Thursday, 30 March 2023


Cloudy, mild, SW 4 - Looking at the weather forecast for Friday (gale force westerly and lashing rain) I thought it best to get out and about this morning. At Lade I had my first hirundines of spring comprising eight Sand Martins and two Swallows high over the willow swamp. Several Chiffchaffs and Cetti`s Warblers were in fine voice while a female Marsh Harrier circled over the main reedbed. Most of the wildfowl were taking shelter from the blustery wind over the far side of south lake where at least 120 Shovelers were present along with a pair of Goldeneye. With the wind picking up Dungeness yielded very little apart from a Peregrine atop A station and a singing Black Redstart lower down, plus a Firecrest and Chiffchaff in a private garden.

                                      Black Redstart, Dungeness

Around New Romney these past couple of days there has been a noticeable increase in Mediterranean and Black-headed Gull activity overhead, as is typical at this time of year. Several singing Chiffchaffs have been heard in town gardens hereabouts, as well as Mistle Thrush, Goldfinches and Green Woodpecker in the park. One clear night earlier in the week whilst attempting to see the recent alignment of planets a steady trickle of Redwings could be heard passing overhead.

Monday, 27 March 2023

Common Scoters

Warm, dry and sunny, N2 - In contrast to the past week of wet and windy weather conditions, today offered some respite once the overnight frost had dissolved. By late morning the warm sunshine issued forth a host of flying insects, including bumble bees and a Peacock butterfly in the garden. An afternoon visit to ARC and Tower Pits, while pleasant enough yielded very little apart from several singing Chiffchaffs in the sallows, reed-bed `sharming` Water Rails, displaying Great Crested Grebes on the lake and soaring Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards in the blue skies over the shingle towards the airport. The Boulderwall fields held a few Curlews amongst the usual wildfowl, Cormorants, gulls and Lapwings. Elsewhere around the peninsula today Willow and Sedge Warblers were reported on the reserve, plus the first Yellow Wagtail of spring, with Black Redstart, Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Firecrest at the point.

                                    Chiffchaff, ARC

More Chiffchaffs were in song at Lade ponds along with further views of soaring raptors from the bridge. South lake was packed out with wildfowl, mostly Coots, Great Crested Grebes, Shovelers, Teal and Gadwall while the icing on the cake went to a pair of Common Scoters; my only other record here was also of a pair in spring about ten years ago.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023


Rain, low cloud and mist SW 5 - A shocking day of weather for guiding with Clare and Peter; the only saving grace being that it was mild. We started with a seawatch from the hide that yielded a big sea running in from the Atlantic but precious little in the way of seabirds apart from two parties of Brent Geese, a Common Scoter, a Merganser and several Gannets. On the land a couple of displaying Meadow Pipits and a calling Firecrest was about it by West Beach, plus a Skylark and a male Wheatear opposite Jarman`s. Around the bird reserve it was a case of eyes-to-the-skies checking for an Alpine Swift reported earlier over ARC, but to no avail. A few Goldeneyes were noted on Burrowes and ARC, a singing Chiffchaff from the boardwalk, several Curlews on the Boulderwall fields but little else in the appalling weather conditions. During the afternoon we had a run down to Camber for the long-staying drake Scaup which is now in full breeding plumage. We finished the day back at Littlestone checking for shorebirds in the murk... 

                                 Wheatear, Dungeness

                                  Pochard, ARC

Monday, 20 March 2023


Sunday - Walland Marsh - cloudy, mild, W3 - Together with CP the final harrier count of winter was carried out in fine, spring-like weather conditions with 13 birds coming to roost, a decent result considering the adults are starting to disperse to their breeding sites about now. Bird of the afternoon however was a superb Short-eared Owl which we watched for over half an hour quartering the reedbed and ditches. Also noted in the general area singles of Barn Owl, Peregrine, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Snipe and a distant flock of Golden Plovers. Small birds were few and far between as usual with several singing Reed Buntings, a Skylark and a couple of Cetti`s Warblers calling from the reed bed, where Toads and Water Rails were also in good voice.

I had cracking views of a Red Kite over the garden in NR in the morning being bullied by Herring Gulls, which was later seen by Chris from St-Mary-in-the-Marsh, who also noted six Common Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier soaring over the town.  

