Thursday, 26 May 2022

Egrets and Ibis

Dungeness  RSPB - 0515 - 0830hrs - cool and sunny, SW 1 -4 - An early morning circuit of the bird reserve commenced in fine style with several Cattle Egrets and a Great White Egret on the Boulderwall fields and a Barn Owl flying in with prey. Initially there was no wind which encouraged plenty of Sedge Warblers, Whitethroaats and Reed Buntings to sing atop prominent perches, although the wind soon picked up. There was the usual breeding activity from the ramp with Marsh Harriers, Bitterns and Bearded Tits and where Cuckoo and Hobby also noted. Hayfield 2 briefly held a pair of Black-tailed Godwits, while the Glossy Ibis was on Hayfield 3 along with a trio of Little Egrets, Shelducks, Shovelers, Yellow Wagtail and Corn Bunting, and where juvs of Lapwing and Redshank were present. Burrowes was quiet with the highlight a flock of 20 Curlews roosting out the high tide. A quick look from Hanson hide for the Ring-necked Duck drew a blank, although it was reported during the afternoon. 

                                  Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler, Dengemarsh

                                  Glossy Ibis, Hayfield 3

                                  Curlews, Burrowes

                                  Black-tailed Godwits, Hayfield 2

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Sussex Emerald hunt

Dungeness - cool and cloudy, SW 5 - En-route to Dungeness a pause at the Tavern viewpoint for high tide waders included: 280 Oystercatchers, 12 Curlews, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Grey Plover. It was then onto the south end of ARC for a group session crawling around on all fours surveying for Sussex Emerald larvae, in less than favourable weather conditions. However, after an hour and a half we did manage to find six of the well camouflaged little critters, three each on Wild Carrot and Ragwort. 

                                 Sussex Emerald larvae on Ragwort

                                  An adult moth from Plovers trap, 2013

                                  Southern Marsh Orchid, ARC

                                  Great Crested Grebe and Pochard, ARC

Afterwards I called in at the Hanson hide from where at least 50 Swifts and a few each of the three hirundines hawked for insects over the lake, along with a single Hobby. The drake Ring-necked Duck was asleep on the water in front of the hide amongst the usual gathering of diving ducks, and a Common Sandpiper scuttled over the lake calling. Due to the strong breeze passerines were few and far between. Elsewhere on the reserve today the Glossy Ibis and four Cattle Egrets (JY) were seen on Hayfield 3 and Boulderwall fields respectively, while a Purple Heron flew north over Cockles Bridge (MH).

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Migrant Moths

Romney Marsh - These past few days has seen a rash of rare immigrant moths hitting local traps with Striped Hawk-moths in the vanguard at New Romney and Dungeness. Even I managed to get in on the act with a smart Silver Barred in the garden trap, while at Lydd-on-Sea a Purple Marbled (complete) and an Eastern Bordered Straw came to light. However, the Blue Peter badge went to a Druid trapped at Littlestone, which was the first area record and the 3rd for Kent following on from the first British record in 2014. Thanks to Sean Clancy for the photo opportunities and to D Beck and O Leyshon for the Lydd-on-Sea and Littlestone moths. 

                                     Silver Barred, New Romney

                                  Striped Hawk-moth, New Romney

                                  Eastern Bordered Straw, Lydd-on-Sea

                                 Purple Marbled, Lydd-on-Sea

                                  Druid, Littlestone 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Ring-necked Duck

 Saturday - Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW 2 - A three hour birding session on the bird reserve for the Apprentice Birder threw up a surprise in the reappearance of the drake Ring-necked Duck on ARC, and nice and close in front of Hanson hide, unlike when it was on the far side of Burrowes a fortnight ago. Kingfisher and Hobby also noted here. On Burrowes two Whimbrels and three Curlews were the only waders on the islands where there was a complete absence of terns. All the regulars noted around the trail and a Cattle Egret on Boulderwall fields following the suckling herd. Apparently, we recorded 50 species...

                                  Ring-necked Duck, ARC

                                 Common Blue

            Apprentice Birder taking a breather in the new willow trail shelter

Sunday - New Romney - cool, still start, warm later, light airs - 0500 - 1100hrs - Couldn`t sleep last night so took an early stroll down Church Lane to the spinney where Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Treecreeper and plenty of common resident birds were all in song, plus Kestrel and Green Woodpecker. Then out past the dung heap to Belgar logging Skylarks, Whitethroats, Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, two Corn Buntings, Linnets, Oystercatcher, Buzzard and Yellow Wagtails. Followed by north of the town around the Hope Lane loop seeing more of the same, plus Marsh Harrier, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Painted Lady butterflies and loads of Marsh Frogs in the sewers.





