Friday 30 April 2021


 Dungeness - 0545 - 0800hrs -  cold, cloudy, N 2 - An early morning seawatch in the company of MC and SO was very slow for the time of year with only singles of Arctic Skua, Bonxie and Red-throated Diver of any note, plus 30 Common Scoters, 50 Gannets, 10 Common Terns, four Brent Geese, a Sanderling, a Fulmar, five Kittiwakes, a small party of five Barwits and Whimbrels, several inbound Swallows and a Peregrine. At least ten Porpoises and a Grey Seal fished offshore and the Iceland Gull remained at the Patch. The highlight this afternoon was a flock of 18 Velvet Scoters along with a steady passage of Commic Terns, Common Scoters, Red-throated Divers, several Bonxies and a Pomarine Skua.

                                  Border Force on patrol

Royal Military Canal - 1000hrs - For a change of scene this morning (together with the dogs) we walked either side of the canal between the two bridges of Kenardington and Warehorne in glorious spring sunshine and a cool breeze. This section of the cut is as pretty as a picture and usually delivers a wide range of wayside birds, as it did today, with the added bonus that we had the place to ourselves. Firstly the migrants, and a Cuckoo calling frantically was a good start, followed by a couple of Garden Warblers babbling away from hawthorn cover and a brief burst of Nightingale song from a blackthorn thicket near the railway line. Other migrants along the way included Swallows, Yellow Wagtail, Chiffchaffs, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Blackcaps, Lesser and Common Whitethroats, plus Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Jay, Linnet, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. As the sun warmed the earth several Buzzards, Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk took to the skies over the Low Weald. Other critters of note: Orange Tip and Speckled Wood butterflies, Hairy Hawker dragonfly and a Brown Hare.

                                  Royal Military Canal from Kenardington bridge

                                  Kenardington Church

                                 Old Ash tree, RMC

Thursday 29 April 2021

Arctic waders

 Lade - cold, cloudy, N 2 - The polar air continues to dominate our weather, which in some ways is particularly relevant for the ongoing passage of waders passing through our shores en-route to their northern breeding grounds. Two parties of six and nine Whimbrels went over the local patch this morning, calling furiously, along with two high Grey Plovers. A few more Greys were noted on the bay this afternoon, plus 85 Bar-tailed Godwits, 30 Sanderlings, 20 Dunlins, ten Knots and eight Ringed Plovers, many in summer plumage.

                                  Passage waders on Burrowes

A circuit of the bird reserve around noon delivered a mixed flock of 60 Barwits, six Knots, two Whimbrels and a Curlew on Burrowes that paused for a couple of hours before heading off northwards, only to be replaced by another smaller group of Barwits and Knots; also on the islands a Redshank and Common Sandpiper. Around the circular walk Sedge Warblers outnumbered Whitethroats by about five to one, where Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats were all in good voice. The hayfields are fast drying out where only a handful of Lapwings, Redshanks, Oystercatchers and Ringed Plover noted amongst 25 Teal and a host of feral geese; a good dollop of rain is drastically needed to complement the pumping. At Dengemarsh more feral geese included two Barnacle Geese, plus Shelducks and Shoveler, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, a `booming` Bittern and a smart Hobby perched on a fence post, the frigid temperatures probably making it unsuitable for hawking large flying insects. A few more Whimbrels were on the Boulderwall fields on the way out and ten Swifts pushed inland.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Little Gulls

 Dungeness  - 0530 - 0800hrs - cold, dry and sunny, N2 - Another bitterly cold early morning seawatch with very little happening, at least by late April Dungeness standards. A flock of 33 Little Gulls and a Black-throated Diver were the only migrants of note along with a trickle of Sandwich and Common Terns, Gannets, Red-throated Divers, Brent Geese, an Arctic Skua, a Barwit and two Mediterranean Gulls. The Iceland Gull remained on station at the Patch and several Swallows came in off. A Grey Seal and several Porpoises were feeding offshore amongst plunge-diving Gannets.