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Reed Buntings

Dungeness - cold, sunny, light airs - A superb morning for my monthly guided walk around the RSPB circular route for eight guests. Reed Buntings had returned from their winter sojourns and were in fine voice singing from atop willows and reedbed scrub alongside Cetti`s Warblers, a sure sign that spring is well underway. Other evidence of the changing seasons came in the form of a `booming` Bittern, which made a brief flight across Hookers reedbed; sky-dancing Marsh Harriers of which we noted at least six different birds; and Lapwings displaying over Dengemarsh and the hayfields. Duck numbers have started to decline on the lakes, although at least five Goldeneyes remained on Burrowes. Other notables during the morning included Peregrine, Raven, five Ruff, a Brown Hare and a white Stoat around the car park.

                                   Reed Bunting, Dengemarsh

On the way home I called in at the estate where a single Wheatear (reported earlier by OL) was still present on the beach opposite Jarman`s along with several Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails, Skylarks and a Stock Dove. A quick look at the sands from the Tavern yielded the usual wintering bay waders.  

Sunday, 12 March 2023

Singing Chiffchaff

Romney Salts - mild, sunny, SW 3 - Spent the morning birding the Salts where I heard my first two Chiffchaffs of spring singing from the spinney, along with a Blackcap - spring is at last on the way. Also noted in the trees: Kestrel, Mistle and Song Thrushes, Green Woodpecker and Stock Dove. The arable lands towards Lade north and on to Belgar Farm yielded few birds in the blustery wind with a pair of Corn Buntings by the dung heap the undoubted highlight, plus a flock of 50 Linnets, 10 Goldfinches, 10 Skylarks and two Buzzards. The Dengemarsh sewer attracted two Grey Herons, several Corn Buntings, two Moorhens and a pair of Stonechats. 

                                   Corn Bunting 

Since my last post there has been little change on the bird reserve, while the wild swans have finally departed from Walland Marsh. The only other news concerned a 1st winter Iceland Gull this morning heading west past Dungeness (OL).

Monday, 6 March 2023

Red Kite

 Cold, cloudy, W 4 - Had a run out to Dungeness this afternoon where nothing much had changed since my last visit. The mixed flock of Cattle and Little Egrets were still camped in the paddock at Cockles Bridge, along with the ubiquitous Buzzard sat on a fence post keeping a close watch. Across a windswept bird reserve all the usual wildfowl and Marsh Harriers were noted. A cursory look at the sea from the fishing boats produced a few Guillemots and Great Crested Grebes close in, plus two Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal, while a trickle of Gannets and Red-throated Divers passed well offshore. Bird of the afternoon whilst checking the waders at the Tavern viewpoint went to a cracking brown Merlin that barrelled in over the bay chasing a Starling.

                                    Stock dove, Dungeness

Over the weekend the only noteworthy was a Red Kite, my first of the season, high over NR trying to evade the Herring Gulls.

Thursday, 2 March 2023


 Cold, dry and sunny, NE 3 - Day two of guiding for the Worcester and Malvern birders found us heading west into Sussex. En-route the mixed flock of Cattle and Little Egrets were in the paddock at Cockles Bridge while a pit-stop at Scotney delivered little more than a few Curlews, the usual common wildfowl and a Ringed Plover. The wintering immature drake Scaup at Camber showed well on the far side of the lake along with a selection of gulls, Wigeon, Gadwall, Great Crested and Little Grebes, a singing Mistle Thrush and a pair of distant Ravens and 50 Curlews on the Guldeford Levels.

                                 Scaup, Camber

From the viewing platform overlooking Castle Water reedbed we had good views of another Raven calling overhead, plus plenty of Cormorants preparing to nest, singing Cetti`s Warblers and a Kestrel. The circular route around the beach reserve delivered a host of Curlews, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and two Snipes with a pair of Pintail being the highlight amongst a number of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall and Shelduck, plus 10 Dabchicks, several Little Egrets and a Grey Heron. In the harbour channel two Brown Seals were noted along with three Brent Geese, more Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, a few Skylarks and a Meadow Pipit; unfortunately we missed a Short-eared Owl by ten minutes from the Gooders`s hide. Our next port of call was Pett Level where we added Mediterranean Gull, Sparrowhawk and a distant Fulmar on the cliffs to the trip list, plus feral geese and Curlews on the levels and a few more waders on the beach. We finished the day back at Dungeness from the Hanson hide where several Marsh Harriers made the wildfowl nervous and the pair of Glossy Ibis flew in as we left the hide. The two day trip list totalled 98 species with the highlights being: Hume`s Warbler and Firecrests at Sandgate, harriers, egrets and ibis at Dungeness, wild swans on Walland, Scaup at Camber and shorebirds at Rye Harbour.

