Friday 25 March 2022

Cetti`s Warblers

Dungeness RSPB - warm, dry and sunny, NE 3 - Perfect weather for a spot of survey work on Cetti`s Warblers, of which 18 singers were located, mostly across Dengemarsh; but only one seen quite well from the ramp. Also in the Hookers area several `pinging` Bearded Tits and displaying Marsh Harriers, plus a `booming` Bittern to go with two others elsewhere on the reserve. At least four Garganeys were at the back of the lake from Dengemarsh hide with another two on Gun Club pool. On the hayfields four Redshanks, 80 Teal, two Shelduck and a Black-tailed Godwit. Burrowes still had six Goldeneyes and a pair of Pintail amongst hundreds of Shovelers, Wigeons, diving ducks and Coots.

                                  Dennis`s Lookout

                                  Firth Lookout

                                 Makepeace Lookout

                                 Peregrine, Dungeness

                                 Flock of egrets on ARC

Hide Update

The old Firth and Makepeace hides were cleared away this week leaving wide, open lookout points at both locations, although the latter has been left with two temporary screens until its replacement sometime in the future. Next week a new structure is due to be erected by hide specialists Gilleard at Firth to give some shelter. Also this week the lookout point beside Dennis`s hide has been opened up. Over the road on ARC work on repairing Hanson hide is almost complete and according to Craig the hide will reopen shortly, most likely in early April, although the willow trail will remain closed for some time yet.

Thursday 24 March 2022


Scotney - warm, dry and sunny, light airs -  It has been the best spring since I`ve lived down here for  Garganeys with small flocks regularly noted on seawatches this month and a scattering of birds on local wetlands. Today was no different with a smart drake on the main roadside lake amongst the Wigeon, Gadwall and Teal and another one on the first lake past the farm. Outback two Avocets were on the island lake plus my first Little Ringed Plover of spring. Also noted, Peregrine and Raven on the pylons, four Buzzards, four Redshanks, two Curlews and 20 Mediterranean Gulls. Passerines were few and far between though with only a handful of singing Skylarks and a pair of Tree Sparrows by the farm house of note.

                                 Tree Sparrow, Scotney

A pit stop at the bird reserve revealed a pair each of Garganey and Glossy Ibis on Cook`s Pool with five more Garganeys reported on Dengemarsh (MC). At the southern end of ARC a mixed flock of 10 egrets were feeding just out from the causeway road.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Passage wildfowl

Dungeness - 0600 -0830hrs - warm, dry, hazy light SE 2 - A most enjoyable early morning seawatch from the hide along with the usual suspects (CP, JS, MC, JY et al) and notable for a decent range of wildfowl moving up-Channel. Flocks of Common Scoter and Brent Geese (some of which could be heard braying) numbering in the hundreds had various ducks attached including double figures of Pintail and Shoveler, plus several Garganey. A steady passage of Red-throated Divers also kept the interest ticking over along with a dribble of Gannets, Sandwich Terns, seven Oystercatchers, two Red-breasted Mergansers, a Fulmar, a Mediterranean Gull and, best of all, a flock of seven Avocets close to shore. No doubt a full report of today`s seawatch will be posted on Trektellen later on.

                                 Brent flock with dabbling ducks in the mix

                                  Red Kite over Lade

I checked Lade late morning but the lakes were very quiet. However, on the walk back to the car the local HG`s went into melt down and sure enough it wasn`t long before a cracking Red Kite flew over the caravan park with the mobsters in hot pursuit; the kite was seen a few minutes later passing over Littlestone airspace (MH). I also had one yesterday afternoon over NR from the back garden, again courtesy of the Herring Gulls. 

Sunday 20 March 2022


 Walland Marsh - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - The weather was set fair for our final harrier count of `winter` (in company with CP) where 13 Marsh Harriers came to roost in three separate areas of the  reedbed over a 30 minute period; a Barn Owl was also in view for the best part of an hour. Also noted: two Ravens, a Snipe, several Reed Buntings and Skylarks, calling Cetti`s Warbler and Water Rail, but very little else. 

Friday 18 March 2022

Glossies and Garganeys

Dengemarsh - warm, dry and sunny, NE 3 - A superb mornings birding commenced at Cooks Pool on the Boulderwall fields where the regular pair of Glossy Ibis were joined by a third bird. Also on the fields a Great White Egret, several Curlews and the usual range of ducks and feral geese. The skies over Hookers were alive with Marsh Harrier activity with sky-dancing, calling and talon grappling, the full works from four different adult birds. Water Rail, Cetti`s Warbler and Bearded Tits were all heard. from the ramp. As I approached the hide six more Glossy Ibis flew overhead towards the hayfields where they eventually settled at the Scott end. From the hide my first two drake Garganeys of spring roosted on the far side of the lake amongst various Shelducks, Teal, Wigeon, Lapwings, a Spoonbill and a Little Egret.