                                 Swallows, Lade

The first large scale movement of hirundines over the lakes at Lade comprised around 200 mainly Swallows and Sand Martins with about 20 House Martins and 10 Swifts. More Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats had arrived over night adding to a cacophony of warbler song around the ponds. 

Monday 26 April 2021


 Lade - cold, dry and sunny, NE 5 - Yet again it was another bitterly cold day due to the strong wind coming in off the North Sea, although in sheltered spots in the sunshine the temperature quickly picked up. Despite the weather conditions it turned into a decent day for incoming migrants with plenty of Whimbrels around the peninsula and year ticks in the form of Lesser Whitethroat and Swift on the local patch. From the access road on the bird reserve a Hobby hunting over the Boulderwall fields and a female Redstart feeding by the bee-hive scrub were also new for the year; if only I was keeping such a list... 

                                 Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwits, Boulderwall fields

                                  Stoat with Rabbit crossing the access road

A total of 42 Whimbrels and five Barwits were also on the fields by Cook`s Pool, probing the bone-dry turf for invertebrates, where overhead more Swifts and hirundines pushed inland. Whilst watching the Redstart a Stoat crossed the access road hanging onto a much larger Rabbit which it eventually dispatched in grisly fashion and dragged into cover. This afternoon on the falling tide a flock of 55 Bar-tailed Godwits dropped in amongst the kite-surfers on the bay, while a run down to Dengemarsh for a Red-rumped Swallow (per MC) drew a blank, but did deliver several Yellow and White Wagtails, a Hobby, four Mediterranean Gulls and a `booming` Bittern.    

Saturday 24 April 2021


 Dungeness - 0530 - 0800hrs - cold, dry, sunny, ENE 4 - A bitterly cold seawatch from the hide first thing was notable for a decent movement of ducks, principally Common Scoters with up to 1,000 through during my watch, plus 30 Shovelers, 15 Teals, four Shelducks, two Pintail and eight Velvet Scoters. Also a steady trickle of waders included: 30 Whimbrels, 20 Barwits, four Grey Plovers and a Sanderling along with 10 Red-throated Divers, 10 Fulmars, 50 Gannets, four Brents, 20 Kittiwakes, 100 Commic Terns, five Arctic and a Little Tern and 50 auks. The Iceland Gull remained at the Patch. Typically, ten minutes after I left site the Poms started to appear with several pulses until mid-morning. Another hour this afternoon failed to deliver any skuas but did included a large party of Brents and seven Little Gulls. (For a full update on numbers refer to the Trektellen website later on).

                                  Brent Geese passing the Cardinal buoy

On the local patch plenty of Swallows and Sand Martins through, plus my first Speckled Wood butterfly of spring by the ponds.

Friday 23 April 2021

A Walk in the Woods

 Park Wood, Appledore - cold, dry and sunny - For a change of scene this morning we decamped to the Orlestone Forest for a walk in the woods and fortunately as we went early on had the place to ourselves. For two hours we wandered around admiring the floral display of anemones, celandines, violets, primroses and best of all swathes of bluebells, under a bare canopy of budding oak, ash, hornbeam and wild cherry set against an azure sky. Trees and plants are the most rewarding part of any wildwood experience these days as woodland bird communities have suffered greatly over recent decades, witnessing both a dramatic decline in diversity and numbers of many species. All the expected resident birds were noted, while the only summer visitors in song were Blackcap and Chiffchaff with not a sniff of a Nightingale despite the habitat being suitable; only a few years ago this site was a certainty for this ace songster, still it`s early days and there is still a chance that they may return before the months end.

                                  Park Wood bluebells and violets

This afternoon we joined SM and OL at the hide for a brief seawatch where a trickle of Commic and Sandwich Terns, Gannets, Whimbrels and Common Scoters rounded the point. Several Pomarine Skuas had been seen earlier in the day along with Arctic and Great Skuas, Little Gulls and Little Terns (MC).

