Wednesday 28 October 2020

Wet and windy

Lade - mild, cloudy, showery, sw 5 - The past couple of days have been much of a muchness weatherwise with successive bands of rain sweeping in off the Atlantic. A Great White Egret was around the willow swamp yesterday, while Swallows continue to filter south in ever decreasing numbers. Goldfinches appear to be everywhere, even on the garden feeders, and small numbers of Siskins and Redpolls are still on the move overhead around dawn. This morning a Firecrest was a first for the season in the garden fir trees. On Monday, at Dungeness, I finally caught up with two Crossbills, that thankfully called, as they zipped in off the sea and over the old lighthouse, in what has been a good autumn for this species.
Today the weather worsened still with torrential downpours of rain and hail throughout, plus several bouts of thunder and lightening.

Saturday 24 October 2020


 Lade - mild, cloudy, sw 5 - An overcast morning with occasional drizzle, a low scudding cloud base and the wind picking up to near gale force through the day. Needless to say it was hard work flogging around the local patch where the highlight was the first Goldeneye of autumn, a red head, that flew in from the south, landed for about five minutes before promptly flying back towards ARC. A Merlin chasing Linnets over the Desert was the only other noteworthy.

                                  Shore Lark, Littlestone golf course

 A midday trip down to Littlestone golf course (with optics this time!) delivered decent views of yesterdays Shore Lark and the Red-backed Shrike that has now been present for a fortnight. The strong buffeting winds made for difficult viewing but didn`t appear to bother the ground-hugger and the insect-snatcher respectively. On the green at Littlestone an adult Brent Goose had joined the two juveniles to crop the grass, oblivious to nearby dogs and people.

                                 Brent Geese, Littlestone Green

Friday 23 October 2020

Shore Lark

 Littlestone - wet and windy - We`ve been off the Marsh for most of the week, only returning this morning from north Kent, where the indifferent weather made for several truncated birding excursions along the Thanet coastline with Barney in tow. The biggest surprise for me was that I just hadn`t realised how abundant Rose-ringed Parakeets had become; we counted 150 plus coming to roost near where we staying at Westgate. However, this afternoon I had to go to Dymchurch. On the way back home news came through concerning a Shore Lark found by a visiting birder who`d been searching for the long-staying Red-backed Shrike at the St Mary`s Bay end of Littlestone golf course. As I was literally passing by I turned off and soon enough was admiring a stunning adult bird hugging the turf and feeding alongside Meadow Pipits, Linnets and a Pied Wagtail. The only problem was though I didnt have any optics or camera with me, so no piccies I`m afraid! Hopefully, it will stay over the weekend affording further examination as Shore Larks are quite the rarity in these parts.

Friday 16 October 2020

Pallas`s Warbler

 Lade - cool, cloudy, ne 2 - Plenty of common passage migrants about the local patch this morning with Goldfinches seemingly everywhere, including 20 or so around the garden bird feeders, plus two Swallows over the lake, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and Stonechats in the bushes and a trickle of Skylarks, Siskins and Redpolls over calling. Later in the day a flock of 150 Brent Geese flew over the cottage, while two juvenile Brents were busily cropping the grass playing field at Littlestone Green earlier, completely oblivious to nearby dog-walkers.

                                  Brent Geese, Littlestone Green

  A circuit of the bird reserve yielded plenty more finches, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the car park scrub, two Glossy Ibis and Great White Egrets at Cook`s Pool, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Redshank on Burrowes and a Ring Ouzel from the access road by the bee hives. As I was leaving site news came through of a Pallas`s Warbler in the nets at the Obs, the first such eastern sprite of the autumn.

                                  Common or Mealy Redpoll
                                  Pallas`s Warbler

Thursday 15 October 2020

Red-flanked Bluetail

 Wed - cool, cloudy, n3 - A check of the local patch at Lade revealed very little apart from a few tardy Swallows on their way south, plus incoming Goldfinches, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and a Grey Wagtail. A scattering of Chiffchaffs were in the bushes by the ponds with Goldcrests calling from the pine trees around the caravan park.

                                 Red-flanked Bluetail, Dungeness

  News from Dungeness commenced in the morning with the location of a treecreeper found by Stephen Message that was eventually confirmed as a Short-toed Treecreeper and showed on and off throughout the day in the old lighthouse garden, and was the fourth this year here following three in spring. However, that was soon eclipsed when in the afternoon Sam Perfect found the bird of the autumn so far in the gorse scrub by the Polish war memorial, a stunning Red-flanked Bluetail which was much appreciated by local and visiting birders alike. The last one was ten years ago along Dengemarsh Road. Check the DBO website and Ploddingbirder blog for photographs.

