Sunday 30 April 2023


Dungeness - mild, overcast, SW 3 - Following heavy overnight rain with misty humid conditions I opted for a trek around the Long Pits and Trapping Area with Ted in tow on Friday morning. Early on there was plenty of warbler activity, mainly around the northern end of Long Pits, from the nine commoner species including my first Garden Warbler of spring. Otherwise the only other migrant of note was a Cuckoo. A scan from the bridge at Lade produced my first two Swifts of spring.

                                 Ted, Long Pits

                                  Yellow Wagtail, Church Lane dung heap

                                  Whitethroat, Romney Salts.

Across the weekend I worked the farmland tracts around New Romney with Ted where many more Reed Warblers and a few Sedge Warblers had moved into the reedbed margins along the sewers. The hedgerows to the north of town held a few Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Cetti`s Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs while Swallows are now noticeable at stables and on overhead wires. On the arable lands a few Yellow Wagtails are present along with the usual Skylarks and at least two pairs of Meadow Pipits. Small numbers of Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch have all returned to breed and Buzzards are regularly seen soaring over the town, much to the consternation of the local Herring Gulls. Elsewhere, seawatching off Dungeness continues to be slow going although a Pom Skua was noted this afternoon. On the reserve a pair of Black-winged Stilts frequented the hayfields while Garganey, Wood Sandpiper, Turtle Dove, Hooded Crow and White Stork have all been recorded. 

Thursday 27 April 2023

Night Heron

Dungeness - cool, dry and sunny, SE3 - Guiding this morning for a couple from Ashford commenced at the seawatch hide where a 30 minute watch produced a cracking Black-throated Diver, 25 Bar-tailed Godwits, two Teal and several Common Scoters. On the land we picked up the usual passerines such as Stonechat, Common Whitethroat, Black Redstart and Meadow Pipit.

                                 Turnstone, Burrowes

                                 Night Heron, Dengemarsh

Moving onto the bird reserve where the highlight was a Night Heron that had just been relocated perched within willow scrub on the pit to the east of Dengemarsh hide. Through the scope we had obscured views of it moving about the canopy and a brief flight view whilst at the ramp; presumably Tuesday`s bird. Waders noted around the trail included Turnstone and Ringed Plover on Burrowes, several Greenshanks and Whimbrels over calling and three Black-tailed Godwits on the hayfields. Also noted: a pair of Glossy Ibis, Redshanks and Lapwings, Mediterranean Gulls, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, Lesser and Common Whitethroats. A tidy morning, during which time we notched up 74 species of birds.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Slow going

Dungeness - 0610 - 0830hrs - cool, cloudy, SE3 - Considering the time of year and the weather conditions a seawatch from the hide along with a clutch of other hopefuls seemed like the obvious option this morning, but ended up being rather pedestrian by Dungeness standards. A steady trickle of Gannets, Common Scoters, auks, Sandwich and a few Common Terns made up the numbers, plus around 150 Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Whimbrels and a party of Knot, most of which were way out over the sea. Also noted, three Red-throated Divers, three Kittiwakes,  two Fulmars, two Arctic Skuas, two Curlews and several Oystercatchers. 

Lade pits was also fairly quiet with a few more singing Linnets, Common Whitethroats and Reed Warblers being the only additions.

Monday 24 April 2023

Bits and Bobs

 Cool, cloudy, WNW 2 - A circuit of the Trapping Area and Desert with Ted this morning produced very little considering we`re approaching the last week in April, which is often the `business end` of spring migration. However, that said there were a few Common and Lesser Whitethroats in song and singles of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap in the bushes. An incoming Cuckoo flew straight through as did two Yellow Wagtails, several Swallows and four Whimbrels, while plenty of Linnets and a Wheatear were also noted. Twenty minutes staring at the sea from the hide delivered nothing of note apart from a couple of distant Gannets, and the male Peregrine scattered the Feral Pigeons over A Station. Elsewhere across the point today a Garden Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher and a Hobby were reported, while the first Pomarine Skuas and a Black-winged Stilt were logged over the weekend offshore and on the hayfields respectively; the latter still being present today.