Thursday 22 April 2021

Long-distance Travellers

 Dungeness - cold, dry and sunny, NE 4 - 0545 - 0745hrs - Another frigid, early morning seawatch from the point in the company of TG and MC, but not much to report on. However, one of the great visible migration spectacles that Dungeness has to offer is the spring Bar-tailed Godwit passage which  kicked off yesterday with over 600 birds recorded and continued today; many others were also reported elsewhere along Channel coast headlands from Portland to Cap-Griz-Nez. This late April/early May migration comprises some long-distance travellers that have wintered far to the south along the Atlantic seaboard of Africa. Most pass up the continental coast of north-west Europe as they head for their main refuelling station on the vast mudflats of the Wadden Sea, before eventually pushing on to their tundra breeding grounds in northern Scandinavia and Siberia. Also noted this morning a steady flow of Gannets, auks, Kittiwakes, Common and Sandwich Terns, plus a few Red-throated Divers, Fulmars, Common Scoters, seven Whimbrels and a smart pale phase Arctic Skua. At the Patch several Mediterranean Gulls amongst the melee along with passing Common Terns and the long-staying Iceland Gull.

                                  Mediterranean Gulls, the Patch

                                  Pied Flycatcher, Long Pits

On the bird reserve at least 15 Whimbrels were on the fields at Boulderwall where the `resident` Glossy Ibis put in a brief appearance as it moved between feeding ditches. Despite the nagging wind plenty of singing Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats noted from the track, plus Swallows and Sand Martins over. A male Pied Flycatcher (found by JT) at the north end of Long Pits put on a fine display as it fed on the margins of a copse.

Wednesday 21 April 2021

First Cuckoo

 Lade - cool, cloudy, NE 3 - The early morning sun soon faded as a cold front swept down from the north bringing increasing wind strength and single figure temperatures. However, our daily circuit of the local patch delivered the first Cuckoo of spring flying across south lake and into cover of the willow swamp where the surrounding reed beds are already filling up with their main host species, Reed Warblers. Scanning north lake and another summer visitor hove into view atop a patch of scrub on the airfield side of the water; a splendid male Ring Ouzel, a scarce spring migrant here and by no means an annual one. Yesterday much of the peninsula was cloaked in fog until mid-afternoon and the only noteworthy bird actually seen at Lade was a Fieldfare, although birds heard flying over in the murk did include two skeins of Brent Geese, several Mediterranean Gulls and two Whimbrels.

                                  Bar-tailed Godwits on the move, Dungeness

A mid-afternoon hour from the seawatch hide with RW and MC was notable for a steady passage of around 200 Bar-tailed Godwits in several pulses, most of them inside the Cardinal buoy and many in summer plumage. However, there was little else on the move in the bright sunshine and brisk north-easterly apart from a few Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns.

Monday 19 April 2021

Velvet Scoters

 Dungeness - 0545 - 0800hrs - cold, clear skies, sunny, light airs - An early morning seawatch with TG and MC produced a steady up-Channel procession of Gannets, Brent Geese and Common Scoters in the mid-hundreds and at least eight Velvet Scoters that I could discern; more were seen by sharper eyes than mine, along with four Little Terns. Also noted: 10 Red-throated Divers, one Black-throated Diver, one  Fulmar, eight Shelduck, four Teal, 10 Oystercatchers, 14 Whimbrels, one Bonxie, 10 Kittiwakes, 10 auks, 20 Sandwich Terns and three Common Terns, plus 10 Great Crested Grebes and two Guillemots on the sea along with the usual mix of Cormorants and gulls, Grey Seal and Harbour Porpoise and the long staying immature Iceland Gull at the Patch.

                                  Sedge Warbler, Lade

                                  Brent Geese passing Dungeness

At Lade very little to report apart from a few Swallows through, ten Mediterranean Gulls over and 40 Bar-tailed Godwits on the bay this afternoon, along with a beached rib containing ten refugees who`d just made it to the `Promised Land`.

Saturday 17 April 2021

Where have all the migrants gone?

