Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Somerset Pete

Dungeness - 0630hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - Walked down to the Patch first where a half-hearted `boil` had attracted a handful of terns and gulls, including one each of Black Tern and Little Gull. Out on the mill-pond-like sea a scattering of Gannets, Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua. The scrub around West Beach and the Old Light produced 10 Willow Warblers and 2 Tree Sparrows, while at the Obs a couple of Tripits went over calling and a Pied Flycatcher perched briefly on overhead wires. Also noted Greater pecker, Sparrowhawk and 5 Yellow Wags.
Lade - Last nights catch in the garden included a new moth, Shaded Broad-bar; a common enough Geometrid, but one that until now had not made its way into the trap. A Spotted Redshank flew over the cottage early on calling.
ARC - 1500hrs - In Hanson it was good to have a natter with Somerset Pete, back on the Marsh for a short visit from the West Country. Plenty of waders on the shingle ridges to check through. Amongst 500 Goldies and Lapwings were 40 Knots, 15 Dunlins, 5 Blackwits, 3 Ruff and 2 Common Sands. Also, 4 Black Terns, 2 Little Gulls and the regular Goosander. Over the road the Cattle Egret was at Boulderwall, the GWEgret at Dengemarsh and there was a late report of a Red-necked Grebe.
                                         Pied Flycatcher, DBO
                                          Little Gull, ARC

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cattle Egret

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, nw2 - It was one of those rare (at least down here) mornings when nothing seemed to be on the move; no martins, wagtails, warblers or chats could I find over the back in an hour. The moth trap however was much more profitable with 26 species and large numbers of Flounced Rustics, the first Grass Emeralds and Straw Dot for a while, White-point and Silver Y. The Obs hit the jackpot though with the first Dungeness record of Beautiful Marbled, a vagrant noctuid from the Continent.
Boulderwall - 1600hrs - Finally caught up with the Cattle Egret this afternoon after several attempts over the past fortnight. It was distant, and typically feeding amongst livestock, but even at range the stocky, thick-necked jizz, steep forehead and yellow bill could be seen. Been a bit of mystery this bird as it regularly seems to do a disappearing act for several days at a time.
A good day to be on the bird reserve with a wide selection of waders on offer including, Spot Shank, Blackwit, Ruff, Knot, Snipe and Little Stint. Also, (the two old favourites) Goosander and GWEgret, 4 Black Terns, 2 Little Gulls, Kingfisher and Hobby. The Glaucous Gull remained at Dungeness boats.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Grey Seals

Lade - 0630hrs - cool, sunny, w2 - Checked out Mockmill Sewer this morning (that runs beside the southern end of south lake) and behind the `mirrors`. A small selection of grounded migrants in the scrub included 10 Willow Warblers, 5 Sedge and 8 Reed Warbler, 2 Whitethroats and singles of Wheatear and Stonechat. Overhead, a trickle of Yellow Wagtails, Sand Martins and a few Swallows. Also, singles of Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Cetti`s Warbler.
In the bay off Greatstone at high tide 3 Grey Seals were `snorkeling` just offshore.
Boulderwall-  1500hrs A brief check of the meadows for the reported Cattle Egret drew a blank...
Big Al, Greatstone Beach - checking out the Swarovski`s...

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Dungeness - 0615-0815hrs - cool, sunny, w3 - Decided on a seawatch this morning, for a change, which turned out to be a good decision, and was joined by a couple of other local optimists who carried on the counting. The first distraction was a flock of about 100 grounded Yellow Wagtails on the flat beach near the fishing boats, along with several Pied and one Grey Wagtail in their midst. A steady trickle of Sand Martins and a few Swallows added to the passerine interest.
At least 200 Gannets and a similar number of Common and Sandwich Terns were loitering offshore, fishing and loafing, along with a dozen Guillemots, a few Great Crested Grebes and a minimum of 6 Harbour Porpoises. Further out another trickle of terns headed purposefully west, also: 3 Fulmars, 3 Manx, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 10 Kitts, 1 Med Gull, 4 Arctic and 3 Little Terns and 15 Arctic Skuas.
                                          Tall Ship, passing down Channel

Lade - 1300hrs The only migrants over the pit were 10 Yellow Wags and a Green Sandpiper.

