Friday, 30 August 2013

Swallows & Martins

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, dry and sunny, sw 2 - 4 Following a muggy, still night it was no surprise that the trap was full of moths this morning including Gold Spot, Dark Sword-grass and White-point.
Slim pickings on the bird migration front apart from the first noticeable Swallow movement of the autumn (c100 south), plus 30 Sand Martins over south lake and Green Sandpiper and Greenshank around the margins. A scattering of Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats, 5 Yellow Wagtails and a Whimbrel over was about it.

                                        White-point, Lade

Rye Harbour NR - Had to go to Rye station this morning, so called in at the beach reserve. All the expected waders including 200 Golden Plovers, 5 Grey Plovers, 2 Greenshanks and a Whimbrel. Several Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears, Linnets and a Mipit also noted on Flat Beach.
NB: A Wryneck was reported from Galloways this morning with another on Dungeness (MH). On the bird reserve Great White Egret and Black-necked Grebe and a scattering of waders on ARC.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Another day in paradise...

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, misty start, n 2 - sw 2 - A few decent moths in the trap last night including Square Spot Rustic, new for the year, Cream-bordered Cream Pea, Lychnis and Yellow Belle.
Flogged over the shingle where migrants were hard to come by, but eventually tallied up 10 each of Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat, 2 Wheatears and singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher, plus 5 Yellow Wags and a Tree Pipit over. On south lake Common and Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshanks and 50 Sand Martins.

                                     Cream-bordered Cream-pea, Lade
                                     Campion, Lade

                                    Yellow Belle, Lade

ARC - From Hanson hide 480 Lapwings, 160 Golden Plovers, 4 Greenshanks, 2 Snipe and a Redshank, plus all the usual wildfowl including 2 Garganeys, 8 Wigeon and a Black-necked Grebe, 5 Little and one Great White Egret, Sandwich Tern, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk.

                                Sandwich Tern, ARC

Lade - Good numbers of Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats and a Spotted Flycatcher snapping up insects in back garden trees this evening in the warm sunshine.
NB:  Late news this evening of a Wryneck at Galloways (T&B H).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sand Martins

Lade - 0700hrs - warm dry and sunny, n 2 - A distinctly damp, autumnal feel first thing, but it quickly warmed up as the sun rose. Following a clear night it did not bode well for migrant hunting this morning and so it proved to be with only a scattering of Common Whitethroats of note in the Mockmill Sewer scrub, plus 5 Yellow Wagtails over, 2 Wheatears, Whinchat and, surprisingly, a Pied Flycatcher in the willows. On south lake the Red-crested Pochard was still present, plus Common and Green Sandpipers around the margins.

                                Red-crested Pochard, Lade

However, spectacle of the morning went to a couple of hundred Sand Martins that were hawking insects low over the desert scrub. We sat amongst them as they flitted around us only yards away; even Barney seemed impressed. Periodically they flopped onto a shingle mound, twittering away to one another and then suddenly, en-masse, up and away they went south, no doubt crossing the Channel in the fine weather. By nightfall they were probably roosting in a reed bed somewhere down the French coast.

                                Sand Martins, Lade Desert

Lade Bay - 1730hrs - A very pleasant walk along the beach to Greatstone this evening on a falling tide which left thousands of cockles stranded and gasping along the tideline gloop; mind you, the gulls, waders and even a few crows weren`t complaining. Several juv Sanderlings fed only yards away and were so confiding they didn`t even fly when Barney was snuffling around close by. Out on the bay the five main species of shorebirds were present in similar numbers to yesterday, plus a lone Barwit. On the walk back a massive hatch of flying insects swarmed off the shingle attracting hundreds of Black-headed Gulls.  Singles of Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail also noted.

                                Cockles, Lade Bay

                                Juvenile Sanderling, Lade Bay

NB: Other news around the Peninsula today included a scattering of Pied Flycatchers, Wryneck near Long Pits (per MH) and an Osprey over Burrowes (SB).

Monday, 26 August 2013

After the Lord Mayor`s Show...

Lade - 0630hrs - mild, dry, warm, sunny, nw 2 - ne 3 - Following on from the excitement of yesterday this morning was back to more mundane fare with just a scattering of Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats in gardens, and Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails on the storm beaches across Lade. However, many more Sand Martins were coming and going than yesterday, some of whom had plonked down on the shingle for a breather.
On the moth front migrant Dark Sword-grass was new for the year in the garden trap, plus Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet.

                               Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Lade

At the Kerton Road Café a whole host of goodies were in the fridge including Chevron, Jersey Tiger, Small Phoenix, Clouded Buff, Yellow-barred Brindle, Lesser Treble Bar and the very localised Tawny Wave, a Red Data book moth whose nearest known breeding sites are along the Suffolk coast, although it may have been an immigrant. Also of note in the café garden a Pied Flycatcher.

