Monday 31 August 2020

Wryneck, again!

 Lade - warm, dry and sunny - The past few days have seen a cool northerly airflow sweep across the peninsula making for difficult birding around the local patch. However, a few Tree Pipits and Grey Wagtails were noted amongst the more numerous Meadow Pipits and Yellow Wagtails, while three Swifts nipped through yesterday.

                   Wryneck, DBO

  This morning a tour of the point with Lucy was fairly pedestrian with just a couple of Wheatears, a Black Redstart and another Swift the highlights; until, that is, news came through from the Obs of a Wryneck that had just been trapped in the moat, providing slightly better views than the skulker at Galloways last Friday. As always, is was superb to see its cryptic plumage close up, while it also performed the characteristic neck stretching exercise this species is notable for when in the hand. 

Friday 28 August 2020


 Lade - warm, thundery, w 2 - A day of heavy thunderstorms and lightening across the Marsh commenced with a deluge here on the coast around 7 am. Thankfully it relented somewhat until the afternoon affording a decent birding session across the peninsula with CP. A couple of hours spent at ARC proved profitable with a variety of waders including Little Stint, eight Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the weed, Dunlins, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Ruff, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and a calling Spotted Redshank over within a flock of 200 Golden Plovers. Also noted on the lake: Black Tern, Great White and Little Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Kingfisher and Black-necked Grebe while the bushes were alive with calling Lesser Whitethroats, Common Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and tits, plus Yellow and Grey Wagtails over, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, three Sparrowhawks and Marsh Harriers. A brief look at Burrowes delivered a Little Gull amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls, Black and Common Terns and Common Sandpipers.

                    Glossy Ibis and Black-tailed Godwits

  Moving onto Scotney where there was very little apart from thousands of feral geese and a couple of Wheatears. At Galloways DS had discovered a Wryneck between the two bends in the road where I had fleeting views as it briefly perched atop a gorse bush. There were a few more Wheatears and Stonechats here, where two Short-eared Owls and an Osprey had been seen earlier (MC).

                    Yellow Wagtail, Lade

  A late afternoon check of the local patch delivered 30 Yellow Wagtails on the Desert and 20 on the beach, plus Whinchat, five Wheatears and yet another Sparrowhawk. 

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Passage waders

 Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w 4 - Following on from the strong winds of yesterday that delivered hundreds of migrating Knot, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwits onto the sands at low tide, today produced lesser numbers of the aforementioned, although the staple ten species of shorebirds could still be found across the bay. Several Mediterranean Gulls were amongst hundreds of Black-headed and Common Gulls, plus five Shelducks, 30 Sandwich and 20 Common Terns. This morning at least seven Wheatears and two Whimbrels were grounded on the Desert, while the bushes held a few Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats. 

                    Wader islands, ARC

  An afternoon visit to ARC produced another wide range of waders including a smart juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, Green and Common Sandpipers, two Ruff, Greenshank, 12 Golden Plovers, three Black-tailed Godwits, 20 Dunlins, 30 Ringed (including one very small, dark Tundra type) and two Little Ringed Plovers. After an hour the Glossy Ibis flew onto the weedy islands to feed, although what was lurking unseen around the corner in front of Hanson hide is anyone`s guess!

Monday 24 August 2020

Curlew Sandpiper

 Lade - warm, dry and sunny, sw 3 - The past few days has seen a steady procession of Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails through the local patch, plus 10 Swifts yesterday and a Whinchat. The bay has been heaving with passage waders such as Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover while the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper is still present from last week. A few more Sandwich and Common Terns settled on the sands at low tide and another Arctic Skua was noted raiding the terns.

                   Curlew Sandpiper (by David Scott), Lade bay

  At Dungeness a few Common and Sandwich Terns passed the seawatch hide this afternoon along with a Fulmar and Arctic Skua. On the bird reserve the Glossy Ibis was still on ARC, plus a number of passage waders including six Black-tailed Goldwits and two Greenshanks. 

Friday 21 August 2020

Balearic Shearwaters

 Lade - warm, dry and sunny, SW 5 - A muggy, blustery day of weather was dominated by the remnants of a tropical storm off the Atlantic Ocean that delivered good numbers of shearwaters to south coast headlands yesterday. Very little on the local patch this morning with just a couple of Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails through and a few Common Terns over south lake. I checked the bay on the high spring tide this afternoon where more Common and Sandwich Terns were present, plus a dark phase Arctic Skua that flew in low from Dungeness and harried the terns.

