Wednesday 31 July 2019

Yellow-legged Gulls

Lade - warm, cloudy, rain earlier, w 5 - Another very windy day across the peninsula, with some hefty showers early on and sunshine by the afternoon. South lake was covered in hundreds of Sand Martins this morning along with a few House Martins and Swifts. On the water the first post moulting Shelduck of autumn, plus Pochard up to 42 in number and five Little Egrets and two Common Sandpipers around the margins of north lake. The first Willow Warblers of the season were noted by the ponds.

                               Adult and juvenile Little Tern, Burrowes

  On ARC mid-morning: Wood Sandpiper, 5 Ruffs, Dunlins and Common Sandpipers, two Garganey, two Little Gulls and a male Sparrowhawk over the hide carrying prey. Plenty more hirundines over the lake. From Firth hide late afternoon, two Little Terns and five Dunlins were amongst the Common Terns in front of Firth hide, while a Red Crested Pochard was on Dengemarsh.
  An hour at the fishing boats delivered very little apart from three juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls and a Grey Seal.

                                Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, fishing boats

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Autumnal blow

Dungeness - warm, dry, sunny, se/s 5-6 - As there was an increasing onshore wind forecast we joined the regulars in the hide for an hour of humorous banter, and a bit of seawatching too. A steady trickle of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns was underway, plus a few Fulmars, Med Gulls, Common Scoters and Common Terns, so fairly typical fare for this early in the seabird season. At least 10 Porpoises were also noted.

                                Garden and Jersey Tigers

  The garden moth trap was quiet last night with just Garden and Jersey Tigers, Silver Y and Toadflax Brocade of note. 

Sunday 28 July 2019

Black-necked Grebes

Dungeness RSPB - muggy, cloudy, dry, w 2 - After the transit of hundreds of shanks and sandpipers through the Dungeness wetlands yesterday, today was very much a case of, `after the Lord Mayor`s show`, although an early morning check of ARC revealed several lingering Ruffs, Redshanks, LRPs, Dunlins, Common Sandpipers, two Blackwits and a Wood Sandpiper, plus four Garganeys and a Great White Egret opposite Screen hide. At least 20 Blackbirds were feeding on sea buckthorn on the approach to the pines. Over the road virtually all the waders had dispersed with just a couple of Common Sandpipers from Firth hide and three Redshanks from Dennis`s hide, along with four Great White Egrets around the lake and a Hobby over Boulderwall fields.

                               Marbled White and Common Blue, Lade ponds

  On Lade south the first two Black-necked Grebes of autumn appeared this morning and a Common Sandpiper flitted over the water. An afternoon visit in warm sunshine yielded one or two common butterflies and dragonflies around the ponds, while a count of 100 Mediterranean Gulls was reported on the sands (DS).

Saturday 27 July 2019

Big wader day

Dungeness RSPB - overcast, rain , nw 2 - There`s nothing like a bit of wet weather at this time of year to force down a few migrant waders, but what we witnessed today was exceptional to say the least. First thing this morning while the heavy rain was battering down CP counted 328 Redshanks, 58 Greenshanks and 27 Curlew Sandpipers on Burrowes from Firth hide; the Redshank count must`ve been something of a record for Dungeness. By the time I arrived most had already moved on, but there was still a flock of 50 Redshanks present.
  Over the road from Screen hide a flock of 10 Wood Sandpipers soon upped and away leaving one behind, while hundreds of Sand and House Martins skimmed over the water. Elsewhere across the site numerous Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Knot, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Snipe, Dunlin, Common, Green, Wood and Curlew Sandpipers came and went throughout the day. The numbers of Redshanks and Greenshanks through was quite astonishing; I heard both species flying over near continually and the exact figures we can only guess at, but probably c500 and c100 respectively.

                                Some of the todays migrating Redshanks

                                Temminck`s Stints, Burrowes

  And then this afternoon, the icing on the cake, two Temminck`s Stints paused in front of Firth hide affording superb views. Having missed the one earlier in the month it was good to catch up with this scarce and tiny little passage migrant.
  Carrying on with the wader theme a check of the beach from Littlestone at low tide produced all the usual Curlews and Oystercatchers, 10 Dunlins, 20 Redshanks, eight Barwits, five Knots, two Spotted Redshanks (rare here) and four Ringed Plovers. On Lade south the margins attracted several Common and Green Sandpipers, two Greenshanks and a Redshank, plus several more Greenshanks, (including a flock of 15) and a Whimbrel over.
  In all at least 21 species of waders moved through the peninsula today, a most memorable and unprecedented event the like of which I`ve not witnessed before in over 50 years of birding.

