Wednesday 31 August 2022


Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, NE 5 - A stiff breeze blowing across the Marsh prevented any chance of passerines at Lade first thing, while even the wildfowl were sheltering in the willow swamp bay. From Springfield Bridge the Pectoral Sandpiper from Monday was viewable alongside two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers, several Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Redshank, Snipe, Green and Common Sandpipers, plus the usual array of egrets, ibis, ducks and geese, and 20 Yellow Wagtails on the roadside fields. A Dotterel reported calling over Galloways this morning by MC was still present mid-morning vocalising over the sheep fold under the pylons by Brickwall Farm. I only heard it (a high-pitched `tuwee`) but a group of birders also saw it flying around just before I arrived; despite a thorough search of the stony field it could not be relocated on the deck. 

                                   Wheatear, Galloways

The only bird of note around NR these past few days has been an Osprey that flew over the town late on Monday afternoon while we were in the Cinque Port Arms garden. It drifted off south being pursued by the local HGs and was probably the same bird found fishing over ARC the following morning.

Monday 29 August 2022

Spotted Redshanks

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, NE 3 - Following a couple of days of insanity in Brighton it was good to get back to some sort of normality back home on the Marsh! I started off with an early morning seawatch from the hide at the point where the highlights were  two Arctic Skua, two Common Terns and 12 Common Scoters east, plus 20 each of Gannet and Sandwich Terns coming and going. A circuit of the bushes, moat and south Trapping Area yielded very little of note apart  from a few common warblers and chats. 

                                 Spotted Redshank, ARC

Moving onto ARC where a feast of waders awaited from Hanson and Screen hides including three Spotted Redshanks, one of which landed close to Hanson hide, 10 Redshanks, 15 Dunlins, 10 Ringed Plovers, two Wood Sandpipers, five Common Sandpipers, two juvenile Little Stints, five Snipes, 15 Dunlins, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Lapwings, 50 Golden Plovers and a Curlew. Also, another Pectoral Sandpiper was located on Dengemarsh.

Friday 26 August 2022

Passage migrants

 Lade - Warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Another fine day in paradise that delivered a few passage migrants too. I started off at the ponds where Willow Warblers were much in evidence along with several Blackcaps, Lesser and Common Whitethroats. A stake out overlooking the reedbed below the aerial revealed a few Reed Warblers and a bright Sedge Warbler that had me going for a while, considering the time of year. The lakes held the usual egrets, common wildfowl and grebes while a couple of Wheatears zipped along the fence posts at the southern end. A check of the bay on the incoming tide produced the same waders as yesterday, although the viewing wasn`t great due to the bright sunshine.

                                  Wheatears, Dungeness

                                  Glossy Ibis, ARC

Moving onto Dungeness where more Willow Warblers and Wheatears were noted along with a light passage of Yellow Wagtails overhead. At DBO a Grasshopper Warbler and Tree Pipit were ringed earlier, plus a scattering of Common Redstarts, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers reported across the  peninsula. There were no additions to the waders at ARC this morning, apart from a pair of Avocets, although the first Little Stint of autumn was located this afternoon (MC). A Spotted Flycatcher was at the pines along with more common warblers. 

Thursday 25 August 2022

Wader day

 Lade - warm, cloudy, NW 2 - Despite glowering skies and high humidity the much forecast thunderstorms failed to materialise down here on the Marsh with barely a dribble of rain all morning. A scan of the sands on a flood tide from the Tavern viewpoint produced nine species of shorebirds including 180 Dunlins on the gloopy mud close in and a Whimbrel amongst a couple of hundred Curlews further out. Only a few each of Turnstone, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot, while Ringed Plovers were down to 50 and Oystercatcher the most numerous. At least 20 Sandwich and five Common Terns present.

                   Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Common Sandpiper, ARC

A midday call in at Hanson hide added more waders to the day count as follows: Lapwing 200, Golden Plover 160, Dunlin 50, Black-tailed Godwit 17, Snipe 10, Ringed Plover 10, Wood Sandpiper three, Ruff three, Common Sandpiper two and a Redshank totalling 17 species across both sites, and with Dengemarsh and Burrowes also looking wader friendly, it surely can`t be too long until something rare turns up... Due to the drizzle hirundines were everywhere with hundreds of Sand Martins sat on the shingle ridges and Swallows weighing down the overhead power lines in the car park. All the usual egrets, Ibis and common wildfowl present.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Shorebirds and wagtails

 Lade Bay - warm, dry and cloudy, SW 2 - Checked the bay from Greatstone this morning on a falling tide where the sand and mud was smothered in seabirds, mostly large gulls, but also 200 Sandwich Terns and about 20 Common Terns. Eight species of waders were noted: 150 Ringed Plover, 800 Oystercatcher, 380 Curlew, 50 Dunlin, 20 Knot and a few Redshank, Sanderlings and Bar-tailed Godwit. Most surprising of all though was a wayward Tufted Duck that flew along the tideline before landing on the sea amongst the Black-backs!