                                 Mallard ducklings, 

Around New Romney this past weekend has seen the arrival of the first Reed and Sedge Warblers, Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat, plus an increase in Reed Buntings and Linnets along the sewer margins. I`ve noted a Barn Owl on two early-morning outings while a female Merlin was something of a surprise yesterday chasing a Skylark, which it missed. Many of the stubble fields hereabouts have now been sprayed off with a herbicide, turning them yellow, (just as the Skylarks have settled down to nest...) in preparation for a spring barley sowing.

Friday 21 April 2023


 Dungeness - cold and wet morning, warm and dry afternoon, E2 - A day of two halves weather wise whilst guiding for Mark from Lexington. We kicked off in the seawatch hide for an hour from 0900hrs where it was very quiet to start with, then a pulse of Sandwich and Commic Terns moved through, plus two Fulmars, four Whimbrels, ten Common Scoters, a Red-throated Diver and 20 Gannets down-Channel. There wasn`t much on the land apart from the usual Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Linnets and a Wheatear.

                                 Reed Bunting, Burrowes

                                  Yellow Wagtail, Scotney

                                 Whimbrels, Scotney

By the time we reached the bird reserve just before midday the rain ceased and out came the sunshine and the birds, particularly the waders. A flock of 15 Bar-tailed Godwits circled Burrowes, while two cracking adult males showed well on the small island in front of the visitor centre; Whimbrel, Greenshank, Ringed and Grey Plovers all went over calling, plus ten Mediterranean Gulls. On the hayfields five Black-tailed and four Bar-tailed Godwits made for an interesting flock to compare the two species of godwits. along with the usual breeding waders and wildfowl including a pair of Wigeon. All the expected warblers were noted around the trail along with several Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards, four Ravens, a Sparrowhawk and a Little Egret. This afternoon we visited Scotney where 45 Whimbrels and three Curlews were on the front sward, while a flock of 12 Greenshanks flew over the back pit. Up to ten Yellow Wagtails were present on the track down to and through the farm. We ended the day at the ARC with 79 species for our guest with, once again, the waders stealing the show.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Waders, Warblers and Wagtails

Dungeness - cool, sunny, ENE 5 - A brisk wind out of the east supressed the temperature somewhat and made for challenging weather conditions for a guiding day with Clare and Peter. We started in the seawatch hide where the up-Channel highlights were several parties of Bar-tailed Godwits totalling 50 birds, seven Pintails, two Shovelers, two Mallards and a Sandwich Tern. On the land it was good to seen plenty of Linnets across the point, plus a Black Redstart, two Wheatears, two Stonechats, several Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, five Ravens and my first Lesser Whitethroat of spring. 

                                 Linnet, Dungeness

                                 Sedge Warbler, Hayfield 2

Moving onto the bird reserve where a riot of seven species of common warblers were in good voice around the circular trail scrub and reedbeds, along with plenty of Linnets and a few Reed Buntings. The hayfields attracted a flock of eight Black-tailed and three Bar-tailed Godwits as well as the usual Lapwings, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Shelducks, Shovelers and a Wigeon. We had good views of a pair of Marsh Harriers over Hookers, a pair of Ringed Plovers on Burrowes and a pair of Avocets on ARC.

                                 Yellow Wagtails, Scotney

An afternoon visit to Scotney yielded 64 Whimbrels and two Curlews on the roadside sward, plus at least 20 Yellow Wagtails on the track down to the farm. Considering the strengthening wind we managed a respectable 74 species of birds with the Barwits, Whimbrels and Yellow Wagtails the undoubted highlight of the outing.