Saturday, 27 August 2011


Lade - 0600hrs - cool, showery, sw4 - Following cool overnight temperatures there was a noticeable reduction in moth numbers with only Silver Y and White-point of any note. Willow Warblers seemed to be plentiful  locally with at least 5 in the garden fir trees at one stage this morning and others calling round about.
ARC 1100hrs - A pair of Ravens flew over the lake mobbing a Marsh Harrier and carried on towards Lydd, `cronking` and `tumbling` as they went. Since moving down to the Marsh in 2006 this species has gone from being a, phone-around-rarity to a regular part of the birding scene. More Willow Warblers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker noted on the walk to the pines.
From Hanson 200 Goldies, 300 Lapwings, 6 Ruffs, 10 Knots, 2 Little Stints and a Wood Sandpiper. Also reported was a Sanderling, bringing the wader tally for the autumn at ARC to 28 species. A Cattle Egret was reported elsewhere on the bird reserve, plus several more Balearic Shearwaters past the point.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Lade Moths

Lade - 0700hrs - rain, mild, low cloud, ne3 - Despite the heavy overnight rain and wind off the sea the trap was full of moths this morning. Migrant Silver Ys and White-points were joined by Common Wainscot, Rosy Rustic and a splendid Burnished Brass, all new for the year. The rain continued on and off throughout the morning with little of note over the pits apart from a few Willow Warblers and overhead Yellow Wagtails.
Seawatchers at the point enjoyed the usual procession of terns, Gannets and skuas, plus Roseate Tern, Balearic Sheawater and Shag (scarce down here). The Glaucous Gull remained faithful to the boats at high tide.
ARC - 1100hrs - Waders from Hanson included 250 Goldies, 300 Lapwings, 10 Dunlins, 4 Ruffs, 2 Knots, 2 Little Stints and a Green Sandpiper. At the southern end 5 Common Sands and the Goosander. Checked the Screen hide later in the day where 9 Wigeon present. The Gwegret remained on Dengemarsh
                                         Burnished Brass, Plovers

Thursday, 25 August 2011

An Old Lady and an Osprey

Lade - 0630hrs - mild, cloudy, ssw2 - "I had an Old Lady in the trap last night", (b-boom). It has been quiet down here of late on the moth front but a few more bits and pieces last night included Old Lady, a moth that I only get once or twice a year, and the delightfully named, Cream-bordered Green Pea. Locally, a few Jersey Tigers have hit the traps recently and a Scorched Carpet was at Greatstone.
Over the pits grounded migrants included 10 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Mipits, 5 Willow Warblers and a Wheatear. No sign of any migrant waders but over 100 Curlews drifted over from the bay to roost on the storm beaches. Also noted Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 20 Sandwich Terns and a Marsh Harrier.
ARC 1000hrs - The now expected flock of 220 Goldies, 300 Lapwings, 30 Knots, 10 Dunlins, 2 Ruff and singles of Green, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank and LRP. A Sparrowhawk flapped over a couple of times flushing the waders, followed by an Osprey which flew over the lake putting everything up, including the ducks. It `hovered` a couple of times before crossing the causeway road and out of sight, heading steadily southwards. Whenever I see this magnificent raptor passing our way in autumn I wish them a silent good luck and hope they avoid the gunners that await them across the Channel, plus the many other man-made hazards, en-route to their winter quarters in western Africa.
Dungeness Boats - 1600hrs Joined Gullman and the Joker for a brief seawatch from the concrete road where several Balearic Shearwaters had been seen earlier in the day. A steady westward flow of terns (including 4 Black Terns) and Gannets, plus 3 Arctic Skuas. At least 10 Guillemots on the sea and 5 Harbour Porpoises.
 Old Lady - a localised moth that is often found around the trap rather than inside it
 Osprey, ARC - Honest! Quite possibly the worst ever pic I`ve posted (I know, there`ve been a few!!)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Bonelli`s Warbler - Dungeness Bird Observatory

Dungeness - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, drizzle, sw2 - A circuit around the point produced a few grounded migrants in the shape of Willow Warblers, Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails, while offshore a feeding flock comprised 100 plus Gannets and terns. Strolled down to the Obs where a few common migrants had been trapped, had a cursory look for the Wryneck and headed home to check the moth trap. Half way through the phone rang and it was a case of back to the Obs a bit sharpish...
Bonelli`s Warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli - A first autumn Bonelli`s Warbler was netted in the Trapping Area at around 0830hrs and after processing attracted a tidy crowd of locals outside the Obs. Even in the hand it was a smart little phyllosc, similar in shape and structure to Willow Warbler but with a Wood Warbler `feel` to it due to the silky white underparts and yellowish green edgings to the wings and tail feathers. The face was rather plain. This was the first DBO record since 1989 and a British tick for me. Apparently, most immature Bonelli`s cannot be split by in-hand biometrics, but it was assumed to be of the western race P. bonelli (although that could change if it calls) which breeds in northern France. The bird was released into the moat.

1st Autumn Bonelli`s Warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli, DBO, plus admirers.

