Thursday, 31 March 2011


Dungeness - 0745hrs - cold, drizzle, fog, sw3 - Yet another foggy start to the day. A cursery look at the sea from the hide, with two other optomists, revealed a passing Common Tern, my first of the year. A couple of Fieldfares on the land was noteworthy.
Greatstone Beach - 1000hrs  - Up to 100 Barwits on the beach was up on yesterday and suggested a movement of some sort, as 20 more on ARC this afternoon.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

More Fog

Dungeness - 0845hrs - thick fog, cold, sw3 - Seawatching was out this morning due to the fog. On the land a flurry of Redwings in the gorse bushes and a scattering of Black Redstarts, Goldcrests and Wheatears, 2 Sparrowhawks, plus a fly over Siskin.
RSPB - 1000hrs - ARC pit delivered a distant Black-necked Grebe and a few Goldeneyes on the water, 3 LRPs and Dunlins at the south end and Goldcrests and Greater pecker amongst the pines by the water tower.
Greatstone Beach - 1130hrs At least 100 Knot and 50 Barwits were notable amongst the scurrying Sanderlings, Curlews and Oystercatchers. A 2nd summer Med Gull and 50 Sandwich Terns on the sands.
Lade Pits - 1215hrs Nothing much here apart from 5 Goldeneye and a perched Sparrowhawk.
And then the rain set in...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Serin Saga

Dungeness - 0900 - dry, hazy, mild, se2 - We joined Marshman and Wealdman at the end of the boardwalk for an hours seawatch in pleasant conditions. A decent up-Channel passage of 200 Common Scoters, 80 Brents, 10 Red-throated Divers, 5 mergansers, 6 Guillemots, 6 Shoveler, 4 Shelducks, 4 Teal, Fulmar, plus floating Gannets and Sandwich Terns. On the land, half a dozen Black Redstarts including  some showy cock birds around the old light, plus a sprinkling of Wheatears, Stonechats, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Goldcrest, Linnets and Mipits. Apparently, the Serins were seen and photographed by someone while us and about ten other birders were also searching for them (and within shouting distance), but news didnt filter through until early afternoon, mmm...

                                          Goldcrest, Dungeness

RSPB - 1145hrs A circuit of the reserve with Fair Weather Birder turned up our first Willow Warblers of the year, also 2 Rock Pipits, 2 Stonechats and good views of a Cetti`s Warbler. Drew a blank on the Christmas Dell Firecrests. Plenty of harrier activity at Dengemarsh.
Dungeness - 1500hrs A return to the point and brief flight views of the Serins as they headed inland. More Goldcrests and Black Redstarts around West Beach gorse.
Walland Marsh - 1830hrs A harrier roost produced 8 Marsh Harriers to roost. Also, calling Water Rail, Bearded Tit and Little Owl.
                                           Singing Black Redstart

Monday, 28 March 2011

"You Should`ve Been Here Yesterday"

Dungeness - 0730hrscool, dry, hazy, ne2 -  Smashed my all time record for the least amount of time spent in the seawatch hide - 10 minutes! (whatever would dear old Ray have said, probably something along the lines of  -  "You ****ing light weight"!). Mothman and the Farmer (thanks for the pics) however had far more stamina having been present since first light, recording a steady flow of Red-throated Divers, plus a few ducks and mergansers. My excuse was that I needed to check out the lighthouse garden for yesterdays Serins... Like that was going to happen... Anyway, Marshman (is he ever going to finish that garage...) and the Joker turned up and the Serin quest was soon forgotten. Half a dozen Black Redstarts and Wheatears around the old light and a few Chiffchaffs was about it. Did a circuit over to the Obs and back with just a few Linnets and Goldfinches to add.

