Monday 31 October 2022

Ring Ouzel

 Warm, dry and sunny, SE 2 - Another glorious morning with warm sunshine throughout. I started at Scotney where the usual hoards of Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Wigeon, Cormorants, gulls and feral geese were present on the main front lakes and margins, along with several Curlew, Redshank, Ruff and a Green Sandpiper (the drake Long-tailed Duck was also seen by MC). At Galloways a skulking Dartford Warbler could be heard in the scrub by the layby along with a few Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Skylarks and Linnets elsewhere; also, five Kestrels and a Merlin chasing a Skylark. There was little on offer at ARC from Hanson hide, although I didn`t stay for long as news came through of a trapped Ring Ouzel at the Obs, which I just managed to see (thanks to the staff for putting out the news). As the wind was from the fabled south-east I tried a seawatch from the boats but there was little movement with just 20 Razorbills, six Mediterranean Gulls and a Kittiwake noted in 45 minutes.

                                 Ring Ouzel, DBO

                                  Scarce Bordered Straw

It was a successful night in the garden moth trap with a Scarce Bordered Straw new for the site and yet another Vestal.

Sunday 30 October 2022

Garden Firecrest

New Romney - Following two mild nights over the weekend there was plenty of interest in the garden moth trap including a migrant Clancy`s Rustic, another four Vestals and three vitrealis the highlights from over 20 species. Plenty of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs continue to be noted around the garden while a Firecrest was my first since moving here over a year ago. Saturday afternoon the temperature peaked at a ridiculous 21 C. I walked down Church Lane to the spinney in shorts and t-shirt where up to four Jays were present, plus more chiffs and crests, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a flock of Long-tailed Tits. Due to drilling operations the arable land on Romney Salts was full of activity from large flocks of pigeons, corvids and gulls, plus ten Pied Wagtails, two Kestrels and a Buzzard. Once the rain had cleared on Sunday we walked the Hope Lane loop north of the town where five Redwings and a Yellowhammer were the only notable birds.

                                 November Moth

Palpita vitrealis   


                                   Beaded Chestnut

                                 Dead Badger, Romney Salts

Friday 28 October 2022

Autumn Moths

 Warm, dry and sunny, SW4 - A terrific session in the garden moth trap this morning with 12 species of  macros and several micros including two migrant Palpita vitrealis. However, the highlight was a superb Crimson Speckled on the shed wall by the trap; inevitable considering the recent unprecedented influx, and my fourth pink Vestal of autumn (yesterday I saw two more Crimson Speckled moths at Dungeness, while another was photographed at Lade pits by KP-S). Whilst clearing the trap Chiffchaff and Goldcrest could be heard in the garden shrubs with Grey Wagtail and Raven calling overhead. Scotney front pits and sward was alive with several thousand Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Wigeons and associated gulls, Cormorants, common geese and ducks. In the mix were four Ruffs, two Redshanks and a late Yellow Wagtail. The drake Long-tailed Duck from earlier in the week was still present on the main lake, in near full winter plumage and one of the best specimens I have ever seen down here; unfortunately though it tends to stick to the far side of the water, spending more time below the surface than on top. I called in at the bird reserve where the usual suspects were on show from Hanson hide (per MC) while Burrowes was quiet due to staff clearing vegetation on the islands.

                                            Crimson Speckled, New Romney

                                 Juvenile Gannet, Dungeness

A one hour seawatch (1145-1245 hrs) from the fishing boats was notable for a west bound Puffin (only my third here) amongst a steady trickle of 20 Razorbills and 50 Gannets. Also noted 10 Brents, two Sandwich Terns, four Kittiwakes, two Turnstones, an Arctic Tern and an Arctic Skua, plus an inbound Sparrowhawk and Merlin.


Thursday 27 October 2022

Grey Phalarope

Dungeness - mild, dry and sunny, SW 5 - A one hour seawatch from the fishing boats this afternoon at high tide, looking out over a choppy sea in good light produced a steady westward passage of Gannets, auks, Kittiwakes Common and Black-headed Gulls. Also in the mix, 15 Brent Geese, two Red-throated Divers, an Arctic Skua, ten Little Gulls and four Sandwich Terns; plus three Swallows out, a trickle of Goldfinches along the foreshore and a Wheatear on the beach. However, the highlight was a Grey Phalarope (reported by SM earlier) that showed briefly at some distance on the colour change around 1300hrs. 