                 High tide at Lade

  An hour at the fishing boats mid-afternoon with the locals delivered two Balearic Shearwaters down-Channel when I arrived and four more just as I was leaving, along with a trickle of Gannets, Sandwich, Common and at least one Little Tern. The Glossy Ibis was also reported today on ARC.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Yellow Wagtails

 Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - A superb drop in of migrants on the Desert this morning included 48 Yellow Wagtails, 12 Wheatears, five Stonechats and two Whinchats, plus several more Yellow Wags over and two Whimbrels. At least 10 Willow Warblers around the ponds and two through the garden, where a smart Hummingbird Hawk-moth spent 15 minutes feeding on the Salvia Hot Lips. In the garden moth trap another migrant Pale Shoulder, while down the road earlier in the week at the KRC, the first Marbled Clover in 60 years was recorded in one of the traps.

                   Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail

                        Hummingbird Hawk-moth

                                               Marbled Clover (D Beck)

  On the beach this evening, in glorious sunshine, a host of 55 Ringed Plovers was noteworthy, plus 150 Dunlins, 80 Sanderlings and 50 Sandwich Terns. 

Sunday 16 August 2020

Flycatchers and chats

 Lade - humid, overcast, light airs - Most of the showers seem to have missed us down here, although it has threatened a few times with dark skies, but always humid. Once again the moth trap has been busy with yet another Pale Shoulder the highlight. On the local patch plenty of Willow Warblers have moved through, along with a scattering of Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Wheatears, Stonechats and a Whinchat, plus Sand Martins and Yellow Wagtails overhead, while a Spotted Flycatcher was briefly in the garden yesterday. Waders putting in an appearance this weekend comprised five Common and three Green Sandpipers, three Greenshanks and two Whimbrels with a few more of the latter two species over calling.

                    Blood-vein and Whimbrels, Lade

   On the bird reserve the Glossy Ibis was still on ARC Saturday, plus Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, a Snipe, 30 Golden Plovers and a Pied Flycatcher in the pines. Another two were in the lighthouse garden this afternoon along with several Black Redstarts on the power station fence. Plenty more chats, Common Redstarts, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers were reported across the peninsula this weekend.

Friday 14 August 2020

Chats, waders and terns

 Lade - overcast, humid, light airs -  Its been a busy couple of nights around the garden moth trap due to perfect weather conditions in the high humidity and low cloud cover. Highlights were Jersey Tigers in double figures, along with four Tree-lichen Beauties and another Pale Shoulder.

                   Jersey Tigers and Pale Shoulder

  On the local patch the first Wheatears and a Whinchat of autumn dropped onto the Desert yesterday, while two Little Terns were noted amongst 20 odd Sandwich Terns on the bay at high tide, where DS found a Curlew Sandpiper (rare here) earlier within a Dunlin flock. A few more Wheatears on the Desert today at Lade, plus two Green Sandpipers over calling, while a scattering of Pied Flycatchers and a Wood Warbler were reported from across Dungeness and Galloways. The bay this evening on an incoming tide delivered the goods with thousands of gulls, terns and waders including yesterdays Curlew Sandpiper, 150 Dunlins, 30 Sanderlings, 20 Ringed Plovers, 520 Oystercatchers, 220 Curlews, 10 Knots and 10 Turnstones, plus two each of Black and Little Terns, 50 Common and 30 Sandwich Terns. Most of the gulls were Black-headed and Common along with at least 10 Mediterranean Gulls.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Pied Flycatcher

 Lade - hot and humid, E2 - An early morning shower of drizzle whilst doing the round of the local patch did the trick, grounding a Greenshank, four Common and two Green Sandpipers across the site, plus another Greenshank and a Whimbrel that flew around calling before heading off towards the bird reserve. The bushes by the ponds held several each of Willow Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, while the Great Crested Grebe in the willow swamp now has four well-grown, stripey young.

                    Great Crested Grebe brood

                              Pied Flycatcher, rear view!

                    Bedstraw Hawk-moth, Lydd-on-Sea

  This afternoon I went in search of a Pied Flycatcher that had been seen in the scrub around Westbeach this morning, a bird that has become increasingly scarce and difficult to come by in recent years down here. However, a clutch of locals already had it pinned down to a gorse thicket where it showed quite well for half an hour or so, at times dropping down on the deck to snap up what appeared to be small crickets, although trying to get a pic of it with a bridge camera was another matter all together! On the way home I called in at the KRC to admire a cracking Bedstraw Hawk-moth from last nights catch and new for the trap site.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Glossy Ibis

 Lade - Hot, dry and sunny, light airs - A couple of scorching hot days with the overnight temperature not falling much below 20 C, making it busy around the moth trap with a 38 species haul of macros including Cypress Pug and Shaded Broad-bar new for the year. On the local patch two Common Sandpipers on south lake.

