Thursday, 31 May 2012

Nottingham Catchfly

ARC/Tower Pits - 0745hrs - warm, dry, cloudy, sw2 - After a natter with BP (aka Lord of Hookers- just-off-to-find-another-rarity) in the car park did a circuit of Tower Pits. All the expected birds including cracking views of a Bittern flying around calling, 3 Cuckoos, 2 Hobbies, several Lesser `throats and Marsh Harriers, plus 50 odd Swifts over the tower. At the south end of ARC, from the causeway road, a pair each of Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers, and singles of Lapwing and Blackwit.
The shingle ridges across the National Nature Reserve are now covered in a rich array of plants and must be a botanists dream. Nottingham Catchfly is everywhere; so named as, guess what, it was first discovered at Nottingham Castle! The Catchfly bit apparently refers to the flower which opens at nightime to attract moths and other flying insects to its sweet smelling scent and subsequent pollination,  clever stuff a ...

                                         Nottingham Catchfly - "it does what it says on the tin"

                                         Always good to see a healthy creche of geese...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Squacco Heron

Royal Military Canal - 0600hrs - mild, grey and misty - A farmland bird survey for RSPB revealed 65 species along a 3 mile stretch of the cut covering both banks. Spotted Flycatchers, Reed Warblers and Hobby were all new from last months visit, while migrant Nightingale, Turtle Dove, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were all on territory along with resident Yellowhammers, Bullfinch and Treecreeper. Still hardly any water birds on the canal, but a did see a large blackish Mink, so therein lies the problem...
Dungeness - 1015hrs - News of a Squacco Heron on Dengemarsh attracted a steady flow of local birders to see this beautiful little heron, albeit in misty conditions. For most of the time it was performing on a small island opposite the five bar gate, hunting for small fish, frogs and the like. It also flew over the lake towards the main reedbed whereupon it morphed into a Barn Owl before returning to lay in the prone position opposite the gate once more. Garganey, Shoveler, Pochard and Little Egret also noted, plus the Bittern was heard `booming` along with 2 flight views.
19 species in the moth trap last night with Dwarf Cream Wave and Cabbage new for the year.

                                       Squacco Heron, Dengemarsh - poor record shot

                                          Mullein Wave
                                          Cream Spot Tiger

1900hrs - Spent the evening in the company of Marshman and the Joker looking for owls of which we connected with a pair of chicken farm Little Owls and one or two Barn Owls. Also noted 2 Hobbies, several Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and Buzzard, Stonechats, Mipits, Skylarks, Yellow Wagtails, 2 Corn Buntings and a Yammer.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny - Another good night with a variety of moths coming to light in the garden trap, including Buff-tip and White-point new for the year.
Dungeness - 0800hrs - A wander down to The Patch delivered the usual motley collection of Herring and black-back gulls plus 50 Black-heads on the beach along with a couple of Sandwich and Common Terns. On the land a migrant Chiffchaff on the power station fence and a pair of Black Redstarts feeding young inside the compound.
Whilst strolling back to the car news came through of a female Red-breasted Flycatcher in a private garden. Another great find by DB and new for his already impressive garden list. The small group of locals had to wait around a bit before the flicker showed, on and off, in the dense garden foliage and throughout the day.

                                          Red-breasted Flycatcher by Dave Bunney

                                          Buff-tip, Plovers

                                          White-point, Plovers

                                         Common Blue, Kerton Road Cafe flower meadow

RSPB - 1100hrs At the southern end of ARC singles of Blackwit, Lapwing and 2 Ringed Plovers. Had a look for the RCP from Springfield Bridges without joy, but a Raven over and 2 Garganey on the lake.
Keron Road Pit - 1600hrs Counted at least 30 Black-headed Gulls nests on the main island but no sign of any juvs yet. Did note well grown chicks of Oystercather and Lapwing, plus 2 Barwits and 5 Curlews.