ARC - 1200hrs - A quick scan from Hanson hide revealed 410 Goldies, 2 Ruff, 8 Dunlin (one very big individual), 2 LRPs and a Common Sand.
Dungeness - 1700hrs A few hopeful twitchers staking out the Bonelli`s Warbler around the Heligoland trap in the moat this afternoon. Apparently, it was last seen at 1315hrs and has been confirmed as a bird of the Western race on call. The Wryneck proved as elusive as ever in West Beach scrub and the Glaucous Gull was by the boats.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Waders and Chats

Lade - 1000hrs - mild, rain, e2 - Back in the groove today after a couple of days away. The local patch delivered singles of Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Black-necked Grebe plus hundreds of hirundines, a few Yellow Wagtails overhead and 2 Sparrowhawks.
ARC - 1445hrs - With the rain all but over as I crossed the causeway a Swift flew south. From Hanson a decent collection of waders included 300 Lapwings, 125 Goldies, 8 Dunlin, 4 Wood Sandpipers, 2 each of LRP and Knot and singles of Ruff, Common Sand, Spotted Redshank and Little Stint. Sparrowhawk and Hobby also noted. From Screen hide 2 Green Sandpipers plus all the usual wildfowl and Little Egrets.
Scotney - 1600hrs - Mercifully, the Grey Lags were over the far side of the pit... From roadside pull-ins 150 Goldies, 5 Curlews, 2 Ruff, a Redshank and several each of Yellow Wagtails, Mipits and Linnets.
Galloways -  1645hrs - Six Stonechats, 4 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears and 50 Linnets were the highlight here.
Other local news today included the elusive Dungeness Wryneck, and the long-staying Glaucous Gull and GwEgret.

                                         Curlew and Ruffs - Scotney Pits

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bits and Pieces

Been off the Marsh for a couple of days but received reports of the following local birds. At Galloways there was a small fall of chats and warblers, while Little Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Green Sandpiper and R**** Duck were noted at Lade. The Wryneck was seen again at Dungeness BO and the Gwegret on Dengemarsh.
Paid a visit to my old local patch of Dunstable sewage works, Bedfordshire this morning where a decent spread of migrant waders noted, such as Green and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank and Lapwing, plus 3 Buzzards, Red Kite, Kingfisher and Common Tern.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Wagtails, Wheatears and a Wryneck

Dungeness - 0600hrs - mild, cloudy, sw2 - An early morning jaunt around the point resulted in a couple of surprise encounters. The walk down to the Patch delivered, 10 Wheatears, 10 Pied and 1 Grey Wagtails, single Black Redstart and 10 Linnets. A Peregrine powered through and 2 Ravens headed towards the switch house `cronking` loudly. Nothing much happening at the Patch apart from 50 odd Gannets feeding off-shore. Between the Old Light and the moat at least 50 grounded Yellow Wags and 10 more Wheatears.
Whilst chatting in the Obs garden a large raptor was noted slumped on the shingle over towards Lloyds Tower. Didnt get much on it apart from it being a big, pale falcon, probably a Saker type...
However, back near the Old Light a Wryneck had been located in a patch of gorse. Only had brief views before it plunged back into cover.
Returned to the point this afternoon and the Wryneck had retired into West Beach gorse scrub; not surprising as people everywhere on this warm afternoon. A Peregrine over, several Wheatears on the beach, plus a few Gannets and terns off the boardwalk was about all I could muster.

Pied Wagtail (still feeding juvs) and Wheatear - power station wall

Friday, 19 August 2011

Yellow Wagtails

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, dry, sunny, nw1 - Yellow Wagtails are a common migrant down here in August and the past few days has witnessed a near continuous passage of what is, nationally, a declining summer visitor. This morning was no different with small parties grounded on the storm beaches and others passing overhead. There appeared to be many juveniles within the groups suggesting a good breeding season up country or on the near Continent where flavissima also breeds. Many of these birds will be heading towards Iberia as a staging post to fatten up before crossing the Sahara. Yellow Wags are nowhere near as numerous on the Marsh during the spring as they take a more easterly route on their return migration.
Other migrants noted included several hundred Sand Martins, 10 Whitethroats, 5 Willow Warblers and several Sedge and Reed Warblers. Waders seem to have moved on, as not one was noted.
On the moth front numbers and variety remained low due to the cool nights, although Orange Swift was new for the season and a Silver Y the only migrant.
Great Dixter - A family visit to the gardens at Great Dixter yielded Buzzard overhead and Spotted Flycatcher in the walled garden. If you`ve not been, go sometime soon, as it is superb, especially on a warm summers day like today, the smells and scents were unbelievable.
                                          Great Dixter Gardens
Lade Bay 1700hrs - Selected counts feeding/resting on the sands on an ebb tide as follows: 480 Oystercatchers, 325 Curlews, 225 Sandwich Terns, 160 Dunlins, 120 Knots, 50 Redshanks and 45 Ringed Plovers.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Off The Marsh