Monday 17 April 2023

Hooded Crow

Sunny, cool, NE 4 - After a hectic weekend of family stuff (including a circuit of the M25 yesterday) I felt I really needed a good walk out this morning to clear the cobwebs, so decided that Dengemarsh Gully would be perfect for both myself and Ted, our seven month old rescue dog. I admit to having something of a love/hate relationship with this site as it always `feels` as though a decent bird is just around the next bush; but most of the time just flatters to deceive, delivering next to nothing, and today was no different. However, we got off to a cracking start at the top end when a Hooded Crow (yesterdays bird?) flew down the gully before disappearing over towards Pen Bars. A couple of Sedge Warblers and a Common Whitethroat burst into song, up popped a Stonechat, along with a twitter of Linnets in the gorse scrub and that was about it; as usual the majority of the gully was a bird-free zone, until we got to the seaward end where a pair of Wheatears and Pied Wagtails performed close by. On the return walk a Raven flew over heading for the switch station where it was presumably nesting.

                                    Wheatear, Dengemarsh Gully

Moving onto the bird reserve (with Ted on a short leash) and the birds began to flow. From Springfield Bridge a stunning male Marsh Harrier dropped a dainty morsel to its mate high over the reedbed, from where a Bittern `boomed`. Two Great White Egrets were noted and a Swallow hurried inland. Around the hayfields a few more Linnets, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings and Cetti`s Warblers were in song, while a party of nine Bar-tailed Godwits (including two stunning brick-red adult males) and two Whimbrels had just dropped onto Hayfield 2, where there was also plenty of Shelduck, Lapwing and Redshank breeding activity underway. We finished off in the visitors centre for a spot of socialising, where Ted lapped up all the fuss and attention from the staff and visiting birders.

Friday 14 April 2023


 Cold, showery, SE 4 - Another poor day of weather and not ideal for incoming migrants to fuel up and continue their northward journeys. I started off at Lade where a Cuckoo singing from the far side of north lake was my first of the year and one of my earliest records here. From the causeway a Reed Warbler chugged away in the reedbed along with singles of Willow Warbler and Blackcap and a couple of Chiffchaffs in the willow swamp. A party of Swallows over the mirrors quickly pushed inland while a few more Linnets were noted along the main track beside south lake, where a pair of Goldeneye were still on the water.

                                   Linnet, Lade

At Dungeness a half hour seawatch from the hide produced nothing more than 10 west bound Gannets and a Red-throated Diver up-Channel; it was truly dreadful considering the time of year and wind direction. On the land a few Linnets, Meadow Pipits and a Black Redstart were noted, plus a male Peregrine showing off over the power station. A check of Kerton Road quarry also proved to be quiet with several Lapwings and Oystercatchers on the main island the only birds of note. 

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Spring Migrants

Cool, showery, SW 5 - A breezy morning for a guided walk around the circular route, during which time the wind speed picked up to near gale force. No surprise then that passerines were in short supply with up to 20 singing Sedge Warblers sensibly keeping a low profile in the bramble scrub. A few Swallows came and went over Dengemarsh, while a pulse of  hirundines over ARC early afternoon yielded 30 Sand Martins, 10 Swallows and my first five House Martins of spring, plus a Common Whitethroat, several Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap in the car park scrub; at least ten Cetti`s Warbler were also in song around the trails. The most productive area on the reserve was Hayfield 2 for a selection of wildfowl and waders that included 20 Teal, six Shelducks, 10 Shovelers, a Wigeon, a pair of Glossy Ibis, four Black-tailed Godwits, six Lapwings, four Avocets and two Redshanks, while plenty more Shovelers were on Burrowes along with three Goldeneyes. Also noted, a pair of Ravens, two Marsh Harriers, a Kestrel, a Grey Heron, a Little Egret and three Ruffs and two Curlews by Cook`s Pool. A decent enough return then when considering the extreme weather conditions.