Monday, 28 May 2012


Lade - Early mist, then warm, dry and sunny - Having neglected the local patch of late had a good scout around just to ensure nothing rare had dropped in whilst I was away... Yeah, ok... At Kerton Road pit there was plenty of activity on the breeding bird front from the small colony of Black-headed Gulls, plus a couple of Med Gulls calling overhead (perhaps recceing for next season?). LRP, Lapwing, Shelducks and Oystercatchers all noted.
On the shingle ridges the wild flowers have come on in leaps and bounds due to the recent sunshine and the broom blossom adds a nice splash of yellow to the verdant greens.
Not much on the moth front last night with only 9 species present, but plenty more down at the Kerton Road Cafe.
The only other bird news today was a Red Crested Pochard reported from Dengemarsh (MH).

                                         Lade shingle ridges

                                          Broom Moth, Kerton Rd Cafe

                                          Shoulder-striped Wainscot

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Chilterns

Speen, Chilterns - hot, dry and sunny - Spent the weekend staying with friends in the Chilterns village of Speen during which time we had a good look around the surrounding countryside. At first sight the habitat of wooded valleys and low level grazing land looked to be pretty good for birds, but actually was species poor. Introduced Red Kites were almost constantly in view with one hillside attracting 13 birds (what they all find to feed on is a mystery to me, probably being artificially fed) along with several Common Buzzards. A few pairs of Yellowhammers, Linnets and Skylarks were noted but I could find no evidence of birds such as Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Cuckoo, Turtle Dove or Mipit in what appeared to be suitable terrain.
The woodlands were not much better as most were overgrown with no sign of any management and were full of Grey Squirrels and Muntjacs. Did find a family party of Marsh Tits and a Tawny Owl though. Nonetheless, an interesting weekend of birding in great company.

                                         Red Kite & Alpacas, Speen

Friday, 25 May 2012

Bluethroats, Partridges & HBs

Sailly Bray - 0730hrs - warm, dry and sunny e3, hot later - Spent the day birding with the Romney Marsh Oldies and Pensioners Club (CP, MH, PB & TG) in the Somme area of France, and what a fantastic day it turned out to be The first port of call was the idyllic and bird/flower-rich wet meadows and marshes of Sailly Bray. The first of several pairs of Grey Partridges we were to see today drew a spontaneous round of applause - was this to be the `Bird of the Day`! Almost, but they were quickly usurped by several White-spotted Bluthroats perched atop grass tussocks and low willows, plus a burst of song flight. A distant `reeling` Savi`s Warbler complimented a singing Marsh Warbler, three fly over Black-winged Stilts, Serin and Great White Egret, plus a supporting cast of several Stonechats, Yellow and White Wagtails, 3 Greenshanks, Redshanks, Reed and Corn Buntings, Turtle Doves, Cuckoos, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Cetti`s, Sedge, Garden, Reed and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Jay, Lapwing, Skylark, Mipit and several Brown Hares. Phew, what a place!

                                          Sailly Bray

                                          Partridges, Sailly Bray

                                          Le Crotoy

                                          White Stork, Le Crotoy

                                         White Stork, Marquenterre

Le Crotoy - Roadside pull-ins along the freshwater marshes delivered plenty more goodies including a raucous colony of Black-headed Gulls up to 20 Turtle Doves, 5 Med Gulls, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 2 White Storks, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Little Egret, Wigeon, Garganey and Hobby.
Marquenterre - Hot and full of people here but we soon skirted through the pine wood to overlook the heron colony. In one tree top we had White Stork at the nest with Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey Heron, Spoonbill and a Night Heron! Astonishing. Further into the pines a Jay put us onto a Tawny Owl while good views were had of a Crested Tit.
Crecy Forest - On an approach road overlooking a wetland on the forest margin we had a stupendous view of an adult male Honey Buzzard as it twisted and turned, soared and banked and generally showed off above and below us for a full 10 minutes (check out Plodding Birders blog for piccies). Also noted several Common Buzzards and Hobbies. Elsewhere around the forest we had 3 more HB`s, several Common Buzzards, Yellowhammer, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Turtle Doves. A final stop delivered 3 singing Melodious Warblers in an open scrubby area with bramble and broom.
A cracking days birding in great company with the jokes and stories flowing all day. We rattled up 96 species of which the highlights were Honey Buzzards, Bluethroats, Partridges, Crested Tit, Spoonbill, Cattle and Great White Egrets, Night Heron, White Storks, Garganey, Black-winged Stilts, Savi`s, Marsh and Melodious Warblers, Tawny Owl (don`t see `em on the Marsh) and Serin, while we all commented on the large number Turtle Doves seen throughout the day.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Lade - 0630hrs - warm, dry and sunny, cooler when a sea mist rolled in, e2 - Nothing much of note over the pits, but `tis about this time of year that I`ve had Golden O in the sallows.
Four more new moths for the year in the garden trap including Pebble Prom and Marbled Coronet.