                                   Sanderlings, Lade bay

I called in at the Tavern viewpoint on a falling tide this afternoon where six species of waders included a flock of 40 Sanderlings along the tideline. There was nothing new on Lade pits from yesterday.  

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Crimson Speckled

 Warm, dry and sunny, SW 4-5 - The unseasonably mild weather continues, mainly due to a plume of warm air streaming up from the Azores with daytime temperatures reaching a heady 20C in NR this afternoon. As a result a number of rare, immigrant Crimson Speckled moths have been displaced from their range across the  Mediterranean Basin and reported locally, with one being found at DBO by JTM this morning. No doubt many more are out there awaiting discovery, and hopefully one will grace me with its presence in the garden trap over the coming days...

                                 Crimson Speckled, DBO

    Great Crested Grebes, Lade pits

I called in at Lade where the rising water level is rapidly flooding over the islands on south lake; another week or so and it will return to being a large lake again, but for now a handful each of  Grey Heron, Great White and Little Egrets were still present. Great Crested and Little Grebes have both fared well this year, plundering the fish-rich wetlands, although numbers of the former are now well down as birds return to the sea for the winter. Nothing much had changed on the bird reserve since last week where a Hobby and two Little Stints were the highlights on ARC and a Peregrine spooked the waders and wildfowl.

Monday 24 October 2022

Short-eared Owl

Pagham Harbour - mild, showery, S 2-4 - Just back from a family long weekend at Pagham in West Sussex during which time the weather was unpredictable to say the least, with at times, violent thunderstorms followed by blazing sunshine. However, I managed a few hours early morning birding around the lagoon, foreshore, beach and the mudflats on the eastern side of the harbour, a part of the RSPB reserve. The highlight was this morning when a dog-walker flushed a stunning Short-eared Owl from a clump of marram grass along the beach. Viz migging on two mornings was also profitable with a steady flow of west-bound Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Linnet, plus several Redpoll, Siskin, Reed Bunting, a Swallow and a Lapland Bunting. Coastal scrub attracted a few grounded Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and a Fieldfare, while a line of elms by the church and around the graveyard held a host of Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and two Firecrests yesterday. The harbour was full of `braying` Brents and `whistling` Wigeon along with plenty of waders such as Curlew, Redshank, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher and Dunlin. Happy days! 

                                 Redshank, Pagham Harbour

Thursday 20 October 2022

Red-necked Phalarope

Warm and showery AM, dry and sunny PM, SW5 - A cracking day guiding for Clare and Peter started with a one hour seawatch from the hide (0900-1000hrs) which saw a steady passage of seabirds down Channel including: 100 auks, 50 Gannet, 10 Kittiwake, a Shelduck, two Mallard, 20 Teal, 25 Pintail, a Scaup, 250 Common Scoter and six Red-breasted Merganser, plus three Mediterranean Gulls, two Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua tooing and froing. Around the point plenty of Goldfinches, a few Chaffinches, Linnets and Meadow Pipits, while a circuit of the moat produced several each of Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Chiffchaff, Stonechat, a Goldcrest and two Firecrests.

                                  Red-necked Phalarope, Rye Harbour

                                  Redshank, Rye Harbour

Moving onto Rye Harbour and the Beach Reserve where waders included 20 Dabchicks, 100 Goldies and a scattering of Lapwings, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Grey Plovers, Curlews, Wigeons, Pintails, Little Egrets and a Sparrowhawk round the Beach Reserve. We yomped down to Harbour Farm pools where we eventually connected with the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope that had been present since last weekend. All in all a pretty good three days birding for Clare and Peter during which time we racked up exactly 100 species of birds.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Winter thrushes

 Warm, dry and sunny, E5 - A stiff wind from the east made for difficult birding conditions for guests on a guided tour of the circular route where 11 Great White Egrets were on Burrowes along with the usual raft of common wildfowl, Cormorants, gulls and Lapwings. Around the trail Chiffchaffs and Robins were mostly heard and not seen due to the wind, plus Stonechat, Blackbird, Redwing and a Ring Ouzel near the ramp (more Redwings were heard over NR last night and around dawn). From the shelter of the hide viewing over Dengemarsh was most productive with close views of a Spoonbill, three Black-tailed Godwits, a Dunlin and numerous Teals, Gadwalls, Wigeons and Lapwings; further out on the islands 100 nervous Goldies were continually spooked by two Marsh Harriers. Also noted on the islands 10 Pintails, three Little Egrets, three Ruffs, six Snipes and two Marsh Harriers. The walk back to the VC was largely uneventful apart from four Cattle Egrets on the hayfields and several Kestrels.

