Sunday 23 May 2021

Swifts galore

 Lade  - cool, sunny, SW 4 - Having spent most of yesterday trapped on the M25 to and from a family gathering at Maple Cross it felt great to be and about across the peninsula today in the fresh, clean air of the Romney Marsh. First off a circuit of the local patch was in order with Barney in tow to blow away the cobwebs. Several Cuckoos were active across the wetlands as plenty of Swifts and House Martins hawked flying insects coming off the Willow Swamp in the cool conditions. The first Mute Swan cygnets had made it onto the water with their proud parents, along with a couple of broods of Coots. 

                                  Kestrel at nest site

                                  Beware - moth caterpillars!

At Scotney the usual assemblage of farmland birds outback included Yellow Wagtails, Skylarks, Linnets, Corn Buntings, Cuckoo, Tree Sparrow and a late Wheatear, plus Avocets, two Common Terns, Shoveler, Common Sandpiper and a 1st summer Little Gull. Also, several Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, a Kestrel, five Little Egrets, Grey Heron and masses of feral geese, with more of the latter on the front fields. The range road delivered good views of breeding Kestrel and Buzzard at the watch tower (but no sign of the Little Owl) and a Hobby at Galloways; where the latest `nanny state` signage referring to the `hazards of Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars` caused mild amusement, particularly as there weren`t any nearby (my favourite nanny sign is the one at the end of the Britannia boardwalk at Dungeness that warns of `deep water ahead` - argh, its the English Channel, what do you expect!). Moving onto Dengemarsh and a check of the flood produced more breeding Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings along with Sedge and Reed Warblers, Reed Bunting and two Hobbies. Hayfield 3 held several pairs of nesting Redshanks and Lapwings, where a Crow nabbed a Lapwing chick despite being furiously mobbed by the waders. Hayfields 1/2 attracted a couple more Lapwings, Redshanks and Shelducks, a pair of Gadwall, many feral geese and three more morose looking Hobbies sitting out the chill on fence posts. At ARC the Glossy Ibis was loitering amongst the Black-headed Gull colony and hundreds more House Martins and Swifts swirled over the lake; early afternoon and JY count 1,150 Swifts over the car park in an hour, plus six Hobbies. Burrowes was quiet again, unless you like breeding Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls! On the way out two Hobbies flew through and a Great White Egret dropped into the fields at Boulderwall. We finished the day where we started back at Lade overlooking north lake where the Swifts continued to come and go.

                                  Hayfield Hobby

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