Monday, 27 February 2023

Hume`s Warbler

 Cold and cloudy, NE 4 - A brilliant day in the field guiding for 13 members of the Worcester and Malvern birding group, during which time we recorded 80 species of birds. We kicked off with an obligatory one hour seawatch (it`s not everyone`s cuppa...) from the hide where there was a steady eastward trickle of Gannets, Guillemots and a handful of Common Scoters, Kittiwakes and Red-throated Divers, plus two Curlews. At least 200 Great Crested Grebes were on the sea, while both Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seal noted; the land was virtually birdless. Next stop was down the coast to Enbrook Park, Sandgate where we eventually located and had superb views and vocalisations (like a distant chew-wit of a Spot Shank) from the wintering Hume`s Warbler at the top of the valley. Also noted here: two Firecrests, three Goldcrests, a Blackcap, several Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Long-tailed Tits, a Grey Wagtail, a Blackcap and a Song Thrush. Back onto the Marsh and a pit stop at Littlestone overlooking the bay yielded hundreds of waders and gulls including 50 Turnstones, 200 Curlews, 500 Oystercatchers, 100 Common Gulls, six Redshanks, Sanderlings and Dunlins. 

                                   Bewick`s Swans, Horse`s Bones Farm

We struck lucky on Walland Marsh where 26 Bewick`s Swans were close to the road by Horse`s Bones Farm with another 21 near Midley Cottage along with three Whooper`s and a Black Swan. A Little Owl showed distantly nearby and a recently harrowed field attracted several hundred Fieldfares and Redwings along with a few Linnets and Goldfinches, a Stonechat, Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. At Cockles Bridge we cleaned up on seven Cattle and three Little Egrets, while the Glossy Ibis pair probed the turf for food by the gate at Cook`s Pool providing close views for the guests. Across Dengemarsh we logged more Marsh Harriers, egrets, common wildfowl, Goldeneyes, Lapwings, a Dunlin, 20 Pied Wagtails, four Ruffs, a `booming` Bittern and a Mistle Thrush. Considering the relentless nagging wind a decent birding day was enjoyed by one and all. 

Friday, 24 February 2023

Common Gulls

Cold, dry and cloudy, light airs - I started on the local patch at Lade first thing this morning where four White-fronted and two Barnacle Geese on south lake were of note along with all the usual wildfowl including four Goldeneyes. Moving onto Dungeness where a Dartford Warbler showed briefly in broom scrub by the Kerton Road quarry. A large flock of Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Wigeons, though distant, were present on the Boulderwall fields, plus several Marsh Harriers and Great White Egrets, while Burrowes was smothered in mostly, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall and Teal as well as 12 Goldeneyes. The seven Cattle Egrets were at Boulderwall and I was surprised to find the winter swans still present on Walland Marsh between Horses Bones Farm and Midley Cottage: 41 Bewick`s and two Whoopers. Also noted on Walland, 500 Common, 200 Black-headed and 10 Mediterranean Gulls, two Buzzards, five Corn Buntings and a Little Owl.

Sunday, 19 February 2023


Walland Marsh - mild, dry, cloudy, SW2 - This afternoon, in favourable weather conditions, I joined Chris P for the monthly harrier roost count out on Walland where a total of 21 Marsh Harriers came to roost in two different parts of the reedbed. Other raptors included two Common Buzzards and a Peregrine, plus a Raven. Also noted several hundred Lapwings and Golden Plovers in the general area along with flocks of c1,000 Starlings, 150 Fieldfares, 10 Goldfinches and 16 Corn Buntings. Cetti`s Warbler, Water Rail and Snipe were heard at sunset and 16 Bewick`s Swans flew in as we walked back to the car.