                   Shaded Broad-bar

Common Sandpipers, Lade. Glossy Ibis, ARC

   Called it at ARC early afternoon where the roving Glossy Ibis reappeared yesterday and was viewable close to the island just past the Screen hide. There was also a decent set of waders including Ruff, Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpiper, plus a Black Tern, several Yellow Wagtails and a Water Rail on the same island as the ibis. 

Sunday 9 August 2020

A Small Fall

Lade - hot, dry and sunny, ne 3 - Another muggy night, but at least here on the coast we had a pleasant east wind off the sea to temper the heat - and the day started in some style with a crash, bang, wallop of thunder and lightening followed by a twenty minute cloudburst of torrential rain at 5am. Once it had stopped I worked my way through a packed moth trap of 41 macro species including 55 Shuttle-shaped Darts, our first Large Yellow Underwing of summer (what`s happened to them this year?) Canary-shouldered Thorn, five Jersey Tigers, 5 Tree-lichen Beauties, Gold Spot and, new for the trap, a migrant Golden Twin-spot. 

          Canary-shouldered Thorn and Golden Twin-spot

  Moving onto the local patch and the bomb hole scrub by the cattery was, for a change, full of activity with a loose flock of 10 Stonechats, 10 Whitethroats, five Willow Warblers and a Redstart, which is a rare bird here with less than 10 records in my time. On south lake a moulting adult Little Gull was present for about ten minutes, while Common and Sandwich Terns, Whimbrel and several Sand Martins passed overhead. 

   I haven`t visited Scotney outback since lock down began, so I was well overdue a visit and despite the heat there was plenty to see. The front lakes attracted over 1,000 feral geese and eclipse ducks, gulls and Cormorants with a White-fronted Goose the only unusual bird. The farmyard was busy what with the harvest in full swing and devoid of birds, but the track round to the dung heap delivered 20 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Corn Buntings, five Wheatears, two Stonechats, 10 Skylarks, five Meadow Pipits, two Reed Buntings and a Peregrine perched atop a pylon. On the pits five each of Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Curlew, plus two Avocets, Redshanks, Lapwings and a Green Sandpiper. Probably the weirdest sight of all, considering the nearest tree is a mile away, was a Grey Squirrel following the main fence line and looking very exposed as it paused every so often atop a post!

Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and Grey Heron, Scotney 

Grey Squirrel - looking very confused on the treeless wastes of Scotney farm!

Next stop was Galloways where a Clouded Yellow nipped over the track, plus two Whinchats and a Wheatear by the bend. On the bird reserve I had a brief look for the reported Pied Fly by the bee-hive sallows, without success, before finishing off on Burrowes where it was good to see 26 fledged Common Terns on the shingle islands, plus a juv Black Tern from the lookout by Dennis`s hide.

Friday 7 August 2020


 Lade - Hot, dry and sunny, light airs - And it was a scorcher, even down here on the normally windy coast where it was wall-to-wall sun-seekers on the beach; and with high tide at 1430 hrs even we had our first sea-swim of summer, along with Sandwich Terns rasping overhead and Grey Seals bobbing up and down further out in the bay wondering what all the fuss was about. 


  An early morning sortie around the local patch delivered a trickle of Yellow Wagtails overhead and a few Willow Warblers in the bushes, while on south lake two Little Egrets were slumped on the island amongst the Black-headed Gulls and a Dunlin. Just as we turned for home two Whimbrels came down the coast whistling away, after briefly diverting over the lake they climbed high and I followed them south and out of sight as they went high over the Pilot heading for France. Knowing what awaits these fabulous waders across the Channel at this time of year, I only hoped that they would manage to eluded the thousands of gunners that lay in wait for any migrant bird along the Pas-de-Calais, and eventually arrive safely in their winter quarters along the west coast of Africa.

                     Phew! It`s too hot.  

  Our local gang of House Sparrows and Starlings provide us with rich entertainment whilst we breakfast in the garden, along with a supporting cast of Woodpigeons and Collared Doves both species which are sex mad and forever nest-building and quaralling. The fat balls and seed do not last for long and in this hot weather, ponds, water bowls and bird bathes around the garden are gratefully received. The appearance of a Sparrowhawk did cause a brief `dread` this morning as they all dived for cover; safety in numbers had done the trick, at least this time.