 Dungeness - cold and sunny, NE 3 - That`s a rhetorical question as it`s pretty obvious why the peninsula appears to be largely bereft of passage migrants so far this month; the main culprit being the weather with a persistent and cold northerly airflow blocking birds coming up from the continent. Clear and frosty nights don`t help matters as it just encourages migrants to overshoot us and head inland. However, that said it has been an above average spring for Willow Warblers and Sand Martins, certainly on my local patch at Lade, but otherwise numbers of other migrants have been low. Seawatching was always going to be poor in northerlies, but most of the regulars cannot remember it being this bad with hardly any ducks and waders through, so far; although, as you`d expect Cap-Griz-Nez over the Channel have had one or two decent days (checkout: ). Still, the `business end` of spring migration is still to come (late April/early May) and we can only hope for a southerly airflow to deliver a host of skuas, divers, waders and terns on the sea and some tasty overshooting exotics from the south on the land.

                                          Wheatears, Dungeness

To prove a point, for a change this morning we opted for a circuit of Dungeness, so across the Desert, through the Trapping Area and around Long Pits. Migrants included a sprinkling of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, and Whitethroats, four Swallows, two Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler and five Wheatears, plus regulars such as Linnet, Green Woodpecker, Cetti`s Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Skylark and Kestrel. This afternoon a tour of the local patch delivered a trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows over south lake but little else in the cold wind.

On the way back to the car park we paid homage to the re-vamped war memorial commemorating the two Polish fighter pilots who were shot down off Dungeness on 16th April 1941. Both pilots were members of the legendary 303 Polish Squadron based at RAF Northolt. It is sobering to read how young both men were when they died; we truly are the lucky generation not to have been involved in the horrors of war. 

Friday 16 April 2021

Grey Herons

 Lade - cold, sunny, NE 3 - The weather remains the same with a cool northerly airflow suppressing temperatures across the peninsula. On the local patch first thing a few more Willow Warblers singing from the willow swamp were the only newcomers, while a pair of Sparrowhawks displayed overhead.

                                 Redshanks on the hayfields

A late morning circuit of the bird reserve was notable for three Whimbrels and a Red Kite over heading inland. Hayfields 1/2 looked in good nick with plenty of water attracting 20 Teal, 10 Lapwings, 14 Redshanks, four Ringed Plovers, two Grey Herons, Little Egret and a Garganey. Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats were in fine voice around the trail along with Bittern and Bearded Tits at Hookers and a pair of Marsh Harriers over the reedbed. Also noted: Wigeon, Shoveler, Yellow Wagtail, Willow and Cetti`s Warblers, Blackcap, Wheatear, Linnets, Stonechat and Green Woodpecker.  

This will be the second year that I`ve been unable to count the Lydd Heronry due to the ongoing restrictions. However, church wardens Pat and Les Carter, who have access to the church tower, assure  me that all is well and that there is plenty of breeding activity across the heronry as testified by the pic below - and what a pair of cuties they are!

                                  Grey Heron chicks, Lydd Heronry (by Les Carter)

Thursday 15 April 2021

Whimbrels and Common Sandpiper

 Lade - cold, sunshine and cloud, NE 4 - Another frigid morning with single figure temperatures and a brisk wind out of the north. All three species of hirundines were over the lakes seeking out flying insects while a few more Reed Warblers had moved in overnight around the willow swamp to accompany the Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers.

                                  Avocets, Yellow Wag and Whimbrel, Scotney

A long overdue visit to Scotney delivered our first Whimbrels (13 on the front fields and three over outback) of spring along with a lone Common Sandpiper flying over the main lake where also two Avocets, four Redshanks and eight Ringed Plovers. The lake on the Lydd side of the access road attracted numerous Black-headed Gulls to feed on emerging insects, plus an immature Little Gull. Outback was much quieter with only three Yellow Wagtails and two Corn Buntings noted on the farmland along with a scattering of Linnets, Reed Buntings and Skylarks, but not a sniff of a Tree Sparrow. More Black-headed Gulls swarmed over the lake by the workings where a pair of Teal and Wigeon noted, plus four Shovelers, a dodgy looking White-fronted Goose, two Little Egrets and a Kestrel. Whilst scanning the farm buildings on the walk back for Little Owl I was surprised to see a Barn Owl flying about in broad daylight.