                                    Sunset over Walland Marsh

Thursday, 16 February 2023


Dungeness Seawatch - overcast, dry, SW3 - 0730 - 0900hrs - A change in the weather from yesterday as an Atlantic frontal system delivered patches of overnight rain and increasing wind speeds. An early morning seawatch from the hide in the company of MC was decent enough with a steady flow of seabirds as follows: Gannet 300, Red-throated Diver 150, Brent Goose 100, Oystercatcher 10, Fulmar three and Mediterranean Gull two, along with a steady trickle of auks and Kittiwakes further out. A check of Lade bay from the Tavern viewpoint revealed 150 Sanderlings, 50 Dunlins, 45 Knots, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits and hundreds of Curlews and Oystercatchers, while at Cockles Bridge six Cattle Egrets were present amongst the sheep.

                                   Gannets, Dungeness

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

White Wagtail

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW2 - En-route to the bird reserve six Cattle Egrets and two Glossy Ibises were in the sheep fold at Cockles Bridge. It was a cracking morning of weather for the 16 souls on my monthly guided walk around the circular trail where all the usual wintering birds were noted, including good views of several each of Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Goldeneye, Shelduck and Great White Egret, plus 25 Curlews on the fields at Dengemarsh and Hayfield 2. Two Chiffchaffs and a Stonechat showed well by the hide, unlike the many Cetti`s Warblers we heard throughout the walk! Also seen or heard: Dabchick, Lapwing, Water Rail, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch and Reed Bunting. Perhaps the highlight of the morning was a flock of Pied Wagtails near Tanners Pool that contained a smart White Wagtail, though distant. However, we eventually racked up 51 species, but the paucity of small passerines, in common with elsewhere across the Marsh, is worrying.

                                   Stonechat, Dengemarsh

During the afternoon I checked out Lade, ARC and the ranges at Galloways without much success, although by late afternoon the Glossy Ibis pair had relocated to a wet flash in the fields beside the track to Hanson hide.

Sunday, 12 February 2023


 Cloudy, mild, light airs - Having spent the past few days tramping across farmland seeing very little today was spent on the coast, where at least there was a bit more on offer. Goldeneye was the only duck of note with four at Lade, 12 on Burrowes, two on New Diggings and two on ARC. Also from Hanson hide I had brief views of a Bittern, several Marsh Harriers and a pair of Glossy Ibises that flew in for a wash and brush up for half an hour before returning to the fields to feed; the odd looking hybrid Mallard/Wigeon was also present. At Cockles Bridge seven Cattle and two Little Egrets noted, while the sea off the Patch was like a mill pond and yielded few birds apart from distant divers and grebes and 50 gulls over the boil. 

                                  Glossy Ibises and Cormorant, ARC

                                  Bittern and Marsh Harrier, ARC

   Sanderlings and Turnstones. Greatstone Beach

On the short high tide this afternoon a scan from the Tavern viewpoint delivered 200 Sanderlings and a scattering of Dunlins, Turnstones and Ringed Plovers; the larger waders having already departed for roost sites. The winter swans were reported from Walland Marsh today, as was the Scaup at Camber pits.

                                 Bird nest boxes ready to go up at Dungeness

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Short-eared Owl

 Cold, dry and sunny, light airs - The current dry, settled period of weather we`ve been experiencing of late is most welcome, and today was no different with unbroken sunshine and blue skies from the off. The Lydd Ranges has seen an influx of Short-eared Owls these past few days with up to five birds reported on the wing from late afternoon. Mostly they stay well out on the ranges and are best viewed from the bund that runs west from the `hill` along Galloways Road, when the Army are not firing; this afternoon the road wasn`t open until 16.30hrs, but I had distant views of a hunting owl at 15.20hrs from the guardhouse gate. Also noted from the range road, two Dartford Warblers, a Cetti`s Warbler, five Pied Wagtails, two Kestrels, three Marsh Harriers and a Raven. 

                                 Raven - a common sight over New Romney

Elsewhere across the Peninsula there has been little change since my last post with the wild swans still feeding on Walland Marsh and roosting on ARC. The boardwalk has been productive offering up superb views of Chiffchaffs, Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrest from the viewpoint, and even Cetti` s Warblers on occasions. A ringtail has been seen around NR over the weekend, while I noticed a small increase in Reed Buntings and Skylarks on my Hope Lane loop walk the other day; its reached the stage now that small passerines are in such short supply that whenever I encounter one, be it a tit, Wren or Robin, I get a frisson of excitement, how sad is that! On the plus side Ravens and Buzzards are regularly seen and heard over the town and I`m beginning to suspect that the former may even be nesting close by, judging from the activity in the local park of late.