                                          Black Redstart, lighthouse garden

Birdwatching Break - Picked up two London birders , Raymond and Stuart, from Ashford at midday for their 9th visit to  plovers (must be doing something right!).
Checked out Littlestone for shorebirds followed by the boats at Dungeness where Shortie the Glaucous Gull put on a five star show bossing around all the other large gulls as a fishing boat landed. On ARC we bagged a pair of LRP`s and Slav Grebes, 2 Swallows (my first of the year), 5 Goldeneyes, White Wagtail, Green Woodpecker and Tree Sparrow at Boulderwall. The flood at Dengemarsh produced a pair of Pintail, plus a host of Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck. Had distant views of the Ravens on the switch house and close views of the Marsh Harriers over the reed bed including a pair mating.
                                          Shortie - Dungeness Boats

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Yellow Wagtail

Plovers - 0630hrs - misty, light airs, mild - What a great way to start the day - a cup of tea and a Firecrest in the back garden fir trees. Me thinks there could be some migrants about this morning...
Dungeness - 0700hrs - Joined the hard core seawatchers in the hide and lasted a pathetic half an hour (c200 Brents east in the gloom) before Barney insisted we checked out the scrub. He had great fun sniffing out rabbits as I sorted through about 20 Goldcrests in the West Beach gorse, desperatly trying to find one with a stripey head. They really are amazing little birds, weighing the same as a sheet of A4 paper,crossing the Channel at night and then feeding amongst the prickliest plant going with incredible dexterity and all the while `tsee-tsee-tseeing` away, so`s I can follow their progress. Anyway, I digress, elsewhere around the point at least 10 each of Black Redstart, Chiffchaff and Wheatear, plus a Brambling doing a circuit of the old light. Mipits, Linnets and Goldfinches also of note.
RSPB - 1600hrs At the south end of ARC, 2 pairs of LRP, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Dunlin, 2 Oycs, 2 Ringed Plovers and a Curlew. But bird of the day was our first Yellow Wagtail of the year on the shingle opposite Firth hide, a spanking lemon-coloured male. Finished the day in grand style with a Bittern flying over Dengemarsh and a couple of thousand swirling Starlings at Boulderwall.
                                          Yellow Wag, Burrowes

Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring Migrants

Dungeness - 0745hrs - dry, hazy sunshine, warmish, light airs - Did a half hour, half hearted seawatch from the hide with the Channel like a mill pond. Surprisingly, 100 Brent, 10 Wigeon and about 30 scoter clipped the point eastwards, plus several Gannets, Sandwich Terns and Kittiwakes going the `wrong way`.
On the land, whilst nattering to Marshman and Gullman by the lighthouse garden, a flurry of migrants appeared in the shape of several each of Wheatear (the males singing), Black Redstart and Chiffchaff. A Kestrel clung on half way up the old light and Mipits continued their nuptials in the warm sunshine. Further down the point by the Baitdiggers cottage another Black Redstart, a few more Wheatears and a Siskin overhead.
                                         Black Redstart, Dungeness
Springfield Bridge - 1500hrs Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck on the flood and plenty of harrier activity over the reed bed with the males whistling loudly. Had distant views of one of the Ravens on the switch house.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Little Ringed Plover

Lade - 0800hrs - cool, sunny, ne2 - A Corn Bunting flushed by Barney from the storm beaches was new. I only get a handful of records here during the course of a year, even though several pairs nest over by the airport. Seemed to be a few more Mipits and Linnets about this morning. Just the usual ducks on the pit including 2 Goldeneye.
ARC - 1100hrs - A pair of LRP`s at the southern end were the first of the year. Got a soft spot for this plucky little wader, probably from time spent encouraging them to breed at Dunstable sewage works; how they survive is a mystery to me as just about everything predates the chicks. Slav and Black-necked Grebe present on the water but couldn`t find any Smew, so perhaps they`ve finally headed back north. Nothing much over the road apart from Black Redstart and Wheatear. Robin Reliant and Fair Weather Birder were in the visitors centre yarning on about the good-ol-days...
                                          LRP - ARC