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Pied Flycatcher

 Lade - cold, dry and sunny, NE 3 - Another cold night and day due to the wind coming in off the sea; we can`t seem to shrug off this polar air flow which is forecast to be with us for at least another week and must be the death knell for some of our early spring migrants. However, on the local patch several Swallows hugged the sheltered willows on south lake where they appeared to find flying insects. Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warblers were all in song around the ponds and many more Linnets had moved in on the dry scrub. Oddly, there has been an increase in ducks (in line with the wintry weather perhaps!) with 20 Shoveler and four Pochard new in.

                                  Linnet on the dry scrub

This afternoon I had another go for yesterday`s Pied Flycatcher at Greatstone that duly appeared low down in a blackthorn thicket near the railway line until disturbed by lads on tracking bikes; a fine adult male and a migrant that has taken on near rarity status in recent springs. Thanks to Dave Scott for his fine pics. Also noted around the small woodland and adjacent scrub: Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Treecreeper, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Goldfinch, Linnet, Kestrel and Jay. Afterwards a trip down to Dungeness drew a blank on a Redstart in a private garden, but I did see my first Hare of the year, even though it only had one ear!

                                 Pied Flycatcher, Greatstone (by Dave Scott)   

                                  One-eared Hare, Dungeness

Tuesday 13 April 2021


 Dungeness - 0600 - 0800hrs - cold, frosty, poor viz, light airs - The thermometer showed -3 C just before 6am with the point shrouded in thick fog as I arrived on site. Mercifully it quickly burned off and in the company of TG, MC and CP we settled in for what could at best be described as a `pedestrian seawatch`. However, Gannets are eminently watchable and there was plenty of them offshore, fishing, resting on the sea and passing both ways, some inside the cardinal buoy. A steady trickle of Sandwich Terns rounded the point into Lade Bay while an up-Channel passage of Common Scoters and Brent Geese comprised the bulk of seabird migrants. Also noted a few auks, Kittiwakes and Red-throated Divers, two Mergansers, four Shelducks, five Fulmars, two Greylag Geese and at least nine Porpoises. At the Patch a Common Tern was amongst a flurry of gulls and a Yellow Wagtail flew over calling as it headed inland.

                                  Sunrise over a misty Dungeness

There wasn`t much change on the local patch apart from perhaps a few more Linnets in the gorse laying claim to breeding territories and two Blackcaps singing from the willow swamp. Of note was the unusual behaviour of a Moorhen that clambered up into the bare branches of a sallow whilst bringing its nictitating membrane into play as extra eye protection. It then manoeuvered into position and eventually flopped across several branches to bask in the warm sunshine.

                                  Sun-loving Moorhen

Elsewhere, a male Pied Flycatcher was located this morning by OL in woodland at the end of Dunes Road, Greatstone, although at times it proved to be very elusive.    

Monday 12 April 2021

Common Terns

 Lade - cold, frosty start, snow flurries, brighter later, N1 - Another crazy day of weather with a frigid 3C at noon; this time last year it was around the 20C mark! The undoubted highlight was a flock of 12 Common Terns sat on the sea, our first of the year, just before high tide along with two Kittiwakes, 23 Great Crested Grebes and two Grey Seals, plus 10 passing Sandwich Terns. On the lakes 10 Swallows low over the water feeding, a couple more Whitethroats in and singing along with further Reed and Sedge Warblers. A late afternoon check of the bay on the ebb tide produced 20 noisy Sandwich Terns, two Mediterranean Gulls and the usual waders.

