Sunday 31 October 2021

Quiet Weekend

New Romney - mild, sunny, SW 5 - After this morning`s deluge the afternoon turned out bright and breezy for a circular walk out with Chris P on his local patch on the Marsh. Large flocks of Woodpigeons, Corvids and gulls, either on the move or grounded in surrounding wet fields, included several Mediterranean Gulls. Kestrel, Buzzard and a Peregrine (new for the one mile list) hunkered down behind a field bund were also of note, plus Yellowhammer and Skylark. Passerines were in short supply this weekend, as indeed they have been throughout this quietest of autumns, and I cannot recall going through an October before without seeing or hearing a Goldcrest; simply astonishing.

                                  Common Buzzard

Yesterday morning a seawatch off the fishing boats at Dungeness produced similar fare to Friday.

Friday 29 October 2021

Cattle Egrets

 Dungeness - mild, cloudy, showers SSE 5 - 0900-1030hrs - With the wind in the `right ` direction I headed down to the fishing boats to join a clutch of locals on a seawatch. Large numbers of auks and  Gannets were on the move down-Channel along with a steady flow of Sandwich Terns, plus a few Kittiwakes, Mediterranean Gulls and Red-throated Divers, three Little Gulls. two Red-breasted Mergansers, a Common Scoter and a Curlew. Pretty poor fare really, and not a skua or shearwater whilst I was on site.

                                  Cattle Egrets, Boulderwall fields

Moving onto the bird reserves where the highlight was seven Cattle Egrets feeding close to the road amongst the stock and two flyover Glossy Ibises. The wind was whipping across Burrowes where two Black-necked Grebes and four Great White Egrets were the only birds of note amongst the usual waders and wildfowl.

Tuesday 26 October 2021


New Romney - mild, cloudy, W 2 - We`ve been settled in town a fortnight now; I say `town` but New Romney has more the feel of a large village, and the great thing is that a five minute walk in any direction brings you into the wide open spaces of Romney Marsh. I`ve pretty much explored most of the local public rights of way now and have decided to keep a bird list within an old fashioned statute mile radius of the house. However, it must be said I`ve never been much good at listing, but new beginnings and all that has found me checking through finch flocks for that `first` Greenfinch and sparrow flocks for a Tree Sparrow, with no sign of either so far... The past couple of mornings I`ve favoured the Hope Lane circular walk to the north of town adding a Reed Bunting to the list and where there was a noticeable influx of Blackbirds and Redwings feeding on hawthorn berries today. Our small garden has also come up trumps with Chiffchaff and Rook over the weekend, plus a cracking female Sparrowhawk this afternoon. 

                                  New Sewer where it crosses Hope Lane

Further afield a check of Lade yesterday on the incoming tide produced eight of the usual ten species of waders, but very little on the pits and almost no passage migrants apart from a Chiffchaff by the ponds and a handful of Skylarks overhead. This morning, in a moment of madness, I walked Dengemarsh gully where I was hoping for at least my first crest of the season, but where the sum total of passerines was two each of Robin and Stonechat plus a Wren! It really is that bad and the poorest autumn I can recall for many a year. The weather systems haven`t exactly been favourable though and we can only hope for an easterly airflow sometime soon. On the bird reserve the usual glut of egrets and ibises are still present along with a large mixed flock of plovers on Burrowes, plus a Ring Ouzel from the access road (CT).

Friday 22 October 2021

Arctic Tern

Lade - cold, sunny, W3 - The first frost of the season was on the car windscreen this morning following yesterdays nippy north-westerly airflow calming down overnight; still, after a week of making up flat-pack furniture, decorating and fitting curtains it felt great to be back out in the field whatever the weather! However, there wasn`t much to report on the local patch with the only migrants being a handful each of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches overhead, plus a few Blackbirds, Robins and Chiffchaffs around the ponds. The main event on the water was a group of 12 Mediterranean Gulls on north lake.

