Friday 29 July 2022


Lade - warm, dry and sunny, E4 - An early morning check of the local patch, with the emphasis on breeding birds, produced good numbers of Little and Great Crested Grebes out on the water with their young, plus four broods of Tufted Ducks. The reed beds were alive with juvenile Reed Warblers, but there was no sign of any fledged Cuckoos. Two Green Sandpipers around the margins of south lake and Sand Martins over were evidence of ongoing passage. In all the years I`ve lived here I`ve not seen the vegetation so shrivelled up, even the brambles have died back and some of the trees are already shedding leaves as a precaution against the drought. Needless to say everything is dead on the shingle ridges; grasses, gorse, broom all tinder dry and crisp-like.

                                  Grebes and Tufties, Lade

                                 Sunbathing Fox, willow swamp

After a call in at the Obs to check for any moths and a chat with DW it was onto Kerton quarry for a high tide visit. No roosting waders were present but a large flock of mixed gulls contained 100 Sandwich Terns which was great to see considering their struggle with bird flu. The bird reserve was pretty much the same as yesterday with a few passage Little Ringed Plovers and Common Sandpipers, four Glossy Ibises on ARC, four Cattle Egrets in Boulderwall fields and plenty of Sand Martins over.

                                 Mixed gull and tern flock, Kerton quarry

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Tufted Ducks

New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, NE 3 - A decent nights mothing from the garden trap with five new species including Webb`s Wainscot, Campion and, one of my favourites, Gold Spot, plus another Pebble Hook-tip. This afternoon I checked out the elm regrowth in Church Lane spinney, concentrating on two areas by the railway line where in previous summers I`ve seen White-letter Hairstreak. However, I drew a blank, but to be fair only had an hour to spare and they can be inconspicuous, spending most of their time up in the canopy feeding on honeydew. A number of Speckled Woods and Hedge Browns were on the wing along with the usual `whites`, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock. 

                                  Gold Spot


                                  Pebble Hook-tip

                                  Webb`s Wainscot

                                 Hedge Brown

Around the bird reserve Tufted Ducks aplenty are out on the water with their ducklings. The other day there were six broods on ARC, three on Burrowes and five around Lade; being a late breeder they seem to benefit from the lush ground cover in which to conceal their nests from ground predators. Hanson hide overlooking the lake and muddy islands continues to be the best spot for passage waders with small numbers of Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common and Green Sandpipers, Dunlins and Black-tailed Godwits throughout, plus yesterday another adult Curlew Sandpiper and a Ruff (flying around calling, which threw me for a bit!). Up to six Glossy Ibis, eight Cattle and a Great White Egret, Kingfisher, Common Tern, Med Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Garganey and Goldeneye have all been reported this past week, along with the usual pulses of Sand Martins and Swifts, a trickle of Yellow Wagtails over and Willow Warblers calling from cover around the car park and willow trail.

                                  Tufted Ducks, ARC

Sunday 24 July 2022

Silent Fields

New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, SW4 - Having neglected the local farmland of late we decided to  walk our normal routes around the town over the weekend where the Marsh landscape is predominantly brown and the grain harvest is starting to kick in. As is the norm in mid-summer bird song is mainly reduced to the hour around dawn, after which most species are either busily feeding juveniles or going into moult; while migrants are preparing for the long haul south with some, such as Cuckoo and Swift already gone. Looking at the warblers first, Blackcaps appear to buck the go-slow trend and are still in reasonably good voice in copses and parks hereabouts, in contrast to Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Cetti`s and Reed Warblers which have largely fallen silent, apart from their persistent contact calls, while the first passage Willow Warblers have been heard along Hope Lane. House Martins are nesting in at least three locations across the town, but only in small numbers, although Swallows appear to have done well with many fledged birds on wires and fences around stables and outbuildings along with a scattering of Pied Wagtails and plenty of House Sparrows (but nothing like the thousands we used to get around the Hertfordshire village of my youth in the 1960`s). Home spun farmland birds are in very short supply though with only a few pairs of Linnets, Chaffinches and Reed Buntings; a pair or two of Yellowhammers and Greenfinches in Hope Lane; two of  Corn Bunting and one of Yellow Wagtail on the Salts and a sprinkling of Skylarks overhead. Poor fare then, but to be expected, considering the industrial-scale arable farming on the Marsh; infact its a minor miracle anything can survive in such a hostile environment. As for non-passerines, Stock Doves and Woodpigeons are commonplace, Green Woodpeckers appear to have done well and the hooked-beak brigade of Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk have all produced fledged young. Further afield a couple of visits to the bird reserve yesterday at Dengemarsh and ARC produced the usual suspects, the highlight being a cracking adult Turnstone in breeding plumage from Hanson hide alongside the plovers and sandpipers.