                                           Pebble Prominent

                                           Marbled Coronet

Dungeness - 0900hrs  - Virtually nothing happening at the Patch while the foreshore was lined with fishermen. Sparrowhawk and Raven over the power station, plus Black Redstart, Mipit and Stonechat elsewhere. Plenty of Pale Grass Eggar caterpillars on the concrete path down to the hide.
Dengemarsh - 1500hrs - The Lapwing pair were still reacting as though young were nearby and 2 Garganey were on the lake. A Woodlark was reported earlier over the ARC side (per SB).

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Red Kites

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, misty, n2, warmer later - A decent return in the Plovers moth trap last night with 20 species and several new for the year: Willow Beauty, Lime Speck Pug, Cypress Carpet, Brindled Pug, Mullein Wave and Rustic Shoulder Knot. Tawny Shears and Light Feathered Rustics remain the most numerous moths.

                                          Cypress Carpet, Plovers

                                          Fox Moth, Kerton Road, Cafe

                                         Common Tern & Oystercatcher in harmony, Dengemarsh

After several false starts this week I finally caught up with a Red Kite which flew virtually over the cottage being harried by the ASBO Gulls. Had good views even without bins as it twisted and turned showing russet plumes and a deeply forked tail. As it headed north at a steady pace a quick text to one or two locals proved worthwhile as CP had it soaring over the raptor hotspot of New Romney. There appears to be a bit of an influx of this raptor across the region and PB had 6 over Shadoxhurst today.
Red Kites are still good birds down here; and let`s face it they are `proper` ones, probably migrants off the continent - unlike those tame, plastic residents that cavort about the Chilterns and Thames Valley frightening posh peoples toy poodles...
RSPB - 1100hrs - Led a small group of birders around the 2 mile circuit this morning during which we connected with all the usual breeding birds including two flight views of Bittern, plus a `boomer` and 4 Marsh Harriers over Hookers. Good views of 2 Cuckoos, 4 Hobbies, Kestrel, Raven and 2 late migrant Spotted Flycatchers in the scrub at Xmas Dell, plus singing Lesser Whitethroat. As always the Common Terns were good value on the Dengemarsh rafts. The Little Stint remained at the southern end of ARC (another or the same was seen at Kerton Road Pit by OL) where it was joined by a Blackwit in the afternoon (MH). Grass Snake and Common Lizard also noted around the bird reserve.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Moths & Waders

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, n4, much warmer later - At long last, with double figure overnight temperatures, 10 species of moths came to light. Nothing much of note apart from a migrant Silver Y, plus new-for-the-year Turnip, Shears, Flame Shoulder and Knot Grass - hopefully its a start.
RSPB - 1045hrs - Surveyed various parts of the bird reserve today for breeding waders, of which there were few due to the high water levels. Probably the highlight was a pair of Lapwings with two juvs about a week old; Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Redshank also noted. Passage waders included a Little Stint on ARC and a Blackwit on the hayfield. Elsewhere, 4 Hobbies at Dengemarsh another 4 at Tower Pits, 3 Garganeys and 35 Common Terns on Dengemarsh, 4 Cuckoos, 5 Marsh Harriers, 2 Yellow Wagtails and at least 6 singing Lesser Whitethroats across the reserve. Had a probable Red Kite (too distant to confirm) fly over Dengemarsh Gully and head towards the ranges; 3 other probables were also seen earlier on.
Other news today included a Bee-eater briefly near the Light Railway Cafe, an adult Iceland Gull at The Patch and the Ravens were seen with 4 juvs on the Switch Station (PB).
Belated news from yesterday concerned a flyover Night Heron and Honey Buzzard at New Romney (SC).

