Sunday 30 September 2018

Inbound Herons

Lade - cool, sunny, NW 2 - A day of two halves weather wise with clear blue skies to start and a cloudier afternoon in a nippy north-westerly airflow. Moth numbers in the garden trap were much depleted due to a cold night with just five typical autumn species trapped. On the local patch Chiffchaffs were the most numerous migrant with up to 30 across the site and the majority around the ponds where also Great Spotted Woodpecker and Cetti`s Warbler. A Kingfisher zipped across south lake where two Great Whites and a Little Egret fished. The oddest sighting though was of six Grey Herons that flew in high from the east, as if they`d just crossed the Channel, and eventually landing behind the wall `mirror`.
  At Dungeness around noon from the boardwalk 20 Gannets fishing offshore, a steady trickle of Sandwich Terns west and two Arctic Skuas on the take. At least six Harbour Porpoises noted and a pair of Ravens over cronking.
  This afternoon an hour off the Lade boardwalk at high tide delivered up to six Grey Seals close in and two distant Harbour Porpoises further out along with Gannets, Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Skuas. A single Red-throated Diver crossed the bay while several small flocks of Dunlins and Sanderlings moved along the shore when disturbed by walkers.

Saturday 29 September 2018

Buffy and Bittern

Lade - warm, dry and sunny,  E 2 - Another cracking autumnal day with warm sunshine throughout. The Spotted Flycatcher remained around the ponds along with a few Chiffchaffs but little else. On the Desert three Stonechats, two Wheatears, a Merlin, four Kestrels and 20 Mipits.

                                Buff-breasted Sandpiper - honest!

Scotney - Had a run out with CP where we eventually located the Buff-breasted Sandpiper all alone on a grass ley beside a flooded gravel pit out back (access through the farm and along the public footpath past the dung heap). We watched it for about an hour from 300 yds range through scopes while it happily fed amongst the weedy turf picking up insects hither and thither. Also noted 200 Lapwings, 200 Golden Plovers, 10 Dunlins, 10 Curlews, three Ruffs, Ringed Plover and Little Stint, plus the usual feral geese and ducks on the front lakes.

                                Bittern - the master of camouflage


ARC - Called in at Hanson hide on the way home where a Bittern showed well in the near reedbed. Although they are regularly noted across Dungeness wetlands it is a bird I never tire of watching, particularly when it`s as close as this one - the day I ignore a Bittern is the day I`ll hang up my bins and take up stamp collecting!
  On the islands, 100 Lapwings, 40 Golden Plovers, 10 Dunlins, five Barwits, two Ruffs and two Snipe, plus a pair of Egyptian Geese with four small goslings, 20 Shelducks, two Garganeys and two Great White Egrets.

Friday 28 September 2018

Spotted Flycatcher

Lade - mild, cloudy, NNE 4 - Much breezier than of late with a cooler feel to the day due to a northerly airflow sweeping in off the sea. There were fewer migrants about this morning apart from a handful of Swallows, two Wheatears, and a flock of 20 grounded Mipits on the Desert. It was similarly quiet around the ponds apart from several Chiffchaffs and a Spotted Flycatcher, plus Cetti`s Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Goldfinch.
 The moth trap was much improved with 10 species of typical autumn species present.

                                Spotted Flycatcher, Lade ponds

                               Autumnal and Black Rustics and L-album Wainscot
  An afternoon seawatch from the hide produced plenty of Gannets offshore, plus several Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie.
  Elsewhere today Cattle Egrets remained in the Boulderwall fields/ARC while the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was relocated at the back of Scotney pits (PB).