Sunday 11 April 2021

WeBS weekend

 Lade - cold, dry and sunny, N2 - Coverage was limited on Saturday due to a steady drizzle and a brisk wind off the bay throughout much of the day. However, that didn`t prevent a clutch of warblers from dropping in overnight around the ponds, including our first Whitethroat of spring on the local patch. Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers were also in song with the latter species making a return to form following poor numbers during the spring of 2020; infact that makes a total of nine species seen across the peninsula so far this year, including Dusky and Dartford Warblers, with hopefully more to come.

  The weather was much better today with bright sunshine and lighter winds but still a chill in the air and nothing new on the migrant front; so the same warblers, plus several Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail over hurrying north with a few more during the afternoon. Being as it was WeBS weekend we spent a bit more time flogging around the lakes scanning the wildfowl and grebes, but numbers were low as to be expected in April with most ducks having departed for their breeding grounds and only Tufted Duck in double figures. A pair each of Greylag, Canada and Egyptian Geese looked to be shaping up to breed locally. 

Friday 9 April 2021

Skuas and scoters

Dungeness - 0615 - 0800hrs - Cold, dry, good viz, WSW 3 - An enjoyable seawatch in the  company of TG, CP and MC from outside the hide produced a decent range of seabirds including three new for the year (not that I keep a year list, of course): singles of Arctic (dark phase) and Great Skua east and a west bound party of four close Velvet Scoters. Hundreds of Gannets were feeding/moving offshore amongst the gulls and Sandwich Terns, some close in providing a fine spectacle as they crashed into the sea from on high to catch sprats. Plenty of Common Scoters were logged up-Channel alongside a steady trickle of Red-throated Divers, Brents, auks, Kittiwakes (mostly way out), an Eider and two Shovelers; four Mediterranean Gulls, three Canada Geese and a Fulmar down.

                                 Wheatears and Chaffinch, Dungeness

On the land a small fall of at least six Wheatears and a Black Redstart by the power station wall; our first Whitethroat of spring in scrub by the Desert; singing Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff in the Trapping Area; Cetti`s, Willow and Reed Warblers at Long Pits (where a male Redstart was found this afternoon); plus two Ravens, Sparrowhawk, Siskin, Swallow and 48 Carrion Crows over.


                                 Oystercatchers on the bay

This afternoon a search of the bay on the outgoing tide revealed: 210 Oystercatchers, 206 Curlews, 35 Knots, 130 Sanderlings, 12 Barwits, 20 Sandwich Terns and lesser numbers of Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, plus an oaf thinking it was comical to let his dog chase the Sanderlings along the beach.

Wednesday 7 April 2021

A Ghost Eagle

 Lade - cold, dry and sunny, cloudy later, SW 4 - Despite the desperately frigid air and an overnight ground frost the migrants keep on trickling in. This morning`s newbie was a Reed Warbler steadily chugging away its monotonous song in the small reed bed below the aerial mound; a species that was rarely encountered so early half a century ago when I first started birding. Back then (dressed in regulation Parka and DMs and armed with a hefty pair of Charles Frank 10x50 bins and a red notebook and pencil) I would religiously jot down the first migrant arrival dates on my beloved local patch of Maple Cross Sewage Farm in the Colne Valley, a time when any self-respecting Reed Warbler wouldn`t have been heard until late April at the earliest and mostly into May. Anyhow, I digress. Also this morning Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in song, but only a handful of Swallows over the lake, while it appears that the wintering trio of Goldeneyes have finally departed. On the beach this evening opposite the boardwalk were good numbers of small waders for a change, including 108 Sanderlings, 34 Ringed Plovers and 52 Turnstones.

                                  Sanderlings on the beach this evening

Yesterday afternoon a White-tailed Eagle (G463) from the Isle of Wight reintroduction programme, complete with satellite tracker, flew unseen over our cottage. It came across the Marsh from Hythe, over New Romney and Lydd and then out across the Channel off Dungeness at 13.05hrs. By 13.45hrs it was logged over Boulogne in northern France having covered the 47km (29 miles) in about 40 minutes, thanks to a north-westerly tail wind. Apparently this is the first one to have crossed the Channel onto the continent. How do I know this? Easy, to check out this and other eagle movements from the programme go to:    

