Tuesday 30 April 2024

Hen Harrier

Dungeness - 0545-0845hrs - Cool, cloudy, dry, SE3 - The weather conditions looked favourable for an early morning seawatch from the hide, although it turned out to be slow going with only a trickle of seabirds on the move and with just three Pomarine Skuas the highlight in three hours. However, the surprise of the session came from one of the watchers outside the hide when he alerted us to a Hen Harrier heading out over the sea into the wind, a superb adult female making the Channel crossing. Up Channel seawatch totals as follows: Gannet 120, Sandwich Tern 95, Commic Tern 40, Oystercatcher 85, Brent Goose 20, Common Scoter 180, Kittiwake 30, Red-throated Diver 7, Little Tern, Med Gull 2, Fulmar 2, Pomarine Skua 3, Arctic Skua 5, Bonxie 1, Whimbrel 14, Shelduck 3, Hen Harrier 1 out (for the full day totals see trektellen website).

                                   Brent Geese, Dungeness

Monday 29 April 2024

Garden Warbler

Dengemarsh - warm, dry and sunny, SW3 - At last the weather finally turned spring-like and there was plenty to enjoy on our circular Ted walk this morning around the marsh. It is one of my favourite hikes combining farmland with the RSPB wetlands offering a wide range of birds, and at this time of year the prospect of incoming migrants. We started at the Manor Farm end with several pairs of Corn and Reed Buntings on territory along with many more Skylarks, a few Linnets, two Yellow Wagtails and five pairs of Lapwings on a stony field. At the back of Hookers, after a lengthy wait, I eventually obtained brief views of a Garden Warbler singing from a willow thicket while Sedge Warblers were plentiful around the wetlands and where more Reed Warblers had moved in and Lesser Whitethroats remained in the ascendency over Whitethroats. From the ramp a Bittern `boomed`, a pair of Marsh Harriers displayed over the reedbed, several Bearded Tits flitted around the grit tray, a drake Garganey showed on a nearby pool and two Hobbies overhead were my first of the spring. A pair of Avocets remained on hayfield 2 while hayfield 3 held 12 Shelducks, a pair of Gadwall and several Redshanks and Lapwings. Also noted during the circuit a Great White Egret, two Ravens, two Common Buzzards, a Kestrel, six Whimbrels and two Curlews over.

                                 Corn Bunting, Manor Farm

                                  Sedge Warbler, Hookers

                                 Garganey, Dengemarsh

                                 Kestrel, Manor Farm

                                  Ted enjoying the spring sunshine

Sunday 28 April 2024

Terns and skuas

Dungeness - cool, cloudy, S4 - Following a run of northerly winds, with not very much joy on the seawatching front, yesterday the wind swung around to a south-easterly releasing a surge of terns and skuas up-Channel (see trektellen website for details). As a result the seawatch hide was packed this morning, so as I had Ted in tow I tried my luck from the Patch hide where a steady movement of Gannets in both directions was underway along with pulses of passage Common and Sandwich Terns and at least 10 Arctic Terns close to shore. Just after 0710hrs a Pomarine Skua flew east followed by two Arctic Skuas and two Fulmars. A walk around the bushes produced very little in the brisk breeze apart from a few Wheatears and a couple of inbound Swallows. 

                                   Wheatear, Dungeness

Yesterday we walked Romney Salts checking the recently drilled fields where five Wheatears (two Greenland types) and two Yellow Wagtails were the highlights. Also noted several each of Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Reed and Sedge Warbler and Swallow, plus 20 Stock Doves, two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel.

Friday 26 April 2024


Dungeness - cold, drizzle, cloudy, NE 4 - The poor weather continues, although a long walk around the peninsula was considerably brightened by a smart male Whinchat in the northern part of the Desert, now a somewhat scarce passage migrant in spring, plus a female Common Redstart nearby. There appeared to have been an overnight drop in of Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats, although Lesser Whitethroats are still in the ascendency across the scrublands. Also noted a Wheatear, several Linnets and Reed Buntings, a Sparrowhawk and a Stonechat at Lade. On the bird reserve a couple of Whimbrels were on the field by the bend in the access road and several Swifts fluttered high over the car park, probably regretting their early arrival in the chill air.  