                                 Spoonbill, Dengemarsh

                                 Wildfowl and waders, Dengemarsh

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Ring Ouzels

 Warm, dry and sunny, NE 2-3 - A guiding day for Clare and Peter commenced at Scotney in fine autumn weather with hundreds of common wildfowl, Goldies and Lapwings on the front pits along with several Ruff, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin and two Green Sandpipers out back. Also noted: an overhead trickle of Skylarks, plus 30 on one of the back fields, Grey and Yellow Wagtail over, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits, 180 Egyptian Geese, Raven, Peregrine and Marsh Harrier. At Galloways two Ring Ouzels showed briefly along with at least ten Stonechats and a Chiffchaff. Highlights around the bird reserve included a juvenile Long-tailed Duck, four Little Stints and two Glossy Ibis on ARC and six Cattle Egrets in the Boulderwall fields. At Dungeness we called in at the Obs to admire the Death`s-head Hawk-moth, while a seawatch from the boats produced a few Gannets and Razorbills and three Mediterranean Gulls rounding the point and a Caspo in the puddles. We finished the afternoon at the Tavern viewpoint on a rising tide for thousands of gulls, Curlews and Oystercatchers, pus 10 Sanderlings and two Little Egrets on the bay sands.

                                           Long-tailed Duck and Glossy Ibis, ARC

Sunday 16 October 2022


Mild, showery, SW 3 - This past week out and about around the local patch hasn`t produced much out of the ordinary, considering the time of year. Having said that circuits of the bird reserve have yielded all the usual suspects such as Cattle and Great White Egrets, two Glossy Ibis (ARC and Boulderwall), a Long-tailed Duck on ARC, though elusive at times, Kingfishers, Merlin, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, up to five Little Stints from Hanson hide along with Ruff, Snipe, Golden Plover and Dunlin. Chiffchaffs continue to be numerous at Lade ponds, while plenty of Stonechats, Kestrels and Swallows are still trickling through. Gulls are plentiful on the lakes and if ring numbers and the Caspo/Yellow/Herring tribe are your bag then you`ll be in heaven! A Dartford Warbler was in the triangle on Friday with others noted at Lade and by the train station at Dungeness. Visits to Scotney front fields and pits yielded small numbers of Ruff, Green Sandpiper and Redshank amongst the hoards of Goldies and Lapwings, Wigeons and feral geese. Closer to home the only noteworthy from my farmland walks has been a single Snipe flushed from the Hope Lane loop and a meagre overhead passage of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. On Saturday morning a large skein of high-flying geese `yapping` away over the town, that I only saw for an instant, and heading south were probably Pink-feet. The garden bird bath has been popular with Chiffchaffs, while the best of the autumn moths from the trap has been a Vestal.

                                 Vestal, Feathered Ranunculus and Blair`s-shoulder Knot, NR

                                  Dark Mullein, Lade

This morning a circular walk around Lade pits delivered eight Great White and 11 Little Egrets, ten Swallows and four Sand Martins. Today was the first of the winter season harrier roost counts where I joined Chris P at our usual site on Walland Marsh in a fine drizzle. Twelve Marsh Harriers eventually came to roost and we had good views of a Barn Owl, but little else.

                                 Barn Owl, Walland Marsh

Monday 10 October 2022


Cool, cloudy, showery - A much chillier feel to the weather this morning once the rain band had rattled through from the north-west. At Lade (a first for me) a not unexpected sighting of a Spoonbill on one of the distant islands on south lake along with five Great White Egrets, 10 Little Egrets and eight Grey Herons; I`ve had flyover Spoonies before here. Watched a life and death struggle as a Merlin chased a Skylark (unsuccessfully) high over the shingle ridges. 

