light airs - I`ve suspected for a while that there may have been two Long-tailed Ducks on site at the same time, and this morning it proved to be with both birds together on south lake. Cannot remember seeing two before on a gravel pit lake, so a pretty unusual record. The Slavonian Grebe was on north lake while the Dartford Warbler was chattering away in the gorse scrub just south of the tunnel.

                                Two Long-tailed Ducks, south lake

                                Slavonian Grebe, north lake

Dungeness - Nipped into the bird reserve to see the wintering Long-eared Owl which for once was showing well at roost behind the Dipping Pool and drawing quite a crowd of birders. Elsewhere, a pair of Smew were at Christmas Dell and the Black-throated Diver on Dengemarsh.  

                                Long-eared Owl, Dipping Pool roost

Thursday 11 January 2018

Gravel pit delights

Wednesday - Lade - mild, dry and sunny - 0800hrs - At last, a decent day of weather with plenty of welcome sunshine and light airs. A stroll around the local patch delivered good views of the Dartford Warbler in the gorse south of the aerial, although I understand that by midday it was even more obliging, posing on a wire fence and atop the scrub. The Long-tailed Duck was more tricky to see, diving constantly on south lake, while the Slavonian Grebe was in the reedbed by the wall `mirror`.
Dungeness - From the causeway road a redhead Smew and a Black-necked Grebe on ARC and a pair of Goosanders on New Diggings continued what was to become a memorable day for wildfowl and grebes. On the Boulderwall fields a Brent Goose, 10 Curlews, Great White Egret, Buzzard and Stonechat, plus several Tree Sparrows on the feeders.
  A guided walk for seven guests around the circular trail was notable for a pair of Smew on Christmas Dell pool, four Ruff on Burrowes and a Black-throated Diver in front of Dengemarsh hide, presumably the recent ARC bird. Also noted several Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, Great White Egrets, Goldeneyes and thousands of Lapwings and Golden Plovers in the sky above the reserve.
Scotney - With news from PB concerning a rash of goodies at Scotney this afternoon the view from the double bends was completely different from my last visit a few days ago. Two Red-necked Grebes were asleep on the lake amongst 20 Pintail and hundreds of common diving duck and Wigeon, while on the roadside field two Tundra Bean Geese and 30 White-fronts stood amongst a mixed flock of Greylag and Barnacle Geese.
  A brilliant days birding comprising 13 species of ducks, seven of geese, five grebes and a diver across the gravel pits at Lade, Dungeness and Scotney.
(A belated post due to our Broadband being down yesterday)

                                Black-throated Diver and Smew, Dungeness RSPB

Thursday - cold, grey, drizzle - Orlestone Forest - After yesterdays glorious weather today it was back to the gloom of Mordor, complete with a steady drizzle but thankfully without the orcs. Not exactly the best conditions to check the woods, but nothing ventured nothing gained and all that... However, during the course of the morning in Faggs and Longrope Woods the expect woodland birds noted, including two woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Jay and Tawny Owl. There was no sign of the king-of-the-finches or Lesser pecker.
  On the way home a scan from Warehorne bridge overlooking the canal delivered Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher, and back at the coast I joined CT in the Hanson where a Firecrest showed well in front of the hide.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

A pair of Smew

Dungeness - 0830hrs - cold and grey, se 2 - Another grim old day on the Marsh with low light levels throughout, but at least the blasting east wind had relented. We joined the regular seawatchers at the fishing boats for half an hour where hundreds of Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets, Cormorants and Great Crested Grebes fished just offshore. A few Kittiwakes and Red-throated Divers flew by, plus singles of Red-breasted Merganser, Fulmar, Caspian Gull and Bonxie.

                                Guillemots off Dungeness

                                Pair of Smew from Christmas Dell hide

  At the bird reserve ongoing conservation work on Burrowes and ARC kept the wildfowl on the move which meant that the pools in front of the usually quiet Christmas Dell hide became the focus of attention. Smew have been in short supply this winter so it was good to see a pair amongst the diving ducks, plus Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret over and in the reedbeds respectively.
Lade - At least 3,000 Cormorants were counted flying over the peninsula from the north-east heading towards the bird reserve. I couldn't find the Long-tailed Duck, but it could easily have been lurking somewhere on site, while the Slavonian Grebe was in the back channel on north lake. With only light airs the Dartford Warbler made its presence known, calling and briefly perching atop the gorse. Also around the site Cetti`s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Stonechat, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Shelduck.