                                                                Silver Y,

                                                                Green Carpet

                                                            Light Feathered Rustic

                                                            Hobby, Tower Pits

Monday, 21 May 2012

Iceland Gull

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cool, cloudy, ne3 - The amazing recent run of rare birds at Dungeness continued this morning with a stunning adult Iceland Gull feeding at the Patch. It has of course been a record breaking winter for this Arctic gull with hundreds of displaced birds noted in northern Scotland, while this is the 4th for the year so far down here. Also a goodly number of Common Terns at the Patch, although there were many more earlier when a passing Roseate Tern was also seen (DW).
Elsewhere, 2 Black Redstarts along the perimeter wall, Stonechat and Wheatear by Lloyds, a singing Lesser Whitethroat in the Trapping Area, plus flyover Raven and Med Gull.

                                          Iceland Gull, The Patch

Lade - 1600hrs - Several sightings of Hobby and Sparrowhawk around the cottage this afternoon sent the local Herring Gulls into raptures. Very quiet over the pits with just a couple of courting Cuckoos of note.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Lade - warm, dry, sunny, n3 - Following bits of overnight rain a generally decent sort of a day, despite the brisk northerly. Spent far too long nattering to the guests over breakfast about past glories on Scilly; thanks for that Terry, brought back a lot of good memories.
The monthly WeBS count over the pits didn`t take long, on account of a lack of wildfowl.
As for the moth trap, had just 2 species, a Shuttle-shaped Dart and Brimstone Moth.
Hythe - Had a wander along the sea front this morning with PT taking in the RMCanal where plenty of warblers and resident wayside birds were enjoying the warm sunshine. I managed to somehow lose my camera on the beach and when we returned to look for it this afternoon it had been handed in at the fish restaurant at the bottom of Stade Street. My faith in human nature was fully restored, thanks to one honest punter out there.
ARC - 1500hrs - Nothing much here apart from 150 Swifts over the lake and a few Shovelers.
Other news today concerned a male Hen Harrier seen over the bird reserve (SM) and at New Romney, plus a Hoopoe reported to Bird Guides on Lydd Golf Course.

                                            Brimstone Moth, Plovers 

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Park Wood, Appledore - 1200hrs - warm, dry and sunny (at last) - On the way back from Ashford a walk in the woods at the `wrong` time of day still managed to deliver 9 singing Nightingales, 2 Garden Warblers, 10 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, plus a host of resident woodland birds such as Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Greater and Green peckers, Mistle Thrush and Long-tailed Tits.

                                            Park Wood, Appledore

Dungeness  - 1430hrs - Another (or the same as earlier in the week?) Bee-eater found by ace rarity finder DB on overhead wires near his cottage. By the time I arrived on site it had moved down to Jarman`s, still on power lines, hawking insects. Not a great view, what with the heat haze (yeah, honest!) and all, but at least it showed. It wasn't here for long though and soon flew off high inland.
The only other piece of news was a Honey Buzzard over Littlestone this morning (OL).

Friday, 18 May 2012

Woodlark & Chicken Slurry

Dungeness - 1000hrs - warm sunny start, cooler, cloudy showery later - Started off at the Point for yet another fruitless scarcity search, this time a hen Serin, but at least they`re still coming. Two Black Redstarts singing from the power station, 3 Stonechats and a flyover LRP was about it, so joined the gathering throng of locals by the moat for a scan and a moan.
Walland Marsh - 1145hrs - seemed like a good idea when we set out in the dry, until a heavy shower gave us a thorough soaking. Anyhow, a few Marsh Harriers noted plus Buzzard, Kestrel and 7 very miserable, perched-on-posts Hobbies. Little `uns comprised several Yellow Wagtails, 2 Tree Sparrow colonies, 2 Corn Buntings, 2 Cuckoos, Reed and Sedge Warblers. Finished off in style with Barney giving chase to a Hare and running straight into a gloopy pool of mature chicken slurry. The smell of ammonia was horrendous, so back at the car I chucked him in a plastic sack (with his head sticking out, of course), raced back home with the windows open and hosed him down in the back garden, once I`d pinned him down in the privet (that dog does NOT like water), followed by a shampooing in the bath. He now looks like a ball of fluff and has got the right hump.
Long Pits  - 1400hrs - Reports of a singing Woodlark near the Long Pits found by OL was too good to pass up. Thanks to gen from MH & SB we nailed the little blighter as it ascended (FbyB) from a burnt patch of bashed scrub. In flight it sang for bit and then headed over towards the coastguard cottages before returning to the same patch of charcoal. A decent flight view of a tricky-to-see bird down here.
Boats - 1500hrs - Did an hour at the boats with MH & Terry and Lucy Palmer who`re B&Bing at Plovers. The highlight was 2 Arctic Skuas, 30 scoters, 30 Gannets, a trickle of Common and Sandwich Terns and 2 porpoises.
Another poor night in the moth trap with just a Setaceous Hebrew Character new for the season.