Thursday 27 September 2018

Bearded Tits

Dengemarsh Gully - warm, dry and sunny, 20C - I don't know what it is about the gully that keeps luring me back as I rarely find anything of note here, but it does have form and even during my time on the Marsh has delivered, but not today. However, the weather was kind and once the mist had evaporated a scattering of migrants popped up to take in the early morning sunshine, mostly Chiffchaffs, Reed Buntings, Robins, several Stonechats and singles of Whitethroat, Whinchat and Redstart. Overhead a trickle of Swallows, Mipits, Reed Buntings, Skylarks, Chaffinches and alba wagtails headed west. At the far end of the gully a handful of grounded Wheatears hopped about on the shingle and a brown Merlin paused awhile having failed to catch breakfast of Linnet. Also noted, four Kestrels, Buzzard, Raven, Cetti`s Warbler and a lone Grey Plover over. A scan of the sea produced plenty of gulls and Cormorants, plus a few Sandwich and Common Terns.

                                Dengemarsh Gully

   On the walk back a party of three or four Bearded Tits lifted out of the gully reeds `pinging` loudly and dropping back into cover a hundred yards further along. By the time we returned to the metalled road they`d moved three times and eventually headed back over towards the bird reserve. Also noted two Clouded Yellows, Small Copper, Small Heath and Red Admirals on the wing.

                                Barney `helping out` at the allotment this morning

  From Springfield Bridge a large flock of House Martins were feeding over the reedbed while Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret, Ruff and Snipe all noted amongst the usual wildfowl.
  A one hour seawatch from the fishing boats this afternoon with the locals produced very little of note apart from two Arctic Skuas and single figures of Sandwich Tern, Guillemot and Gannet. Several parties of Sand Martins struck out for France and at least half a dozen Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding just offshore. 

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - The settled weather continues, and it was very much to the liking of thousands of hirundines, mostly House Martins, many of which were settled on overhead power lines and cross-trees, twittering away to one another, before heading out across a mill pond-like Channel; what is there not to like about these endearing little migrants.
  Several Kestrels were keeping the flocks on the move as they tried their luck, but without success. Also noted across the point two Wheatears, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, a Whitethroat in the Moat, several Siskins overhead and a Peregrine perched atop a pylon by A Station.

                                Mostly House Martins

  An afternoon visit to Hanson hide yielded similar fare to yesterday: two Cattle Egrets, four Great Whites, 80 Goldies, 100 Lapwings, two Dunlins and a Ruff, plus the usual wildfowl, a Merlin and a Water Rail. 
Scotney - Joined CT this afternoon in the lay-by overlooking the front fields where we had brief flight views, and a couple of even briefer glimpses on the grass, of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper within a large mixed flock of waders comprising mainly Lapwings and Golden Plovers. Also in and around the flock were small numbers of Curlew, Blackwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Ruff and Ringed Plover, plus Wheatear, Linnet, Mipit and Starlings. At no time did the flock really settle down and many birds were just over the ridge on the lake side and out of view, until eventually spooked by a Peregrine which sent the main body of the flock flying back towards the Sussex end of the gravel workings.
  A check of the beach this evening on a falling tide revealed a single Arctic Skua harrying the few remaining Sandwich Terns along the tideline.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Grey Phalarope

Lade - warm, dry, sunny - A cracking autumn day with warm sunshine throughout and light airs. There was plenty to see on the local patch first thing with a viz mig delivering a trickle of Mipits, Swallows, House Martins, Pied Wagtails, a few Goldfinches and Skylarks and a Grey Wagtail. Large flocks of Mipits, Starlings and Linnets were feeding on the Desert along with several Wheatears and Stonechats, where also five Kestrels, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard. Plenty of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs could be heard around the ponds along with common finches, Cetti`s Warbler, Long-tailed Tits and Reed Buntings. The Greylag Goose flock made a spectacular return to south lake following their nocturnal foraging out on the Marsh, all 820 of `em!

                                         Peeka-boo Chiffy by the ponds

                                Wheatears enjoying the morning sun

Dungeness - An afternoon visit to ARC was a pleasant return to form with plenty of waders on show including 200 Lapwings, 80 Golden Plovers, five Dunlins, two each of Ruff, Snipe and Blackwit, plus Common and Green Sandpipers. Everywhere you looked there was egrets: eight Cattle, six Great White and five Littles. Also noted, Pintail, Garganey, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Hobby, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and more Chiffchaffs around the Willow Trail.