                                  Hope Lane, NR

At the micro-level there has been some excitement this past week around the garden with regular bat sightings at dusk, mostly from pipistrelle types but also once or twice from a much larger beast, probably a Noctule, although a bat detector would be required to confirm the identities. New moths have been lured to light with a Pebble Hook-tip the pick of the past two nights. The buddleia bushes are starting to attract a few precious butterflies, including a cracking Comma the other day, but they really are low in both number and variety. Yesterday evening I was roused from a post gin and tonic slumber by a horrible shrieking out front, and then from the back. At first I thought it was just the local teenage hoodlums, but as I tottered out into the garden the avian equivalent hurtled over again - a damn, great, green parakeet! And to complete this weeks garden safari we`ve had a nocturnal Hedgehog visitation, judging from the presence of some very distinctive droppings...

Friday 22 July 2022

Common Sandpipers

 Greatstone - warm, dry, cloudy, SE5 - After the excitement of earlier in the week the past couple of nights have witnessed a drop in numbers and variety in the garden moth trap, mainly due to the brisk wind, although Cabbage, Turnip and Pebble Prominent were all new for the site. Following on from yesterdays Swallowtail sighting in the sand dunes I decided to check it out this morning but to no avail, apart from several Yellow Wagtails flushed from cover. Most of the bay waders were roosting at the back of Lade where a large flock of Curlews and a few Bar-tailed Godwits were on the desert at Mockmill, while hundreds of Oystercatchers settled at Kerton quarry, along with 50 Lapwings, two Redshanks, a Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, five Mediterranean Gulls, two Sandwich Terns and two Little Egrets; more Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins drifted over heading south. On the bird reserve six Common Sandpipers were noted on ARC along with five Little Ringed Plovers, two Ringed Plovers, 10 Mediterranean Gulls, a Kingfisher, two Marsh Harriers and the usual egrets, ibises, gulls and wildfowl. There was very little of note on Burrowes apart from a couple of Yellow Wagtails in front of Firth and a steady passage of Sand Martins overhead.

                                 Common Sandpiper, ARC

                          Oystercatcher with fully fledged chick, Kerton quarry

Wednesday 20 July 2022


New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, SW 4 - The past couple of nights have yielded good numbers of moths coming to light in the garden trap, particularly Monday morning when my first 50 species haul was recorded. Wormwood Pug and Canary-shouldered Thorn were both new for the site, while Privet and Elephant Hawk-moths hit double figures. The overnight temperature between the two exceptionally hot days did not fall below 20C with a peak of 33C on Tuesday afternoon, and last night`s thunder and lightening show, while spectacular, failed to deliver any worthwhile rain.

                                  Wormwood Pug

                                  Canary-shouldered Thorn

Whilst clearing the trap around 0600hrs this morning a steady passage of Swifts was of note trickling over the town heading south in the fresher, breezier and overcast weather conditions. A little later on the local sparrows alerted me to a Hobby racing overhead, the first from the garden. A midday walk along Littlestone sea front at low tide produced 10 Mediterranean Gulls within a large mixed gull flock, hundreds of Oystercatchers and Curlews on the sands and several Swifts zooming around the old water tower.

                                 Mediterranean Gulls, Littlestone

Monday 18 July 2022


 Dungeness - hot, dry and sunny, SE2 - Had an early morning visit to Lade and the bird reserve before the `heat bomb` became too unbearable. All the usual suspects were noted including a juvenile Marsh Harrier over the Willow Swamp; several Willow Warblers around the Willow Trail and ARC car park were my first of the return passage; Greenshank, Redshank, LRP, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Garganey and four Glossy Ibises from Hanson; five Cattle Egrets in Boulderwall fields, several Yellow Wagtails over; juvenile Bearded Tits, Cooks Pool; nesting Sand Martins in the wall on Burrowes.

                                 Cattle Egrets, Boulderwall fields

This afternoon around the high tide we spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the sea at Lade. Due to the heat (33C), tide and sea state and atmospheric conditions, looking out to sea the French coast appeared to be weirdly close and the mid-Channel shipping `up in the air`; such mirages are common place down here during a summer heat wave. However, it was good to see a few Sandwich Terns dipping down to take sprats as they leapt across the waves, but the highlight was a party of five adult Sanderlings that flew in across the bay and landed close by. Luckily I`d brought along my bins and camera and stood stock still in the surf as these little beauties, fresh in from their Arctic breeding grounds, scuttled around my feet, merrily feeding and calling - what a privilege!

                                             Adult Sanderlings, Lade Bay

Friday 15 July 2022

Pectoral Sandpiper

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW 3 - A mid-morning check of ARC from Hanson hide with MC revealed a newly arrived adult Pectoral Sandpiper nervously feeding on a stony island close to the Screen hide reedbed. A classic Nearctic wader that now resides in small numbers on this side of the Atlantic and always a treat to see; thanks to David Scott for the pic below as mine were of poor quality. Also noted, an Avocet, several Dunlins and Little Ringed Plovers, the usual egrets and Ibises, a Kingfisher and two Mediterraneans amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls. On Burrowes the only passage waders were eight Dunlins, four Little Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper.

                                   Pectoral Sandpiper, ARC (by D Scott)

The muggy nights continue to attract plenty of moths to the light trap with Sharp-angled Carpet and V Pug new for the garden list last night. A sea swim in Lade Bay yesterday produced four Grey Seals on the high tide and, sadly, two dead adult Gannets on the strandline, almost certainly casualties of the ongoing Avian Influenza epidemic which seems to be mostly affecting seabirds.