                                  Whinchat, Desert

                                 Meadow Pipit and Skylark, Littlestone

Elsewhere this week on our Ted walks it has been slim pickings. On Wednesday a Cuckoo singing to the north of New Romney was my first here for the year while the same day there was also a fall of Blackcaps around the town gardens and parks, plus two parties of Whimbrels overhead calling in the evening. A few more Sedge and Reed Warblers have moved into the sewer margin reedbeds and Swallows are now a regular sight around the local horse paddocks and stables. Mediterranean Gulls continue to drift over on high calling, while the beach in front of the golf course at Littlestone has produced a few Sandwich Terns and common waders.  

Monday 22 April 2024

Short-eared Owl

Lade - cool, sunny, NW 3 - A much better day than yesterday`s horror show with the cold northerly relenting somewhat. We spent most of the morning surveying breeding birds on the local patch where there was no great surprises; Lesser Whitethroats still outnumbered Common Whitethroats, while more Reed and Sedge Warblers have taken up territories, the latter particularly so in Mockmill sewer where there was at least 10 singers. On the trudge back across the shingle I almost stepped on a Short-eared Owl that flew about 30 yards away and slumped down on a grassy ridge staring at us with its piercing yellow eyes. It looked all in having presumably just crossed the Channel on its northward journey to breed, so I took a few quick pics and left it in the sunshine to recover, hunkered amongst the grass.

    Short-eared Owl, Lade

A stakeout overlooking Cook`s pool on the bird reserve proved profitable as a mixed flock of 30 odd Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwits flew in from the south and settled down to feed on the pasture at the far side of the pool. Along the near edge at least six Common Snipes were present, plus another wader that initially proved baffling; until it reappeared about an hour later and confirmed its identity as a partially albino Common Snipe! Also noted a flyover Little Ringed Plover (my first of the year), 10 more Whimbrels and seven Barwits over, two Marsh Harriers, a Great White Egret and all the usual warblers.

Saturday 20 April 2024


Cold, cloudy, N 4 - Spent the morning walking the circular route around Dengemarsh with Ted. The farmland section delivered a few Skylarks, Yellow Wagtails, Reed and Corn Buntings. At least four pairs of Lapwings were on territory (with two sitting females) but I fear it wont be long before the weedy fields will be ploughed and drilled. A Bittern `boomed` from Hookers reedbed where Bearded Tits were heard and a pair of Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk seen, along with pairs of Shoveler, Pochard and Gadwall looking set to breed. Although all the common warblers were noted during the walk the frigid northerly airflow supressed their activities. Three pairs of Avocets were still on the flooded Hayfield 2 as well as several pairs of Shelducks, plus Little Egrets, Lapwings Redshanks and my first Whimbrel of spring on Hayfield 3. A Great White Egret at the back of Cook`s Pool was the only other bird of note.

                                 Lapwing, Manor Farm

                                  Ted on the ramp

                                 Avocets, Hayfield 2

Friday 19 April 2024


Lade - cold, cloudy NW4 - The cold, northerly airflow looks set to continue and as a result not a single hirundine was seen over the lakes this morning; normally by now there are plenty flowing through but this blocking weather system from the north must be causing a log-jam somewhere to the south where, apparently, there is something of a heatwave. On a brighter note I heard my first Cuckoo of spring calling briefly from the far side of south lake, while Lesser Whitethroats continue to out number Common Whitethroats; hopefully they haven`t suffered from the long-term drought in the Sahel region of Africa. Around the shelter of the ponds there was a decent cacophony of warbler song, including Sedge Warblers that have arrived this week, and a couple of Greenfinches, but little else. I checked the beach from the Tavern viewpoint on a falling tide but could only find a few Oystercatchers and Curlews amongst a scattering of gulls.

                                  Sedge Warbler, Lade

We finished off the morning at Dungeness, which was virtually birdless, and onto a walk down to the pines and around Tower pits where the obligatory warblers were noted. From Screen hide a male Marsh Harrier and a Great White Egret flew over the ARC lake and a pair of Shovelers displayed in front of the Cormorant colony, and that was about it.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Little Gull

Dungeness RSPB - cold, showery, NW 4 - A grim morning for a guided walk for seven guest around the circular trail with a biting wind and occasional cloudbursts. Whilst sheltering in Dennis`s hide a first year Little Gull sporting a pinkish breast showed well amongst 50 Black-headed Gulls and three Common Terns. Eight species of warblers were logged during the walk, but due to the blustery wind most were only heard, although we did see several Sedge Warblers from the 50 odd singers present and one cracking view of a Cetti`s by Dengemarsh hide. Otherwise, all the usual suspects were noted including two Marsh Harriers, two Common Buzzards, a Great White Egret, several Shovelers, Shelducks and Pochards and ten in bound Swallows. The hayfields were largely empty due to disturbance. 