                                Cattle and Little Egrets

                                Great Whites in front of the hide

  News came through from ML concerning a Buff-breasted Sandpiper within a plover flock at Scotney. A scan of the front fields failed to deliver although I could see the flock distantly over towards the wind farm. All the usual feral geese on the front fields plus a few Curlews, Redshanks, Blackwit and a Whimbrel.
  An evening visit to the fishing boats produced distant views of a Grey Phalarope found earlier by the regular seawatchers, plus a couple of Arctic Skuas and a few Gannets on a flat calm sea.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Spoonbillls and egrets

Dungeness - wet and windy - The weather was the winner this weekend with rain throughout and strong winds today. Yesterdays Grey Phalarope and Pectoral Sandpiper were not relocated, but five Spoonbills were still present until midday on Burrowes after which they flew out across Dengemarsh. At least six each of Cattle and Great White Egrets were on Burrowes and the Boulderwall fields respectively, while several Wheatears and a Hobby were seen from the access road this afternoon. A brief look at the sea delivered several Arctic Skuas and Gannets, but due to the northerly wind all were distant.

Friday 21 September 2018


Lade - warm, dry, cloudy, SW 5 - A fast-moving weather front delivered strong winds and a dribble of rain overnight. Despite the conditions we opted for a circuit of the local patch which proved to be pretty rewarding; its often a good sign when the first sound of the day are Mipits passing over the cottage, followed by a late Yellow Wagtail and Chiffs calling from the garden fir trees. More pipits were on the shingle ridges along with hundreds of hirundines, Linnets, Starlings and a straggle of Curlews flying to roost off the bay. South lake was covered in hundreds of feral geese, Shovelers and grebes.

                               Chiffchaffs by the ponds

  However, the ponds were nice and sheltered from the wind and being bathed in warm sunshine attracted a host of at least 20 Chiffchaffs. I spent an hour checking through the flock as they snapped  up insects and spiders but could only find a Reed Warbler and two Continental Coal Tits of interest amongst 30 odd Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, plus our first two Siskins of autumn overhead.
  Later on a check of the bay on a falling tide from the Romney Tavern viewpoint yielded 80 Knots, 50 Dunlins, 10 Barwits, 350 Sandwich and 100 Common Terns, 20 Shelducks along with the usual gulls, Curlews and Oystercathers.

                                Speckled Wood

                                Spider with shrink-wrapped Speckled Wood

Dungeness - There was little change on the bird reserve wader wise from yesterday with just two Snipe and Lapwing from Hanson hide and nothing on Burrowes. All the same ducks and terns were present, plus 25 Shelducks on ARC while at least six Cattle Egrets faithfully tracked the cows on the Boulderwall fields. More Chiffchaffs were located in sheltered spots around the car park, down to the pines and around the Willow Trail where around 50 very worn Speckled Woods were enjoying their last days of life; I watched one fly into a web and within a second a spider was out and shrink-wrapping the forlorn insect in a tent of death.
  Scotney was checked for any storm-blown seabirds, but was barren apart from the usual feral geese and a few Redshanks and Curlews. 

Thursday 20 September 2018

Balearic Shearwater

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW 3 - Following drizzle and low cloud around dawn I optimistically opted for a circuit of the Long Pits and Trapping Area. A couple of large mixed passerine flocks was about all I could muster comprising mostly Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. At least 10 Kestrel noted and two Sparrowhawks.

                               Kestrel, Long Pits

  From Hanson hide this morning the usual eclipse ducks, including four Garganeys and three Shelducks, Redshank and two Snipe, plus five Black and two Arctic Terns amongst the Commons over the lake. Also noted Bittern, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Cetti`s Warbler and hundreds of Sand Martins and Swallows.
  An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon with the locals was notable for a Balearic Shearwater, several Arctic Skuas, all distant, Kittiwake, and a trickle of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns.
  The garden moth trap has been low in numbers all week due to the wind, although last night did yield a migrant Delicate.