                              Barney, hiding in privet prior to a hosing down

                                Setaceous Hebrew Character, one of my favourite moth names

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Hat Trick... of Dips

Lade - 1000hrs - cool, cloudy, se2 - Slim pickings here with a few Swifts over south pit and a calling Cuckoo of note. Just as I was giving up a Greenshank flew over calling, took one look at the lack of edge habitat and pushed on northwards.
Dungeness - 1400hrs - Managed to successfully dip a Bee-eater that flew from ARC to the point and then disappeared somewhere over the Trapping Area. Despite a good scout around the flying paintbox could not be relocated. Scores of Swifts and House Martins over ARC and at least 2 Hobbies.
I wonder what southern overshoot will make an appearance tomorrow...
ps: Two Poms and an Arctic Skua were reported from the Point this morning.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Just Passing Through...

Dungeness - 0845hrs - cold, sunny, nw3 - A stroll down to the Patch revealed just a handful of Common Terns amongst the immature gulls. Two small parties of House Martins came in off the sea and a Blackcap was grounded along the power station wall. Wandered over to the Obs where the usual Black Redstarts, Wheatears and Stonechats noted.
ARC - 1430hrs - Three Hobbies hunting over the water along with 50 odd Swifts was about it. Along the access road another 2 Hobbies. Nothing of note on Burrowes.
ps: Another fly through Black Kite was seen this morning from Dengemarsh gully coming in off the sea (BP & MH) and went straight inland, while a Red-rumped Swallow passed over Hookers heading towards Burrowes never to be seen again (SB).
Moth activity continues to be poor to non-existent due to the cold temperatures.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Lade - 0900hrs - cold, showery, nw4 - A shocker of a morning with the temperature hovering around the 7C mark and a biting wind whipping across the shingle. Such were the conditions the breeding Whitethroats had taken to singing from within their respective patches of scrub. A couple of Yellow Wagtails flew over and a Cuckoo called from the willows while over south pit a mix of 50 odd Swifts and hirundines hawked what insects there were. The solar panel Herring Gulls continue to add to their comfy looking nest.

                                            Herring Gulls, Lade

ps: the only other local news concerned a flyover Black Kite at the bird reserve (PB et al).

Monday, 14 May 2012


Lade - 0800hrs - cool, sunny, sw4 - A brisk wind made for difficult viewing with most small passerines keeping to cover. Around the willows 2 Cuckoos, a male Marsh Harrier and 3 Hobbies hawking flying insects. In sheltered spots where the suns rays made an impact a few butterflies were on the wing, including several Small Coppers, Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell. Around the garden a couple of Holly Blues and a Red Admiral noted.
The rain returned by mid-afternoon on what was a quietish, post migration sort of a day.

                                           Small Tortoiseshell, Lade

Sunday, 13 May 2012

City 3 - R`s 2

Lade - 0800hrs - cool, sunny, sw2 - As it was Sunday decided to check the northern end of Kerton Road pit where several large islands have attracted a number of breeding birds. In amongst the trash geese and gulls was a small colony of 10 Black-headed Gulls, 2 prs of Oystercathers and one of Ringed Plover. Small groups of migrant Swallows continue to pass north over the storm beaches along with a Yellow Wagtail and a Turtle Dove.
On the moth front very few individuals coming to light locally, although a Poplar Hawkmoth was trapped at the cafe last night.
RSPB - 1200hrs - Little of note around the bird reserve apart from a couple of small flocks of Hobbies over Cook`s Pool and Tower Pits.
The only other bird news concerned the 2 highly mobile White Storks that were seen in the Woodchurch area this morning.