                                  ARC car park Fox

It wasn`t much more inspiring at Dungeness either where I joined MC at the Patch scanning a mixed flock that included at least 20 Mediterranean Gulls and a 1st winter Arctic Tern. Further out the usual Gannets and auks fizzed by, a dark phase Arctic Skua came in close to shore and three Gadwall went down-Channel. The land was devoid of interest. Moving onto the bird reserve where a flock of several hundred Golden Plovers and Lapwings on Burrowes attracted two Turnstones, 10 Dunlins and a Grey Plover. On the lake a redhead Goldeneye was my first of the autumn, while four Cattle Egrets tracked the stock on the fields at Boulderwall. 

Sunday 17 October 2021


 New Romney - warm, dry and cloudy SW2 - My early morning walkouts from home this week have been a case of familiarising myself with local footpaths and tracks out onto the marsh countryside which is only a five minute stroll away. Much of the land to the north towards St Mary-in-the-Marsh is intensively farmed and bereft of wildlife potential, apart from the drainage sewers, but the green lane out to Old Romney church looks promising with sheep folds and marginal scrub, hedgerows and paddocks providing a variety of wayside habitats for birds. To the south, Church Lane down to the spinney and dung heap by Dunes Road also has potential. So far typical farmland species such as Kestrel, Buzzard, Skylark, Linnet, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting have all been logged, plus a flushed Snipe, several Chiffchaffs and Jays, Green Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush.

Walland Marsh -This evening was the first harrier roost count of the season. I joined Chris P at our usual site on Walland Marsh where farming operations were still in full swing. As we approached the watchpoint several thousand gulls, Starlings and Lapwings swirled over the arable lands to feed. Eventually, as the sun set, in spectacular fashion, seven Marsh Harriers came to roost while an adult male Hen Harrier flew towards the Woolpack. Also noted four Buzzards, four Kestrels, two Stonechats, a Snipe and six roosting Great White Egrets.

Friday 15 October 2021

Back in the field!

Warm, dry and sunny, NW 3 - Phew, what a week it has been; moving house - never again! Anyhow, it was great to be out and about around the peninsula this morning birding and bumping into local birders again. My first port of call just had to be Lade, even though I felt like an interloper having driven there! And it did not disappoint with a Black-necked Grebe by the causeway on north lake, a flyover Bittern on south lake, plus two inbound Bramblings and three Jays. Also noted: several Chiffchaffs by the ponds, a trickle of migrating Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches from the lookout and two Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk around the willow swamp.

                                 Black-necked Grebe, Lade

At Dungeness the sea was busy with hundreds of close auks (including a few Razorbills) and a feeding frenzy of Gannets and gulls further out, including a few Kittiwakes, Sandwich Terns, Med Gulls and a passing Bonxie. The land was quiet though with just three Jays, 10 Meadow Pipits, two Black Redstarts, a Grey Wagtail and several Chiffchaffs; can it really be mid-October, and where are all the crests? Moving onto the bird reserve where four Cattle Egrets on Boulderwall fields were joined by two Glossy Ibises having flown over from ARC. On Burrowes a Black-tailed Godwit and two Dunlins were amongst the usual Lapwings and Golden Plovers, while from Makepeace 31 Snipe and another Black-necked Grebe noted.

Sunday 10 October 2021

Last Post from Plovers

 Lade - Saturday - warm, dry and sunny, E2 - A wander around the local patch this morning delivered very few overhead migrants with two Jays, a Grey Wagtail and a Reed Bunting the highlights amongst several each of Pied Wagtail, Skylark and Goldfinch. The only grounded passerines were 10 Chiffchaffs, 20 Meadow Pipits, 50 Linnets and a late Reed Warbler by the ponds.

Sunday  -  foggy - The sun didn`t break through the thick blanket of fog until mid-morning, by which time I busy with other things... A few Chiffchaffs in the garden and flyover Greylag Geese was about it. 

This will be my last post for a while as after 15 years and 9 months at Plovers, Pat and I are moving to the nearby bustling metropolis of New Romney. Lade has been my local patch throughout that period and has delivered some memorable birding, but if I`m honest it`s just not the same without my Barney bouncing around beside me. So, time to move on, but I will be checking it out now and again, just not on a near daily basis. We are taking many great memories with us from all our loyal guests and friends  who`ve stayed at Plovers down the years (I really must write down some of the anecdotes!), and the Bird Tours will continue, just in a different format.  