Monday 8 January 2018


Dungeness - cold and dull, e 4 - While not as windy as yesterday, down at Dunge it was still cold and necessary to take on the appearance of a polar explorer to stay warm, or maybe its just me feeling my age... Barney, however, is made of sterner stuff and loves the cold, dry weather, gambolling around like a puppy. At the Patch at least two Mediterranean Gulls amongst a blizzard of gulls over the boil with hundreds more on the beach. The immature Iceland Gull that`s been knocking around for a while put in a brief appearance as it flew west towards Penn Bars. Offshore hundreds of Gannets, Great Crested Grebes, Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Cormorants, plus a few Red-throated Divers, while a pair of Foxes scavenging along the tideline gave Barney cause for concern. Repair work to the shingle bank in order to save the Patch hide from tumbling onto the foreshore continues apace.

                                1st winter Caspian Gull from last week

                               Foxes keeping an eye on Barney

 At the fishing boats this afternoon we had an enjoyable one hour seawatch in company with MH amd RW. A steady stream of Gannets, Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Red-throated Divers moved up-Channel or fished offshore, plus several flocks of Brent Geese, four Common Scoters, a 2nd winter Med Gull and, best of all, four Bonxies, two of which cut in close to shore, while many more were logged earlier in the day. The 1st winter Caspian Gull was amongst the throng on the beach. 
Lade - The Dartford Warbler showed briefly in gorse scrub beside south lake while both the Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck were still on station.
  Tweet of the day went to a phenomenal count of 5,700 Cormorants on Burrowes this afternoon (DBO) which must be something of a record?

Sunday 7 January 2018

The north-east wind doth blow

Lade - cold, sunny, ne 4-6 - A dry, sunny day at last, but with a raw bone wind increasing to gale force out of the north-east making for uncomfortable birding on the coastal flatlands. Despite the weather there was a healthy gathering of visiting birders checking out the wintering Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe, including a KOS group. Both birds were mobile going between the two lakes, no doubt seeking out calmer waters, with the duck particularly so flying regularly over the willow swamp and across the lakes. Up to 12 Goldeneyes were still present, mainly on south lake, but due to the wind strength few others birds were noted, especially passerines.  
  Elsewhere across the peninsula today the 1st winter Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were noted at the Patch and Burrowes respectively, plus a drake Smew also on Burrowes and a redhead on ARC along with the Black-throated Diver.
  We fully intended to venture out this afternoon, but once the fire was lit, and with the wind howling in off the bay, a mug of tea and a good read seemed a much more enjoyable option, and Barney didn't seem to mind either.

Saturday 6 January 2018

100 species day

Romney Marsh/Low Weald - calm and cloudy, hail and rain, sunny and windy - Spent  yesterday with CP and PL doing a belated and leisurely NYDay bird race in mixed weather conditions. We kicked off at dawn in Park Wood with calling Tawny Owls and overflying Sparrowhawk and Buzzard leaving roosts, plus a wide range of common woodland birds including two woodpeckers, four tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Jay.
  Moving down to the canal the likes of Bullfinch,Yellowhammer, winter thrushes, Reed Bunting, Great White and Little Egrets, Mipit and Kingfisher were all located, despite a spectacular hail storm which gave us all a good soaking. Across the Marsh, Tree Sparrow, Golden Plover, Marsh Harrier and Bewick`s Swan were all noted at their usual locations. Scotney in the rain was disappointing apart from a variety of ducks and Barnacle Geese.
  Next stop Lade and the bay where eight waders were seen out on the sands on an incoming tide. On the pits both Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe went onto the day list alongside Shelduck, Dabchick, Goldeneye, Water Rail, Cetti`s Warbler, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, although we drew a blank on yesterdays Smew.
  At Dungeness fishing boats plenty of Guillemots and Kittiwakes on the sea with Gannets further out, a trickle of passing Red-throated Divers, four Razorbills and a 1st winter Little Gull, while the regular 1st winter Caspian Gull was on the beach.
  Around the bird reserve the Black-throated Diver was eventually tracked down at the north end of ARC where also Snipe, Blackwit and Pintail, plus Linnets on Dengemarsh and finally on Burrowes a roosting 1st winter Glaucous Gull, which after a late tally up proved to be the 100th and final species for the day as we failed to find a Canada Goose in fading light on the Boulderwall fields!
  However, a most satisfying day in the field and many thanks to Chris for driving.