                                    Avocets, Hayfield 2

Sunday 9 April 2023


Warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Once the early morning mist cleared it turned into a fine spring day, perfect for a run out between the two bridges at  Kennardington and Warehorne along the Royal Miltary Canal, one our favourite walks. We took Ted along, our Rumanian rescue puppy (a seven month old sheep dog) who we`ve had for 39 days now. The highlight of the walk was what was probably my earliest ever Nightingale singing from cover along the railway line by the bridge in the usual location I`ve had in previous years. Apart from that though it was poor fare with the only other migrants being several Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap, plus four Grey Herons, at least four singing Cetti`s Warblers, singles of Grey Wagtail, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Reed Bunting, a pair of Kestrels, a `kettle` of six Common Buzzards overhead and a pair of Kingfishers by Warehorne bridge. Not a single species of waterfowl was noted along the way, probably due to pollution from agricultural run-off sterilising the putrid-looking still waters.



                                  Grey Heron

                                 RMCanal, Warehorne

On Friday morning we visited Park Wood, Appledore where the only migrants present were a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, along with residents such as Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Goldcrest and Jay. There was, however, a good show of spring flowers, particularly Wood Anemones and Primroses. A visit to Lade pits on Saturday delivered a `booming` Bittern for the second year running, while a circuit of Long Pits was virtually birdless.    

                                 Wood Anemones, Park Wood

Thursday 6 April 2023

Flock of Eiders

Dungeness - cool, cloudy, mizzle, WSW 3 - 0645 -0845hrs - A couple of hours with the regulars in the seawatch hide this morning produced a patchy up-Channel passage of Brent Geese and Common Scoters along with a few Gannets, some of which were feeding offshore. A handful of Red-throated Divers, Sandwich Terns, Fulmars and Mediterranean Gulls were also noted, plus the highlights, a mixed flock of 11 Eiders two Shovelers and a Garganey, and my first Arctic Skua of spring.

A late morning circuit of Lade pits revealed very little apart from a pair of Goldeneye on north lake, two redheads on south lake and a pair of Egyptian Geese sat atop the 30` mirror. About 50 Shovelers were still present and a few more pairs of Great Crested Grebes had taken up residence.

                                 Goldeneye, Lade north

                                  Woodpigeon on nest Lade ponds

                                 Sanderlings and Turnstone, Littlestone beach

Yesterday we had a walk along the seafront at Littlestone at high tide. A count of 210 Turnstones and 50 Sanderlings was of note roosting along the strandline, plus at least six Skylarks and two Meadow Pipits displaying over the golf links. Whilst there six American Airforce Chinook helicopters thundered low overhead heading to Lydd airfield for refuelling, apparently en-route from Ireland to Germany.

                                  Chinooks heading for Lydd airfield

Sunday 2 April 2023

Penduline Tit

Cold, dry and sunny, NNE 4 - A dry day at last, albeit chilly, but with blue skies. Started off on the local patch at Lade where it was good to connect with my first spring Willow Warbler singing by the ponds along with a Blackcap and several Chiffchaffs, a Cetti`s Warbler and a Greenfinch. A check of the lakes revealed plenty of grebe activity and around 50 Shovelers. Dungeness was quiet after yesterdays Alpine Swifts and Hooded Crow with neither birds reported today. The Patch was churning over but only attracted a couple of hundred regular gulls.

                                  Spitfires over Lade

Moving onto the bird reserve and as I pulled up in the ARC car park news came through of a Penduline Tit discovered in the reed bed near Screen hide, but mainly viewable from Hanson hide. I had brief views of the bird from Screen hide as it flew up and alighted in the reeds before disappearing from sight. Also noted six Whimbrel over and a flight view of a Bittern. At Cook`s Pool the `resident` Glossy Ibis pair were close to the gate feeding along the margins, another two Whimbrels came through and a Yellow Wagtail hurried inland, which was my first of the year. Also noted the usual Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Shelducks, Wigeon, Teal and Lapwings.

                                  Glossy Ibis, Cook`s Pool