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Groundhog Day

Warm, dry and sunny, W3 - It`s been over a week since my last post, during which time nothing much has changed to the birding scene across Dungeness and the Marsh. The local farmland around NR remains largely devoid of birds, although I did have a Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler last weekend along the New Cut sewer to the north of town. On the bird reserve Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis remain in situ on the flooded fields and along the Lydd Road, along with the usual wintering wildfowl on the lakes (including a handful of Goldeneyes, but no Smew or scarce grebes, so far...) and only the occasional report of a Dartford Warbler to relieve the tedium. I spent this morning at Scotney where, once again, it was a case of Groundhog Day: thousands of Golden Plovers and Lapwings, feral geese, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Pochard, plus a few Redshanks and Curlews, a Green Sandpiper, a Raven and at least six Common Buzzards (a Spoonbill and two Little Stints were reported over the weekend).

                                   Bewick`s Swans, Walland Marsh

On the way home I crossed Walland where a total of 61 Bewick`s and five Whooper Swans were in three herds split between Horses Bones Farm and Midley drying barns, some of which were close to the lane, yelping evocatively to one another. Anyone intending to pay these beauties a visit this winter should do so sooner rather than later as quite often they`re on their way back north by mid-February. I finished off with a look around the solar farm where a small flock of Chaffinches and Goldfinches was the highlight feeding on weed-seeds, plus a handful of Blackbirds, Fieldfares and a Song Thrush.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023


Romney Salts - cold, overcast, light airs - Another grim January day set in a Mordor-like twilight - just the weather then for a tramp across the Salts in search of farmland birds to lift the spirits! My circular route from home took me down Church Lane to the spinney, then south along the old railway track (passing the dung heap) to Northlade, west to Belgar Farm, north to Kemps Hill and eventually back to New Romney, which took me just under four hours covering roughly four miles allowing for diversions along the way. For those of you unfamiliar with the terrain, the Salts is primarily high grade arable land (reclaimed from salt marsh) bisected by reed-fringed drainage sewers. Patches of rank grass and scrub occur along the old railway track and around a dirt bike circuit, while a few stunted willows have escaped the attention of the digger bucket. Dengemarsh Sewer starts here and is dredged every winter as it forms the main drainage channel for this section of the Marsh. Crops grown comprise a mix of oil-seed rape, wheat and barley with several large fields still in stubble and a market garden area of spuds, sprouts, onions and leeks.

                                  Linnets, Belgar Farm

                                 Grubbed out willows, Romney Salts

Unsurprisingly small birds were few and far between as everywhere you looked the few remaining patches of cover were being grubbed out, and all the crops were sown right down to field the margins without headland sanctuaries. However, the highlight was a flock of 200 Linnets and 100 Chaffinches in a weedy field by the race track; the only other little uns noted were two Yellowhammers and a Chaffinch along the railway track, ten House Sparrows around the farm and up to 50 Skylarks in stubble fields. Plenty of corvids, Magpies, Woodpigeons, 100 Stock Doves and four Buzzards were present, mostly amongst the market garden crops. Only last winter when I did the same walk, Tree Sparrows and Corn Buntings were noted along with many more Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Snipes; although last year it was much milder with hardly any freezing weather, so maybe some of the passerines have moved further west and south to escape the worst of the weather and may return to breed in the spring, hopefully...    

Monday, 23 January 2023


Cold, overcast, drizzle, NE 2 - Following a week of near unbroken winter sunshine this morning dawned gloomy from the off and didn`t get much above half-light all day. However, a circular birding route today yielded many more birds than last Friday, mainly due to the ground being unfrozen. Starting at Lade where five Goldeneyes were the pit highlights, plus five Black-tailed Godwits and 20 Knots on the bay. At Dungeness hundreds of Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks streamed to and fro around the point, while the Patch held a couple of hundred gulls including five Meds and ten Kittiwakes. On the bird reserve the lakes were packed out with common wildfowl with at least 12 Goldeneyes on ARC and Burrowes and a flyover Bittern at the former site. The fields at Boulderwall were also full of Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Curlews, feral geese, Starlings and corvids along with several Great White and Little Egrets, Grey Herons and two Glossy Ibis over. Sifting through the ducks, try as I might, I could find no sign of a Smew - am I going to go through the winter for the first time since moving down here 17 years ago without seeing one...