Thursday 4 January 2018

`White Nun`

Lade - mild, rain clearing to sunshine, sw 6 - Another good old dollop of overnight rain left all the roads and tracks hereabouts well and truly flooded; and there I was moaning about the drought a month ago! However, by late morning the rain cleared away to allow a very tasty couple of hours birding on the local patch.
  The first Smew of the winter was the main prize, and joy upon joy it was a lone drake freshly arrived and moving all over the site, as is their want. Initially seen by visiting birders earlier on south lake, I eventually tracked it down sheltering from the tempest in a back channel reedbed near the swing bridge. The beauty of a `white nun` within the wildfowl tribe is unsurpassed, a truly stunning beast and a fine example of Mother Nature pulling out all the stops. "Its only a white and black duck", I hear you say, but the white bits shine like a beacon on a dull day, and as for those vermiculations on the flanks, well...

                                Drake Smew, first of the winter

  Despite the howling gale the Long-tailed Duck seemed undaunted as it fished the far side of south lake alongside a dozen Goldeneyes, while the Slavonian Grebe sought the calmer waters of north lake. Also noted this morning around the willow swamp, Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Water Rail, Sparrowhawk, Cetti`s Warbler, Goldcrest and a noticeable increase in Chaffinches.
  On the bird reserve today the Black-throated Diver was reported on ARC, along with a pair of Goosanders, while the Glaucous Gull was seen again on Burrowes.

Wednesday 3 January 2018

Black-throated Diver

Lade - sunny, mild, windy sw 6 - The past couple of days could not have been more different with cloud and rain yesterday followed by gale force westerlies and bright sunshine today. On the local pits the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe have been attracting a steady flow of year-listing birders to site, while the Dartford Warbler continues to show, off and on, despite the weather conditions.

                               Dartford Warbler rear view

Dungeness - An immature Iceland Gull at the fishing boats this morning (PB) had departed by the time we`d got our act together this afternoon. However, there was plenty of activity on the sea from hundreds of Guillemots, Great Crested Grebes, Kittiwakes and Cormorants, while the regular 1st winter Caspian Gull was on the beach.

                               Two Goosanders, ARC

  On the bird reserve a Black-throated Diver reported earlier on ARC was still on the far side of the lake from Hanson hide. Two redhead Goosanders flew in and settled on an island amongst the dabblers and Lapwings; Marsh Harrier and Kingfisher also noted here. Elsewhere, the Long-eared Owl was partially visible at roost behind the Dipping Pool. Finished off in Makepeace hide with a clutch of other optimists just in case the Iceland Gull came to roost, which it didn`t, but the 1st winter Glaucous Gull did, so all was not lost. As the sun set three Marsh Harriers dropped into the Oppen pits as several hundred raucous Jackdaws provided a fair old spectacle as they too went to roost.

Monday 1 January 2018

Long-tailed Ducks

Lade - wet and windy, sw 4 - With the abandonment of our traditional NYD jaunt around the Marsh I enjoyed a more leisurely start to 2018, albeit in showery and increasingly cool weather conditions, but with a steady trickle of birds for the New Year list, not that I really keep such lists...
  Anyhow, first off the local patch where the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe were both on south lake, although I strongly suspect that there are two ducks as OL was watching one on north lake while the other was diving on south. Also noted along the main track a Dartford Warbler on call only. Cetti`s Warbler, Goldeneyes, Marsh Harrier, Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tits and Stonechat also present.
Dungeness - At the point in heavy rain and from the concrete road, a steady procession of Gannets, Guillemots and Kittiwakes moved just offshore along with the usual gulls and a 1st winter Caspian in the puddles by the fishing boats. On the bird reserve several Tree Sparrows and Reed Bunting on the Boulderwall feeders while the wet fields were loaded out with Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Wigeons, gulls and Starlings, plus Little and Great White Egrets, Grey Heron and Kestrel.
  On Burrowes the usual wildfowl and Cormorants but few gulls, although a Glaucous had been seen earlier. Over the road from Hanson hide two Great White Egrets, several Pintails and two Bewick`s Swans amongst a range of dabbling ducks and gulls on the fast disappearing islands. A drive out onto Walland Marsh delivered at least 15 distant Bewick`s Swans hunkered in a sodden corn field to the south of Horse`s Bones farm, plus 20 Fieldfares and two Buzzards en-route.
  An early afternoon scan of the bay from the Tavern viewpoint on a falling tide produced nine species of shorebirds, four Shelducks, a lone Brent, hundreds of gulls and a 1st winter Glaucous Gull that flew south towards Dungeness, presumable the same bird that ended up on Burrowes later.
Despite indifferent weather not a bad days birding with 81 species noted.