                                  Displaying Marsh Harriers

                                  Terrible pic of a drake Garganey!

Thursday 17 March 2022

Buzzards and Kites

North Downs - dry, sunny, NW 2 - 0845 - 1200hrs - The day started in fine style with a stunning little Chiffchaff briefly singing in the garden birch tree just outside the kitchen window. Undoubtedly an over night migrant and a first for the garden, what a trill - I`m easily pleased! However, for a change of scene together with CP we headed north for a spot of raptor watching on the downs, the first time we`d been there for three years, for obvious reasons. The weather was perfect with blues skies and a light northerly airflow. Throughout the morning we were constantly serenaded by `larks ascending`, in the words of RVW, and the contrasting `yowing` of up to 50 Mediterranean Gulls soaring high overhead and feeding on surrounding fields alongside a hundred or more Common and Black-headed Gulls. Other overhead passerines during our watch included a flock of 20 Fieldfares, hundreds of corvids, 20 Blackbirds and a trickle of Yellowhammers, Pied Wagtails, Chaffinches and Redwings, plus at least five Ravens, several of which performed their spectacular tumbling display flights overhead. Non-passerines of note included 200 Woodpigeons, Red-legged Partridge, Stock Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

                                  Mediterranean Gulls in the wild blue yonder

And so to the main event. BOPs were in view throughout the morning with the first hour being the most productive with at least 20 Common Buzzards thermaling over the wooded countryside providing us with plenty of plumage variations to sift through; including one that had a stunning white rump akin to a ringtail harrier. Also, up to three Red Kites, five Sparrowhawks and three Kestrels making for a very pleasant morning`s birding indeed. 

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Black-necked Grebe

 Dungeness - mild, cloudy, SE2 - En-route to the visitors centre and a pit stop at Boulderwall fields revealed two Glossy Ibises and a roosting Spoonbill behind Cooks Pool, where six Water Pipits had been seen earlier (JY). A guided walk for RSPB around the circular trail produced all the the usual suspects including a `booming` Bittern, displaying Marsh Harriers, a pair of Ravens, two Ruff, a Sparrowhawk, a Great White Egret, plus vocalising Bearded Tits and Water Rails from the ramp overlooking Hookers. Burrowes was covered in hundreds of Shovelers (c500), 200 Wigeons and 10 Goldeneyes with another one on Dengemarsh alongside a Black-necked Grebe in non-breeding plumage. At least12 Cetti`s Warblers were in song along the way with similar numbers of Reed Buntings.

                                  Singing and preening Wren

                                 Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Dengemarsh

Elsewhere today, the Cattle Egret flock was still at Cockles Bridge paddock, while during the morning the seawatchers` at Dungeness logged a notable passage of 31 Garganeys up-Channel (MC et al).

Tuesday 15 March 2022


 Dungeness - 0600hrs - mild, sunny, ESE 2 - An hour in the seawatch hide first thing delivered very little apart from a trickle of Gannets, Red-throated Divers, Kittiwakes and a Fulmar up-Channel. The Patch was also quiet. However, on the walk back to the old lighthouse I was surprised by a Woodcock that flew overhead like a rocket from the direction of the power station and headed inland. On the beach opposite Jarman`s a fall of at least five Wheatears were my first for the year, and as always a great thrill; one male was already singing to a nearby female! Scanning around in the morning calm produced a scattering of Skylarks, Pied Wagtails, Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, a pair of Ringed Plover, Stock Dove, Black Redstart and a Sparrowhawk over.

                                 Wheatears, Dungeness beach

From the Lydd Road lay-bye a Spoonbill was just about visible on Boulderwall Fields, while further down the road four Cattle Egrets were in the sewer beside Cockles Bridge. An afternoon scan of the bay from Littlestone Green revealed six Redshanks and a Little Egret on the close mud, plus the usual hundreds of Curlews and Oystercatchers scattered along the sands towards Lade. There was no sign of any Sandwich Terns.