Wednesday 19 September 2018

Wader day!

Lade - mild, cloudy, SW 5 - Another windy but muggy day courtesy of Storm Ali, the first so called named storm of the autumn. A Great White Egret was about the only noteworthy bird on the local patch. Needless to say passerines were virtually non-existent due to the blustery wind apart from a steady trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows south over the Desert.

                                 Eclipse Garganey, ARC

Dungeness - A RSPB `Wader Walk` for a small group of birders this morning was something of a non event due to a shortage of the subject matter. However, we did manage to tease out singles of Common Sandpiper and Curlew on Burrowes, plus two Ringed Plovers and a Lapwing on ARC, it was that grim. Elsewhere three Cattle Egrets showed amongst the cows at Boulderwall and five Great Whites were on Burrowes. Hundreds of hirundines moved south, the majority feeding over the water at ARC along with 10 Common and three Black Terns. From Hanson hide two Garganeys and several Pintails and Wigeons lurked amongst scores of Shoveler, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Pochard. Plenty of Kestrels hovered over the Desert and three Clouded Yellows were noted behind Firth hide.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Cattle Egrets

Dungeness - warm and windy, SW 5 - A blustery morning made for difficult birding conditions around the point. A seawatch produced a steady westbound trickle of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, plus a couple of Common Scoters, Guillemot and at least 10 Arctic Skuas.
Another session from the fishing boats this afternoon delivered even less, apart from several large flocks of Swallows striking out for France.

                                         Cattle Egrets at Boulderwall

  On the bird reserve this afternoon the dearth of waders continues with not a single bird noted. On ARC at least six Garganeys in front of Hanson hide, plus three Black Terns over the lake. Three Cattle Egrets showed well close to the access road at Boulderwall amongst the suckling herd and a Hobby flew over the track.

Monday 17 September 2018

Oleander Hawk-moth

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, S 2 - Another beautiful day with a warm breeze wafting up from southern parts. Hundreds of Swallows and Sand Martins were on the move along the beach and perched on overhead wires preparing to cross the Channel, while a handful of Wheatears were noted opposite Jarman`s. Mipits were everywhere and the long-staying Wryneck was still present in scrub along the southern edge of the Trapping Area bordering the Desert.
  It has been a good year locally for hawk-moths; even my garden trap has lured in Lime Hawk-moth and the migrant Bedstraw Hawk-moth, both new for the site, plus the regular Privet, Eyed, Poplar, Elephant, Small Elephant and Hummingbird on the buddleia. There has also been Convolvulus, Death`s head, Pine and Striped Hawk-moths recorded across the Dungeness recording area. So, not many more to come then...

                                Oleander Hawk-moth

  Until, that is, Martin Casemore emptied his garden trap this morning and discovered a pristine Oleander Hawk-moth settled on an egg tray! There are less than 10 records annually of this long-distance migrant from southern Europe or Africa, and no doubt the southerly airflow did the trick as other migrant moths were around the traps last night. The beast was temporarily stationed in the Obs fridge, where I paid homage. It was a first for me, a wondrous example of evolutionary camouflage and Mother Nature at her spectacular best.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Bay Watch

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, SW3 - A busy weekend with guests coming and going meant only limited time in the field, all of which was spent on the local patch. Few passerines were present in the fine autumn weather yesterday with just a sprinkling of Willow and Reed Warblers, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs around the ponds, a few Wheatears and Stonechats on the Desert and the first Skylark for a while. Today, due to the increasing wind off the Atlantic, there was little to be seen apart from a trickle of Swallows and Sand Martins, the usual wildfowl and grebes, plus numerous Kestrels and several Sparrowhawks.
  However, wader numbers had perked up on the sands with 80 Dunlins and 20 Sanderlings, mostly juveniles, opposite the Lade boardwalk on a falling tide late yesterday afternoon. During the evening 12 Knots, 10 Turnstones and 25 Ringed Plover also noted, plus 200 Sandwich Terns which in turn attracted the attention of three Arctic Skuas, one a cracking light phase adult, that flew in off the bay and immediately successfully harried a tern for fish. Further out more skuas could be seen, including a Bonxie, terns aplenty, Gannets, a passing Fulmar and a flock of seven scoters.

