Thursday 29 August 2019

Early autumn migrants

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w 3 - After a few days away on a family camping holiday to Pevensey it felt good to be back out and about around the local patch with Barney in tow. There was a typical early autumn feel to the birding scene with hundreds of Sand Martins swarming over south lake along with a few Swallows, House Martins and two late Swifts. Two juvenile Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard kept the wildfowl on their toes and at least 200 Curlews flew to roost on the incoming tide from the bay. Great Crested Grebes numbers continue to increase with a count of 125 across all waters. Migrant passerines of note included several Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats around the ponds, Yellow Wagtails over and two Wheatears and a Whinchat on the Desert.
 An evening visit to the beach produced the usual waders and terns, plus an Arctic Skua harrying Sandwich Terns on the distant tideline.

                                Cattle Egret

                                Golden Plovers

ARC - Late morning from Hanson hide delivered 180 Lapwings, 160 Golden Plovers, three Ruffs, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Snipe and Knot, plus a juv Cattle Egret, Garganey, Great White Egret and several White Wagtails. From the entrance to the boardwalk a few Willow Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher.

Saturday 24 August 2019

Pied Flycatchers

Lade - hot and humid E2  - A completely different feel to the weather today as a plume of muggy air moved up off the near continent bringing with it a fall of up to 20 Pied Flycatchers across the peninsula. Despite a thorough early morning search none were found around the ponds, but thanks to DB I saw two in his back garden on the Estate and another in the pines by Tower Pits, while the majority were seen in the Trapping Area and Long Pits.

                                Pied Flycatcher, Dungeness

  A scattering of Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats also noted plus one or two Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and several Wheatear. From Hanson hide 20 Golden Plovers amongst 100 Lapwing, plus two Ruff, Dunlin, Garganey and Little Gull.
  What with several reports of Honey Buzzards passing overhead this afternoon I tried a raptor watch from the sky space above Plovers for an hour looking east whilst listening to the Test Match. Result: one each of Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard, plus plenty of Sandwich Terns off the beach.

Friday 23 August 2019


Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Tucked in the bottom of the garden moth trap amongst the many Setaceous Hebrew Characters and Common Wainscots was a yellowish patterned Geometrid that on closer inspection turned out to be a Chevron, only the second record for the trap site. A Whimbrel flew over calling whilst emptying the trap as several Willow Warblers moved through the fir trees.
  On the local patch the only change was a couple of Wheatears on the Desert and a few Common Whitethroats in the broom scrub. Elsewhere all the usual waterfowl on the lakes.


  Around midday I called in at Galloways to look for the Pied Flycatcher, but without any luck. Several Common Whitethroats, Willow Warbler and Blackcap noted, plus Stonechats, two Wheatears a Whinchat and a Clouded Yellow butterfly.
  An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon overlooking a flat calm sea was predictably quiet apart from a few fishing Sandwich Terns and a couple of Common Scoters through. At least 12 Harbour Porpoises and two Grey Seals noted.
  Elsewhere today there was no change to the regular waders on the bird reserve. 

Thursday 22 August 2019

Grebe fest

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw - 4 - The garden moth trap continues to be disappointing with few in both numbers and variety coming to light. Over the back the main event was a three figure count of Great Crested Grebes at 102 (including juvs) across all waters, plus 23 Little and one Black-necked Grebe as well as 365 Pochards. In contrast warbler numbers were disappointing by the ponds. Around the Willow Swamp, six Little Egrets and a Green Sandpiper.

                                Juvenile Great Crested Grebe

  Called in at Hanson hide mid-morning where five Greenshanks, two Wood Sandpipers, three Ruffs, Common and Green Sandpipers, Dunlin, Blackwit, Water Rail and six Garganeys the highlights. Elsewhere, a Pied Flycatcher was noted in a garden at Dungeness (DB).

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Junior birder

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW 2 - With lighter winds it felt much warmer today from the off following a cool night. This afternoon we road-tested a pair of Puffin bins that our nine year old grandson Albert had for his birthday. A two hour session from the hides overlooking ARC and Burrowes did the trick where we rattled up 52 species, the highlights being two cracking Spotted Redshanks from Hanson, plus Wood and Green Sandpipers, two Ruffs, two Snipes, three Garganeys, two Little Gulls, Sparrowhawk, Sandwich Tern and Great White Egret from Hanson and Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit from Firth hide.