                                 Chevron, KRC

                                    Jersey Tiger, KRC

Dungeness - At The Patch 3 Black Terns amongst the expected gulls and Common Terns, plus a Fulmar west. On the land a scattering of Whinchats, Wheatears, Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats, plus Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Pipit (201) over calling.

                                Sanderling and Dunlin, Lade Bay

Lade -1800hrs -  Checked out the bay this evening in the company of Marshman where a mixed flock of 50 Sanderlings and Dunlin were feeding close to shore along with 2 Ringed Plovers. Further out on the bay 280 Curlews, 500 Oystercatchers, 50 Sandwich Terns, 10 Common Terns and hundreds of gulls.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A fall of passerines

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, rain clearing, nw 2, then sunny, ne 4  - The rain continued throughout the night and finally petered out just after dawn to leave a sopping wet landscape. However, the sun soon broke through and brought forth a flush of insects with great clouds of midges and flying ants rising off the scrub-clad storm beaches and around the willow scrub. It was quite a sight and perfect conditions for migrant hunting.
First off the back garden and several Willow Warblers were calling in the fir trees, plus a Spotted Flycatcher with more WWs next door and in the cattery shrubs; an encouraging start. Out onto the shingle and 3 grounded Wheatears and a Whinchat on the broom plus 5 Yellow Wagtails snapping up ants amongst the stones. A clump of gorse by the style at the south of the lake was jumping with WWs, Common Whitethroats, 2 Lesser `throats, a Garden Warbler and 2 Spotted Flycatchers plundering the myriads of flying insects. Further down the track Barney flushed a Common Redstart while more WWs and Common Whitethroats were logged. More warblers in the willow swamp, including Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s, plus another Spot Flit. Across south lake all the usual wildfowl, including Red-crested Pochard and Shelduck, 100 Sand Martins, 2 Common Sandpipers, plus Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier behind the `mirrors`.
On the walk back home I checked one of my favourite migrant traps; an isolated clump of scrub close to the back gardens of Leonard Road, and it too was alive with WWs, Common Whitethroats and 3 Lessers. Also of note this morning were loads (at least 50) of Dunnocks, presumably some of which must`ve been migrants as I don`t normally see anything like this number. Now, where`s that Wryneck...

                                Blackwit, ARC

                                Garganey, ARC

                                Spotted Flycatcher, Lade

ARC - 1200hrs - Plenty of interest here with waders coming and going the pick of which was a stunning juv Curlew Sandpiper, my first of the autumn. The cinnamon Ruff put in an appearance, plus 50 Lapwings, 5 Greenshanks, 3 Oystercatchers, 2 Dunlins, 2 Redshanks, Snipe, Spotted Redshank and Blackwit. Also, pulses of Sand Martins, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, 6 Little Egrets, Black-necked Grebe and Garganey, plus Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler by the car park.
NB: Elsewhere today, 20 Wheatears, 18 Whinchats and 3 Pied Flits Galloways/Dengemarsh gully, 70 flava wagtails Scotney, Great White Egret Dengemarsh, 3 Black Terns and Little Gull The Patch, plus more common warblers and chats on the bird reserve and around the Dungeness Peninsula (SM, MH et al).

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Wet, wet, wet

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, wet, light airs - At long last a decent dollop of rain, the first for many weeks. A few Willow Warblers were in and around the back garden but most birds were keeping a low profile out of the rain. Couldn't find anything new over the pits apart from 50 Sand Martins over south lake.
Dungeness - Checked out The Patch where 100 Common Terns coming and going amongst a couple of hundred gulls and at least one juv Yellow-legged Gull. Couldn`t find a single migrant on the land although several Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler and Spotted flycatcher broke cover in a private garden on the estate (DB).
ARC - The only waders on show from Hanson hide were 2 each of Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and Ringed Plover, 20 Lapwing and a Blackwit. The Black-necked Grebe was still present and a few Sand Martins flew through. A few Chiffchaff, Willow, Reed, Sedge and Cetti`s Warbler around the hide.
The afternoon was a right off due to torrential rain.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Little Change

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, hazy sunshine, e 3 - A funny old morning with a sea mist coming and going and very humid throughout. A decent enough catch in the garden trap with Shore Wainscots the highlight and the first Vines Rustic of the autumn. Plenty of Willow Warblers hereabouts with the cattery Scots pine holding 8 birds, plus 2 Common Whitethroats and a Spotted Flycatcher. On the storm beaches 3 Whinchats, several more Whitethroats and a Wheatear. On south lake just the usual wildfowl and a Common Sandpiper.