                                Knots from yesterday

  This afternoon I tried a different tack and pitched up two hours before high tide and remained for a further one hour seawatch once the tide was in, and very productive it was too. Out came the abacus for the Sandwich Terns, all 420 of `em heading towards Dunge, and 340 Oystercatchers flying to roost on Kerton Road pits. Several small parties of Dunlin and Sanderling flew along the tide line looking for safe roost sites. Once the fly past had dried up a bay watch comprised mainly of distant Gannets and Sandwich Terns, plus five Arctic Skuas, my first Red-throated Diver of autumn and a Manx Shearwater that flew in and fluttered around a feeding Grey Seal for a couple of minutes before heading back west. A trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows also flew south along the beach.
  All things considered a pretty good weekend of birds, and all within an easy walk of Plovers.

                                Dunlin and Sanderling along the tideline

                                Oystercatchers flying to roost

Friday 14 September 2018

Spoonbills and Shelducks!

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - A couple of hours at the point this morning was notable for a distant flock of seven large, white birds flying in a line over towards ARC. I suspected they may have been Spoonbills, which indeed they were, as confirmed by the scope-wielding regulars scanning from the Moat. Everywhere I looked there appeared to be Sparrowhawks and Kestrels, plus singles of Peregrine and Merlin, while the early morning seawatchers confirmed that most of the first two species had just arrived off the sea. Plenty of Linnets and Mipit flocks were scattered around the old lighthouse along with a couple of grounded Tree Pipits, Wheatears and Stonechats, where earlier both Ortolan Bunting and Pied Flycatcher noted.
Littlestone - A low tide check of the sands from the old lifeboat station delivered a handful of Dunlins and Ringed Plovers amongst hundreds of Curlews and Oystercatchers. From the Varne boat club, however, a count of 67 Shelducks was a noteworthy record.

Thursday 13 September 2018


ARC/Tower Pits - warm, dry and sunny,  N 2 - A much better day weather wise with quite a few passerines in the bushes around the car park and down to the pines first thing. Sylvia warblers were in the ascendancy with Blackcaps and Whitethroats the most abundant along with several Lesser Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler, plus Willow and Cetti`s Warblers and Chiffchaffs. At the pines a Redstart showed briefly, only my second of the autumn, and a small gathering of Blackbirds and Reed Buntings fed on sea buckthorn near Screen hide. Several Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers also noted, plus Yellow Wagtails and Mipits over.
  From Hanson hide the four Cattle Egrets were still present, plus two each of Snipe and Blackwit, 20 Golden Plovers and 50 Lapwings, Water Rail, Great White and Little Egrets, Garganey, Wigeon and Pintail. A Merlin flushed the waders briefly and loads of Sand Martins and Swallows hawked insects over the lake.
  A check of Lade pits around noon revealed little of note apart from a few more Sparrowhawks on the migration and a Clouded Yellow butterfly enjoying the warm sunshine.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Where are all the passage waders?