Man City v QPR - With myself being a life-long R`s fan and Pat in the City camp it was a roller coaster afternoon as the situation to decide champions and survivalists continued until the final whistle. Footie fans will know what I mean, it really was pure drama, and the only time I was pleased to see QPR lose a game...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sea Kale

Lade - 0700hrs & 1500hrs - cool, sunny, n1 then e2 - Actually bumped into a visiting birder over the pits this morning, who`d had an Osprey over heading north (that would probably account for the Herring Gulls going mental whilst i was still in the garden). Singles of Wheatear and Willow Warbler, plus several parties of Swallows were the only new migrants of note.
Along the beach the Sea Kale is about a fortnight behind due to the poor weather in April; this time last year it was a foot taller and already topped with broccoli-type, snowy florets. Dungeness foreland is of course notable for its prolific showing of this rareish coastal plant that is typically associated with shingle beaches close to the splash zone; i always reckon the most spectacular, and accessible, display is around the new lighthouse, so give it another week and take a stroll down the boardwalk and you`re in Sea Kale heaven.
Sea Kale is quite unique, as along with Samphire and Water Cress it is one of the few truly native vegetables found in these islands. In the old days it was regularly eaten; the shoots were covered over in early spring and `forced` like Rhubarb, the blanched stems were then cooked in similar fashion to Asparagus.
Another way of utilising kale for the kitchen is to pick the florets when young and steam `em as for broccoli. I tried this after advice from the late R.A.Turley (Ray was never one to turn down a foraged meal!) and found the taste nutty, salty and pretty awful really, a good job as i think its probably illegal to harvest wild kale now; and anyway once the flowers bloom the display is far more impressive than the taste...

                                         Sea Kale, Lade

Friday, 11 May 2012


Lade - 0900hrs - mild, sunny,w4 - At last sunshine and no rain, although a stiff westerly blowing across the lake kept the temperature down. Virtually nothing on the water apart from a few Coots and Great Crested Grebes. Around the willows 2 Cuckoos, a Spotted Flycatcher and plenty of singing Reed Warblers and Whitethroats.
Dengemarsh - 1330hrs - Spent the afternoon doing the circular walk around Dengemarsh. Few waders due to the high water levels, apart from 2 Whimbrels on the flood, an Oystercatcher and several Lapwings and a Redshank on the hay field. On the lake 10 Pochards, Shoveler, Dabchick and Gadwall plus at least 30 Common Terns on and over the rafts. Over the reedbed 2 Hobbies and 50 Swifts. From the ramp the Bittern `boomed` twice and a perched Hobby showed well, as did at least 4 Marsh Harriers. The back track across the farmland delivered 2 pairs of Yellow Wagtail, a Wheatear and a singing Corn Bunting.

                                         Whimbrel, Dengemarsh flood

                                          Common Tern, Dengemarsh

ps: Late news concerned a pair of White Storks that were reported from fields near Appledore Heath, where an Osprey was also noted (OL).

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Dungeness - 0815hrs - mild, dull, drizzle, sw4 - Following heavy overnight rain the manky weather continued throughout the day with further pulses of the wet stuff. A brief seawatch from the hide delivered the obligatory Gannets, terns, a few scoters, a single Bonxie (once again I just missed 2 Poms) and a handful of inbound Swifts and Swallows. On the land Willow Warbler and Sparrowhawk in and around the lighthouse garden.
ARC - 1300hrs - Plenty of hirundines and Swifts over the water plus a flock of 6 Hobbies hawking insects over the far bank. One of our smartest birds are Hobbies and their agility always amazes me as they pluck small flying insects (probably St Mark`s Flies) off the water while transferring them from talon to beak in one smooth move. They must have to catch loads to make it worthwhile, but it obviously works as they completely ignore the nearby hirundines.
With the increasing water levels the only island remaining above water is the main Cormorant/Herring Gull island and some of the gulls look as though they could be in trouble if the levels continue to rise. Plenty of warbler activity on the walk to Hanson hide and 8 Whimbrel overhead was about all I could muster up.

