Thursday, 19 April 2018


Lade - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - A superb morning to be out and about around the peninsula surveying breeding birds. By midday the temperature reached a ridiculous 21C! Warblers were the order of the day with 10 species noted, although not in any great numbers. At the back of Lade north two singing Corn Buntings and a calling Red-legged Partridge were of note, while a single Wheatear was on the Desert. No change on the lakes with the Long-tailed Ducks still on station. At the ponds our first two Grass Snakes of the season and plenty of active Marsh Frogs.

                          Sedge Warblers were the most obvious of the tribe this morning

                               Grounded Whimbrels from the Access Road

Boulderwall - After breakfast I continued on the Cetti`s Warbler survey (minus Barney who was suffering from the heat) checking out the Gun Club and Tanner`s Pools area where another five singers were added to the tally. A Yellow Wagtail flushed from amongst the sheep was about the only passerine of note. Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Teal, Wigeon, Little Egret, Green Woodpecker and a flock of nine Whimbrel grounded by the Access Road were noteworthy. Several more Grass Snakes and a Weasel also seen, but I managed to miss three Hawfinches which briefly landed along the track by Dengemarsh before flying off eastwards.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

First Whitethroat

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - The warmest day of the year so far with the temperature hitting 19C by early afternoon. After a third attempt at running the garden moth trap a single Common Quaker became the first of the season. Out back a Whitethroat in Mockmill was our first of the spring. Plenty of Sedge and Cetti`sWarblers, Chiffchaffs, Mipits, Skylarks and Linnets around the site and the Long-tailed Ducks were still on south lake. Passage migrants continue to be thinly represented with hardly any Swallows through so far and not a single House Martin.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - An hour at the fishing boats with PB, MH and SG this afternoon was pretty slow going on the seabird front with a close Little Tern being the highlight. Sandwich Terns were much in evidence while further out a Bonxie and a few Gannets moved up-Channel. There continues to be good numbers of Porpoises feeding offshore.
  Elsewhere today a Serin paid a brief visit to the point and a Hobby was seen over Dengemarsh.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Skuas and ducks

Dungeness - cool, dry, clear, SSW 3 - 0625 - 0825hrs - An entertaining seawatch from the hide this morning resulted in some quality seabirds in the shape of 25 Bonxies, 10 Manx Shearwaters, two Velvet Scoters, six Eiders, a pair of Garganey and a Black-throated Diver, most of which passed within or just outside the cardinal buoy as they migrated up-Channel, except for the Manxies going west. There was also a decent supporting cast of Gannets, Common Scoters, Sandwich and Common Terns, Fulmars, auks, Red-throated Divers, plus 10 Arctic Skuas, two Little Gulls, 20 Whimbrels, two Teal and a Mediterranean Gull. No doubt many more were noted during the morning. For a fuller picture refer to the DBO Website.
Lade - After breakfast we headed out over the local patch where the highlight was a `reeling` Grasshopper Warbler in Mockmill along with 10 Sedge and two Cetti`s Warbler, a pair of Stonechats, our first Cuckoo and plenty of Linnets. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record the two Long-tailed Ducks remained on south lake. Several parties of Whimbrels were seen and heard passing overhead throughout the day.

                               Shelducks, Lade sands

  An evening visit over the bay to scope the sands was notable for that curious phenomenon of light and tide which occurs every so often where bye the coast of France appears to be much closer and more obvious than usual, as were the ships in the Channel. Birdwise, just the usual Sandwich Terns, waders and gulls including a pair of Shelducks and five Ringed Plovers. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Harbour Porpoises

Dungeness - 0730hrs - mild, sunny, SW 2 - A hazy start to the day from the seawatch hide where it was much slower than yesterday, but still with a trickle of common seabirds such as Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Eider, Brents, Arctic and Great Skuas. At the Patch just a couple of Common Terns and 50 immature gulls. Harbour Porpoises have been very much in evidence this past week and this morning at least 20 were performing just offshore.
  On the land a Black Redstart on the power station wall, several Swallows inbound, a handful of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the lighthouse garden.

