Monday, 21 August 2017

Black Terns

ARC - mild, overcast, drizzle, se 2 - With nothing much happening at Dungeness we headed down to Hanson hide where birds started appearing as the rain relented. First a flock of 25 Blackwits dropped in, plus 10 Dunlins alongside an assortment of Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers and Redshank. Out on the lake hundreds of Sand Martins, a Black Tern and several Swifts noted. Moving onto Screen hide and another 10 Black Terns came down, while three Whimbrel and a Knot flew over. Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Green Sandpiper and Garganey also noted. The bushes down to the pines were alive with common passage warblers and tits.
  More Black Terns and waders were seen on Burrowes this morning.

                                Black-tailed Godwits, ARC

Lade - We checked the pits this afternoon for terns of which there was only a small flock of Commons on north lake. A large passerine flock in the bushes included mainly Long-tailed and Great Tits, Common and Lesser Whitethroats and Willow Warblers. A few Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers were skulking around the ponds and a Sparrowhawk nipped through.
  A late check of the bay revealed 100 Dunlins, 30 Ringed Plovers, 20 Sanderlings, 10 Barwits and single figures of Knot and Grey Plover, plus the usual Oystercatchers and Curlews. There were plenty of Sandwich and Common Terns loafing on the sands and two distant Grey Seals at sea.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Eider duck

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, w 4 - Another breezy day across the peninsula with a shower or two in the afternoon. The Common Tern flock was still on south lake this morning, while the egret/heron count was 14 Little, two Great White and 12 Grey. Had superb views of an adult Hobby that careered across the lake in hot pursuit of a Pied Wagtail that narrowly avoided death by diving into cover. Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk also noted hunting around the site.

                                Curlews disturb by Marsh Harrier

ARC - Called in to Hanson hide on the way back from the allotment around midday where the only migrant of note was a Garganey amongst the dabbling duck flock. All in all very quiet.

                                Eider duck on the foreshore, Dungeness

Dungeness - A one hour seawatch from the boats this afternoon with the regulars delivered a steady flow of Sandwich and Common Terns, Kittiwakes and Gannets, plus several Fulmars and Arctic Skuas and a party each of Sand Martins and Swifts outward bound. An Eider duck on the foreshore was particularly noteworthy and an unusual record for the time of year, as was a Leach`s Petrel that was noted just before we arrived.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Arctic Skuas v Sandwich Terns

Lade - 0700hrs - cool and cloudy, w 5 - A brisk wind made for largely passerine free birding on the local patch this morning. However, there was plenty of `big bird` activity with a flock of 30 Common Terns begging to be grilled on south lake, until they suddenly rose skywards like helicopters as a juvenile Peregrine tore in. But the falcon only had eyes for the much slower Curlews that had just left their roost on the Desert, although once again it failed as the `safety in numbers` factor kicked in.
All the usual egrets and herons were around the margins including two Great White Egrets.
  After dropping the car off at the garage in Lydd I walked back to ARC and checked the shingle ridges from Hanson hide where only a few Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Redshanks were present. At least two Garganey were amongst the eclipse ducks and plenty of Sand Martins hawked insects over the lake. Trudging back home across the Desert several Yellow Wagtails and two Wheatears noted.
  This evening we checked out the bay on a rising tide where a flock of 150 fishing Sandwich Terns inevitably attracted the attention of three Arctic Skuas that came in low over the water. The terns were finding fish with every plunge dive, while the skuas were most successful with their surprise attacks, particular on the juvenile birds - at one stage a skua chased a tern along the beach and over the toilet block! As always a highly entertaining spectacle.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A fall of Curlew Sandpipers

Dungeness - mild, cloudy, rain, sw 4 - 1000hrs - With rain around dawn the omens were good for some grounded migrants this morning, although I didn`t expect such a large fall of waders to be on the cards. Curlew Sandpipers were most prominent with at least 50 on ARC and Burrowes, all adults in various plumages from russet to pale grey and many shades in between. This is without doubt the largest number of Curlew Sandpipers in my time here, but by early afternoon most had departed as the weather improved.

