Friday 25 November 2022


 Warm, dry and sunny, W2 - The weather continues to be unseasonably mild allowing plenty of insects still to be active, particularly in the sun traps around the Willow Trail on ARC, where a Water Rail also scurried across the boardwalk this morning. From Hanson hide a female Goldeneye showed well on the lake, while seven Black-tailed Godwits roosted on the near island amongst the usual ducks. A Kingfisher zipped by and a distant harrier into the sun was probably the ringtail harrier seen later from the hide. Six Cattle Egrets and two Glossy Ibis were on the Boulderwall fields along with hundreds of feral geese, Lapwings, Wigeons and three Great White Egrets.

                                    Goldeneye, ARC

The front field at Scotney was packed out with feral geese, Wigeons, Lapwings, Starlings and two Curlews. On the main lake two Little Gulls were at the Sussex end along with the expected wildfowl.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Little Gull

Dungeness RSPB - wet start, dry and sunny later SW 5 - A guided walk on the bird reserve for three guests this morning commenced in heavy rain; mercifully though it soon cleared enabling a thorough grilling of Burrowes where the highlight was an adult Little Gull blown in off the sea. Nine Pintails was the best of the ducks alongside c500 Teals and c200 Shovelers. As the sun broke through at least four different Marsh Harriers were soon on the wing over the Oppen Pits, with a smart juvenile flying overhead at the Scott Lookout where Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler also noted. In the shelter of the bund in front of Firth further warblers and tits were present and a Kingfisher flashed by. Two Kestrels were quick off the mark after the rain with a male seen to take large worm by the pond and a female a bird from a mixed tit flock near the feeders containing mostly Long-tailed Tits. We paused at Boulderwall checking the wet fields for Lapwings, Grey Herons, Gadwalls, Little and Great White Egrets. From Hanson hide the roosting Wigeons on the near islands showed well in the bright sunshine along with two Black-tailed Godwits, from where the guests enjoyed further good views of Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret, while a Red Admiral and a Common Darter were still active in the sun-traps from the Willow Trail.

Monday 21 November 2022


Dungeness - cold, cloudy, good viz, SSE 4-5 - 0915 - 1120hrs - Joined the locals at the fishing boats for a seawatch this morning in ideal weather conditions, and what a cracker it turned out to be. From the get-go the bread-and-butter was provided by hundreds of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks (mostly Razorbills), either streaming west (some cutting in close to shore) or feeding in frenzied flocks upon shoals of fish further out - a wonderous spectacle indeed. Two brown Eiders (scarce here) were bobbing about a few yards off the shingle beach, while a juvenile Sabine`s Gull flew to and fro on several occasions throughout the watch


                                 Sabine`s Gull

                                  Kittiwakes on the move

Two flocks of Teal rushed through as well as several Common Scoters, a pair of Eiders, a Velvet Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Brent Goose, three Fulmars, a Dunlin and at least 50 Little Gulls in scattered parties at various distances. A score of head-nodding Red-throated Divers passed close inshore along with singles of Black-throated and Great Northern Diver, and a Bonxie and two Pomarine Skuas further out. But the jam in the sandwich belonged to the auks with a single Little Auk and no less than FOUR westbound Puffins (I`ve only ever seen three since moving here almost 17 years ago!) rounding off a seawatch of unrivalled variety. A fuller account of the whole watch will, I`m sure, be posted on Trektellen this evening. 

Sunday 20 November 2022

Bewick`s Swans

 Warm, dry and sunny, NW2 - Once the early morning rain cleared it turned into a fine late autumn day with warm sunshine encouraging a Common Darter and a Red Admiral onto the wing in the shelter of Lade ponds. On south lake a count of 235 Shovelers was of note. Around the bird reserve it was a case of `as you were`, with six Cattle Egrets and a pair of Glossy Ibis on the Boulderwall fields. The first Bewick`s Swans of the season were located this morning when Martin C noted eight birds flying towards Lydd. They were soon located in the oil-seed rape field (the same one as last winter) off Dennes Lane where they hunkered down in amongst a herd of 80 Mute Swans. When I arrived on site just after midday only a juvenile occasionally popped its head up, the others being slumped low down in the crop or asleep.

                                  Whooper Swans, Walland Marsh

This afternoon I joined Chris P on the monthly harrier roost count at our usual spot on Walland Marsh where 14 Marsh Harriers came to roost in wet and windy conditions. Whilst there we noted two Whoopers Swans strutting around and calling in a corn field and nine Bewick`s Swans (four adults, five juvs) flighting in to roost on the nearby reservoir. Also present, a Barn Owl, five Buzzards, 12 Snipes, c300 Fieldfares, calling Water Rail and Cetti`s Warbler and Golden Plovers over in the gloom on the walk back to the car.

                                  Sunset over Walland Marsh

Friday 18 November 2022

Clouded Yellow

 Warm, dry and sunny, NW 2 - After several days of poor weather it felt great to get out and about this morning, commencing at Scotney where up 1,000 feral Greylag and Canada Geese were on the flooded roadside sward, along with a handful of Curlews, Redshanks and a Ruff, plus all the usual Lapwings, Teals, Shovelers and Wigeons. A drive out across Walland farmland searching for any early wild swans or geese drew a blank, although a stubble field along Swamp Lane attracted 80 Mute Swans along with 20 Skylarks and a few Meadow Pipits.

                                    Goose field, Scotney

A walk down to the sea and back along Dengemarsh Gully was virtually birdless, although the field by Springfield Bridge hosted a few Pied Wagtails, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Goldfinches, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. From the bridge there was plenty of raptor activity over the wetlands from Marsh Harriers and Kestrels, plus two Great White Egrets and six Cattle Egrets on the Boulderwall fields. From Hanson hide the usual ducks and gulls, including a distant Goldeneye, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk and a late Clouded Yellow butterfly. From the willow trail a flock of Long-tailed Tits attracted two Chiffchaffs.