Shorne Marshes, Kent - 0730hrs - cool, ne 3, cloudy - Ventured off piste this morning to recce a couple of sites for magazine articles. Started at Shorne Marshes near Gravesend, a large area of grazing meadows and lagoons on the south shore of the Thames. Plenty of warblers in the bushes along the old canal path plus wagtails, finches and hirundines over the fields. Also, 2 Whinchats, 5 Wheatears, Redshanks, Lapwings and Green Sandpiper and hundreds of gulls and terns on the river.
Stockers Lake, Herts. - 1100hrs - An old local patch of mine comprising mature gravel pits in the Colne Valley near Rickmansworth. Good to reacquaint with birds rarely encountered on the Marsh such as Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Red Kite, Jay, Nuthatch and (unfortunately) Rose-ringed Parakeets.
Dungeness - 1600hrs Back on the Marsh and an hour long seawatch from the boats produced a mix bag of 100 Common and Sandwich Terns with singles of Black and Arctics, 10 Kitts, 50 Gannets, 2 Arctic Skuas and 3 porpoises.
                                        Shorne Marshes, Kent
                                         Stockers Lake, Hertfordshire

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A Small Fall of Migrants

Lade - 0600hrs - misty, cloudy, n1 - A decent catch of moths in the trap last night but little of any quality, although a melanistic Willow Beauty was of note. On the RSPB a cracking Clouded Buff was trapped, which was much brighter than the guide book piccies.
A fall of migrants overnight was apparent with a Common Redstart and 5 Willow Warblers in the cattery garden. Out on the storm beaches, 25 Yellow Wagtails, 10 Willow Warbler, 5 Whitethroats and 100 Linnets, while the main track to the pits held 5 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears, 2 Spot Flits, 5 Willow Warblers and single Lesser `throat. Superb start to the day.
ARC - 1000hrs Joined the Joker and the Lord of Hookers in Hanson where a good number of common waders was on show: 300 Lapwing, 225 Goldies, 5 each of Dunlins and LRPs, single Avocet, Green and Common Sandpipers and Snipe. We calculated that 27 species of waders had been seen from Hanson this autumn (excluding Sanderling) which is pretty good going; whatever next we wondered...  Also, Goosander, Sparrowhawk, Little Gull and the drake Pochard with a bill tag.
A brief look over the road at Dengemarsh yielded GWEgret, Greenshank but no sign of yesterdays Purple Heron.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Lade - 0600hrs - 0600hrs - mild, drizzle, sw3 - A better night for moths with migrant Dark Sword-grass and White-point, Mullien and Small Dusty Waves, an influx of Straw Underwings and first Common Carpet for a while. Over the pits a steady trickle of Yellow Wagtails and one Grey Wagtail on the move, 2 Green and one Common Sandpiper around the margins and a mixed passerine flock of mostly tits and 15 Willow Warblers.
1600hrs - Checked out the bay which had all the usual Curlews, Oystercatchers, 15 Ringed Plovers, 50 Dunlins, 20 Sanderling , 30 Barwits and 3 Curlew Sandpipers. Also, 200 Sandwich Terns, 5 Med Gulls, 8 Shelducks and hundreds of gulls. A trickle of Sand Martins and Yellow Wagtails south.
ps: A juv Purple Heron was reported from Dengemarsh this afternoon alongside the `resident` Gwegret.
Yesterdays noctuid turned out to be a Small Rufous...

                                  Hawk moths are always popular with budding Moth`ers...

Monday, 15 August 2011


Lade - 0600hrs - cool, nw3, sunny -Another quiet night in the Plovers traps although a tricky noctuid is awaiting a second opinion at the Kerton Road Cafe. The only migrant of note over the pits was a juv Little Gull.
Dungeness - 1130hrs The old lighthouse garden held a Dunge tick for me in the shape of a Treecreeper, at a location where Short-toed `creeper is more the order of the day. Elsewhere, a skulking warbler in a private garden eluded the scrutiny of most local birders, but hinted at Paddyfield Warbler for the two who briefly glimpsed it...
The sea produced a few more skuas, terns and a Balearic Shearwater, while the Glaucous Gull remained on station at the boats around high tide.
ARC - 1700hrs - No sign of yesterdays WRSandpiper; infact hardly any waders present this afternoon from Hanson with just 12 Dunlin, 5 LRPs, 4 RPs and a Snipe. The Goosanders was asleep on a shingle island.
                                          White-point & Setaceous Hebrew Character, Plovers
                                        Old Lighthouse Garden, Dungeness

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lade WeBS & White-rumped Sandpiper

Lade -  0600hrs - mild, cloudy, sw 3 - Last nights forecasted rain failed to materialise, so the day started dry and still with a good few moths in the garden trap, although nothing of any real quality; Flame Shoulder, White-point, Spectacle and the like. Did the monthly WeBS count on the pits with 356 Pochard being the most numerous duck. Also, Greenshank, 2 each of Common and Green Sands, 2 Sparrowhawks, several Green Woodpeckers and a party of Lottis (scarce here).