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, drizzle, N2 - A different day altogether with rain on and off through the day and the wind swinging around to a more cooler, northerly vector. We headed down to the southern end of the Trapping Area and soon located the long-staying Wryneck feeding in the lee of an Elderberry bush, which showed reasonably well for about 30 minutes before disappearing back into cover. Also noted several large flocks of Mipits, Linnets and Starlings, plus a few Common Whitethroats, Stonechats, Wheatears, Dunnocks, a Skylark, Yellow Wagtail and Whimbrel over.
  Moving onto Burrowes where six Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper rounded off a wretched  Birdwatching Break for waders. I cannot remember it being this poor, despite plenty of good habitat on the local pits; and even on the bay numbers are down. There have been hardly any juvenile calidrids through at all this month and I can only assume that as many adults moved through in July they failed to breed due to poor weather in the Arctic region; there were a couple of reports of thick snow still on the tundra in early June. Hopefully my pessimism will be allayed and a few late stints and sandpipers will turn up, but somehow I doubt it. 
  However, despite the indifferent weather we managed to rack up 97 species for our guests Clare and Peter to enjoy, the highlights being: Pectoral Sandpiper, Cattle and Great White Egrets, Wryneck, Black Tern, Garganey, Goldeneye, Yellow Wagtail and Whinchat. The number of Kestrels across the peninsula this week was also pretty impressive.

                                The Boulderwall Four

  This afternoon I called in at Hanson hide where the four Cattle Egrets flew in from Boulderwall for a wash and brush up on the islands. Yet again waders were few with just a couple of Snipe, a Ruff and Common Sandpiper amongst 50 Lapwings, plus three Great White Egrets, two Garganeys and a similar tern flock to yesterday out over the lake comprising 11 Black and three Arctic Terns amongst many Commons. Also noted a Hobby and Black-necked Grebe.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Cattle Egrets

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, SW 5 - A warm, brisk wind blowing off the Atlantic made for difficult birding conditions today and as a result very few passerine were seen. We kicked off at the point with a sea watch from the hide where a steady trickle of Gannets and Sandwich Terns moved offshore, plus singles of Arctic Skua, Common Scoter, Kittiwake and Fulmar. On the land we dipped on the Wryneck (seen earlier) but did manage to find several Common Whitethroats, a couple of Stonechats, Whinchat and Wheatear, while the male Peregrine was perched on its usual pylon.
  Moving onto the bird reserve and a large flock of terns from the causeway road on ARC comprised 50 Commons, 12 Blacks and three Arctics. At Boulderwall the four Cattle Egret showed briefly as they tracked the suckling herd around the fields, but never approaching close enough for a pic.
  The circular route produced very little apart from two Dunlins, four Ringed Plovers, Little and Great White Egrets on Burrowes; two Snipe and five Pintails on Dengemarsh (no sign of the Pec) and 14 Shelducks flying over the Return Trail. In the car park a Great Diving Beetle was noted. From Hanson hide, four Great White Egrets, the tern flock and hundreds of Sand Martins over the lake. The Shoveler with bill band marked ULWUL, dabbling in front of the hide originated from Portugal and was seen here last year (PB).

                                Great Diving Beetle

                               Sandwich Tern

                                Portuguese Shoveler

  We finished off the day scanning the bay on a falling tide from the Romney Tavern viewpoint where the sands were covered in approximately 1,000 Black-headed Gulls, 500 Common Gulls, 500 Sandwich Terns, 300 Oystercatchers and 200 Curlews. In amongst the throng lurked several each of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Turnstone and Sanderling, plus Barwit, Mediterranean Gull and the flock of 14 Shelducks seen earlier on the reserve. 

Monday 10 September 2018

Pectoral Sandpiper

Kenardington - mild, sunny, SW 4-5 - After picking up Clare and Peter from Ashford station we headed down to the Royal Military Canal for a stroll along the footpath towards Warehorne. A few common tits, corvids, finches and warblers were noted in the bushes, plus Swallows, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Buzzard and the first of many Kestrels seen this afternoon.

                                Royal Military Canal, Kenardington

Dengemarsh - From Springfield Bridge we walked around the bone dry hayfields where small flocks of Mipits, Yellow Wagtails, Linnets and two Whinchats noted, plus plenty of Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawks and a Buzzard. On the lake the expected wildfowl and grebes, two Blackwits, two Snipe, seven Pintails, Great White Egret, a few Lapwings and hundreds of feral Greylags. The Pectoral Sandpiper was still present but only showed briefly at distance before being flushed out of sight by a harrier.