                                  Corn Bunting



                                 Marsh Frogs

Friday, 20 May 2022


Dungeness - cool, overcast, heavy rain, dry later, SW2 - A shocking day of weather with rain throughout until around 2pm and far from ideal for guiding for two guests from Sussex. However, we eventually connected with all the Dungeness specialities: Wheatear, Black Redstart, four species of breeding waders, Marsh Harrier, Bittern and the like. At one stage, late morning, the temperature plummeted to 10C, but thankfully it warmed up enough to enable at least five Hobbies to hawk for insects over Hookers, where a Cuckoo and Kingfisher were also noted. Two Avocets dropped in on Hayfield 2 while the only Common Terns we saw all day was a pair briefly on Burrowes. A mid-afternoon passage of 100 plus Swifts and a few House Martins was noteworthy considering how few have come our way this spring. Despite the weather we ended the day with 72 species of birds.

                                  Avocet and Redshank, Hayfield 2

                                 Sea Kale in full flower

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Garden Moths

New Romney - heavy overnight thunderstorms, muggy - Perfect conditions then for moths coming to light with 13 species here in the garden trap, including Peppered Moth, Angle Shades, Common Wainscot and, new for me, Clouded Silver a species I didn`t get at Plovers on the shingle. There appears to be an influx of migrant Striped Hawk-moths currently underway with several turning up in local traps, including the one below just down the road from me; thanks to Sean C for the tip-off. 

                                  Striped Hawk-moth

                                 Peppered Moth

                                    Angle Shades

Elsewhere, bird wise these last couple of days there hasn`t been much change locally. I had a Cattle Egret on Cook`s Pool yesterday, while a small `funnel` of 20 screaming Swifts was of note over NR; the days when they were in their hundreds being just a distant memory.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Purple Heron

Dengemarsh - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - 0530 - 0830 hrs - With the forecast south-easterlies failing to materialise I elected for another early morning session on the bird reserve. The Barn Owl was again active around Boulderwall and, as usual, flew over the road to hunt the rough ground around the Tower Pits where Bittern and Cuckoo were both calling. In the still air Reed Buntings, Whitethroats, Cetti`s, Sedge and Reed Warblers were everywhere, while a female Bearded Tit fed two fledged juveniles in a Cook`s Pool reedbed. 

                                   Purple Heron over Hookers

                                 Purple Heron, by David Scott

From the ramp a Bittern `boomed` and Marsh Harriers came and went; and then at 0630hrs a Purple Heron broke cover from a Dengemarsh reedbed and flew towards ARC where it briefly landed in front of Screen hide (SM). It then flew towards Burrowes and back towards myself and Dave S where we hurriedly took a couple of flight shots and watched it drop into the wetland behind Hookers by the Lydd track. A superb bird that brought back memories of the summer of 2010 when a pair successfully bred at Dungeness.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Spotted Redshank

Dengemarsh - mild and cloudy, SW 2-4 - 0515 - 0800hrs - An early morning sortie to check the  wetlands for yesterday evening`s Purple Heron drew a blank on that front, but did afford regular `booming` and flight views of at least two Bitterns (one with several primary feathers missing on its left wing) and plenty of Marsh Harrier activity from the ramp. A Spotted Redshank dropped in on Hayfield two where a suckling herd has recently been introduced. On Hayfield 3 a trio of well grown Lapwing chicks was good to see, plus two Redshank chicks along with two pairs of Shovelers and Shelducks and a Great White Egret. Also noted across the Marsh: Pochard, Teal, Bearded Tits, Corn Buntings, Yellow Wagtail and Cuckoo. 

                                 Corn Bunting, Springfield Bridge

                                  Skylark at dawn

                                  Bittern over Hookers

                                  Spotted Redshank, Hayfield 2

                                 White Ermine

                                 Ruby Tiger

Considering how humid it was last night the garden moth trap was a little disappointing with just four  species of macros present, including Ruby Tiger and White Ermine.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

House Martins

New Romney - warm, dry and cloudy, E3 - This weekend I left the car in the driveway and walked out from home for some early morning birding in the Marsh countryside around the town. There were no real surprises but it was good to see a few House Martins building their mud nests under eaves on a nearby housing estate. Reed Warblers have moved in en-mass with marginal reedbeds along all the local sewers having a singing male every 50 yards or so, and while most proved tricky to actually see I did manage to snap a few pics of one yesterday with the old bridge camera; Lesser Whitethroats, Garden and Cetti`s Warbler were all included in a suite of nine species of warblers across the Romney area.

                                 Reed Bunting and Warbler, New Sewer

                                 Marsh Frogs, Dengemarsh Sewer

Interestingly while Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Yellow Wagtail are present in small numbers south of the town around Belgar Farm they appear to be absent from the Hope Lane loop. Also noted during my perambulations: Dabchick, a Mallard with eight ducklings (two down from a week ago), Grey Heron, several Buzzards, Kestrel, Cuckoo (two sites), Raven over, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swifts over, Skylarks, Linnets and Yellowhammers.