                                 Sandwich Terns, Greatstone beach

                                  Wood Sandpiper, ARC

                                  Green Sandpiper

                                 Black-tailed Godwits and Ruffs

This evening, together with CP, we joined several other locals in Hanson hide where close views were enjoyed of a Wood and Green Sandpiper, five Snipe, two Ruff, 18 Black-tailed Godwits and a juvenile Water Rail. Also noted across the lake, five Common Sandpipers, a Redshank, six Glossy Ibis, two Great White Egrets, two Garganeys, a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard, plus all the usual common wildfowl and gulls.

                                 Yellow Wagtails, Dengemarsh

We then drove round to Springfield Bridge where up to 150 Yellow Wagtails flew in settling on the hayfield fences and on islands out on the lake, prior to roosting in the reedbeds alongside Sand Martins. Another Wood and Green Sandpiper here too.

Monday 22 August 2022


Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW2 - Another superb day of summer sunshine, perfect for a circuit of the bird reserve, starting at the ARC where the diggers have finished reconfiguring the islands in front of Hanson hide, and very smart it looks too. The wetlands were packed with a feast of wildfowl, egrets and waders including 200 Lapwings, 30 Golden Plovers, 20 Black-tailed Godwits, 15 Little and five Great White Egrets and 10 Grey Herons, while five Spoonbills dropped in this afternoon (MC). The reedbeds and sallows across the site were jumping with good numbers of Willow, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, Lesser and Common Whitethroats and Blackcaps. On Burrowes three fledged Common Terns were noted, more Black-tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers, 10 Ringed and one Little Ringed Plover, while four Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier soared over the car park. Dengemarsh held two Wood Sandpipers, two Greenshanks, ten Snipe and four Glossy Ibis amongst an assortment of wildfowl and egrets. In total, after a check of the bay, 15 species of waders were noted today.

                                  View from Hanson hide of the new islands                                  

                                  Black-tailed Godwits, ARC

                                 Snipe, ARC

A brief look at the sea early afternoon from the boardwalk at Dungeness delivered thousands of gulls just offshore feeding on sprats along with several Gannets and passing Sandwich Terns, plus a single west bound dark phase Arctic Skua close in (a flock of 17 was seen by JS at 1500hrs).

Sunday 21 August 2022


New Romney - warm, dry and sunny, SW2 - Stayed local this weekend with morning walkouts from home. Today`s wander around the Hope Lane loop was the most profitable with a female/juv type Redstart briefly seen flicking off a fence line and into a hedge by the old farmhouse, and my first here. Almost as surprising were two Tree Sparrows overhead calling by the stables where also a few Linnets, Goldfinches and Pied Wagtails noted. Needless to say water levels in the sewers and ditches are well down in this drought year but continue to harbour a few tardy Reed Warblers and Buntings and a single Little Egret. The bone-dry stubble fields were devoid of birds apart from corvids, Woodpigeons, Stock Doves and the occasional Yellow Wagtail over, while the hedgerows along the lane attracted a couple of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat, plus two Hummingbird Hawk-moths and several Common Darters. The garden moth trap hasn`t thrown up any surprises of late, although a `brown` Yellow Shell, one of the most variable of macros, had me struggling for a while.

                                  Dried up drainage sewer

                                 Yellow Shell

I stopped to chat with a ploughman who`d just finished converting a stubble field by the bridge into a surface suitable for sowing grass seed for the local turf company. The final process involves a series of heavy rollers being towed behind a tractor flattening the field into a billiard-table finish complete with tiny furrows to accept the seed from the hoppers, all of which was completed in one super-efficient pass. He said now all that was needed was rain within the next ten days to germinate the seeds, otherwise water sprinklers would have to be brought in. I noticed that the seed furrows were left mostly uncovered and asked (rhetorically) whether this would cause a problem from seed-eating birds? "What birds, there ain`t none" he retorted. It was a fair comment, I suppose... 

                                  Newly sown turf field, New Romney

Thursday 18 August 2022

Yellow Wagtails

Dengemarsh - warm, muggy, SW 3 - A check of Lade this morning revealed the White Stork still on its lofty roost site atop the mobile phone mast. The recently emerged islands in front of the wall mirror  attracted a few ducks, gulls and Cormorants, while Willow and Reed Warblers, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were noted by the ponds. 