                  Monarch of Lydd-on-Sea, 6-8-20 (by D & R Beck)

  Yesterday morning there was much excitement down the road at the Kerton Road Cafe where the owners were distracted from clearing the moth traps by the appearance of a mega insect on the garden buddleia - a Monarch! Following an excited phone call from Dorothy I was on site ten minutes later, but the Monarch of Lydd-on-Sea had unkindly done the off in the back gardens along the railway line never to be seen again, despite a search. Luckily Robert managed a pic on the good old smart phone as can be seen above. This is the first record for the Dungeness area in over 20 years. Apparently, there is now a thriving population of Monarchs in south-west Spain, presumably from trans-Atlantic migrants, so perhaps that`s where it originated from, given the recent southerly airflow.

  The first two Spotted Flycatchers of autumn were noted in a garden at St Mary`s-in-the-Marsh this morning. 


Wednesday 5 August 2020

Breeding waterfowl

Lade - warm, dry, sunny and windy, mostly westerly - I`ve spent a fair bit of time this week concentrating on the breeding waterfowl across the Lade complex. Coot and Mallard have had a bumper season, particularly the former with scores of cootlets all over the place from about 30 pairs and a good crop of ducklings from at least 10 pairs of the latter. So far two pairs of Tufted Ducks have produced young and there could still be more to come from this late breeder, while a single brood of Shoveler was the first for several years. Two pairs of Mute Swans both failed to fledge any young, although a pair of Egyptian Geese nested successfully for the first time. The picture was more mixed for grebes with around 15 pairs of Dabchicks with young, but not a single hatched Great Crested Grebe until today when three stripey juvs were seen on an adult in the willow swamp, with hopefully more emerging as the month progresses. Moorhens have also been seen with young on the water and Water Rails have been heard throughout the spring and summer, so have probably bred too.
 South lake island has been taken over by juv Herring Gulls this week, resulting in few wader sightings apart from the resident Oystercatchers. Around 220 Curlews were counted to roost on the Desert yesterday where they disturbed a lone Snipe, something of a scarcity here. The warblers have largely fallen silent with the ending of their breeding season and small numbers of Willow Warblers continue to filter through on a daily basis; today one was also seen in the garden.
  Due to increased tourist activity on the beach the passage waders have been highly mobile, but has included a count of c300 Dunlins and single figures of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Barwit this week. Worthy of mention, and a testament the great distances some of these tiny sandpipers travel, concerned a colour-ringed Dunlin noted by David Scott on Greatstone beach on 24th July: it was ringed as a juvenile by Mid-Wales Ringing Group on 8th October 2018, a mere 387 km from the ringing site!
  The garden moth trapping has been disappointing of late due to brisk overnight winds, but did include a very dark specimen Willow Beauty depicted below. The coming nights though look far more promising weather wise. A Hedgehog was also noted in the garden yesterday evening, the first for five years.

                    Willow Beauty, dark specimen

                    Bay Curlew flock coming to roost

  Elsewhere around the peninsula the Black-winged Stilt and a sprinkling of waders are still present on ARC, but what with all the viewing restrictions there and elsewhere on the bird reserve its a pretty depressing scene, particularly as we`re approaching peak wader passage period. Another look at the sea this afternoon from the boats was again devoid of seabirds in a brisk westerly. 

Sunday 2 August 2020

Mediterranean Gulls

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w 2 - A fine weekend of weather and good conditions for moths with only my second ever Tree-lichen Beauty being the highlight in the garden trap; although I did notice a rash of records of this former rare migrant elsewhere across the south-east. Also of note, three Jersey Tigers, along with Nutmeg and Sallow Kitten, both moths I don't get that often.
                         Tree-lichen Beauty
                    Sallow Kitten
  The local patch has also been productive this weekend with a large mixed flock of gulls on south lake island yesterday comprising over 200 Black-headed Gulls and at least 65 Mediterranean Gulls, mostly moulting adults, but also several smart juveniles.Two of the adults had white numbered colour rings, but I couldn't manage to read them (sorry, Martin!).  Migrant Whimbrels continue to filter down the coast in small numbers, calling as they pass, and several Willow Warblers were around the ponds. This morning the island was barren due to a couple of spaniels in the lake nearby, while 220 Curlews flew to roost on the Desert.

                    Mediterranean Gulls on south lake island

  This afternoon a visit to the bird reserve yielded few surprises with the highlights as follows: four Cattle Egrets following the suckling herd by Cook`s pool; a juv Cuckoo by the feeding station; Black Tern, 12 fledged Common Terns, Dunlin and a spanking adult Turnstone on Burrowes; Stilt, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Garganey, 10 Wigeon and a Black-necked Grebe on ARC.