                                Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlins

                                Wood Sandpiper

                                Mixed wader flock from Firth hide

   The flock of waders in front of Firth also included 35 Dunlins, 30 Ringed Plovers, three Blackwits, three Common Sandpipers, two Little Ringed Plovers, plus singles of Green and Wood Sandpipers, Little Stint, Turnstone, Redshank and Ruff. Also on Burrowes hundreds of Sand Martins, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Yellow-billed Teal and on our second visit in early afternoon, two Black Terns. As we were checking the waders a juvenile Sparrowhawk nipped in low and flushed the flock whilst attempting to grab a Dunlin. It then tried for a Pied Wagtail and missed, before moving onto  Sand Martins and failed again. This bird has a lot to learn in the hunting stakes.

  Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - note white neck collar, stout all black bill, inner primary panel and black and white tail

                                Juvenile Sparrowhawk

  On ARC around noon eight Curlew Sandpipers, five Dunlins, seven Avocets and two Garganeys amongst the wildfowl and Coots.
  Together with CP we checked out the front fields at Scotney where 20 Curlews and two Whimbrels were present along with 150 feral Barnacles and hydrid Snow Geese.
  Finished off with an hour at the fishing boats this afternoon with PB and TG where a steady passage of Common and Sandwich Tern was underway, plus three Little Terns and a few Gannets and Kittiwakes

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Yellow Wagtails

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny - Light airs to start the day with the wind picking up from the west through the morning.  A steady overhead passage of around 50 Yellow Wagtails was the main birding feature throughout the day.
Dungeness - 1000hrs - A guided walk for eight guests around the circular trail on the bird reserve delivered the expected overhead passage of Sand Martins, common scrub and reed warblers (including several Lesser Whitethroats) Whinchat and Wheatear. On Dengemarsh four Great White Egrets, 70 Golden Plovers, two Snipe, four Green Sandpipers, Greenshank, Ruff and Redshank were the highlights. Despite ongoing digger work on Burrowes, 10 Ringed Plovers, two Little Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins and a Turnstone noted in front of Firth, plus Common and Green Sandpipers, and Common Terns feeding young from Dennis`s hide.
  A late afternoon visit to ARC  yielded a Garganey and Little Ringed Plover from Screen hide amongst the usual wildfowl. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Lade waders

Lade - 0730hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - With thunder and lightening out in the Channel during the early hours, followed by some hefty showers it was no surprise that a sprinkling of passage waders had been grounded around the margins of south lake and the muddy patch amid the willow swamp, Wood Sandpiper is an infrequent visitor here, infact I can only recall three others in almost 12 years, so one this morning was good news. Several Common and Green Sandpipers, Redshank and Greenshank were also present.
  Other birds of note included two Great White Egrets, a Black-necked Grebe, Kingfisher, juvenile Green Woodpeckers and several Willow Warblers.
  A late morning visit around the pond in hot sunshine resulted in a flush of common butterflies, mostly Common Blues, plus several Migrant Hawkers, Broad-bodied Chasers and Hummingbird Hawk-moths.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Juvenile Cuckoo

Dungeness - 0730hrs - warm, dry and sunny - A walk around the peninsula in warm sunshine, light airs and not a soul about was pleasant enough if lacking in birds. A couple each of Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail and Mipit was about all we could muster opposite Jarman`s. In the lighthouse garden a Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat in the moat and a few Sand Martins out. The Patch was quiet and a few terns and Gannets drifted passed offshore.
  On the way off the estate a juv Cuckoo flew over the road opposite the Fish Hut and landed on overhead wires. Within in a minute it dropped down into the scrub and flew back up with what looked like a large caterpillar. This is the first Cuckoo I`ve seen since the adults left a month or so ago.

                                Juvenile Cuckoo with prey, Dungeness

                                Latticed Heath, an irregular visitor to the garden MV

Lade - The garden MV was loaded with common moths this morning with a Latticed Heath being the best of the bunch. Nothing much on the local patch today apart from a few Willow Warblers.
With high tide around 4pm a sea swim in the bay was most welcome this afternoon, complete with Sandwich Terns plunge diving nearby.