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Slim Pickings

Lade and Dungeness - Cool, dry, sunny, e2 - A cracking sunny day that promised much but failed to deliver. Lade was quiet with just a few Shelduck, Teal and Goldeneye of note. From the causeway the Slav Grebe still present on ARC, plus a small party of Pied Wagtails and Mipits. Elsewhere today, another Red Kite did a tour of the Marsh, while both Sand Martin and Swallow fizzed through Burrowes. Bittern and Raven continue to be noted around Denge Marsh.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Dungeness - 0745hrs - warm, dry and sunny, nw1 - A brief seawatch from the hide with Mothman and the Farmer delivered a steady flow of Gannets, ducks and a few Brents upchannel. On the land singing Mipits, Linnets and copulating Kestrels on the old light.
Seemed to be something of a Buzzard passage ongoing this morning with Hawkeye and the Joker noting 9 over the bird reserve.  I had 2 over Lade in the afternoon.
A pair of Garganey still on Burrowes and viewable from the visitors centre. Two Slav Grebes on ARC, plus Smew and Goldeneye and news of the first Swallow of the spring in off the sea this morning by the Patch. Chatted to the Luddites about their west African experience...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Barney in Summer Plumage

Lade - 0900hrs - cold, thick fog - Couldn`t see much due to dense fog. A Med Gull overhead calling was about it.
Dengemarsh - 1500hrs - warm, sunny, hazy - Nothing much on the flood apart from a few Lapwing, Redshank, Shelduck, Shoveler and Teal. Several harriers aloft; watched an adult female dismembering a Moorhen caught in Dengemarsh Sewer. Whilst scanning from the bridge, Norma Jean turned up on their push bikes and yarned on about the good old days in Lydd and being chased by Bert Axle...
                                          Barney in summer plumage

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Red Kite and Garganey

Lade - 0900hrs - dry, mild, hazy sunshine, S1 - A red letter day on the local patch when I was alerted to a soaring raptor by the local Herring Gull mob. A stunning Red Kite passed directly overhead (camera at home, argh!) before drifting over towards the airport where it was seen by Marshman (trying to find something on my patch no doubt...) and later from the ARC car park. Drake Smew on the lake and two calling Med Gulls over, plus a singing Chiff in the willows.
RSPB - 1330hrs - Year ticked a quality drake Garganey from the visitors centre on Burrowes, as opposed to a plastic Egyptian Goose. The place was packed, just think of the business a cafe would do on a day like today... Wheatear, Black Redstart and Firecrest also on the reserve. Over the road a few Smew, Goldeneye, Black-necked and Slav Grebes. No sign of the Penduline Tit.
                                          Drake Garganey

Saturday, 19 March 2011

White Wagtail

Dengemarsh - 0930hrs - cold, dry, sunny, ne3 - A dry, bright day after several days of gloom was most welcome. Checked the flood which held 30 Dunlins, 20 Lapwings, 5 Redshanks and a Grey Plover. Elsewhere, several thermalling Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and singing Cetti`s Warblers. Bumped into the Joker at Springfield Bridge where we enjoyed a flock of close alba wagtails, including a single White Wag. Reed Buntings still all over the place.
                                          White Wagtail, Springfield Bridge

ARC - 1115hrs  - The sunshine had certainly brought out the fair weather birders as the place was rammed. Nattered to the Ashford 3 and Robin Reliant in the car park. A large flock of Starlings was the main interest here. On the pit, Slav and Black-necked Grebe, Smew, plus 6 Dunlin at the south end. Over the road on New Diggings a `white nun` amongst 3 `redhead` Smew.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Penduline Tit

