Friday 8 September 2023

House Martins

 Dungeness - hot, dry and sunny, light airs - A day in the field guiding for Lyn and Andrew commenced at the point in some style with up to a thousand House Martins swarming on the overhead wires and above the power station complex along with several hundred Starlings. A large female Sparrowhawk came in off the sea scattering the martins and Starlings before heading out over the Desert. Grounded drift migrants were few and far between but we did manage to connect with singles of Common and Black Redstarts and a Spotted Flycatcher by West Beach; Wheatear, Stonechats and Common Whitethroat on the edge of the Trapping Area; and a Whinchat on the power station wall, plus Grey and Yellow Wagtails overhead. The sea was like a misty, mill pond and we were fortunate to log a few passing Sandwich Terns and Gannets, three Guillemots on the water, an Arctic Skua and swarms of House Martins striking out for France; we also noted up to 20 Harbour Porpoises. Moving onto the bird reserve where five Cattle Egrets showed in Boulderwall fields and another Common Redstart, two Stonechats and a Meadow Pipit by the bee-hives. Burrowes was again disappointing with just a few Lapwings, a Common Sandpiper, a Black-tailed Godwit, two Great White and ten Little Egrets, a Raven overhead and a distant Marsh Harrier of note; another harrier was present at Dengemarsh along with a flight of 16 Wigeons, a Kestrel and hundreds more hirundines on overhead wires.  

                                  House Martins, Dungeness

The ARC was in a class of its own from Hanson and Screen hides delivering (at last) the first juveniles of Little Stint and two Curlew Sandpipers of autumn. Other wader species included 100 Lapwings, 60 Golden Plovers, 10 Snipes, 10 Dunlins, five Ringed Plovers, four Ruffs and two Common Sandpipers, plus two each of Glossy Ibis and Great White Egrets, three Garganeys, a Pintail and a Dabchick. A fair days birding then for Lyn and Andrew, racking up a tidy 79 species in sweltering humidity with the undoubted highlight being the House Martin spectacle at the point this morning.

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