                                          Spectacle, Plovers
ARC - 1530hrs The jungle drums were beating this afternoon with news of a freshly arrived White-rumped Sandpiper on ARC, viewable from Hanson hide. By the time I arrived it had flown to the furthest island, so I didn't have the close views of earlier; however, for half an hour it was accompanied by a small Dunlin. The WRS was slightly shorter, but dumpier, with long primaries overlapping the tail and a straight, head-length bill, curved at the tip, giving it a distinctive enough jizz (it also appeared to have a noticeable limp). Plumage wise it looked very grey overall with a pale belly and supercilium. The plain-grey back had a few black centred scapulars, so I assumed it was a moulting adult, but as I say the views were a bit distant, although the light was superb. Eventually, it was flushed along with everything else and had not returned by the time I left at 1700hrs. I checked the south end without success but I guess it hadnt gone far and would soon return.
Found by 2 visiting birdwatchers and confirmed by Weekend Birder this is only the 2nd since I`ve lived here; the last one being a juv in Oct 2006 on Dengemarsh. If `accepted` it will be the 3rd Dungeness record. White-rumped Sandpiper is an annual vagrant to these shores in small numbers from North America, the majority occurring in July-October.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

A Few Good Birds and Plenty of Laughs

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, rain, cloudy, sw3 - Nothing much in the trap last night apart from Spectacle and a pristine White-point.
1000hrs - A late start due to B&B guests, but decided to spend the day just mooching about locally. First stop the local patch, and with drizzle in the air hundreds of hirundines of all 3 species (mainly Sand Martins) over south lake plus 10 Swifts. Most of the waders seem to have shipped out with just 2 each of Green and Common Sandpipers and a lone Whimbrel calling in the murk. Seemed to be something of a fall of Sedge Warblers with at least 20 around the sallows, plus Reed and Willow Warblers and a single juv Cuckoo. Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk accounted for the raptors.
Dungeness - 1100hrs An hour and a half seawatch from the concrete road was both bird-rich and highly entertaining with the Joker on top form firing out quips based on the past weeks national news events (no prizes for guessing the general theme...). The laughs continued when Weekend Birder bowled up and regaled us (in graphic detail) with a botched prostate story - what a hoot, these old geezers crack me up with all their ailments... (what it is to be hale and hearty and in me 50`s...). Anyhow, yes, back to the birds, seabirds in particular. Was difficult to establish numbers as stuff was feeding and  kept getting blown back around the point, but in the vanguard were 300 Common and 100 Sandwich Terns, 200 Gannets, plus 10 Kits, 10 Little, 5 Black and 1 Arctic Terns, 1 Med Gull, 60 Common Scoters, 21 Dunlins, 1 Barwit, 50 Sand Martins 20 Swallows (not seabirds), 11 Arctic Skuas and 2 Bonxies. Turnstones were back on the beach and the Glaucous Gull was down by the boats. Also noted was the female member of the Ashford Three who`d had a couple of distant shearwaters earlier on.
ARC - 1245hrs - Joined Weekend Birder in Hanson where a good selection of waders was on offer: 15 Goldies, 20 Lapwings, 15 Dunlins, 5 LRPs, 2 RPs, 5 Knots, 4 Greenshanks, 2 Blackwits and single Common Sand and Little Stint. Also, 2 Little Gulls and all the usual wildfowl. A mixed passerine flock in the near sallows comprised mainly Willow Warblers, but also Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Cetti`s, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Long-tailed Tits and Robin. At the south end 4 more Blackwits and the Goosander.
Scotney Pits - 1400hrs A terrific count of 1,115 Grey Lags on the grass by the pits plus, 280 Goldies, 2 Avocets, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 26 Yellow Wagtails, 5 Mistle Thrushes, 150 Linnets, 1 Whinchat and 20 Goldfinches.
Galloways - 1500hrs - Singles of Whinchat, Stonechat and 2 each of Skylark, Mipit and Wheatears here plus at least 200 Linnets, 10 Reed Buntings and a Hobby. The Little Owl was in its usual spot on the chicken sheds alongside a pair of Stock Doves.
Springfield Bridge - 1600hrs -  GwEgret, Wood and Green Sandpipers and 2 Hobbies from the bridge.
Greatstone Beach 1645hrs A quick look at the beach from the Tavern revealed 2 Grey Plovers 25 Barwits, 10 Sanderlings, 50 Dunlin and hundreds of Oystercatchers, Curlews, Sandwich Terns and 6 Shelducks amongst about a thousand gulls.
Not a bad little jaunt and finished the day on 107 species, without really trying.
                                          Knots, ARC
                                          Little Stint and Dunlin, ARC
                                         Grey Lags, Scotney -part of a 1,000 plus flock
                                          Whinchat, Galloways