Monday 14 November 2022

Whooper Swans

Mild, misty, S1 - A gloomy morning for a tour of the peninsula, commencing at Lade for the WeBS count and where a drop in of ten Robins, five Song Thrushes and two Blackbirds around the ponds was the highlight. At Dungeness I had distant views of yesterdays Sabine`s Gull from the seawatch hide as it flew towards Penn Bars, while at least four Black Redstarts were noted on the land. On the bird reserve the regulation two Whooper Swans had just arrived for the winter and were best viewed from the Screen hide where a Peregrine was feeding nearby. From Hanson hide a flock of 100 Black-headed Gulls contained several Mediterranean Gulls and a single Goldeneye was present out on the lake.

                                 Black Redstart, Dungeness

                                  Whooper Swans, ARC

An Oak Rustic was the only moth in the garden trap last night (a species I didn`t get down on the coast) making a total of 201 species of macro moths in my first year of trapping in NR. As the weather is due to deteriorate this week I`ve decided to pack the trap away for the winter. 

                                  Oak Rustic, NR

Sunday 13 November 2022

Boathouse Gem

                                 Sunrise over the Channel

Warm, dry and sunny, S2 - Due to the unseasonably balmy weather this is the latest I have ever run my moth trap; a plume of warm air from the south produced the goods last night with Dark Sword-grass, Blair`s Shoulder-knot and Scarce Bordered Straw the highlights. However, there was some excitement at the Obs yesterday when I called in as MC produced an unknown macro moth from his trap in Lydd that turned out to be a rare migrant Boathouse Gem (why is it moths have such evocative names...) a species that has only occurred a handful of times before in Britain; you could say the equivalent in birding terms of netting a Siberian Rubythroat, perhaps...!

                                  Boathouse Gem

On the bird front the sea continues to tick over with scarcities such as the odd Sooty Shearwater, Puffin, Pomarine and Great Skuas, a confiding Grey Phalarope, another Sabine`s Gull yesterday, a lingering Arctic Tern and a probable Long-tailed Skua on Thursday morning that was just too far out to nail for sure. On the land Dartford Warblers were once again prominent across the peninsula, while Swallows continue to trickle through at Lade. This afternoon the Church Lane spinney was bathed in warm sunshine (17C) where several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were within a tit flock, plus Treecreeper, Jay, Redwing and Buzzard.

                                  Spider gossamers, Church Lane NR

Thursday 10 November 2022

Grey Phalarope

Mild, cloudy, SW 4 - Started the day on the local patch at Lade where a late (Barn!) Swallow was hawking insects over the willow swamp. Along the main track beside south lake a Dartford Warbler called and briefly broke cover. Whilst there news came through of yesterdays Grey Phalarope still showing well just offshore from the fishing boats, and indeed it was, at times down to 10 yards given fabulous views and photographic opportunities for the long-lenses present. As the `resident` Osprey on the RMC at Appledore was also reported earlier I decided on a run out, but without success after two hours searching along the water course. However, in the company of MC we walked along the canal bank towards Kennardington logging two Kingfishers, a Grey Wagtail and a confiding Fox hunting small mammals. Crossing the Marsh was a bleak affair with increasing acreages of sterile turf fields and grubbed up willows and remnant hedgerows piled high awaiting the torch from the `custodians of the countryside.` Birds were few and far between with one flock of 20 Fieldfares the highlight. Back on the coast I checked around the bird reserve where there was just the usual wildfowl, raptors, egrets and herons, plus five Black-tailed Godwits on ARC.

                                  Grey Phalarope, Dungeness

                                 Red Fox, Appledore

Elsewhere this week around New Romney the best I could muster was a flock of 50 Fieldfares and 10 Skylarks in a stubble field along Hope Lane and a Swallow over on Tuesday; two dead swans in the New Cut sewer were, I assume, the results of avian flu, while another large field here has also been turned over to the dreaded turf. Yesterday afternoon, en-route to Folkestone, I diverted to Port Lympne Zoo where a juvenile Sabine`s Gull has taken up residence in the car park and gave ridiculously close views. 

                                  Sabine`s Gull, Port Lympne

Friday 4 November 2022


Cool, dry and sunny, NW3 - A much cooler feel to the weather today as the wind swung around to a northerly vector. At Lade only a small island at the south end of Lade pits remained following the deluge of rain this past week, with more to come over the weekend. Viz-migging sessions from the aerial ramp on three mornings have been largely disappointing with barely a trickle of finches, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, several Redpolls and Reed Buntings today and c200 Woodpigeons and c500 Starlings on Wednesday; when up to ten Blackbirds were feeding on sloe berries in the willow swamp. The first  Goldeneye of autumn appeared on north lake mid-week, while a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests are still present in the bushes, plus a Dartford Warbler earlier in the week along with the usual array of egrets, ducks and grebes on the water and 30 Mediterranean Gulls this morning on south lake. On the bay a few more waders have moved in with a flock of 12 Ringed Plovers, 11 Grey Plovers and 15 Bar-tailed Godwits today.

                                   Glossy Ibis, ARC       

Visits to the bird reserve this week have delivered the usual Marsh Harriers, Cattle and Great White Egrets across Dengemarsh; two Glossy Ibis, Black-tailed Godwit, Kingfisher and Peregrine from Hanson hide; and a Dartford Warbler from the Return Trail. Island clearance work continues on Burrowes. At Dungeness this morning, a late Wheatear was near the fishing boats, while the drake Long-tailed Duck was again reported from Scotney.