Lade - mild, cloudy, light airs - It was good to hear three cock Greenfinches singing off one another around the ponds this morning during a brief spell of warm sunshine, a location that I still regularly encounter this gorgeous finch. When I moved down here 15 years ago they nested in our garden fir trees and were numerous around the bird feeders, while there was still a regular three figure wintering flock on Dungeness. Not so today though as numbers have significantly decreased, mainly due to the highly infectious disease trichomonosis that has jumped from pigeons and doves to finches in general, and the Greenfinch in particular. The disease is spread via saliva so it is important to regularly clean out and sterilize seed hoppers.
Whilst scanning from the aerial ramp I noticed a raptor coasting in from the north low over the caravan park, jinking this way and that and sporting a deeply forked tail. As it passed along Leonard Road it caused a ripple of Jackdaws, Starlings and Feral Pigeons to flee from their rooftop sanctuaries, and the Herring Gulls to `greet` the intruder in their inimitable style! It was, of course, a Red Kite, a typical early spring migrant (but still a pretty big deal in these parts) that continued south onto the Dungeness peninsula where it was logged by several more local birders.
On a falling tide around noon a wader count included 425 Curlews, 610 Oystercatchers, 32 Grey Plovers, 15 Barwits, 10 Dunlins, 10 Sanderlings, 12 Knots and five Ringed Plovers. Sadly, two dead Harbour Porpoises were washed up on the beach.