Friday, 12 August 2011

Svensson`s Copper Underwing

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, sunny, w2 - A mild, overcast night brought a few more moths to light than of late. Svensson`s Copper Underwing was new for the year and just along the coast a Sharp-angled Carpet was trapped by Saxman and is now in temporary residence at the Kerton Road Cafe.
Svensson`s Copper Underwing, Plovers - (and yes, I did check the underside of the hindwing)

                                          Reed Warbler and sleeping Foxes, Lade

Plenty of wildfowl and waders over the pits but not much quality. Migrants included, 10 Common and 5 Green Sandpipers, 10 Willow Warblers, 5 each of Reed and Sedge Warblers and 4 Whitethroats.
ARC - About 150 Goldies this morning along with a few LRPs, Dunlins and single Blackwit and Wood Sandpiper.  The Goosander remained, while the Gwegret was still on Dengemarsh.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sand Martins and Swallows

Dungeness - 0800hrs - cool, cloudy, sw5 -The autumnal weather continues with a brisk south-westerly blowing in occasional showers. A brief seawatch from the hide with Wednesday Barry delivered a steady westwards passage of Common and Sandwich Terns, Kitts, Gannets and 2 Little Terns; a Balearic and 2 Arctic Skuas had put in an appearance earlier.
An hour from the boats this afternoon saw a similar movement to this mornings Gannets and terns.
ARC - 0930hrs - Several hundred Sand Martins and the first decent passage of Swallows of the autumn, some of which landed in the car park, fences and gates. Checked the site from Screen, Hanson and the causeway with limited success: 10 Dunlins, 8 LRPs, 5 Green and 2 Common Sands, 2 Blackwits, Little Stint, Goosander and Little Gull.
                                         juv Swallow, ARC

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Lade Waders

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, sunny, w1 - A stunning start to the day with blue skies, light airs and plenty of waders on the pits. The southern island held, 2 Dunlin, 1 Common Sand, 1 Ringed Plover and a juv Little Stint. In total across the site there were, 15 Common, 5 Green and 1 Wood Sandpipers, 6 Greenshanks and 15 Whimbrel overhead (cant decided which of the latter 2 has the most evocative call, probably the shank..). As the tide came in on the bay 150 odd Curlews flew to roost on the Desert, along with a few more Dunlins and Ringed Plovers. Masses of Black-headed Gulls (342 actually) on south lake and one female Tufted Duck had 17 ducklings in tow! No sign of yesterdays Black-necked Grebes or Garganey.
Red Admiral - On the car windscreen at ARC, kind of poignant as been chatting about butterflies in the hide..

ARC - 1600hrs - As the day progressed so the wind increased to a gusting 25mph. From Hanson a clear out of Lapwings and Goldies from yesterday. However, at least 10 Dunlins, 5 LRPs and 2 Common Sands. Also, 2 Little Gulls, 1 Black-necked Grebe and the long-staying Goosander. As things were a bit flat nattered on to Robin Reliant for a while about butterflies, in particular Graylings; remember them, they used to everywhere around the coastline 30 or 40 years ago, (Dunge, Cley, Minsmere etc.) now you never see them. Anyhow, he`d been over the border (Sussex) to photograph some at a downland site. Cracking butterfly, as I recall, cryptically camouflaged when at rest with its wings closed, hardly ever saw the upperwing when grounded tho. And whatever happened to the Wall butterfly? Used to be really into butterflies back in the 80`s, got pics of most of them on slides too (if you`re under 30, Google `transparency`!). Even went for that Mountain Ringlet thingy in the Lake District as I recall... Rambling on a bit now, so best sign off...
ps: the GWEgret and Glaucous Gull were both at their usual stations, while another Balearic was seen off the point this morning.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Local Patch

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, sunny, nw3 - With only 15 moths of 5 species in the traps last night it was a case of lets go birding instead - and the local patch did not disappoint; in fact it was one of the best days of the year so far. The island at the south end had singles of LRP, Dunlin and Wood Sand (always a good start) followed by a juv Black Tern hawking nearby. There was millions of little white flies everywhere and the Black-headed Gulls and Sand Martins were soaring overhead snapping them up. A Marsh Harrier flipped over the bank, a Kestrel hovered over the Desert and a party of 10 Yellow Wags moved through. South lake was covered in wildfowl and gulls including 3 juv Shelduck, 5 families of Tufteds, 2 Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall and 2 new Black-necked Grebes in non-breeding plumage. The sallows held 10 Willow Warblers, Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warblers; but I couldnt find a single Whitethroat, so perhaps they`ve moved off. More waders followed on the islands with 5 Green Sands, 3 Common Sands, a Greenshank, plus Little Egrets and sleeping foxes. And then, to cap it all off a Garganey swam out in the open. I made it 61 species in little over an hour, pretty damm good I`d say.
                                         Garganey, Lade
ARC - 1145hrs A quick look from Hanson produced the following: 225 Goldies, 200 Lapwings, 6 LRPs, 5 Redshanks, 4 Dunlin, 3 Common Sands, 1 Ruff, 1 Goosander, 2 Wigeon, 4 Common Terns and 2 Willow Warblers. From the causeway 2 more Common Sands, 3 Dunlin and a Blackwit.

