Tuesday 28 June 2022

Summer Doldrums

New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, SW 2 - We seem to have moved into the birding doldrums of late with very little change around the Marsh countryside as the breeding season reaches a climax. Around the Hope Lane loop over the weekend, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and Buntings, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel and Little Owl were all noted feeding fledglings. The garden moth trap continues to yield newcomers to the site list including Engrailed, a moth I did not get on the shingle.

                                  High tide gull roost, Kerton Road quarry

                                 Immature Great Black-backed Gulls

                                  Greylag creche, Kerton Road quarry

                                 Egyptian Goose brood, Kerton Road quarry

                                 Glossy Ibises and Little Egret, ARC

I`ve checked the bay three times over the past few days with very disappointing returns. A count of 320 Oystercatchers and 125 Curlews was the best muster, but not a single tern; although hearing of the worrying scenes Bird Flu is having at gull and tern colonies from either side of the Channel I`m not too surprised. On the bird reserve there has been little change of late, apart from an all too brief appearance of a Caspian Tern on Saturday, as I was half way to Folkestone... The Glossy Ibises and Cattle Egrets are still resident and yesterday evening it was good to see hundreds of Swifts feeding over the lake at ARC along with lesser numbers of the three hirundines. Although a couple of Common Terns were present this morning there was no sign of any nesting activity on Burrowes. A check of Kerton Road quarry on the high tide produced around 1,000 gulls of four species: roughly 600 Herring, 200 Black-headed, 200 Great Black-backed, plus a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Friday 24 June 2022

Moth Fest

New Romney - warm, dry, overcast, light airs - Superb overnight weather conditions for mothing delivered 41 species of macro moths to the garden trap, several new for the site, including Beautiful Hook-tip, Obscure Wainscot and Burnished Brass.

                                  Beautiful Hook-tip

                                 Burnished Brass

                                  Obscure Wainscot

As the morning progressed the sun broke through and the wind picked up out of the south-west. A good look around Lade confirmed much success for grebes with both species feeding young out on the water and a single migrant Black-necked Grebe. A few high Swifts and Sand Martins drifted south, already on their way back to warmer climes no doubt, while 11 Little Egrets were counted across the site. Next stop Kerton Road quarry where a passage Little Ringed Plover was the highlight, along with four Redshanks, several Lapwings and three pairs of Oystercatchers on the main island, one of which had two fledged juveniles in tow. A brief stop off at Hanson hide revealed nothing new from my last visit.

                                  Dabchicks, Lade

                                  Little Egrets, Lade

                                  Little Ringed Plover, Kerton Rd pit

                                 Oystercatcher and chick, Kerton Rd pit

Thursday 23 June 2022


Dungeness - humid, hazy sunshine, light airs - I was en-route to the point to meet guests for a mornings guiding when Dave B flagged me down to tell of a male Serin he`d seen in his garden that had just flown off towards the new lighthouse. A few minutes later I picked the bird up on call flying around the Britannia pub before it eventually disappeared over towards the Sanctuary. It was then on with a tour of the peninsula for Colin and Jo as we located the expected Black Redstart, Wheatear (including juvs), Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Whitethroat, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail and Kestrel. Moving onto the bird reserve and from Hanson hide plenty of wildfowl and waders to sift through including 26 Black-tailed Godwits, six Avocets, a Glossy Ibis and two Black-necked Grebes, plus good views of a female Marsh Harrier and two distant Buzzards. From the Access Road, another Glossy Ibis, two Cattle Egrets, a Buzzard and a Hobby. On Burrowes a few pairs of Common Terns still on an island in front of Dennis`s, a pair of Oystercatchers with a chick, seven Ringed Plovers, a fly over Great White Egret and all the usual gulls and ducks. A decent enough morning for the guests with 64 species of birds noted plus plenty of dragonflies and butterflies.

                                 Linnet and Buzzard, Dungeness

Wednesday 22 June 2022

North Downs

North Downs - warm, dry and sunny, NE 3 - Spent the morning with Chris P atop the hills scanning the skies for soaring birds of prey. Due to the time of year we were not expecting the numbers that we recorded on our last visit but still managed up to 10 Common Buzzards, two Red Kites and six Kestrels. The small arable fields and scattered copses on the clay-with-flints delivered a decent enough return on Yellowhammers and Skylarks, plus one or two Linnets, Pied Wagtails, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Red-legged Partridges, along with a few Swallows, Swifts and Mediterranean Gulls overhead. We also had an `interesting` hour long conversation with a `custodian of the countryside` on matters agricultural and the merits of "vermin  control" viz-a-viz game shooting - what a character, he had us in stitches, I just wish that I`d recorded it!

