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

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