ARC - 0900hrs Despite spending a couple of hours in Hanson hide managed to miss the Penduline Tit on two visits and a Short-eared Owl early on. Close views of Smew in the reedbed and loads of Reed Buntings and Chaffinches in the willows.
Dungeness - 1030hr - cloudy, sw2 -With the weather closing in a short seawatch produced a steady passage of divers, Gannets, 4 Sandwich Terns and a single Fulmar. On the land a Wheatear by the old light.
Greatstone Beach - 1130hrs Finished the week in drizzle and low cloud. Two close Knot on the beach with a couple of hundred Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstone.
Over 100 species seen during the week with the highlights being Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes, Glaucous and Med Gulls, Firecrest, Brambling and the harrier roost on Walland Marsh.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Rye Harbour

Warehorne - 0930hrs - cold, grey, nw1 - Checked out the feeders next to the church; Tree Sparrows and Nuthatch amongst the numerous tits and finches.
Park Wood, Appledore - 1000hrs Several Treecreepers, Nuthatches, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Jay, Bullfinch, 50 Redwings, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. No sign of Marsh Tit or Lesser pecker though.
Rye Harbour - 1200hrs At least 50 Sandwich Terns on the beach and ten Med Gulls on Ternery pool amongst 100 Black-heads. 30 Golden Plover on Flat Beach, plus a scattering of Redshank, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Dunlin. From the Castle Water viewpoint 2 Marsh Harriers, Green Woodpecker and ten Fieldfares in the meadow.
ARC - 1600hrs Drew a blank on the Penduline Tit, but 2 Black-necked Grebes in summer plum on the lake, plus 7 Smew and ten Goldeneye.
                                           Goldeneye, ARC                

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Dungeness - 0900hrs Visibility remained poor off the point with a few close Gannets and divers the only birds of note. A dead porpoise on the beach. No sign of anything much on the land.
Lade Bay - 1045hrs At least 200 Turnstones scattered around the bay, well up on normal so presumably a passage underway. All the usual beach waders noted.
Lade Pits - 1130hrs Only birds of note here were a singing Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest in the willows.
Walland Marsh - 1430hrs At least a thousand Goldies flushed by a pair of Peregrines and all the usual harriers, wildfowl and waders. More Turnstones here and on Burrowes on the way home.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Foggy Days

Dungeness - 0900hrs A thick fog blanketed the peninsula and didnt lift until midday. On the RSPB reserve still a couple of hundred Shoveler on Burrowes. A flock of 20 Reed Buntings and Pied Wagtails by Firth hide. Had close views of 2 Firecrests at Christmas Dell. A spectacular flock of several thousand Starlings at Boulderwall. Back to the boats in the afternoon and Shortie the Glaucous Gull showed well. 20 Red-throated Divers and 100 Great Crested Grebes on the sea plus a Med Gull east.
Walland Marsh - 1600hrs 25 Corn Buntings at Midley plus a mixed flock of Yammers, Tree Sparrows and Chaffinches by the barn. 50 winter thrushes over, mainly Fieldfares. Ended the day in fine style with 25 Marsh and 4 Hen Harriers coming to roost, including a `grey ghost`.
                                          One or two Starlings at Boulderwall

Monday, 14 March 2011

Birdwatching Break

ARC - 1330hrs - Three guests down for a weeks birding. Started off at the south end of ARC with a pair of Shelducks, Curlew and a Slav Grebe. From Hanson at least 7 Smew, 10 Goldeneye, one Ruddy Duck and all the usual common wildfowl. Several Marsh Harriers over Tower pits.
The feeders at the visitor centre car park delivered good views of Reed Buntings, tits, Chaffinch and a stunning male Brambling. Little Egret, Kestrel and Grey Heron by Boulderwall. Watched a large adult female Marsh Harrier take a rabbit.
Galloways - 1515hrs A singing male Stonechat near the entrance to Galloways Road and a couple of Kestrels.
Denge Marsh - 1600hrs A scattering of Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank, Teal and Wigeon on the flood. Cracking views of a pair of Little Owls by the chicken sheds.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Harriers and Bittern

Walland Marsh - 1645hrs - mild, light rain - Accompanied Marshman on the final harrier count of the season. Had 13 Marsh and one Hen Harrier coming to roost. Also, noted Bittern, Scaup, Pintail, Snipe, Ruff and Golden Plover.