                                  Dengemarsh from Springfield Bridge

                                  Yellow Wagtails on Dengemarsh Road

A noon scan of Dengemarsh from Springfield Bridge yielded a host of passage waders on the muddy fringes including 10 Green and five Wood Sandpipers, three Greenshanks and 12 Black-tailed Godwits. Also noted a Hobby that caught what looked like a cock chaffer, a Raven over calling, four Glossy Ibis, two Great White Egrets, a Marsh Harrier and several Common Terns. Yellow Wagtails have shown a rapid decline in numbers during my short time living down here, both as a breeding bird and on migration, so it was good to see a flock of up to 50 in the fields by the wetlands and along the road. Mid- August to mid-September is the peak autumn passage period for this elegant summer visitor that not only looks gorgeous but also has a distinctive and evocative flight call. For me, when the last one departs our shores, usually in October, I know that summer is definitely over and that its time to put away the shorts until next spring. Long may they grace our marshlands in the future.   

Wednesday 17 August 2022

White Stork

Dungeness - overcast, muggy, showers later, NE 3 - Having been off grid for a week at Fairport Convention`s Cropredy music festival, in baking hot Oxfordshire sunshine, it felt good to get back home to the cool and breezy marshlands. However, I then spent most of yesterday in bed with the lergy, whilst hearing reports of White Storks dispersing along the south coast from the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, including several over Lade and one that settled on the mobile phone mast by the bridge during the afternoon. Incredibly it was still present this morning, on an adjacent power line pole, before lifting off at around 0930hrs and incurring the wrath of the local HGs. It then roof-hopped for a while before flying over the camp and on for a tour of the peninsula. Quite a spectacle then, even though they are a tad `plastic`. Even more surprising was that it returned to roost on the phone mast this evening (OL)!

                                  GB08, Lade

Moving onto proper birding (whatever that may be!). Along the access road to the bird reserve six Cattle Egrets were in the Boulderwall fields amongst the cows while a female Redstart was a surprise find on the fence by the bee-hive bend. A guided walk around the circular trail for six guests was highly profitable, particularly at Dengemarsh where the drought conditions had produced plenty of islands on the lake in front of the hide, the best I`ve seen since 2007. Ongoing conservation work on the ARC had conveniently dispersed birds our way including six Glossy Ibis, four Great White and 11 Little Egrets, four Grey Herons, 12 Black-tailed Godwits, a Redshank, hundreds of common wildfowl and gulls, while a  party of 10 Common Terns came and went. Also noted two Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Kestrel, Hobby, several Bearded Tits, a Kingfisher and Cetti`s Warblers on Hookers; from the Return Trail several Yellow Wagtails and Linnets over, a Green Woodpecker, two Whinchats, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow and Sedge Warblers. We finished off on Burrowes with eight Ringed Plovers, three Dunlins and a Little Ringed Plover in front of Makepeace Lookout, plus all the usual wildfowl and gulls. Full marks to the RSPB for the new North Atlantic Right Whale display in the VC. 

                                  Cattle Egret, Boulderwall fields

                                 Dengemarsh lake with islands

                                 Bird biomass, Kerton Road quarry

                                  Mostly gulls and terns

                                  Mostly geese and Oycs

On the way home (just before a hefty shower doused us with some welcome wet stuff) I called in at the Kerton Road quarry for the high tide roost where a couple of thousand birds comprised mostly large gulls and feral geese, c600 Oystercatchers, c150 Sandwich Terns, c50 Cormorants, four Redshanks and two Common Sandpipers. Another Whinchat and three Stonechats noted in the triangle.

                                Scarce Bordered Straw, new for the garden trap

Monday 8 August 2022

Brownfields of Romney Marsh

 New Romney - Hot, dry and sunny, NE 2 - Walking the local lanes and footpaths around town over the weekend was a pretty grim experience with the landscape brown as a crisp and just as crunchy. The wheat and barley has nearly all been cut and the only hint of greenery is along the reed-fringed sewer margins. Along Hope Lane some of the hedgerow shrubs are beginning to die back due to the drought with guelder-rose being particularly effected along with large swathes of dead brambles. Butterflies seem to be pitifully low in number just about everywhere this summer, such is the `effectiveness` of agricultural sprays drifting into hedgerow margins. A couple of passage Willow Warblers were noted along the lane yesterday, while Buzzards seem to have had a good breeding season; goodness knows what they find to feed on though... The  moth trap has been poor of late due to the cool, clear nights, although a Gypsy moth was new last night. This morning a Hummingbird Hawk-moth spent some time on the garden salvia hot lips. 

                                  Hope Lane

                                  Gypsy Moth

                                  Hummingbird Hawk-moth on the garden hot-lips

This morning I checked in at the bird reserve where once again ARC was the most profitable part with all the usual egrets and ibis from Hanson hide along with six Black-tailed godwits, five each of Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin (including my first juvenile) and Common Sandpiper, three Ringed Plovers and a Snipe on the wader front; surely its only a matter of time until a quality peep, shank or plover drops in... Also noted plenty of eclipse ducks and geese, Dabchick, Kingfisher, Common Tern, Reed Warbler, Water Rail and several Willow Warblers in the bushes around the car park and from the willow trail.

                                            Black-tailed Godwits, ARC

                                            Red Underwing, Dennis`s hide