                                  Common Buzzard

                                  Male Kestrel

                                  Yellowhammer in song

                                 Red-legged Partridge on pulp waste

Sunday 19 June 2022


New Romney - cool and cloudy, NE 4 - A mixed weekend of weather with about a ten degree drop from Saturday to Sunday as a cold front moved in from the north, along with a few light rain showers and an impressive thunder and lightening show last night. The garden moth trap was again profitable yesterday morning with four species of Hawk-moths and five new macros including White Satin and Rosy Wave.

                                  Elephant Hawk-moth

                                  Rosy Wave

                                  White Satin 

Wandering the footpaths north and south of the town has revealed plenty of Kestrel activity with five birds in the air around the Hope Lane loop and at least six Common Buzzards over the town yesterday causing havoc with the local Herring Gulls; also on Saturday a Honey Buzzard went through (SC). Locally, juvenile birds are becoming noticeable, particularly Starlings and Jackdaws forming large flocks on fields and parks hereabout, and Mallard ducklings in the New Cutt. House Martins are still nest building on the new housing estate off Cockreed Lane, while Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Long-tailed Tit, Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush were all seen with fledglings close by. It was also good to see plenty of Small Tortoiseshells on the wing.  

Friday 17 June 2022

Garden Moths

New Romney - hot, dry and sunny, SW2 - With a humid, moonless night affording superb weather conditions for moths, 42 species of macros hit the garden trap including two new to me: Blue-bordered Carpet and Small Yellow Wave, both of which I never had on the shingle. Also, my first Privet Hawk-moth, Figure of Eighty, Green Pug and Gallium Carpet for the site.

                                 Blue-bordered Carpet

                                  Figure of Eighty

                                  Green Pug

                                  Privet Hawk-moth

                                  Small Yellow Wave

On the bird reserve yesterdays Melodious Warbler found early on by MC along the Willow Trail on ARC sang briefly around midday, but there was no presence today. From Hanson hide hundreds of all the usual wildfowl on the lake and islands, plus Lapwings, Common Tern, Glossy Ibis, Black-tailed Godwits and a two pairs of Avocets looking as though they may well settle down to nest, if a little late in the season.

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Honey Buzzard

Dungeness - Hot, dry and sunny, NE 2 - A scorcher of a day that was thankfully tempered somewhat by a pleasant easterly breeze off the sea. A guided walk this morning started at Burrowes where it was good to see 12 Common Terns settling down to breed on one of the islands in front of Dennis`s hide (closed due to bees!) along with a lone Sandwich Tern. A flight of 33 Curlews came in off the bay to roost out the high tide providing a fine spectacle as they flew around calling before landing opposite the visitor centre. Amongst the nesting Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the islands (some with chicks) were several gull corpses and at least three moribund Herrings that didn`t look as though they`d last the day; Avian Flu is well and truly here. On a brighter note the old washout sand bars in front of Firth are looking good for waders with plenty of  Lapwings, four Redshanks, two Oystercatchers and two Ringed Plovers present, and hopefully a few passage waders to come as the summer progresses.

                                  Firth washout

                                  Ringed Plover, Burrowes

                                  Great Crested Grebe, ARC

                           Honey Buzzard peeling away towards Dungeness

On the way over the road we stopped at Boulderwall where at least six Cattle Egrets were feeding within the suckling herd. Walking down the track to Hanson hide I couldn`t believe my luck as the distinctive shape of a Honey Buzzard flapped low overhead being mobbed by an irate Oystercatcher! It was so close I could make out its yellow eye and the grey hood and heavily barred underparts of a dark phase adult male, what a stunner. After Whatsapping the news out the HB flew towards Dungeness where it was seen by several locals, whom I joined later on as it soared over the lighthouse, again being mobbed (this time by crows) before dropping down into the Trapping Area. This spring at the ARC I`ve already seen two Red Kites, a Black Kite and now a Honey Buzzard, so something of raptor hot-spot! Also from Hanson hide: 12 Black-tailed Godwits, four Avocets, a Glossy Ibis and all the usual wildfowl; there was no sign of yesterdays Black-necked Grebes or the Ring-necked Duck.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Black-necked Grebes

New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, SE2 - Following cool, clear conditions overnight the garden moth trap only held 10 species of macros, but did include Eyed and Poplar Hawk-moths, plus two Snouts. 