Brussels Lace

Friday 26th July - Lade - hot, overcast humid, light airs - Following the extreme weather of yesterday evening which delivered violent gusts of wind associated with thunder, lightening and heavy rain causing damage to our slate roof, this morning dawned relatively quiet and humid. Yesterdays mystery moth was confirmed by SC as a Brussels Lace, an immigrant and only the 14th Dungeness area record. Needless to say it was a first for the Plovers garden trap.

                                Brussels Lace, 14th Dungeness area record

  A visit to Hanson hide mid-morning produced our first Little Stint of the return passage along with five each of Green and Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Dunlin and Redshank, two Little Ringed Plovers and a Wood Sandpiper, plus Little Gull and Great White Egret. More Common and Green Sandpipers Ruff and LRP were noted on Burrowes, along with three Marsh Harriers from the access road.
  An afternoon wader count on the bay on an incoming tide delivered: Curlew 224, Oystercatcher 365, Bar-tailed Godwit 15, Dunlin 35, Sanderling 12, Knot 4.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Tree-lichen Beauty

Lade - hot, dry, sunny, light airs - One of the hottest days I can remember since living down here with 30C recorded during the early afternoon at Lydd-on-Sea. Guiding for Ann today we kicked off with another mothing session here at Plovers where Bordered Pug and the migrant (and new for the trap site) Tree-lichen Beauty, were the highlights, plus an unidentified macro that is awaiting judgement from SC. At the Kerton Road cafe a Jersey Tiger was the top moth.

                                Jersey Tiger, Lydd-on-Sea

                                Tree-lichen Beauty, new for the Plovers trap

  To say it was a difficult birding day was an understatement in the oppressive heat as many passerines hid in cover. We checked out Lade pits for White Mullein by the ponds where a few  warblers were noted in the bushes. On Burrowes the Common Terns put on a fine show in front of Firth hide where also a Common Sandpiper and a Grass Snake, while we jammed protracted flight views of a Bittern at Hookers and brief views of a Lesser Emperor by the corral.

                                Common Sandpiper, Burrowes

                                Great White Egret, ARC

   We finished the afternoon at Hanson hide where a Wood Sandpiper, three Ruffs, five Dunlins, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, two Great White Egrets, two Sandwich Terns, two Mediterranean Gulls a Garganey and Wigeon were present. Most of the gulls and terns on the islands were panting like dogs in the heat which had set forth vast clouds of flying ants for the gulls to feed on.
  Over the past two day we managed to rattle up 89 species of birds for our guest, plus a host of moths, butterflies, dragonflies and plants.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Dusky Redshank

Lade - hot, dry and sunny, sw 3 - A day of glorious sunshine with the heat tempered by a fresh breeze off the sea; perfect weather for guiding around the peninsula with our guest Ann from Northants. We kicked off with a mothing session at Plovers, followed by the Kerton Road café where two Sussex Emeralds and a Small Rivulet were the highlights.
  Moving onto the point several Wheatears and Black Redstarts were located, plus a Peregrine on a pylon, Meadow Pipits, Skylark and Yellow Wagtail over. The bay on an incoming tide for shorebirds produced hundreds of Curlews and Oystercatchers and a Whimbrel.

                                Ruff and Spotted Redshank

                                Dusky Redshank

  The wader theme continued on ARC where we were treated to a cracking adult Spotted Redshank (a dusky bird is most unusual down here) and 17 adult Ruffs along with a fine supporting cast of Wood and Common Sandpipers, Redshanks, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Lapwings and Oystercatchers. Plenty of wildfowl, grebes, gulls and Common Terns added to the throng, plus Little Egret, Marsh Harrier and Yellow Wagtail.
  We finished off at the boats with a brief seawatch where 30 Common Scoter, 10 Sandwich Terns, Kittiwake, Grey Seal and Harbour Porpoises were all noted, plus a pulse of 20 coasting Sand Martins.

                                Common Scoters

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Juvenile waders

Lade -  hot, dry and sunny, ne 2 - A Great White Egret flew in from the east and landed atop the willow swamp to join a couple of Little Egrets fishing the margins. Around the ponds juvenile Whitethroats and Reed Warblers were actively being fed by tatty, worn out looking adults. On the beach this evening at least 50 Dunlins, including a goodly number of juveniles, were feeding in the mud alongside the gulls.

