Friday 24 May 2024

Common Scoters

Dungeness - warm, dry and sunny, SW2 - A superb day to be out and about in the field for a circuit of Dengemarsh in warm sunshine and with a fresh breeze off the sea tempering the heat. A flock of nine Black-tailed Godwits on hayfield 2 was the highlight, along with all the usual wetland birds including displaying Marsh Harriers, `booming` Bittern, calling Cuckoo and at least 10 Yellow Wagtails along Dengemarsh Road.  The viewing ramp overlooking Hookers reedbed continues to be a good spot for observing warblers and Bearded Tits at close range, although on the debit side there was no sign of a Hobby or any evidence of Lapwing success on the hayfields. A plus though was a Brown Hare sighting, my first one for ages. Kerton quarry on the other hand produced both Lapwings and Oystercatchers with well-grown chicks on the main island along with scores of feral goslings and a pair of highly agitated Redshanks. As it was high tide a count of 180 Oystercatchers and 15 Curlews were at roost on the sand bar. A check of Lade bay from the Tavern viewpoint revealed that the Common Scoter  flock was still present; I counted at least 250 birds bobbing on the sea at some distance, and there could have been a few more out of my range, which is an unprecedented number for this time of year when they should be on their northern breeding grounds. The only thing I can think of is that they`re non-breeding birds summering on the bay where they`ve found plenty to feed on, as its far too early for any post-breeding flocks, but it still remains something of a mystery... 

                                  Black-tailed Godwits, hayfield 2

                                  Sedge Warbler, Dengemarsh

                                 Lapwing and Oystercatchers, Kerton quarry

Elsewhere this past week our Ted walks have taken us across the peninsula and around the New Romney farmland, plus an evening visit to Dungeness. The Hammond`s Corner Little Owl and singing Corn Buntings have been noted at several locations nearby, otherwise there has been little else to report. In the garden two broods of Blue Tits have now fledged from nest boxes while another brood of Mistle Thrushes have been seen in the town park and a pair of Sparrowhawks are breeding somewhere nearby judging from the regularity of their forays to the garden bird feeders! Very few Swallows have returned locally and I haven`t seen any further House Martin activity on the Pearmain estate. 

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