Sunday 13 March 2022

Sandwich Terns

 Dungeness - mild, overcast, showery, S3 - Had a bit of a run around the area today kicking off at Lade before the hoards arrived for the Mirror Open Day, although a singing Chiffchaff and Greenfinch by the ponds and three Goldeneyes on north lake was about it. Dengemarsh Gully was virtually birdless apart from a couple of Stonechats and Meadow Pipits. On the bird reserve the hayfields held the usual Teal and Lapwings and briefly six Ruff on No 1. From the hide the Black-necked Grebe eventually emerged from beneath the water on the lake alongside a Goldeneye, which is a bit unusual here. Birds on the field opposite included 50 Wigeon, 10 Shelducks, Lapwings, two Ruffs, two White Wagtails, a Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier over, while the Bittern `boomed` twice from the reedbed by the pump. Moving onto Scotney front fields where more Wigeon and Lapwings were present, plus six Ringed Plovers and two Curlews, and at Cockles Bridge for the six Cattle Egrets. An hour from the seawatch hide (1330 - 1430hrs) produced 20 Gannets, 20 Brents in a single flock and a stunning pair of Eider Ducks, while a cracking Black Redstart was flitting around the shacks near the old experimental station. I finished the day scanning the bay from the Littlestone Green shelter where it was good to see and hear a flock of 75 Sandwich Terns on the sands, plus 600 Oystercatchers and 200 Curlews. All in all, considering the weather, a pretty decent days birding.

                                  Black Redstart. Dungeness

                                  Sandwich Terns, Littlestone beach

NB: Across the weekend the first Wheatears of spring were reported: at Scotney yesterday (MC) and  Penn Bars today (DG);

Friday 11 March 2022

`Booming` Bittern

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, showery, SSE 4 - A check of Lade and the bay this morning revealed nothing new of note. A circuit of the bird reserve, just before the rain got going, revealed all the expected wildfowl, gulls, harriers and egrets, plus singing Reed Buntings and Cetti`s Warblers across the site. The hayfields are drying out fast but did hold a flock of nine Dunlins, Ringed Plover, Ruff and Curlew along with up to 20 Teal. From Dengemarsh hide three more Ruffs were in amongst the Lapwings, Shelducks and Wigeons on the far side, while a Bittern gave a half-hearted `boom`. There was plenty of activity on the Boulderwall fields from Lapwings, Wigeons, feral geese and Starlings. At Cockles Bridge the Cattle Egret tally had rose to six along with two Little Egrets.

                                 Dunlins on the hayfields

Thursday 10 March 2022


Dungeness - 0620 - 0820hrs - cold, cloudy, hazy light, SSE 4 - A two hour seawatching session from the hide with a clutch of locals was noticeable for a steady up-Channel passage of Kittiwakes with at least 250 whilst I was present, some close to shore. Also on the move: 45 Gannet, 21 Common Scoter, 75 Red-throated Diver, 150 auks, 110 Brent Goose, 10 Teal, 12 Oystercatcher, 2 Pintail, a Mediterranean Gull and a Fulmar.

                                 Linnet, Lade north

A walk around the spinney between Church Lane and Dunes Road late morning delivered three singing Chiffchaffs and a Common Treecreeper, plus two `drumming` Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Greenfinch and four Redwings. Two Buzzards flew over the dung heap and a small flock of Linnets were feeding around the bushes and in a weedy field nearby, with 20 Corn Buntings further down the track towards Lade and singing Skylarks overhead. 

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Cetti`s Warblers

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, S 3 - I spent some time this morning on the local patch counting singing Cetti`s Warblers as a prelude to this years breeding survey for RSPB. They can be tricky little devils to survey accurately as once the male delivers its familiar and explosive song it has a habit of hopping it sharpish to the next singing position (often unseen) which may be some way off. For the unwary its easy to fall into the trap that it may be a different territory, so a cautious approach is required. Anyhow, I managed to negotiate around the margins of both lakes (with a bit of ditch jumping behind the `mirrors`!) and reckoned there to be at least eight singing males present. I`ll try again next month to see if the tally is about the same. Also noted, four Goldeneyes on north, four pairs of Great Crested Grebes across both waters, 50 Teals, 30 Shovelers, an adult female Marsh Harrier, two Chiffchaffs and a cracking Firecrest along the causeway. A final scan from the aerial ramp revealed 150 Curlews flying in off the bay heading to roost on the Desert.

                                 Stonechat, Dungeness 

A drive out onto the Estate to check the beach for an early Wheatear failed on that front but did deliver at least eight Stonechats (something of a fall) plus four Meadow Pipits and two Skylarks. The four Cattle Egrets were on either side of the Lydd Road between the horse paddocks and Cockles Bridge.

