Tuesday 31 May 2022

Eleonora`s Falcon

Worth - cool and cloudy, sunny later, light airs - I`m not a great lover of twitching anymore, but the lure of a `falcon fest` close to home, and at a site I`d not visited since the conservation work had finished three years ago, proved too much to resist. RSPB staff had the car parking well organised and thanks to Vicky and the volunteers for a job well done; the field will remain open between 8am-5pm until the Eleonora`s Falcon departs. Together with Chris P we also had distant views of an adult female Red-footed Falcon from the car park that came closer later on perched on a plastic post along with a nearby Hobby. Mercifully, there was only a small group of twitchers when we arrived on the main footpath by Great Wood from where the Eleonora`s was perched sullenly in an ash tree whilst the rain came down. Once the sun broke through the sub-adult pale phase falcon broke cover and put on a five star display flying up and down and overhead hawking insects, and perching out in the open on a dead tree. It was much larger and longer in the wing in flight than Hobby and reminiscent of an Arctic Skua in attack mode. The views were stunning through the scope; my pics don`t do it justice, but there are plenty of crackers on line. 

                                           Sheltering from the rain

                                  Perched in the open after a fly around

                                 Hawking insects overhead                                 

Twitches are often something of a social occasion so it was no great surprise to meet one of my old birding pals from Bedfordshire, Andy Chick who`d driven down from Lincolnshire early this morning with a crew. Good to see you old mate and trust you had a safe journey back north.

                                  PT and Andy Chick

                                  Distant female Red-footed Falcon

                            Breeding wader pool with Avocets, Redshank and LRP

                                 Great Wood, Worth

Back home an evening visit to the bird reserve was notable for good views of Bearded Tits on Cooks Pool and nine Cattle Egrets on the fields that eventually flew to roost on ARC.

Monday 30 May 2022

Pagham Harbour

Pagham Harbour - cool and cloudy, NW3 - Spent the weekend with family in West Sussex but did  manage at day out on Sunday at the RSPB reserve. The most productive spot was from the hide overlooking Ferry Pool where during two visits a decent collection of waders included 96 Black-tailed Godwits, 12 Avocets, several Lapwings and Oystercatchers and singles of Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover, plus 20 Shelducks, Shoveler and Teal. The long walk down to Church Norton produced some farmland birds on the rough fields such as Kestrel, Buzzard, Stock Dove, Lapwing, Reed Bunting, Skylark and Yellowhammer, while the harbour side delivered a few Little Egrets, a Spotted Redshank and Curlew. The area around the church and the Severals was very quiet, in contrast to the harbour islands where several hundred nesting Sandwich Terns, Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls provided a fine spectacle. At least 20 Little Terns were also noted but only a handful of Common Terns, plus nine Turnstones and four Ringed Plovers.

                                  Little Egret

                                  Distant tern/gull nesting island

                                 Waders and Shelduck on Ferry Pool

Friday 27 May 2022

Broom in bloom

New Romney - warm, dry and cloudy, light airs - The garden moth trap continues to attract low numbers and species of macros. I guess I`m going to have to live with the fact that trapping in a town centre with lots of ambient lighting is never going to live up to Plovers down on the shingle. Although I`m also going to experiment with repositioning the trap around the garden and perhaps switching to the blue light to see if that makes a difference, we shall see... Having said that last nights catch of nine species did include a Toadflax Brocade, a scarce moth nationally, as well as Buff-tip and Common Marbled Carpet, all new for the site.

                                 Toadflax Brocade, NR

                                  Common Marbled Carpet, NR

Lade - Checked out the local patch first thing where at least two male Cuckoos were active around the willow swamp, otherwise all was quiet on the bird front. However, the recent rainfall and warm sunshine has brought forth a spectacular show of Prostrate Broom across the shingle lands between here and the Kerton Road and around to the power station. In the quarry the bay waders were conveniently roosting together affording an accurate count: 285 Oystercatchers, 20 Curlews, six Bar-tailed Godwits and singles of Whimbrel, Greenshank and Grey Plover. 

                                 Roosting waders, including a Grey Plover

                                  Garganey, ARC

                                 Ring-necked Duck, ARC

Dungeness - On the bird reserve a drake Garganey had joined the Ring-necked Duck and other common wildfowl on ARC, nice and close on an island in front of Hanson hide. It was good to see a Kingfisher zipping about over the lake and a Hobby behind the water tower. Four Cattle Egrets were on the Boulderwall fields, but it was a grim picture on Burrowes with not a single tern or passage wader, but plenty of nesting Herring and Lesser Black-blacked Gulls.

    What a show!

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