                                Blackcap, lighthouse garden

                                Dunnock, Lade

Lade - A late morning circuit of the local patch found seven Cetti`s Warblers in song, plus the Long-tailed Ducks and four Goldeneyes still on south lake. Several groups of Swallows moved quickly through and the first Reed Warblers were singing from the main reedbed. Other migrants noted included Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. Several Marsh Harriers and
Buzzards were soon thermalling over the Desert in warm sunshine.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Common Scoters on the move

Lade - The weekend weather has been dominated by fog rolling in off a cold sea which pretty much put paid to any birding yesterday morning. Walking around the local patch was a weird experience as there were migrants present with a scattering of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs singing from back gardens and a Tree Pipit over calling, a passage migrant I now don't expect to see/hear every spring. Also heard overhead Yellow Wagtail, Brambling, Siskin and several Mediterranean Gulls.
  An afternoon visit yielded our first Lesser Whitethroat of spring in scrub behind the `mirrors`, while the Long-tailed Ducks were still present today.
Dungeness -Thick fog all Saturday morning didn't clear until midday, but an afternoon visit with the family off the boardwalk produced a good number of Porpoises off shore, of which one or two were breaching, plus a few passing Gannets, terns and an Arctic Skua.
 Sunday morning heralded much better visibility with a light south-westerly airflow clearing the mist. An early seawatch was notable for a large movement of Common Scoters which numbered up to 1,000 by the time I left site. Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, auks, Common and Sandwich Terns were also steadily trickling past the hide, plus our first three Little Terns, along with 10 Little Gulls, 12 Shelducks, three Eiders, a Shoveler, two Black-throated Divers, five Red-throated Divers, 100 Brents, three Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie. Two Swallows went out and a Peregrine made a sortie over the sea from the power station.
  On the land, Wheatear and Black Redstart on the power station wall and a brown Merlin on the beach by the new lighthouse.

Friday, 13 April 2018

An Osprey and an owl!

Dungeness - misty, mild, cloudy, light airs - Went down for an early morning seawatch but the fog persisted, so all that was seen were a few Common and Sandwich Terns, a Red-throated diver and a flock of 10 Whimbrels which were our first of the year. A brief scout around the land revealed a Song Thrush and Chiffchaff in the lighthouse garden and a Fieldfare and Brambling over in the murk.

                                Fen habitat, ideal for Cetti`s Warbler

                               Tree Sparrows near New Diggings

New Diggings/Oppen Pits - Continuing on with the Cetti`s Warbler survey for RSPB we went off-piste this morning tramping across the shingle plotting more singing males of which there was at least eight. This isn't an area I often visit and being under watched it was no surprise that it turned up some good birds, including a number of firsts for the year; not that I`m much of a year lister... Singing Nightingale, Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat were such, plus a Short-eared Owl quartering the Desert behind the Oppen pits, presumably the bird that had been seen earlier at the Point. Biggest surprise of all though was a `black and white blob` sat on a distant shingle ridge that morphed into a grounded Osprey that quickly soared up over Long Pits and out in the murk, making it my first spring bird for some time. Also noted in the general area, four Snipe, Tree Sparrow, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Swallow, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and four `boxing` Brown Hares.
  After a breather in the VC the walk back down the track to Boulderwall delivered half a dozen flyover Mediterranean Gulls, a Great White Egret on one of the small Christmas Dell pools and a Cuckoo by the bee hives.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Lade - cool, misty, NE 2, sunny later - It was quite nippy first thing with the mist rolling in off the sea, but warmed up around midday as the sun took charge. Incredibly the two Long-tailed Ducks were still on south lake along with three Goldeneye, 20 Shoveler and 10 Teal. Summer visitors were represented by singing Sedge and Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

Dungeness - Had brief views of a very elusive treecreeper in the lighthouse garden found by MH this morning, but being as its Dungeness and the time of year further investigation this afternoon revealed it to be almost certainly of the Short-toed variety based on call and some excellent photographs. For further details later on refer to the DBO website and
  Having not seen a Great White Egret for a while one was at the south end of ARC and another on Cook`s Pool, plus a Wheatear by the bee hives from the access road. A guided walk around the circular route delivered a decent return on summer migrants for the guests including Sedge and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Swallows, Yellow Wagtail and our first Cuckoo of spring near Hooker`s. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Raven and Slavonian Grebe were seen at Dengemarsh, an Avocet on Burrowes, plus plenty of Linnets and Reed Buntings, a Dabchick, two Goldeneyes, three Snipe, Egyptian Goose, Redshank, Lapwing, Shelduck, Green Woodpecker and Cetti`s Warbler.
  Also of note today was the relocation of what was presumably the Brookland Hoopoe at Burmarsh and two Hawfinches in Littlestone (OL).