Up Channel Seabirds

Dungeness - 0645-0815hrs - mild, cloudy, ssw2/3 - Joined Marshman and the Joker along the concrete road for an early morning seawatch. Plenty of fresh air, just what I needed after last nights curry...
A steady passage of several hundred birds logged eastwards included mainly Brents, scoters and divers with a supporting cast of Shoveler, Pintail, Mallard and Shelduck, a few auks and a Fulmar. At least 50 each of Great Crested Grebe and Gannet milling about off the point. Year ticked Sandwich Tern heading towards the Patch and there were 2 close Guillies on the sea. Shortie the Glaucous Gull loafed on the shingle, posing by the FE fishing boat. Gullman arrived as I was leaving, along with Wealdman, who had the remains of breakfast in his beard, still at least he`d remembered to bring his bins with him...
                                          King of the Beach - Shortie the Glaucous Gull

Lade - 0830hrs Highlight of the monthly WeBS count was a mobile flock of 17 Goldeneyes.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Wheatear & Black Redstart

Dungeness - 0630hrs - mild, sunny, SE2 - An hour spent in the seawatch hide was more memorable for the banter than the birds; topics under discussion varied from the price of diesel to the merits of modern optics over brass, draw tube `scopes (happy days), as I say, it was a slow watch... However, several large parties of Brents headed up-channel along with a steady flow of divers, scoters, 2 mergansers, 4 Curlew, several groups of Gannets, Teal, Shoveler and Shelduck. New Boy shouted out, "Wheatear", in front of the hide, increasing all our year lists by one. A cracking cock Black Redstart on the experimental station fence line was also a first for the year.
I shifted position to the concrete road and joined Marshman and the Joker seawatching from the comfort of the car. These two canny old timers know a thing or two about wind direction and the trajectory of migrants across Rye Bay, as they`d also had 2 Garganey, Sandwich Terns and Fulmars from here, only 400 yds or so further east from the seawatch hide. Some of the Brents were passing so close that you could only hear them as they flew below the shingle ridge. Also, a Peregrine out over the sea and Glaucous Gull patrolling the shoreline.
ARC - 1130hrs - Hanson hide resembled Bedlam with weekend birders crashing about and setting up their flasks and sarnie boxes. Only lasted 15 minutes, enough time to realise that if the Bulrush Tit did show it wouldn`t stay for very long, judging by the racket from within. However, did have several soaring Marsh Harriers, flight views of a Bittern and 3 Smew on the water.

Friday, 11 March 2011


Dungeness - 0730hrs -Warmish, dry and sunny, W2 - Found what was probably a migrant Firecrest in the lighthouse garden. If there`s a smarter bird on the British List then I`d like to see it (OK, so Beardies are neat, but you know what I mean). Marshman also had one in his garden today and there`s still one showing (more off than on) by Christmas Dell. Not much else though apart from five Song Thrushes in the trapping area, singing Mipit along the power station wall and a fed up looking Kestrel on the crow trap.
Galloways - 1400hrs A pair of Stonechats back on the scrub at long last.
Denge Marsh - 1430hrs Checked the flood which held 5 Redshanks, 7 Dunlin, 100 Wigeon and a scattering of Teal, Shoveler and Shelduck. Loads more Grey Lags and Wigeon by the farm.
ARC - 1530hrs  - Dipped the Penduline again in front of Hanson (but saw the digi-pics, thanks chaps..). Smew and Slav Grebe still on the water. Elsewhere on the reserve today Sand Martin and Wheatear, and the Glaucous Gull remains faithful to the fishing boats on the point. 