                                    Goldeneye, lade

Elsewhere across the Marsh these past few days, including the back of Scotney, there has been very little to report apart from the wild swans on Walland Marsh and a Short-eared Owl on the Army Ranges (per MC).

Thursday, 19 January 2023


Dungeness - cold, dry and sunny - Superb weather for a guided walk around the circular route for a U3A group from Sussex. All the usual wildfowl noted, including six Goldeneyes on Burrowes and two more on Dengemarsh, six Shelducks also on Burrowes and a Pintail on New Ex. Several Great White Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Buzzards were seen during the morning, while a Bittern in Hookers reedbed posed briefly before flying off towards the back pits. Also noted: four Chiffchaffs, three Goldcrests, two Stonechats, Cetti`s Warblers, a Green Woodpecker and five Greenfinches on the car park feeders.

                                  Bittern and Fox, Dengemarsh

From the Lydd Road a covey of six Red-legged Partridge were hunkered down in a field opposite Cockles Bridge, while four Cattle and two Little Egrets were in the sheep paddock. 

Monday, 16 January 2023


Wet, cloudy, cold, NW 5 - I get the impression from reading other birding blogs that I`m not the only one struggling to post more regularly, particularly at this time of year when there is very little change to the birding scene, exacerbated by the recent dreadful wet and windy weather. Its`s certainly not for the want of trying as most days I`m out and about somewhere across Dungeness and the Marsh, but there just ain`t the birds out there. Take this morning for example. I started at Lade just after 0900hrs when the rain was still lashing down, but knowing the site like I do checked out the wetlands from sheltered spots without even locating a Goldeneye. Moving onto Dungeness where the Patch attracted a hundred or so gulls including 10 each of Mediterranean Gull and Kittiwake, while offshore the usual auks, Gannets and the occasional diver fizzed by; the highlight of the morning was a male Peregrine sheltering from the tempest on the superstructure of  A Station. A running theme throughout the region this winter has been the dearth of small passerines and today was no exception as apart from a small gang of House Sparrows at Lade the only other LBJs noted were two Chaffinches and a Meadow Pipit at the point; large wintering flocks of finches are now a distant memory. On the plus side Dengemarsh held a gaggle of feral geese and a few swans, along with a couple of hundred Lapwings and Golden Plovers and 20 Curlews on the Boulderwall fields, with a similar scene on the airport fields. As the rain eased off several hungry Marsh Harriers and Kestrels took flight, along with two Great White Egrets at Cockles Bridge. 

                                 Chaffinch, Peregrine, Kittiwake, Dungeness

However, there may be some respite this week with the weather settling down to a more colder, northerly airflow that just might deliver something new. Other than that, at least the days are steadily drawing out, which means that spring is just around the corner...

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Whooper Swans

Dry, sunny, mild W 3 - A guided walk for eight guests around the circular walk delivered all the usual wildfowl on Burrowes including three Goldeneyes, plus a Great White Egret and a couple of Marsh Harriers. Away from Burrowes there was very little to be seen apart from seven Shelducks at the back of Dengemarsh, another Great White Egret and several Grey Herons. There was, however, a few passerines around the bird feeders, mostly tits, Greenfinches and a Reed Bunting. Over the road the two wintering Whooper Swans were loafing in front of the hide but soon drifted off across the lake.

                                 Whooper Swans, ARC

Sunday, 8 January 2023

Grey Wagtail

 Sunshine and showers, SW 5 - It`s not often that a Grey Wagtail is the headline bird of the weekend. Our back garden is a small, enclosed affair with a variety of shrubs and a Silver Birch tree festooned with bird feeders that attracts the usual array of common tits, sparrows and the like. It is not the sort of location to attract a Grey Wagtail, but yesterday morning when I came back from town I surprised a male bird sat on the bird bath that soon flew off calling loudly. 