                                Spotted Redshanks

                         Junior birder armed with notebook (as it should be!) and new bins

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Garden Sparrowhawk

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w 4 - The day started in fine style with the appearance of a juvenile Sparrowhawk (judging from the size and close barring on the breast a female) that landed atop the back garden bird table scattering the Sparrows and Starlings. It then sat for all of five minutes enjoying the warm sunshine in the lee of the leylandiis, but always alert and nervous, gazing around with those piercing yellow eyes looking for trouble. The good news was that it allowed our guests to enjoy close views of this stunning raptor, and for me to fire off a few pics.

                                Sparrowhawk atop the back garden bird table

  Also in the garden this morning five Willow Warblers, a Tree Pipit over (our first of the season), but very few moths in the trap. During the afternoon loads of Painted Ladies and Migrant Hawkers were active around the buddleias and pond.
  Out back plenty of warblers continue to filter through the ponds, mostly Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps and at least two Lesser Whitethroats. A kettle of six Common Buzzards thermaled on high over towards the airport, while Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk all noted, plus a Grass Snake by the ponds.
                                Work got underway today on our leaky roof

 Called in the bird reserve around midday where more scrub bashing in front of Hanson hide has resulted in a clear view of the islands; well done to all concerned. Two each of Wood Sandpiper, Dunlin and Ruff soon flew back in along with Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, three Garganeys, two Little Gulls and a Hobby over. On Burrowes, two Black Terns, two Greenshanks, Wood and Common Sandpipers and Dunlins the highlights.

                                Probable Honey Buzzard from Sunday over Springfield Bridge

 On Sunday mid-morning at Springfield Bridge three Buzzards came through in quick succession and headed out over the Ranges, with another laggard that I saw late and briefly, but did think at the time that it looked more like a Honey on shape alone. Anyhow, I managed to get a few poor record shots off with the bridge camera and going through the pics today confirmed what I thought originally, a probable Honey Buzzard - note the relatively long, rounded tail, protruding head, wing width equal to the tail length and lack of carpal bend. 

Sunday 18 August 2019

Butterflies and waders

Lade - cool and cloudy, sw 3 - Saturday - Working around the garden yesterday butterflies seemed to be everywhere when the sun briefly broke through the cloud cover. Mostly it was Painted Ladies on the buddleia and basking on shingle, but also a number of Small Whites, Red Admirals and Holly Blues.
  An evening visit to the bay at low tide resulted in a decent number of waders feeding close to shore comprising at least 100 Dunlins, 20 Ringed Plovers and 15 Knots, most of the latter being  juveniles. There was no change to the wildfowl and grebe numbers on south lake.

                                Painted Ladies and Holly Blue

                               Dunlins and Knot, Lade bay

Sunday - We kicked off at Scotney first thing before the wind got going. On the front fields hundreds of gulls, ducks and feral geese comprised an impressive bulk of biomass along with Cormorants, several Grey Herons and Little Egrets. Closer inspection around the margins and on the wet fields revealed 10 Common and one Green Sandpiper, 10 Curlews, five Redshanks, five Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin, plus several grounded Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears. Outback more of the same, plus Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Little Owl, Corn Bunting, Linnet, Skylark, Mipit and Tree Sparrow.
  At Dengemarsh, from Springfield bridge, hundreds of Sand Martins swarmed over the wetlands while three Common Buzzards flew west and two Great White Egrets noted. On ARC from the two hides several Garganey, Wigeon, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Ruffs, Greenshank, Snipe, LRP and two Little Gulls amongst plenty of common wildfowl and Common Terns. Willow Warblers, Common and Lesser Whitethroats in the bushes down to the pines. On Burrowes more Common Sandpipers and Dunlins, the usual Common Terns, two Black Terns, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard. An Osprey went through the reserve at around 1040hrs (ROR) and back towards Lade during the afternoon.

Friday 16 August 2019

Weekly Summary

Lade - cool and cloudy, sw 4 - Another breezy morning with rain on the way. The garden moth trap had a reasonable catch of common species including several Jersey Tigers, Common Wainscots, Flounced Rustic and an Archers Dart.