                                  Eyed Hawk-moth

                                  Black-necked Grebes, ARC

A call in at Hanson hide at midday proved profitable with a flock off 22 Black-tailed Godwits, two Avocets and a Little Ringed Plover the best of the passage waders, while out on the water three Black-necked Grebes spent most of their time underwater fishing. Plenty of common wildfowl were in front of the hide, plus Cuckoo, Hobby and Kingfisher present nearby. An evening visit to the Screen hide revealed four Glossy Ibis feeding on the islands opposite.  

Sunday 12 June 2022

New Romney

New Romney - warm, dry, sunny, SW 4-5 - A pleasant enough weekend of weather for rambling about the local countryside, the highlight being a non-specific kite high over the town just before noon receiving a `welcome` by a couple of Herring Gulls. Whilst on the subject of broad-winged raptors a Buzzard dropped into a parkland tree just down the road yesterday afternoon releasing a furious response from the rookery by Sainsbury`s. Over one hundred Rooks and Jackdaws took to the airspace above St Martin`s field making a fearsome racket that eventually drove the Buzzard `outta town`. On this morning`s Hope Lane loop walk we witnessed another mobbing episode from three crows as they harried a Raven high over the wheat fields. Yellowhammer, Linnet, Whitethroat, Reed Buntings and Warblers were all busily feeding young, while it was good to see and hear several House Martins actively nesting on the new housing estate off Cockreed Lane having gathered mud from a nearby building site. Yesterday we were also privy to watch a nest of five Kestrel chicks and a fledged Little Owl locally.

                                  Buff Ermine

                                  Marbled Minor


Since moving here the moth trapping has been somewhat disappointing, probably due to the ambient lighting in the street outside the front garden. So, last night I moved the trap out back away from the street lamp and, despite the clear sky and breeze not being ideal for trapping, pulled in 12 species of macros, including a Snout. Hopefully, the move has done the trick.

Friday 10 June 2022

Raptors and herons

Dungeness - warm, cloudy, drizzle start, brighter later, WSW 4 - Despite indifferent weather the peninsula eventually produced the goods for our guests Sue and Chris from Surrey. Amid the early morning murk at the point Black Redstarts, Wheatears (including two fledged juvs), Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and a pair of Peregrines were all eventually located, while a brief glance at the sea delivered a few Gannets, two Sandwich Terns and a Fulmar.

                                 Peregrine, A Station

                                 Fledgling Wheatears, Dungeness

                                 Southern Marsh Orchids, ARC

                                  Four-spotted Chaser, ARC

                                 Black-tailed Godwits, Hayfield 2

                                  Corn Bunting, flood field

                                  Kingfisher, Hookers

Moving onto the bird reserve where we had superb views of up to 10 Hobbies, several Marsh Harriers (including a food pass), Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrels. The hayfields came up trumps with a flock of 15 Black-tailed Godwits and the Glossy Ibis nearby, plus Corn Bunting and Yellow Wagtail along the flood field. Also noted: Cuckoo, Common Tern, Raven and Kingfisher at ARC, another Kingfisher at Hookers and Bearded Tits, Cattle Egrets on Boulderwall fields and a steady trickle of Swifts and House Martins overhead. The orchid show was also much appreciated at ARC. On a sadder note we counted 12 dead gulls on Burrowes, presumably as a result of avian flu. However, to end on a positive we ended the day recording a satisfying 83 species of birds for the guests.

Monday 6 June 2022


Dungeness - cool, cloudy, drizzle, SW 3 - Having spent the past four days trudging the farmland footpaths around NR seeing not very much new, apart from a Hobby, it was back to the bird reserve this morning, although to be fair it wasn`t much better there with the same old birds. Boulderwall fields held six Cattle Egrets and a fly over Glossy Ibis while Burrowes was yet again devoid of any terns and waders. The ARC was much better though with a host of diving ducks to sift through, a pair of Shovelers, four Black-tailed Godwits and a flight of 14 Shelduck that flew across the lake without landing. Down towards the pines a Cuckoo called from overhead wires and a Bittern broke cover over Tower Pits. At home the moth trap continues to disappoint in both low numbers and variety of species.

                                 Great Crested Grebe nest building

                                  Cuckoo on a wire

                                  Flight of 14 Shelducks over ARC.