                                 Distant Spoonbill, Lade south

                                  Grey Plovers, Burrowes

Around the bird reserve six Grey Plovers and a Dunlin were in front of Firth while a shoal of fish attracted 100 Cormorants, 10 Great White and 15 Little Egrets and 10 Grey Herons to feed. On Boulderwall fields two Glossy Ibis and eight Cattle Egrets. From Hanson hide another Merlin, a Snipe, a Little Stint and hundreds of gulls, and from where the Long-tailed Duck was seen during the afternoon.  

Sunday 9 October 2022

Sabine`s Gull

Warm, dry and sunny, S3 - Another fine day to be out and about birding started at Scotney where the usual crop of feral geese, ducks and waders were present including three Ruff and five Curlews on the sward but no sign of the recent Spoonbills. Moving on to Galloways and Dengemarsh Gully where the most noticeable birds were Stonechats and Kestrels with at least 30 and 20 respectively of each noted across both sites, plus a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, Goldfinches, Linnets, Reed Buntings, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Robins; typical October fare really. At Dungeness it was more of the same around the Desert, and Moat (where a Yellow-browed Warbler had been seen earlier), plus a trickle of southbound Swallows.

                                 Sabine`s Gull, Dungeness

It was then onto the fishing boats where David Scott had found a juvenile Sabine`s Gull, that fortunately hung around during the afternoon and showed quite well at times (thanks to Vicky and Graham for the heads up!), flying up and down the strandline and settling on the sea. My pics above don`t do this cracking pelagic gull justice but David`s do (thanks for sending them through); there should also be plenty of others on the DBO and Ploddingbirder blogs later. Also offshore a few Sandwich Terns, Arctic Skuas, Brent Geese and two Red-throated Divers. I finished the day at Lade for the WeBS count and the beach where a couple of Knots were amongst the usual shorebirds.

    Small Tortoiseshell on our garden wall

    Juvenile Sabine`s Gull, Dungeness (by David Scott)

Friday 7 October 2022

Common Darters

Mild, cloudy, showers, W4 - Spent some time first thing this morning checking through the bushes at Lade ponds where there was a large overnight fall of Chiffchaffs and Robins, but little else apart from the odd Blackbird and Chaffinch and a party of Long-tailed Tits. A hefty cloud burst forced down several hundred migrating hirundines, over the willow swamp, that comprised mainly Swallows and Sand Martins. The islands and margins across the site attracted hundreds of Cormorants, three Great White, ten Little Egrets and ten Grey Herons. 

                                 Pintails, ARC

                                  Common Darters, Willow Trail

The only change on the bird reserve was a female/immature Long-tailed Duck on ARC found by OL, and a different bird from the drake a week ago at Lade. It spent more time under the water than on the surface while I was on site and could be seen at distance from Hanson hide over towards the causeway. The wind picked up making for difficult birding conditions, although in the shelter of the willow trail hundreds of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters were active with many basking on the boardwalk in the dappled sunshine.

Thursday 6 October 2022

Clouded Yellow

 Warm, dry and sunny, W3 - Cracking morning to be out in the field, commencing at Scotney where three Spoonbills were still loitering on the front pit by the workings, with Bearded Tit and Kingfisher in one of the reedbeds. Elsewhere across the front pits and sward they was a noticeable decrease in waders from my last visit on Monday with only a handful of Golden Plovers, Curlews, Redshanks, Dunlins and Lapwings, three Green Sandpipers and an absence of Ruff. Around 500 Greylags flew in on the main lake joining hundreds of Barnacle, Canada and Egyptian Geese, Wigeon and Teal. Passerines were few with two flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets over and a trickle of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. It was quiet in the farmyard and out back due to farming operations, although Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier all noted.

                                  Spoonbills, Scotney

                                 Clouded Yellow, Springfield Bridge

                                 Cattle Egrets, Dengemarsh

From Springfield Bridge a smart Clouded Yellow was present for half an hour in the lee of the bramble patch, basking in the sun and feeding on late flowering plants. Six Cattle Egrets followed the cows by the sewer and scores of House Martins and Swallows hawked over the main reedbed. The lake islands were dominated by gulls and Lapwings.

                                  Brents Geese on the move, Dungeness

Yesterdays one hour seawatch from the fishing boats in blustery weather conditions produced a Balearic Shearwater down Channel along with a trickle of Brents, Gannets, Common Scoters, Sandwich Terns and Arctic Skuas.