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Northern Long-tailed Tits

Dymchurch - 1300hrs En-route to West Hythe this afternoon so decided to have a quick look round the churchyard for the wintering Northern Tits. Glad I did as was only there 20  minutes before the tit flock came through with two of these wondrous white-headed little beauties in their midst. Only the second time I`ve seen them as hate birding on housing estates. Cant see them staying much longer though.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Dungeness Seawatch

Seawatch Hide - 0715-0815hrs - cold, grey, drizzle, sw3 - With the wind swinging round to a more promising vector thought I`d try a seawatch this morning. Pretty poor return for an hour with a couple of hundred Brents the highlight, plus a trickle of divers, Gannets, scoters and a single Eider. On the land a few more Mipits in with one in full song along the power station wall.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Penduline Tit...

Lade - 0900hrs - Cool, sunny, SW1 - At long last the wind has veered round after a fortnight of biting easterlies. The sun had some strength and encouraged 2 Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk into the thermals. Twelve head-shaking Goldeneyes on south pit.
Hookers - 1400hrs - Spent a couple of hours looking for the reported Penduline (seen earlier from the ramp) without success. Several Beardies `pinging` and a Peregrine over was about it. Elsewhere around the reserve there was Rock Pipit, Slavonian Grebe, Merlin, Red-throated Diver, Bittern and Smew. Yesterdays Scaup appear to have moved on.

                                          Hookers reedbed, somewhere there`s a Penduline...

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Dungeness RSPB - 1000hrs Four visitors from London enjoyed a wide range of wildfowl on the bird reserve today, in bracing weather conditions, the highlight being three Scaup (two drakes and a duck) which pitched down on Burrowes around midday. As far as I`m aware these are the only records of Scaup on the pits this winter. Large numbers of Shoveler were noteworthy; I counted at least 300 on Burrowes alone, plus a scattering of Shelduck and Goldeneye. Several Marsh Harriers on the wing and the Ravens seen flying towards the power station. Behind Christmas Dell 50 Wigeon in the wet fields and at least 6 Dabchicks and Great Crested Grebes on Dengemarsh. Several flocks of Curlew and Lapwing overhead.
Over the road at ARC a flock of 20 Pied Wagtails contained 2 Rock Pipits, one of the Scandinavian race, littoralis. A `ringtail` flapped out across Tower pits and several more Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk noted. On the pit 9 Smew, 5 Goldeneye and a Slav Grebe. Chiffchaff from the Willow Trail.
                                         Two of the 3 Scaups on Burrowes.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Osprey and Peregrines

Lade - 0730hrs - cold, cloudy, ne2 - As I walking back across the storm beaches towards Plovers all the Herring Gulls were creating merry hell along the coast road. I scanned, expecting a Grey Heron to be the target of their ire, but was totally gobsmacked to see an Osprey heading north about 100 feet above the bungalows. Needless to say this is the earliest record I`ve ever had of this summer migrant.
ARC - 0930hrs - Marshman called round and dragged me out birding. First stop the causeway to check the southern end of the pit where a `redhead` Smew, two Shelducks, a singing Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff  and a stunning adult male Marsh Harrier noted. Over the road on New Diggings a drake Smew with 6 ` redheads` plus a lone Little Egret.
Dengemarsh - 1000hrs - The flood had the same waders and wildfowl as yesterday plus a Snipe. Bearded Tits `pinged` from the reedbed while the lake held plenty of trilling Dabchicks, head-shaking Great Crested Grebes and at least one small, wipe-me-out-if-you-can-stiff tail, amongst the regular wildfowl.
Galloways - 1130hrs - Ten Corn Buntings and still no Stonechats.
Scotney - 1145hrs - Lots of handsome, "declining in numbers", Herring Gulls about to breed on the islands.
Pigwell Pit - 1215hrs - Seven Avocets up to their bellies on the washout pit, plus a flock of 25 Chaffinches and a Mipit.
Walland Marsh - 1230hrs - The pic below sets the scene for a grisly encounter with a pair of Peregrines. It appeared that the male had nailed a Woodpigeon which had then retreated into the bush to the left, minus many feathers and most of one wing. Sensibly, it decided to remain out of sight as the hooked beaks were waiting. A half hour stand off ensued whereby the male flew around showing off to the female. This soon attracted the attention of a pair of crows and a Buzzard, which all got the `push off` treatment from the falcon. Half a dozen or so Marsh Harriers also noted, plus several hundred White-fronts, Goldies, Lapwings, Wigeon, Teal and the like. A flock of 10 Song Thrushes flushed by Barney from a hedgerow.
Elsewhere, 10 Bewick Swans and a Snipe at Midley.
Burrowes -1400hrs - Ended up in the warmth of the visitor centre where the pit was full of Shoveler, Gadwall, Wigeon, Shelduck plus a scattering of Goldeneye and a Smew. Out in the car park there was, `funny goings on`, between a lens man and a scantily dressed 2nd winter female...
                                          Peregrines waiting for lunch (no, not the sheep!)