                                 Sharp-angled Carpet

                                  V Pug

                                 Adult Gannet, Lade Bay

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Garden moths

Dungeness - hot, dry and sunny, SW2 -  The heat wave continues, but at least there was some respite from early cloud-cover and a breeze for this morning`s guided walk on the bird reserve. Burrowes was very quiet with 100  Lapwings and a Common Sandpiper the only passage waders amongst the numerous gulls and eclipse wildfowl, while a couple of Sand Martins were flitting around the wall. From Hanson hide we had close views of a Cattle Egret and a Glossy Ibis, plus a distant Great White Egret, a Black-tailed Godwit and two Little Ringed Plovers. A flock of c100 Black-headed Gulls had settled on an island along with a Sandwich and two Common Terns.

                                     Cattle Egret, ARC

                                  Oak Eggar

                                  Small Rivulet

Needless to say with high humidity and light airs these past few nights the garden moth trap has been busy with several species new to the site, including Oak Eggar, Garden Tiger, Fen Wainscot and Small Rivulet.

Sunday 10 July 2022


Dungeness - hot, dry and sunny, SW 2 - The garden moth trap held two newcomers for the site this morning: Dun-bar and Barred Straw. On to Lade and very little to see here apart from a smart juvenile Marsh Harrier working the long reeedbed on south lake. After a moth sojourn at the Obs and a circuit of a crisp-brown Point, where the usual breeders were on offer, it was onto the bird reserve. The ARC attracted four Glossy Ibis, a Great White Egret, eight Ringed Plovers and three Black-tailed Godwits, plus a host of distant wildfowl out on the lake. On Burrowes passage waders included eight adult Dunlins in front of Firth, plus two Common Sandpipers, 10 Ringed and one Little Ringed Plover elsewhere around the pit. It was good to see some Sand Martin activity in the `wall` for the first time; whether or not they were second-brood nesters or prospecting for next year only time will tell, while small parties of migrants came and went throughout the day, mostly high overhead. Also noted several Buzzards, another juv Marsh Harrier, two Common Terns, five incoming Shelducks and a Cattle Egret on Boulderwall fields.

                                  Barred Straw 


                                  Corn Borer

                                  Glossy Ibis

                                  Passage Dunlins

                                 Common Tern, Burrowes

Ardingly Reservoir

Saturday - Ardingly Reservoir, West Sussex - hot, dry and sunny - Having dropped Pat off at the South of England Showground to attend a craft fair, I made my way to a nearby reservoir and nature reserve for the day. Ardingly Reservoir was new to me and is a 98 hectare drinking water reservoir managed by South East Water. It is well used for water sports and fishing and on a sunny day in early July it was pretty busy with people. As depicted below the water levels were dropping fast and at the quieter western end a few Lapwings had dropped in; I`m sure that one or two more waders could occur as the autumn passage picks up. Other water birds included the usual array of feral geese, Coots, Moorhens, Cormorants, gulls, 12 Great Crested Grebes and five Grey Herons. Several small reed beds held Reed Warblers and Buntings, while up to 50 House Martins dipped in and out over the water.

                                 Ardingly Reservoir

                                 Reed Bunting and Grey Heron

The surrounding woodland was very quiet bird wise, mainly due to the time of year and day, but did eventually include all the usual suspects, plus several Marsh Tits, a species I rarely see now. A Tawny Owl was unusually vocal with juvs nearby and Buzzards were common place. A few common butterflies and dragonflies were on the wing as the sun broke through and the heat built during the afternoon, so all things considered a pretty decent outing. 

Friday 8 July 2022

Juvenile birds

Scotney - hot, dry and sunny, N2 - Haven`t been here for a while so tried an early morning visit to avoid the heat. The front fields were bone dry but did attract 20 Curlews and a couple of hundred feral geese. Outback it was a similar picture with few birds on offer and no sign of any Yellow Wagtails or Corn Buntings. Moving onto the bird reserve at the ARC where most of yesterdays passage waders had departed leaving just singles of Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin, plus the usual Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwings, Avocets, Glossy Ibises, Little, Cattle and Great White Egrets and wildfowl. On the lake from the south end I managed to locate the elusive summering duck Goldeneye. Burrowes pit was very quiet due to ongoing work on Dennis`s hide and boat work on the lake. At least four broods of Tufted Ducks were noted across the site and two juvenile Marsh Harriers at Dengemarsh.

                                 Egyptian Geese, Scotney

                                 Juvenile Buzzard, Scotney

This week I`ve spent a fair bit of time walking the farmland tracts around New Romney where it appears that some of the more common species have had a good breeding season, particularly House Sparrows, Green Woodpeckers, Jackdaws and Starlings which seem to be everywhere, but also Reed Warblers and Whitethroats amongst the summer visitors. Across the town House Martins are actively nesting at three separate sites, but only in small numbers.

                                  House Sparrows and Hedge Brown, Hope Lane