                                Little and Great White Egrets, Lade

                                Great White Egret, willow swamp

                                Dunlins on the bay

  On the bird reserve ARC was the place to be with a juvenile Spotted Redshank and an adult Wood Sandpiper viewable from Hanson hide, plus three each of Ruff and Redshank, four Dunlins, Little Ringed Plover, two Little Gulls and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull. Loads of wildfowl, Coot, grebes, terns and gulls were scattered across the islands and lake.

Monday 22 July 2019

Gulls in the gloop

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3 - The past couple of days have been much the same across the local patch with a decent showing of moths in the garden trap, including another two Sussex Emeralds. On the lakes wildfowl numbers continue to increase, particularly Coot and diving ducks, while both Great Crested and Little Grebes have juveniles on the water. Several passage Greenshanks and Whimbrels have both moved through along with pulses of Sand Martins and a trickle of Yellow Wagtails, plus a few Swifts yesterday.

                                Marbled Green


  Evening visits to the bay on a falling tide have revealed the usual couple of hundred each of Curlew and Oystercatcher along with handfuls of Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Knot and Dunlin, plus 500 or more gulls, mostly Black-headed and Common as well as several Mediterranean Gulls, Sandwich and Common Terns.
  Small flocks of gulls have also been attracted to the gloopy mud close to shore where they`ve been plundering an unidentified small, marine invertebrate that has emerged in large numbers. The Black-headed Gulls appear to be more adept than their larger cousins at snapping up this easy source of protein, followed by Common Gulls, while the more clumsy Herring Gulls seemed to be hopeless at it.

                               Gulls in the gloop

Saturday 20 July 2019

Roseate Tern

Lade - cloudy, mild, sw 3 - A humid night with violent thunderstorms dropping over an inch of much needed rain in just a couple of hours on a parched shingle landscape; OL recorded 31mm down at Littlestone last night. Over the lakes plenty of Swifts and Sand Martins were forced down to feed  and a Hobby nipped through.


                                Adult Roseate Tern

Burrowes - As the morning progressed the wind and sun went  to work and by midday you wouldn't have known there had been a deluge in the early hours. As we sat down in Firth hide a cracking adult Roseate Tern dropped in amongst the Commons, all shiny white with long orange/red legs and a black bill. Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover also noted around the pit.

Friday 19 July 2019

Everlasting pea

Lade - cloudy, occasional drizzle, sw 3 - A tour of the local patch produced no change to the usual birds apart from a few Swifts and Yellow Wagtails shipping out south, although two juvenile Marsh Harriers were on the wing hunting the long reed bed.
  A check of Burrowes was also similarly samey with plenty of wildfowl and Common Terns on site. From Firth hide Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and five Dunlin amongst the throng of Lapwings, Oystercatchers and gulls. On the walk down to Hanson hide the Narrow-leaved Everlasting Peas were in full bloom either side of the track. From the hide two Bar-tailed Godwits, three Ruffs, two Redshanks and a Great White Egret amongst hundreds of ducks, gulls and Coots.

                                Everlasting Pea

Thursday 18 July 2019

Pectoral Sandpiper

Rye Harbour NR - cool, overcast, drizzle, sw 4 - Spent the day over the border in Sussex guiding for Pat and Les from Lydd. A circuit of the Beach Reserve delivered two Whimbrels, 20 Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper on the migrant wader front, plus six Sanderlings and a Turnstone on the Camber side, all adult birds. Also plenty of Redshanks, Curlews and Ringed Plovers, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, and Linnets, around the site along with 20 Little Egrets, two Yellow Wagtails, five Swifts, 12 Little Terns, six Sandwich Terns and at least 20 pairs of Common Terns with juveniles.

                                Sea Heath, Rye Harbour

                                Bedraggled Meadow Pipit                               

                                Whimbrel on the salt marsh

                                Little Egrets

Pett Level - Hadn`t been here for a while, so was pleasantly surprised to find superb wader habitat from the two hides along Pannel Valley, a most peaceful spot in this noisy world of ours. An adult Pectoral Sandpiper was the highlight along with three Greenshanks, a Green Sandpiper and several Little Ringed Plovers, including a pair with tiny, second brood young. Two juvenile Marsh Harriers, not long out of the nest, played havoc with the birds on the scrape which also included breeding Common Tern, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Shelduck, 10 Pied Wagtails, Stock Dove, Lapwings and Oystercatchers. On Pett pools the Furruginous Duck was still present amongst common wildfowl and several Dabchicks.
  A decent day`s birding for the guests with over 70 species noted including some smart waders.