Friday, 4 March 2011

Galloways and Dengemarsh flood

1400hrs - sunny, cold, ne2 - A quick drive and scan down the Galloways Road to the sea revealed very little apart from a tight flock of 6 Corn Buntings atop an elder and male Kestrel enjoying the sunshine.
From Springfield Bridge walked the flood which looked in great shape with a decent sprinkling of waders and wildfowl. Ten each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew and a mix of 50 Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Shelduck. Looking very nice indeed and a plum spot for the first LRP or Garganey. Two Ravens looked guilty as charged over on the shingle ridges where rabbit was firmly on the menu.
                                          Dengemarsh Flood

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Tudeley Woods and Pembury Heath

0900-1145hrs - cold, cloudy, ne3 - Headed inland to recce a couple of woodland sites on the High Weald for forthcoming magazine articles. Marshman and the Joker came along to keep me and Barney company and ensure we didnt get lost. The highlight was a flock of 70 odd Redpolls in the birch canopy at Tudeley, complete with 3 pale Mealy types and a couple of Siskins. Also, several groups of Redwings and all the usual tits, 2 woodpeckers, Nuthatch and Goldcrest. The heath was quieter with only crests and tits of note. Some nice habitat though, which looks suitable for Woodlark, Tree Pipit and the like later on in spring.
Called in at a windy and largely birdless Bewel Water on the way back (well, it is in Sussex).
Scotney - 1300hrs - Phew, Marshman breathed a sigh of relief as he returned to his beloved flatlands - think he had a touch of altitude sickness! However, even the Joker and I agreed that there were far too many trees up north; must be morphing into a local (mental note to check feet for webbing). Anyway, no birds at the Sussex end (typical) of Scotney, while the grass at the Kent end was full of birds; well at least 100 Wigeon, several Curlew, Dunlin and Redshank, plus 20 Linnets.
                                              Tudeley Woods, High Weald

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Gulls and Waders

Dungeness - 0800hrs - Cold, grey, ne4 - The biting north-easterly wind continues to make for difficult birding conditions across the Peninsula. An hours seawatch produced a pitiful return of one distant diver, half a dozen Gannets and a few auks - even Barney looked fed up. The Patch wasnt much better either, although there were two Kittiwakes on the beach amongst a couple of hundred Black-headed, Common, Herring, Lesser-black and Great-black Back Gulls. A brown Merlin did a circuit round the old light before heading out across the Desert and the wintering Glaucous Gull was on patrol along the foreshore by the boats.
Littlestone - 1500hrs - The sun finally broke through but if anything the wind speed had increased. Could only find six of the usual ten species of shorebirds here: Oystercatcher, Curlew, Barwit, Redshank, Dunlin and Sanderling. The rest were probably hunkered down behind the groynes towards St Mary`s Bay.

                                                     Curlew, Littlestone