                                 Little Gull, Burrowes.

                                 Sedge Warbler, Dengemarsh

                                 Shelduck, Dengemarsh

Sunday 14 April 2024

Purple Heron

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny WNW2 - Our Ted walk this morning took us for a circuit of Long Pits just as news came through that yesterdays Purple Heron had been seen flying over the lakes. Eventually, whilst chatting to JTM, we picked up said bird soaring over the Trapping Area as it headed over the power station and out to sea. Around the pits there was a decent spread of Chiffchaffs, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler, while a Ring Ouzel was seen earlier. Several Small Coppers were also on the wing, exquisite little butterflies and my first of the year.

                                 Small Copper, Dungeness

On the bird reserve we walked down to the viewing ramp over Hookers where a Bittern was `booming` regularly as well as a flight view of another as it briefly sat atop a clump of reeds sky-pointing. Whilst chatting to Colin T we also enjoyed perched views of a Cetti`s Warbler and flight views of Bearded Tits, while two Avocets flew over calling. Also noted, several Ravens, Med Gulls calling overhead, two Marsh Harriers and two Great White Egrets. 

Saturday 13 April 2024


 Warm, dry and sunny, SW 4 - Superb weather for a guiding day with Mark from Lexington. We started down at Greatstone where yesterdays Hoopoe had kindly stayed over affording cracking views in the sand dunes as it probed the sandy soil for invertebrates. Moving onto Lade where Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler were noted by the ponds along with Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and several Common Whitethroats. Next stop the ARC where more common warblers were heard along with ten Shovelers on the lake and the first of several Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards

                                  Hoopoe, Greatstone

                                  Yellow Wagtail, Scotney

Scotney produced at least five stunning Yellow Wagtails outback, plus 20 Avocets, 50 Mediterranean Gulls, a pair of Teal and a Green Sandpiper along the Jury`s Gut Sewer, while a Little Owl showed briefly at Pigwell. Back at the bird reserve we logged a smart drake Garganey at the far end of Cook`s Pool as well as six Cattle Egrets and a Great White Egret. Burrowes was quiet with just a single Common Tern of note amongst 50 Black-headed Gulls and the usual wildfowl, while the hayfields held three Little Egrets, six Avocets, Redshanks, Lapwings, Shelducks and a Greenshank over calling. We finished the day at Dungeness with three Wheatears on the beach, a few seabirds and an incoming Swallow. The warmth also brought forth a rash of flying insects including Peacock butterflies and Hairy Hawker dragonflies. A good days birding in great company during which we logged 78 species with the Hoopoe the undoubted highlight. 

Friday 12 April 2024


Lade - warm, dry and sunny, SW3 - A fruitful morning on the local patch with a big arrival of spring warblers. My first Reed Warblers of the year were singing in the various reedbeds, along with several Common Whitethroats, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers, Reed Buntings and Linnets around the main track and ponds, plus passage Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff in the willow swamp. The highlight of the morning, however, was my earliest record of  Common Sandpiper on the margins of south lake.

                                   Common Whitethroat, Lade ponds

Moving onto the bird reserve where numerous Sedge and Reed Warblers and Common Whitethroats  were singing around Dengemarsh. The fields at Boulderwall held a few displaying Lapwings, a pair each of Shoveler and  Shelduck but littles else, while two Marsh Harriers drifted over. Elsewhere today a Hoopoe was found in the sand dunes at Greatstone.



Monday 8 April 2024

Rouzel and Redstart

Dungeness - 0845-1230hrs - Warm, dry and sunny, SE2 - At long last the wind relented overnight to a pleasant zephyr making it worthwhile spending the morning birding the bushes for migrants on the peninsula.  After several attempts I managed protracted views of a male Ring Ouzel at the top end of the Desert and briefer views of a stunning cock Redstart by the pilot path in the Trapping Area. Both these summer migrants are becoming more difficult to encounter, particularly in spring, so it was a real treat to see them both today. Also noted: three Wheatears (one of the Greenland race) several Willow Warblers and my first Whitethroats of spring, plus 10 Chiffchaffs, 10 Linnets, two Blackcaps, four Cetti`s Warblers, two Ravens, a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier over Long Pits. 