                                Pannel Valley

                                Roosting Greenshanks

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Mostly moths and plants

Lade  - warm, dry and sunny, sw 2 - After a cool, misty dawn it soon warmed up turning into a fine summer`s day. I spent the day guiding for our guests from Germany concentrating on local moths and plants down at Rye. My moth trap was poor due to the overnight conditions with a miserly 16 species of macros, although it did include Toadflax Brocade and Plumed Fan-foot. After a quick trip to Littlestone, to pay homage to the still singing Serin, we moved onto the Kerton Road café trap where a clutch of Sussex Emeralds was the highlight for Patrick, plus a White Spot at the Obs along with Black Redstarts and Wheatears around the peninsula.

                                Garden Tiger

                                Grass Emerald

                                Sussex Emerald

Rye Harbour NR - We spent the rest of the day on the Beach Reserve mostly plant hunting, and  although many were past their best a decent range of shingle flowers were located including specialities such as Twiggy Mullein and Sea Heath. On the bird front passage waders included three Whimbrels, 20 Dunlins, Little Ringed Plover and a Greenshank, plus plenty of Redshanks, Curlew and Ringed Plovers. Six Little Terns were still on site while some of the Common Terns had well grown chicks and several Sandwich Terns were still hanging around. Also noted, Little Egret, Shelduck, Wheatear, Sand Martins through and two Yellow Wagtails. Plenty of butterflies also noted across the site which made for a good all round day of natural history interest for our guests.

                                Sea Heath

                                Skylark on kale

                                Tufted ducklings

                                Ringed Plover

Monday 15 July 2019

Birthday Barney

Lade - cool and cloudy, ne 2 - An overcast day throughout, but humid at times. Having been away over the weekend we spent most of the morning on the local patch and, being as he was 13 today, making an extra special fuss of Barney.

                                Barney at 13 on his local patch today

  First thing over south lake around 300 Sand Martins feeding low over the water, twittering away, suddenly spiralled up as a single unit and headed southwards; whether or not their reaction was due to a Hobby perched on the 30` mirror, or a genuine migratory movement I shall never know. There seemed to be plenty of juvenile Reed Warblers in the reedbeds and young Whitethroats in the dry scrub, although very few Linnets of note. On the incoming tide a Whimbrel joined the regular Curlews to roost on the Desert.
  This afternoon on a falling tide the Curlews were arranged `sensibly` on the bay affording a reasonably accurate count of 271 birds, plus 154 Oystercatchers, five Barwits, a superb Red Knot, 20 Sandwich Terns, 10 Mediterranean Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls, plus five Grey Seals offshore. The summer`s first juvenile Marsh Harrier was on the wing this aft, quartering the long reedbed and feinting at birds way too big for it such as Mute Swan and Coot. Several Yellow Wagtails drifted over calling, while I could only find two spikes of the localised plant White Mullein at the southern end of the pond.
  At midday I called in briefly at ARC from Hanson hide where the wader highlights included two Ruff, three Dunlin and a Greenshank, all adults, plus the two regular Little Gulls.

                                      White Mullein

Friday 12 July 2019


Kings Wood, Challock - Yesterday evening, together with CP, we had a run out to Kings Wood for a spot of Nightjaring in the large clearing to the north of the main car park. The chestnut scrub had grown above head height since our visit last year and as a result Tree Pipits were absent; infact hardly any birdlife was seen apart from a couple of Jays until, eventually, at 2124hrs a Nightjar commenced its eerie `churring` song. Over the following half hour or so we had close flight and perched views of a single male as it performed and sang from dead branches around the woodland margins.
Lade - The past few days on the lakes has witnessed a steady build up of waterfowl on south lake with Shoveler, Pochard and Tufted Duck mingling with over 200 Coot. Great Crested and Little Grebes have also joined the throng along with their young, while a steady flow of Common Terns come and go from the direction of the bird reserve to fish. At high tide 120 Curlews were counted roosting on the Desert by Mockmill.
  The adult Cuckoos have fallen silent and presumably headed off south as calling hasn't been reported since last weekend; hopefully there are one or two juveniles about to fledge from Reed Warbler nests soon and fatten up for the long haul to Africa. Around the margins of south lake wagtails have been attracted to piles of rotting water weed, mostly Pieds but yesterday a Grey and today two juvenile Yellows along with a trickle of the latter passing overhead. 
  Conditions for mothing continue to attract plenty of common species to light with another two Sussex Emeralds last night, also Kent Black Arches, Green Pug, Pale Grass Eggar and Short-cloaked Moth new for the year, plus a record five Privet Hawk-moths.

                                   Pale Grass Eggar

                                Sussex Emerald