Monday 12 October 2020

Red-backed Shrike

Sunday - cool, sunny, nw 2 - A belated post for yesterday in company with CP saw us pay homage to a most confiding juvenile Red-backed Shrike at the car park end of Littlestone golf links, found by SG late on Saturday. The shrike was actively feeding on insects beside the road and from the garden wall and fence of a nearby house, oblivious to the many dog-walkers out enjoying the autumn sunshine and a couple of worried Stonechats that cautiously mobbed it! As is often the case when an influx of birders move into an area to twitch a rare bird others are sometimes found, in this case two Lapland Buntings during the afternoon.

                                  Red-backed Shrike, Littlestone

  We then moved onto Walland Marsh and Scotney where it was apparent that a large scale movement of thrushes was underway comprising many hundreds of Redwings and lesser numbers of Fieldfares and Song Thrushes, as confirmed by other sightings across the Marsh. The usual large flocks of feral geese were on the front sward along with Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Redshanks, Meadow Pipits and Linnets. Outback there was more of same, including winter thrushes, plus several Marsh Harriers, Buzzards and Kestrels, Little Egrets, Shelducks, Wigeon, five Ruff and a Dunlin.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Long-eared Owl

 Lade - fine, dry and sunny, W2 - Its not unusual down here to wake up to the chatter of Magpies in the fir trees opposite the cottage. However, their cacophony level this morning was off the scale with eight birds being joined by a couple of crows ensuring a right old racket and suggesting to me that `something was up`.  Eventually I got myself together for our daily circuit of the local patch and investigated. One Magpie, bolder than the rest, was in the vanguard lunging at a `brown blob` in the canopy which turned out to be an owl; and not any old owl but a superb Long-eared Owl that for a brief moment showed its erect ear tufts and bright orange irids before flying silently off towards the south with the mob in pursuit. This is only the second Long-eared Owl I`ve seen hereabouts, also in October and similarly located due to being mobbed by corvids in a fir tree.

  Elsewhere on the local patch: two Wheatears and six Stonechats on the desert, two Swallows and a Black-necked Grebe on south lake, while the scrub by the ponds was jumping with up 30 Chiffchaffs snapping up insects in the sun trap. A few Goldfinches, Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Siskins, Redpolls, Skylarks and a Grey Wagtail passed overhead. Also seen today locally: two Pink-footed Geese at Scotney, four Cattle Egrets and a Glossy Ibis at Boulderwall, Dartford Warbler at Dungeness and a Red-backed Shrike at Littlestone Golf Links.


Monday 5 October 2020

Ring Ouzel

 Lade - cool, cloudy, w 2 - A pretty decent couple of hours on the local patch with the highlight being our first Ring Ouzel of autumn inadvertently flushed from the scrubby hollow by the cattery, which then flew high inland calling, towards the airfield. There was a supporting cast comprising several Wheatears and at least one Whinchat on the desert along with a number of Meadow Pipits and a late Yellow Wagtail (DS reported a Short-eared Owl earlier, while another was seen by CP at Littlestone golf links this morning). The bushes around the ponds held a few Chiffchaffs, while a Black-necked Grebe was amongst the ducks, grebes and Coots on south lake, plus 100 House Martins. Overhead passage was light but did include a few Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch and Siskin, plus Skylark and Grey Wagtail.

  Of note over the weekend were two Lapland Buntings south along the beach and two Little Terns on the sands amongst the Sandwich Terns being harassed by a light phase Arctic Skua. 

Friday 2 October 2020

Weekly roundup

 Lade - wet and mild, e 5 - On the local patch this week there has been a noticeable increase in finches passing overhead early morning, particularly Goldfinches and Siskins and even a few Redpolls. Grey Wagtails and Meadow Pipits have also been noted in good numbers. At low tide the bay continued to attract up to 100 Sandwich Terns and small flocks of Wigeon and Shelducks amongst the usual waders. On Thursday a White Stork dropped in behind the `mirrors`. Elsewhere this week an American Golden Plover was briefly located within the Golden Plover flock on ARC, while several Cattle Egrets and two Glossy Ibises graced the fields at Boulderwall. Flyover Lapland Buntings were reported in the week and a Yellow-browed Warbler proved elusive in the trapping area today. With wet and windy weather from the south forecast for the weekend, seawatching may prove worthwhile.