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.