                                         Unidentified fungi, Dungeness

                                         Shrinking island, ARC

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Striped Hawkmoth

Dungeness - 0745hrs - mild, drizzle, sw2 - Poor viz for a seawatch but an hour in the hide delivered a steady flow of Gannets and Common Terns, 30 scoters, 5 Arctic Skuas, 3 Fulmars and an auk. Several Swifts and Swallows in off the sea (either side of my hour a Great Northern Diver and 2 Poms were seen).
Lade - 0900hrs - Pretty quiet here with just 100 odd hirundines and Swifts over the water to sift through. Cuckoo and Cetti`s Warbler vocalising in the willows and a couple of parties of Whimbrels overhead whistling.
Pigwell - 1300hrs - Checked out the wash out pit at Lydd where last Friday had a nice clutch of waders. Not today though as the water level had risen since, eliminating any wader habitat.
Moths - Or lack of them as far as my traps are concerned. However, just down the road at the Kerton Road Cafe, despite the rain, moths flocked in. Pick of the bunch was a stunning Striped Hawkmoth a rare immigrant from the south, which would have been better off staying in its native range of the Mediterranean Basin and north Africa judging from the weather forecast over the next 24 hours.

                                           Striped Hawkmoth, Kerton Road Cafe
ps: - The Red-rumped Swallow was again seen at New Romney Sewage Works early on, but had moved by mid-morning.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Red-rumped Swallow

New Romney Sewage Works  - 0745hrs - mild, cloudy, rain clearing, light airs - Yesterdays Red-rumper was still present at the sewage works site along with a couple of hundred hirundines and Swifts. Initially picked it up in flight and then on overhead wires, although looking into the light so not great views. Also in the general area Cuckoo, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Kestrel, Yellow Wagtail and Whitethroat.
Dungeness - 0900hrs - The seawatchers reported nothing much happening so had a quick look on the land which was similarly quiet with just the usual breeders in place.
Lade - 1700hrs - Following reports of a Stone Curlew this morning on the Desert thought I`d better check over the back. No sign of the said Thick Knee but a steady movement of Swallows north, 2 Med Gulls and 10 Whimbrels over and a Wheatear on the shingle ridges.
Another blank night in the Plovers moth trap.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Little Egrets & Crested Lark

Dungeness - 0545hrs - cool, cloudy, se2 - A two hour seawatch from the point delivered a steady flow of seabirds to keep the interest going. Of the 9 Poms all were distant except 3 at the end of the watch. Also 2 Arctics (much closer) a Bonxie, 100 scoters, 50 Gannets, 20 Whimbrels, 30 Little Terns, 2 Fulmars, 3 Black-throated Divers, 2 Curlews, 10 Barwits, 8 Sanderling, 2 Med Gulls and 4 Oystercatchers. In off the sea singles of Hobby and Merlin.
Lydd Church Tower - 1000hrs - Spent the rest of the morning atop Lydd church tower for RSPB on heron watch duties. The weather was kind and a steady flow of punters made the precarious climb up the tower to admire the Marsh landscape (and spy on their neighbours!). As always cracking views looking into the nests of 6 close Grey Herons; in all at least 17 were occupied this year across the heronry. Also, 3 nests of Little Egrets seen including one with 2 small chicks, which confirms breeding (I think) for the first time at this site.

                                         Lydd heronry

                                          Grey Herons, adults & juv, Lydd

                                          2 Little Egret nests, Lydd

Dungeness - 1500hrs - Phew, no chance to settle down and have a snooze this afternoon, following the discovery of a super rare Crested Lark at the Point. Initially found by Lloyds it was eventually relocated on rough ground by the car park inside the grounds of `B` plant (a wise move considering the harrying the last one got) at the western end. Views from the seawall were distant but it appeared to be quite rusty-brown overall and there was some suggestion that it may well be an eastern race bird. At about 1630hrs it flew off towards `A` plant just as a number of twitchers were still arriving on site. With the hoards of tourists around the point I reckoned the lark would stay within the boundary walls and relative peace and quiet of the plant.
New Romney Sewage Works - 1700hrs - To round off yet another cracking days birding across the Marsh a Red-rumped Swallow was located amongst a flock of Swallows feeding over the workings.