                                Common Wainscot and Archers Dart

                                First Wheatear of autumn

                                Sparrows and Starlings are everywhere at the moment
  On south lake 54 Great Crested Grebes and 320 Pochards counted, plus plenty of Sand Martins and Swifts through. Warblers were few in number around the ponds although the first two Wheatears of autumn sat atop the broom scrub out on the shingle ridges.
  A visit to the bird reserve resulted in the usual birds on ARC from Hanson where some of the reeds have been cut back in front of the hide. Several each of Wood Sandpiper, LRP and Ruff present, plus 50 Lapwings, two Snipe, Redshank, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, five Garganey, two Wigeon and Little Gull. From the access road 30 Golden Plovers roosted on the shingle amongst a large flock of Lapwings and mixed gulls. Burrowes was smothered in more Sand Martins and Common Terns. From Firth hide, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper and a smart juvenile Knot with a peachy wash on the underparts.

                                Juvenile Knot from Firth hide

  Elsewhere this week, Great White and three Cattle Egrets have been noted around Dengemarsh, a few Arctic Skuas on the sea, Yellow-legged Gulls at the fishing boats and a steady trickle of waders through the bird reserve and Lade bay. Common migrants on the move include plenty of Sand Martins and Swifts over water, Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats in scrub and Yellow Wagtails on open ground.

                                Juvenile Kittiwake, fishing boats

   A brief seawatch from the fishing boats this afternoon delivered a steady flow of fishing Sandwich and Common Terns, two Black Terns and Gannets further out. Seven Common Scoters rounded the point and a dark phase Arctic Skua parasitised the terns. Scores of gulls feeding on shellfish along the foreshore included several Yellow-legged Gulls and a Kittiwake,

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Warbler and tit flocks

Lade - cool, cloudy, rain at times, sw 3 - A weather front sweeping in off the Atlantic made for yet another wet morning. The main centre of attention on the local patch was a large mixed flock of tits and warblers in the shelter of the ponds. Comprising mainly Willow Warblers, but also several Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, a couple of stunning Lesser Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler, a bird I rarely see here. The tits were mostly Blue and Long-tailed with one or two Great Tits. At least 10 Little Egrets were around the lakeside margins.

                                One of 10 Little Egrets around the Willow Swamp

                                Willow Warbler and Long-tailed Tit by the ponds

Dungeness - On Burrowes this morning a nice collection of Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Common Sandpipers amongst the usual Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls in front of Firth hide, where also another mixed warbler and tit flock akin to one earlier. Also two Black Terns over the lake along with hundreds of Sand Martins and a few Swifts in the rain.
  From Hanson hide Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, two Little Gulls that came and went and all the usual wildfowl including at least two Garganeys.
  Other news concerned a superb Sabines` Gull off Dungeness (MC) this afternoon (whilst I was in Folkestone!).

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Odds and ends

Lade - cool, cloudy, w 2 - Not much change from yesterday with 34 and 19 Great Crested and Little Grebes respectively counted on south lake, plus three Little Egrets and a Common Sandpiper around the margins and a few Swifts and Sand Martins over the water.
  A Dungeness seawatch this morning produced a trickle of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, Kittiwakes, Med Gulls, three Common Scoters and a Tufted Duck rounding the point. On the land a few Willow Warblers and Whitethroats in the bushes, plus Yellow Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Wheatears and Stonechat in the open scrub.
  A visit to the bird reserve resulted in similar fare to last week at ARC and Burrowes; so Wood Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, Greenshank, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Great White Egret, Little Gull and Black Tern.
NB:  Please note that work is taking place this Thursday to cut back the vegetation in front of Hanson hide.

Monday 12 August 2019

Post Cropredy

Lade - cool and showery - Just back from a five day sojourn to Cropredy in a very wet and windy Oxfordshire for the 40th Fairport Convention music festival. The highlights were, in no particular order, Old Hooky (at £3.50 a pint), The Waterboys (Mike Scott`s vocals still as clear as a clarion bell, Lil` Jim (a Cajun musician, new to me), Martin Barre Band (lots of old Jethro Tull stuff) and, of course, Fairport and guests who performed a superb two and a half hour set to finish the festival on Saturday night. A welcome break then with plenty of laughs along the way and it was good to catch up with folkies from the New Forest; and a great many thanks to our dear friends, Stan and Kaz, for putting up with us in their caravan for the duration.