                                 Ring Ouzel, Desert

                                 Ted cooling off

Over the weekend the strong winds from named storm Kathleen rendered birding locally largely pointless. However, yesterday I noted my first Swallow over the New Cut while there has been a noticeable and welcome increase in Greenfinches, presumably birds from the near continent having moved in with the Linnets. As the overnight temperature was 11 C on Saturday/Sunday I ran the garden moth trap for the first time this year, resulting in a single Mullein Moth. 

                                 Mullein Moth

Friday 5 April 2024

Common Terns

Thursday - Dungeness - mild, cloudy, showers, SW5 - 0645-0845hrs - A two hour seawatch from the hide with the locals this morning produced a limited up-Channel passage of seabirds with Sandwich Terns making up the numbers and my first Common Terns of the year the highlight: Sandwich Tern 37, Gannet 18, Red-throated Diver 7, Common Scoter 8, Common Tern 6, Med Gull 1, Arctic Skua 1. A few more Swallows around today but otherwise the strong winds so far this week has made for difficult birding conditions. 

                                  Chiffchaff, Lade

Friday - Lade - mild, sunny, SW 5 - The blustery winds from a southerly vector continued throughout the morning as we scoured the local patch for any signs of incoming migrants, of which the only evidence was a Willow Warbler singing deep within a gorse thicket beside south lake. Elsewhere the usual Chiffchaffs and Cetti`s Warblers were in good voice around the willow swamp, plus several Skylarks and Linnet on the desert along with a Stonechat and Meadow Pipit. Two pairs of Egyptian Geese noisily chased one another around the site as a couple of Curlews flew over from the bay. There has been no change to the birds on the RSPB reserve since my last visit.

Tuesday 2 April 2024


Dungeness - cool, cloudy, SW4 - Spent the day guiding for Steve and Paul from Surrey. We started at the point where we enjoyed superb views of a male Peregrine perched atop A station tucking into a Feral Pigeon that it had just caught. Also noted around the power station complex a singing Black Redstart, two Ravens, several Linnets, Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and a Stonechat. The rest of the day was spent on the bird reserve in blustery weather conditions and not conducive to finding passerines, although we did see 20 Swallows and ten Sand Martins over Burrowes and a couple of Sedge Warblers at Dengemarsh, The highlight though was at least 17 Little Gulls on Burrowes and two each of Avocet and Water Pipit on the hayfields. The long-staying Great Northern Diver was still present along with a pair of Goldeneye, while the guests enjoyed several Marsh Harriers, a range of wildfowl and a Great White Egret along the way. We finished up with 70 species for the day, so not too shabby considering the strong wind.

                                  Power station Peregrine

                                 Hayfield Avocets

Monday 1 April 2024

Little Gulls

Mild, cloudy, SW 3 - Following a tip-off that a Bittern had been heard in the main reedbed yesterday evening we headed for the local patch at Lade where it was still present, `booming` a couple of times in an hour. Since my last visit there has been a noticeable clear out of ducks, as is to be expected at this time of year, with only a handful of Shovelers and a pair of Goldeneye of note. Chiffchaffs and Cetti`s Warblers were most vocal around the ponds while a few Linnets and a pair of Stonechats were seen on the Desert. On the Boulderwall fields duck numbers were also down with only 20 Wigeons and a pair of Teal on Cook`s pool, plus a few Lapwings, Curlews, Shelducks and Little Egrets on the wet fields. Moving onto Burrowes where at least 10 Little Gulls were feeding amongst several hundred Black-headed Gulls picking off emerging insects over the lake. In the car park scrub a Willow Warbler and Blackcap made half-hearted attempts at singing. We finished off the  morning walking Dengemarsh and the hayfields where the long-staying Pintail and a Water Pipit were still present along with the usual Redshanks, Lapwings, Shovelers, Shelducks, a couple of Marsh harriers and a Great White Egret.

                                  Little Gulls, ARC

Over the weekend our Ted walks have taken us across various farmland tracts around New Romney. As the countryside begins to dry up the tractors have been out in force spraying off the `weeds` in the winter stubble and turning the landscape temporarily yellow in preparation for ploughing and spring sowing. Birds noted have been few in number with a sprinkling of resident Skylarks, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers of note, plus incoming Linnets, Reed Buntings and Chiffchaffs. Ravens and Buzzards are regularly seen as well as Common and Black-headed Gulls overhead and on the turf fields. 

                                 Romney Salts

                                  It`s that time of year...