                                Whinchats and Garganeys

  Over the road on ARC from Hanson hide the islands were devoid of waders apart from a few Lapwings. However, on the water there was plenty of interest with three cracking close Garganeys, a Wigeon, a Shoveler with a bill band and a female Goldeneye, while at least 12 Black Terns hawked insects over the water along with several Common Terns and hundreds of Sand Martins. Also noted Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, Cetti` Warbler and a couple of Sparrowhawks.

Sunday 9 September 2018


Lade - mild, cloudy, light airs - It happens every so often down here in autumn, an influx of Kestrels. A scan across the Desert south of the lakes yesterday revealed nine hovering birds in one sweep and five more on the rough ground behind the `mirrors` towards the airport; many others were reported across Dungeness this weekend. Years ago I remember seeing large numbers of Kestrels migrating out of Scandinavia across Falsterbo heath in Sweden as northern populations escaped the oncoming winter. What with a perceived shortage of voles on the continent this autumn perhaps this Kestrel influx is linked in with the increasing numbers of eared owls appearing on the east coast recently.

  A trickle of Sand and House Martins, Swallows and a late Swift made their way south this weekend, plus Grey and Yellow Wagtails, Meadow and two Tree Pipits. The scrub still held a few Stonechats, Whinchats, Wheatears, Common Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs amid loads of Linnets, Starlings and House Sparrows feeding on thousands of small flying insects, blackberries and weed seeds. Around the ponds I could only find Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers and a single Spotted Flycatcher.
  On the bay a few more Sanderlings had moved in amongst plenty of Dunlins and a scattering of Knot, Barwit and Grey Plover, while Curlew and Oystercatchers numbered over 500. There were fewer Sandwich Terns than of late and on a recent high tide DS reported Black Tern and Balearic Shearwater in the bay.
  Elsewhere this weekend, the four Cattle Egrets were still on the fields at Boulderwall, a Pectoral Sandpiper was seen intermittently at Dengemarsh and the Wryneck tally at the point doubled in number.

Friday 7 September 2018


Lade - cool, cloudy, NW 3 - Plenty of Sand and House Martins over the lakes first thing this morning including quite a few heading into the north-westerly over the desert, where also two Wheatears. Around the ponds the first Reed Buntings of autumn, a Spotted Flycatcher, several Chiffchaffs and Common Whitethroats and a cracking Lesser Whitethroat.
Dungeness - Along the beach a few Wheatears and Mipits on the land and a steady flow of Sandwich Terns hugging the shoreline, plus two Stonechats and a Whinchat near Jarman`s and a scattering of Common Whitethroats in the scrub. We then wandered up to the southern end of the trapping area to look for yesterdays Wryneck which soon popped up and sat in the lee of a bramble patch sunning itself and looking perfectly happy, until some clown with a massive lens (who must`ve got good shots from range) and zero field craft approached too close and flushed it. This seems to be a recurring theme down here amongst certain visiting `photographers`, most of whom are easily identified by a combination of a long lens camera and an absence of binoculars...

                                Basking Wryneck

  After a session at the allotment we called in at ARC where yesterdays work party had done a superb job of clearing the reeds and sallows in front of Hanson hide. An old Reed Warblers nest was left in situ and there was several birds creeping amongst the close margin showing well (where earlier a Bittern had also been seen). Waders on the islands were few and far between with just Lapwings, two Blackwits, a Snipe and a Golden Plover present. Amongst the dabblers two Pintail, Wigeon and Garganey noted with another two of the latter from Screen hide. Two Black Terns hawked over the lake and a Great White Egret was at the southern end. The bushes up to the pines held a few common warblers, most of which were heard as the brisk wind forced birds into cover.