                                  Sunset over south lake, Lade 

Friday 8 October 2021


 Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Once the early morning murk had cleared it turned into a fine autumn day to be out and about across the peninsula. An hour around dawn in the back garden produced a trickle of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches and a Song Thrush overhead, plus several Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap in the fir trees. Outback few passerines were noted in what was perfect weather conditions for early October migrants, but where are they all? I guess fewer and fewer migrants is just something we`ve got to expect these days; no surprise really, considering the way we`re plundering the planet with our excesses and burgeoning population.

                Snipe from the archives, as my camera is playing up (Burrowes, 2013)

Anyhow, that`s enough of that! Moving onto Scotney where there was a few birds, albeit mostly feral geese and gulls, Lapwings and Golden Plovers, ducks and Starlings. Outback, singles of Green and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and several Tree Sparrows around the farm buildings lifted the gloom somewhat. Also noted across the site, Great White and Little Egrets, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Curlew, Redshank and plenty of Linnets and Meadow Pipits. On the bird reserve the highlight was a minimum count of 33 Snipe scattered across the islands in front of Makepeace hide, plus the usual nervy flock of 250 each of Golden Plover and Lapwing, two Dunlins and a Ruff. Several Bearded Tits showed well in the reed bed at Cook`s Pool, while over on ARC five Black-tailed Godwits landed in front of Hanson hide and at least 15 Chiffchaffs were actively snapping up insects in the warm sunshine at the pines. This afternoon a check of the bay on a falling tide produced few waders due to disturbance. Finished off with a seawatch from the boats along with the regular stalwarts where very little was moving apart from a few Gannets, Sandwich Terns, auks and a Red-throated Diver on the sea.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Ring Ouzels

 Lade - cool, sunny, W 4 - Trudging across the shingle into a brisk westerly first thing this morning I wasn`t expecting a great deal until two Ring Ouzels `exploded` from cover in Mockmill Sewer, `chacking` loudly as they disappeared behind the wall `mirror`. Little else was noted passerine wise apart from a trickle of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches overhead, a few Chiffchaffs in the bushes, a single Wheatear on the desert and a Swallow hurrying south, plus several Sparrowhawks and a Marsh Harrier by the willow swamp. At Littlestone around midday four Common Buzzards drifted over while another Sparrowhawk hacked through a back garden. A check of the bay on a falling tide revealed the usual waders returning from roost and a trickle of Sandwich Terns. In the late afternoon sunshine it was good to a see a Comma and a couple of Small Tortoiseshells on the garden buddleia. 

                                  Comma and Small Tortoiseshell

News broke this afternoon concerning a long-awaited quality wader on the bird reserve in the shape of a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (CT, MC) on the islands in front of Dennis`s hide. It was a bit on the nervy side and regularly took flight alongside the usual Golden Plovers and Lapwings, plus three Ruff and two Dunlins, but as always one of the smartest American shorebirds when it did settle down.   

Saturday 2 October 2021


Dungeness - 0645 - 0900hrs - cool, cloudy, SSW 4/5 - An early morning seawatch from the hide in the company of CP; and prior to the arrival of a fierce weather front off the Atlantic from late morning onwards was, to put it simply, quite superb. There was always something of interest on offer, mainly due to a steady down-Channel movement of c400 each of Sandwich Terns and Gannets, many of which were forced close to shore by the increasing wind speed and plunge diving for fish en-route. In turn at least 25 Arctic Skuas of various ages and plumage phases were also in attendance harrying the unfortunate terns; it is a spectacle that I never tire of witnessing, with some of the chases just offshore making it even more impressive. Ten Bonxies powered through at varying distances and at least 50 auks fizzed by, mostly Guillemots (the ones I could discern) but also several Razorbills. Other sundry seabirds included: 20 Common Scoters, 10 Kittiwakes, two Mediterranean Gulls and a Red-throated Diver. However, the cherry-on-the bun belonged to three species of shearwaters: 10 Balearics, several inside the buoy, a close Manxie and a distant Sooty Shearwater. Departing passerines heading out included a trickle of Swallows and Meadow Pipits. Marvellous stuff.