Tuesday 8 March 2022


Dungeness - 0630 - 0830hrs - cold, sunny, SE 5, hazy light - A two hour seawatch from the hide in the company of CP, JS, MC et al produced a steady flow of seabirds moving up-Channel across a choppy sea and in a bitingly cold wind. Most notable were good numbers of Fulmars, close flocks of Brent Geese and a scattering of ducks as follows: Fulmar 55, Gannet 40, Brent Goose 380, Red-throated Diver 80, auks 120, Kittiwake 90, Common Scoter 9, Wigeon 20, Shoveler 10, Teal 20, Pintail 2, Shelduck 2 and a lone wader, probably a Ringed Plover. Also, the resident Peregrine pair put on a show out over the sea chasing a pigeon.  

                                  Sunrise over Dungeness

Monday 7 March 2022


 Dengemarsh - cold, dry and sunny, E 5 - A biting east wind made for an uncomfortable walk from Springfield Bridge down to the Hayfields. From the bridge a few Corn and Reed Buntings picked over the dredgings stacked on the sewer bank, whilst a lone male Marsh Harrier quartered Hookers reedbed. On the flood both Great White and Little Egrets, plus a Jack Snipe that I almost stood on by the old pump before it flew off! The hayfields look in superb nick with plenty of water and shallows attractive to early passage waders. Hayfield 3 held only two Ringed Plovers and a Lapwing, but there was a bit more activity on Hayfields 1/2 where six Ringed Plovers displayed alongside two smart `white` Ruffs and 25 Teals.

                                 Great White Egret, Dengemarsh flood

                                 Two `white` Ruffs, Hayfield 2

Driving past Cockles Bridge the four Cattle Egrets were still present on the sheep paddock, as was the redhead Smew on ARC from the causeway road. At Lade a singing Chiffchaff from the shelter of the ponds was the only hint of spring, while an attempt to check the bay waders at the Tavern lookout was scuppered due to the rasping wind. 

Friday 4 March 2022


Dungeness - mild and murky, light airs - A check of Lade pits first thing delivered little of note apart from both Little and Great Crested Grebes going about their nuptials. Duck numbers have started to disperse in line with the lengthening daylight hours. Moving on to Dungeness where a walk along the beach from the lifeboat station to the concrete road (hoping for an early Wheatear) produced at least 10 Skylarks, several of which were in song, two Meadow Pipits, a pair of Stock Doves, Kestrel, Pied Wagtail and Stonechat. In the old lighthouse garden a Firecrest called and showed briefly along with a Chiffchaff, a couple of Chaffinches and a Siskin over calling.

                                  Stonechat, Dungeness

                                 Cattle Egrets, Cockles Bridge

Crossing the causeway road and the redhead Smew remained on ARC, plus a Great White Egret. The Boulderwall fields were largely deserted apart from a pack of 50 Wigeon. Highlights on Burrowes included six Goldeneyes, three Black-tailed Godwits, a Dunlin, my first singing Chiffchaff of the year and a male Marsh Harrier over. At Cockles Bridge the long-staying four Cattle Egrets were roosting along the adjacent sewer.

Thursday 3 March 2022

Brent Geese

Dungeness - 0630 - 0830hrs - cool, cloudy, misty, SE 2 - One of the great spring migration spectacles at  Dungeness is the up-Channel movement of Brent Geese heading back north-east to breed, and this morning`s watch was no exception. During the two hours that I was in the sea watch hide (with CP, MC and the new Assistant Warden - welcome to Dungeness Jacob) at least 1,150 passed by in various sized flocks with the largest being 180 birds, and some so close you hear them calling. No doubt many more were logged throughout the day. Also of note were my first two Sandwich Terns of the year and a pair of Pintails, plus 65 Gannets, 950 auks, 85 Kittiwakes, 35 Red-throated Divers, 25 Common Scoters, 8 Wigeons, 3 Fulmars and a Med Gull. 

                                  Brent Geese on the move

                                  Fieldfares, Romney Salts

                                 Mediterranean Gull, Littlestone beach

A late morning walk across Romney Salts produced few farmland birds but did include a notable flock of 200 Fieldfares that briefly paused in a spinney before heading off high to the east. Mediterranean Gulls are also on the move this month with several seen on the beach at Littlestone beach yesterday and over New Romney calling this afternoon. Other local news of note includes the wintering Smew on ARC and four Cattle Egrets at Cockles Bridge, a Black-necked Grebe on Burrowes, Firecrest and Woodlark at the Point.