                                Scenes from Cropredy 2019

  Nothing much had changed since my last visit to the local patch with a trickle of Swifts and Yellow Wagtails on the move, 50 Sand Martins over the lake and several Willow Warblers and Whitethroats around the ponds. Another batch of Great Crested Grebe young were on the water and a few more Shoveler and Pochard had joined the hundreds of Coots, ducks and grebes on south lake. Waders flying to roost included a steady flow of Curlews and Oystercatchers, plus four Redshanks on the islands amongst the gulls and Cormorants.
  Heavy rain this afternoon eventually relented affording a check along the beach at low tide where a count of 230 Sandwich Terns was noteworthy.

                                Redshanks on south lake island

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Waders and terns

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3-4 - A breezy morning and as a consequence very little in the garden moth trap with only Yellow Shell and Spectacle new for the year, plus an exceptional 42 Shuttle-shaped Darts! On the pits migrants comprised a few Swifts in with the Sand Martins over south lake, a trickle of Yellow Wagtails overhead and several Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats around the ponds.

                                Spectacle and Yellow Shell

  At Dungeness we walked down to the Patch where Raven, two Black Redstarts and a Sparrowhawk were noted. Over a lazy boil a small flock of gulls and a Common Tern was about it. At sea several Sandwich Terns and Gannets drifted by; from an earlier seawatch TG reported 700 of the latter through.

                                Barney having a breather

  A visit to the bird reserve produced: Cattle Egret and Red-crested Pochard at Dengemarsh; several Dunlins and Common Sandpipers on Burrowes; 15 Golden Plovers on the shingle from the access road; five Wood Sandpipers, five Ruffs, three Common Sandpipers, five Dunlins, three Little Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Great White Egret, two Garganey and best of all a cracking adult Turnstone in full nuptial plumage. Hundreds of Sand Martins were over the lakes, more Yellow Wagtails filtered through and several juvenile Marsh Harriers were on the wing.

                                Adult Turnstone, ARC

  An afternoon seawatch hour from the fishing boats delivered a steady flow of Sandwich Terns rounding the point from Lade bay, plus 12 Common Terns, 20 Gannets and a Kittiwake.
  An evening check of the bay on a falling tide resulted in upwards of 3,000 birds on the sands, the majority, Black-headed, Herring and Common Gulls, Oystercatchers and Curlews, plus 30 Mediterranean Gulls, 200 Sandwich and 30 Common Terns, 50 Dunlins, 15 Knot, Whimbrel and Ringed Plover.

Sunday 4 August 2019

First Arctic Skua

Lade -warm, dry and sunny, e2 - A fine weekend of weather with light airs throughout and a decent catch of moths in the garden trap yesterday that included several Jersey Tigers.
  Both mornings has seen a number of passage warblers on site, particularly around the ponds where Willow and Reed Warblers were most numerous along with a few Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and at least one Blackcap feeding on blackberries. A flock of 20 grounded Yellow Wagtails on the Desert typically didn't stay for long, soon pressing southwards calling constantly, and a Linnet flock numbered 30 birds.

                                Grounded Yellow Wagtail, Lade

  On the incoming tide yesterday 372 Oystercatchers and 255 Curlews were counted going to roost, while on the evening low tide the first Arctic Skua of the season came in off the bay and flew along the shoreline harrying Sandwich Terns loafing on the sands amongst hundreds of gulls and waders.
  On south lake wildfowl numbers continue to increase with over 200 Pochards and 54 Great Crested Grebes. Common Terns came and went heading back towards ARC with small fry, while two broods of Tufted Ducks were on the water.

                                Painted Lady and Marbled White around the garden

                                Starlings and Woodpigeon enjoying the water

  There has been plenty of insects activity around the garden this weekend too, with several Hummingbird Hawk-moths, a variety of bees, Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, Peacocks and a Marbled White visiting the buddleia and lavender bushes. The House Sparrows and Starlings have provided rich entertainment whilst breakfasting on the garden feeders and using the water bowls.
  On the bird reserve today the highlights were five Wood Sandpipers, four Ruffs, a juvenile Little Gull and Cattle Egret from Hanson hide, plus two Avocets and Common Sandpipers from Firth hide.
  Thanks to all concerned for a very convivial afternoon at the Dungeness Bird Observatory BBQ.

                                Avocets, Burrowes

                                Lapwing and Wood Sandpiper, ARC