Monday 5 April 2021

Arctic Blast

Dungeness - cold, cloudy, drizzle, NW 4 - 0630 - 0800hrs. In a moment of madness I decided upon an early morning seawatch where I was joined by CP. To be fair at daybreak the winds were light, but during the course of the watch the wind veered around to a more northerly vector and picked up apace along with plummeting temperatures; the icy blast from the Arctic was approaching and by noon we even had a few snow flurries! However, the seawatch was as expected pedestrian with a trickle of feeding Sandwich Terns and Gannets both ways, plus several small flocks of Common Scoters, auks and Brents up-Channel along with a few Red-throated Divers and two Mediterranean Gulls down.  A Peregrine stirred the local gulls into a lather, otherwise little else was noted.

                                  Power station Peregrine

                                  Resting Swallows

  On the local patch there was a noticeable increase in hirundines with around 100 Sand Martins and 50 Swallows feeding low over both lakes, plus the first five House Martins of spring. Around the ponds  singles of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap sang in the frigid air. On the bay this afternoon 35 Turnstones, 12 Ringed Plovers, 20 Sanderlings and 10 Dunlins noted on the incoming tide, while a couple of Swallows flew north along the beach into the icy wind - welcome to spring-time in England!

Friday 2 April 2021

Garganeys and Hirundines

 Lade - cold, overcast, NE 5 - A nippy, runny-nose sort of a morning with a rasping wind off the bay was probably not the best greeting for a newly arrived flock of 15 Swallows and five Sand Martins, although they seemed to be feeding well on flying insects in the lee of the twin islands. On the dry scrub small numbers of Linnets were also new for the season, while three Ravens flew over heading inland.

                                  The new Scott Lookout that replaces the hide

  A circuit of the bird reserve around midday was notable for a flock of Garganeys that were still present from yesterday on Dengemarsh comprising an astonishing 18 birds, and certainly the largest number I can recall in my time down here; infact, I cannot remember seeing such a gathering in the UK before. They were, however, quite nervous keeping to the water on the far side of the lake from the hide and flushing as soon as a Marsh Harrier appeared. Elsewhere, several Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers were heard and our first Yellow Wagtail of spring flew over the return trail heading north. On the way home a small flock of Swallows and Sand Martins was noted over the causeway between ARC and New Diggings.

Thursday 1 April 2021

Gannets and Moths

 Dungeness - 0630 - 0800hrs - misty, murky, NE 2 - An early seawatch from outside the hide in company with MC and CP was notable for an up-Channel passage of some 400 Gannets, and unlike two days ago most of these were close to shore providing a fine spectacle. There was little else though apart from a few Sandwich Terns, a party of 41 Brents, four Shelducks, two Razorbills and singles of Guillemot, Red-throated Diver and Fulmar. Passerines included several coasting Linnets and Meadow Pipits, plus incoming Pied Wagtails and a smart Rock Pipit that landed right in front of us. A Fox came up the shingle bank near the hide, looked at us with disdain and continued on its way scavenging along the strandline, much to the annoyance of a couple of crows. 

                                  Gannets over the cardinal buoy

                                  41 Brents (my estimation in the field was 55!)

                                  Rock Pipit in front of the hide

  Last night the temperature remained in double figures, so with light airs and a bit of cloud cover expectation levels were high for our first moths of the year in the garden trap. After six blank nights over the past month it was good to get a result at last; first out was a superb Herald, followed by three Early Greys, two Hebrew Characters, two Small Quakers and a Double-striped Pug. Fairly typical early spring fare, but unfortunately that`ll probably be it for a while as the forecast does not look promising with cold nights and a strong north-easter off the sea over the coming days.

                                  Early Grey

                                  The Herald

                                 Hebrew Character

The local patch yielded very little of note apart from a few flyover Linnets and a singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff around the ponds. A count of 70 Turnstones on the ebb tide was noteworthy yesterday along with 25 Ringed Plovers, but today the kite-surfers had taken over the beach on account of the brisk, north-easterly wind.