                                         Ruff, ARC
Dungeness - 1630hrs News of further Balearic Shearwater sightings earlier on today prompted a brief visit but I could find no sign.

Monday, 8 August 2011


Seawatch - 1700hrs - mild, sunny, w5 - Having been off the Marsh for most of the day was good to get out and about.  An hour from the boats produced a trickle of terns, Gannets, Kitts and 2 Fulmars. Shortie the Glauc also put in an appearance and there was at least 10 Harbour Porpoises close to shore.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Yellow Wagtails

Lade to Dungeness and back - 1100hrs - warm, sunny, sw5 - Walked out to the point across the Desert this morning with Teacher-teacher. Despite the strong south-westerly keeping all the little `uns low several parties of Yellow Wagtails noted on the shingle ridges, plus 3 Wheatears and a few Sand Martins. In the Trapping Area came across a group of birders with a moth caterpillar which turned out to be a Buff-tip.
On the return leg along the beach from the Lifeboat Station to Lade two flocks of terns comprised 55 Sandwich, 80 Common, 25 Arctic (adults) and 2 Little Terns. Waders noted were 15 Ringed Plovers, 10 Dunlin and 15 Curlew. A few more Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins pushing south along the beach into the gusty wind.
                                         Buff-tip moth larvae, Trapping Area
Dungeness - 1730hrs An hour at the boats didnt produce much by recent standards. A steady flow of Gannets and Kitts west, plus around 100 Common and Sandwich Terns feeding offshore with one Black Tern. A juv Med Gull and Arctic Skua also noted. The usual number of Harbour Porpoises and the Grey Seal showed briefly.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Balearic Shearwaters

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, cloudy, sw2 - Not much on the moth front last night apart from a pristine White-point. The pits had a small influx of Sand  Martins over the water and several more Wigeons. Whimbrel and Greenshank overhead calling.
ARC 1130hrs - From the causeway road, single Blackwit, Common Sand and LRP, plus the Goosander amongst the sleeping Pochards. From Hanson an increase in Goldies to 145 (mostly adults), singles of Wood, Green and Common Sands, 6 LRPs, 3Wigeon and 3 Common Terns.
Dungeness Boats  - 1400hrs A two hour seawatch from the concrete road in the company of the Joker proved to be a strange affair as most of the seabirds were feeding around the point making it difficult to calculate numbers. However, at least 2 Balearic Shearwaters (year tick) were in company with hundreds of Gannets, Kitts, Common and Sandwich Terns, 10ish Arctic Skuas, 10 Guillemots and at least 10 Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal. Moving west, were 2 Whimbrel, 20 Common Scoter and a Manx. There was no sign of this mornings Atlantic Petrel, seen off the south coast of Cornwall, yet...

Friday, 5 August 2011

Duff Gen

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, sunny, w2 - More Willow Warblers in the garden this morning and another disappointing collection of moths in the trap, although Sallow Kitten was new for the year.
Dungeness - 0900hrs Following the excitement of yesterday it was back to more normal fare today. The Patch delivered a motley collection of gulls, 30 Common Terns, 2 Little Gulls, 2 Black Terns and a Kittiwake. Offshore, a few Gannets and single Arctic Skua and Bonxie. "Shearwater", shouted someone, which turned out to be a `shearing` Gannet, followed by, "Bonxie!"  (juv Herring Gull).
ARC/Boulderwall - Two adult Blackwits and the Goosander at south end, along with 2 Little Gulls a Wigeon and loads of moulting ducks and gulls. News of a Cattle Egret from Screen hide soon spread amongst the locals. Apparently it flew over the Lydd Road and dropped down amongst stock towards Cockles Bridge where it morphed into a Little Egret. Whilst at boulderwall the leucistic Grey Heron was mistaken for the GWEgret
A duff day, full of duff gen really...
                                          Frenchman - bird of the day

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Moths, Mackerel and a Whinchat