Today`s incoming tide on the bay was at the perfect height to count Oystercatchers from the Tavern viewpoint: 1,050 birds, but little else. On Lade pits 500 Teals, 100 Shovelers and four Goldeneyes were the highlights on south lake, plus Water Rail and Chiffchaff by the ponds. A two hour seawatch (1100 -1300hrs) in the company of DW was notable for a westward stream of hundreds of Black-headed and Common Gulls, Kittiwakes and auks along with 30 Gannets, 20 Mediterranean Gulls, 45 Wigeon, 12 Shelducks, five Pintails, 10 Red-throated Divers and a Fulmar. Plenty of large gulls were feeding along the shoreline including at least three Caspian Gulls.

                                  Caspian Gull, Dungeness

Due to the foul weather (heavy showers and a blustery wind) I wasn`t looking forward to this afternoons harrier count with CP on Walland Marsh. However, despite getting a soaking we counted 25 Marsh Harriers and a fabulous male Hen Harrier to roost, but little else apart from several Buzzards, a Great White Egret, a Snipe, calling Water Rails and Cetti`s Warblers, plus Golden Plovers over in the gloom as we trudged back to the car. 

Friday, 6 January 2023

Sandwich Terns

 Scotney - mild, dry and sunny, SW2 - Good weather conditions for a walk out back where the highlights were a Black Redstart and a Tree Sparrow around the farmyard and a Green Sandpiper calling over the back lake. Other birds of noted included several Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Skylarks and Stonechats, a Snipe, a Raven and a Great White Egret. The roadside sward and lakes were full of wildfowl and waders, mostly feral geese, 14 Brents, Wigeons, Lapwings and Golden Plovers along with a few Curlews, Ruffs and a Little Stint.

On Lade Bay from the Tavern viewpoint eight species of waders were present, plus hundreds of Common Gulls and two Sandwich Terns. Lade pits was quiet where the only ducks of note were three Goldeneyes on south lake.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

NYD Bird Count

Bank Holiday Monday - wet morning, dry and sunny afternoon, mild, WNW 2 - Due to unfavourable weather conditions on Sunday we put off our NYD Bird Count by a day. Together with Chris P and Phil L we kicked off with a dawn chorus at a very soggy Park Wood, Appledore where the highlights were a Raven over calling, and all the expected woodland birds including Tawny Owl, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal Tit and Goldcrest that were not seen elsewhere during the day. Dropping down onto Shirley Moor and along the RM Canal the likes of  winter thrushes, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Mipit and Reed Bunting were noted but in pitifully low numbers, which was a running theme for small farmland birds (Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting, for the first time were absent) throughout the day. At Midley we paused for a flocks of 53 Bewick`s and three Whooper Swans and the spectacle of thousands of plovers, corvids and Starlings over Cheyne Court. As usual on a still day with flood water everywhere Scotney pits did not disappoint; the front swards and lake were covered in ducks and geese including 12 White-fronts, two Pintails and three Ruff along with the usual distant egrets and harriers. Cockles Bridge produced stunning views of a perched adult male Merlin and a juvenile Peregrine while two Cattle Egrets were in the paddock opposite the stables. The bird reserve was packed out with birders where it was good to meet many familiar faces, along with some who we only seem to see once a year! Birds of note here were two Goldeneyes on the lake and five Greenfinches (yes folks, almost a rarity now) on the feeders. Next stop a seawatch off the boats, which turned into more of a social occasion as nothing much was happening on the sea apart from a large flock of Kittiwakes, auks and Gannets feeding well offshore, plus a few passing Red-throated Divers..

Being as it was low tide at Lade bay the waders were all way out on the sands but with patience we eventually logged eight species including a few Knots, Barwits, Grey and Ringed Plovers. We finished the day at the Screen hide on ARC where Bearded Tits and Water Rails vocalised from the reedbed, a female Merlin flew over, two Whooper Swans drifted across the lake, Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egrets flew to roost and a spectacular Starling murmuration swirled over the gantry end along with hundreds of noisy Jackdaws. On the walk back to the car park at dusk we were surprised by four Woodcocks dropping into the Tower Pits. We finished the day on 104 species, which is about average for recent years; many thanks to Chris for driving and Phil for listing.

                                 Sunset over Dungeness