Dungeness - 0600hrs - mild, cloudy, showery, ssw2 -  A poor night in the garden trap, as elsewhere across the peninsula, apart from Boulderwall which scored with a rare (in these parts at least) Brussels Lace (Oh, what a romantic name...) which feeds on lichen (well, perhaps not..).
A wander down to the Patch produced 50 Common and one Arctic Terns, 2 Kitts and a juv Yellow-legged Gull on the beach, plus a whole load of Gannets, terns, gulls and my first 2 Arctic Skuas of the season feeding around a shoal of fish; probably Mackerel judging by the amount being landed by the beach casters. A juv Cuckoo briefly paused in the lighthouse garden and a Marsh Harrier that attempted a sea crossing turned back over the power station where he was greeted with derision by the Herring Gulls.  On the power station fence by the Obs a flock of ten `chats` comprised, 7 Wheatears, 2 Stonechats, and a long awaited for year tick, a Whinchat.
 Dark Crimson Underwing - A rare migrant with less then 10 Dungeness records, trapped at Greatstone by the Mathematician the other day, and now in temporary residence `til Friday at the Kerton Road Cafe.
Mackerel - Lots about this summer with tons being landed along the coast. A beautiful looking fish which every creature from Gannets to humans finds very tasty (best done fresh and on the barby).
In other news, a Cattle Egret was reported from the bird reserve on 2nd and 4 Wood Sands and Curlew Sand were on ARC yesterday. The long staying GWEgret and Glaucous Gull remained at their established `homes`.
Dungeness Boats - 1615hrs With the rain band passing over and the wind easing, decided on a seawatch from the boats. For once I made the right call as it was terrific and reminded me (if I needed) what makes this such a brilliant place. Nothing particulary rare, just loads of seabirds, many really close, with the sun on them and a few more bits and pieces besides. Very difficult to gauge numbers as quite a bit doubled back following the shoals of fish. No skuas for an hour until Gullman arrived with his long tom... Gannet 200, Sandwich Tern 200, Common Tern 100, Black Tern 6, Little Tern 2, Arctic Tern 1, Kittiwake 20, Yellow-legged Gull 1, Common Scoter 19, Arctic Skua 6, Bonxie 1. Mammals: 1 Common Dolphin, 1 Grey Seal and 5 Harbour Porpoises.
                                          Black Tern, Dungeness

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Rye Harbour

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, n1 - A muggy night led to a good moth catch with 34 species. Nothing particularly rare but Cypress Pug was new for the season. On the pits plenty of wildfowl and a few waders on south lake including a Wigeon, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green and one Common Sandpiper. Also, Green and Greater peckers, 10 Willow Warblers and a Blackcap.
Rye Harbour - 1100hrs Plenty of Common and Sandwich Terns on flat beach due to the approaching high tide a long with 12 Golden Plover, 2 Greenshank, Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail. It appears that the terns have had a poor breeding season, due in part to predation by Kestrels and Med Gulls and the flooding of Ternery Pool.
                                           Sandwich Terns, Rye
Other local news included an Osprey that went down the coast around midday and a Dark Crimson Underwing at the Kerton Road Cafe. There was no report on yesterdays Temminck`s Stint from Hanson.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Willow Warblers

Lade - 0600hrs - muggy, still, overcast - August is the main passage month for Willow Warblers in these parts and this morning the gardens hereabouts were alive with the little gems, calling from cover and sallying forth snapping up insects. A good catch in the garden moth traps too, with 36 species of macros, including Fen Wainscot new for the site, a pristine male Oak Eggar, 6 Pale Grass Eggars, White-point and a second generation Early Thorn.
                                          Male Oak Eggar
  Mullein Wave - Nationally, a localised species, but commonly found in traps across Dungeness, probably as there is an abundance of larval foodplants such as Wood Sage and stonecrops.
Lade Bay - 1200hrs  Had a go at counting shorebirds on a rising tide from Lydd-on-Sea as most of the waders had been pushed up from Greatstone by holiday makers. Think I got most of `em before they flew off to roost on the desert: Curlew 223, Oystercatcher 121, Dunlin 52 (all adult), Barwit 16, Sanderling 5 and a Grey Plover. Also, 4 Shelducks and 56 Sandwich Terns.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Turtle Dove

Lade - 0600 - warm, dry, sunny, e2 - Stacks of wildfowl on south pit including the first Wigeon of the season. Several Common Sandpipers around the margins and a flock of 5 Whimbrel heading south calling.
No real quality in the moth trap, Dark Swordgrass being the only immigrant.
Lydd - The blogs from north Kent suggest that Turtle Doves seem to be doing ok in the Stour at Stodmarsh and along at Oare Marshes. Perhaps they`ve got most of ours as this summer visitor is particularly scarce around the Marsh this year. One reliable site locally is opposite the golf club on the road out of Lydd where a `purring` bird has been regularly seen on overhead wires.
ARC 1645hrs Walking down to Screen hide the immature Peregrine raced overhead, flushing the waders on the shingle ridges. Amongst the swirling Lapwings and Goldies were several LRPs, Dunlins and at least one Wood Sandpiper calling. From the hide 2 eclipse Garganey, Green and Common Sandpipers.