                                      Shore Wainscot, Lade

ARC - 1530hrs - A scan from Screen hide revealed singles of Green Sandpiper, Blackwit and Greenshank amongst the Lapwings, 5 Little Egrets and dabbling ducks. A Water Rail showed well in the reedbed while Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier both noted. Had distant views of the long staying Black-necked Grebe and a Bittern flew over the causeway road on the way home.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Rain at last

Lade - 0600hrs - humid, rain am, sunny pm - The long awaited rain eventually arrived around dawn but had petered out by mid-morning and by mid-afternoon you wouldn`t have known it had rained, such is the drainage down here on the shingle. Anyhow, the moths weren`t affected and the trap was full of the same old, same old with over 50 each of Silver Ys and Flounced Rustics but nothing to get excited about. Around the coastal gardens there was a sprinkling of Willow Warblers and a Common Redstart (BD). Several Common Whitethroats were lurking in the storm beach scrub, while the willow swamp was alive with Reed, Sedge and Willow Warblers; 2 Whinchats on the Desert were probably stay overs from yesterday. On south lake the Red-crested Pochard was still present.
Dungeness -  1130hrs - An hour from the boats staring at a largely barren sea was notable for a flock of 12 Shovelers and 25 Common Scoters eastbound, while a few terns and distant Gannets milled around well offshore. Four Kestrels by Jarman`s suggested successful breeding locally.
ARC - 1530hrs - Very quiet here wader-wise with just a scattering of Golden Plover, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Greenshank amongst 100 Lapwings. Also, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk over, 5 Little Egrets, 6 Wigeon, Black-necked Grebe and Garganey. There were plenty more Willow, Sedge and Reed Warblers hereabouts along with Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch and Reed Bunting. In the car park scrub a Garden Warbler was of note.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Whinchats & Wheatears

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - Following a clear moonlit night it was no surprise that moth numbers were low this morning, although there seemed to be an influx of Marbled Greens and Cypress Pugs. Once an early sea mist had cleared it was a stunning morning and with little wind migrants were easier to locate. Willow Warblers could be heard in back garden shrubs from the off with more grounded on the storm beach scrub towards the pits, along with several Common Whitethroats (one in full song!) and a Lesser Whitethroat. On the Desert 3 Whinchats and 5 Wheatears, plus 3 Yellow Wagtails and a Greenshank overhead calling and a hovering Kestrel. Nothing new on south lake, although the glassy surface was covered in waterfowl and gulls. A scan from the aerial mound revealed 2 Common Buzzards and singles of Marsh Harrier and Peregrine behind the `mirrors`, plus 5 Swifts south.
On the walk back loads of Common Blues basking on bankside vegetation and 2 more Whinchats noted, while in the garden the buddleia was smothered in mainly Small Tortoiseshells (35 at one stage), several Peacocks, whites and a Comma.

                                          Cypress Pug, Lade

                                          Marbled Green, Lade
                                              Small Tortoiseshell, Lade

ARC - A midday check from Hanson revealed the waders to be nervy due to a marauding Peregrine. Eventually they settled where amongst 300 Lapwing were 110 Golden Plover, 3 Dunlin, Greenshank, Snipe and Blackwit, while a Garganey and 6 Wigeon lurked within the numerous dabbling ducks. Also noted 6 Little Egrets, Green Woodpecker, Willow and Reed Warblers and 30 Sand Martins.
There were further reports on Whinchats at Dungeness and around the bird reserve.

Monday, 19 August 2013

A few more Migrants

Dungeness  - 0645hrs - warm, dry and sunny, nw 2 -With nobody in last night and no breakies to cook decided on a change of scene this morning and headed down the point. The Patch was packed out with common gulls, plus a juv Mediterranean, but hardly any terns. Several Willow Warblers along the powers station wall, in the lighthouse garden and around the moat, plus singles of Whinchat and Wheatear and a few Yellow Wagtails overhead.
                                Golden Plovers, ARC

                                Wheatear, Dungeness

                                Willow Warbler, DBO

ARC - From Hanson hide a decent spread of passage waders which kept being flushed by a couple of Marsh Harriers. The bulk comprised 500 Lapwing and 65 Golden Plover, plus 10 Common Sandpipers, 5 LRP and Ringed Plover and singles of Dunlin, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Greenshank. Also, 8 Little Egret, Hobby, Black-necked Grebe and Garganey.
Burrowes  -Highlights here were Blackwit and Little Gull, plus what appeared to be a Jersey Tiger on the VC window.
Dungeness - 1400hrs - As Balearic Shearwaters were noted offshore this morning thought I`d give it a go from the boats for an hour. However, just a trickle of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns on the move plus 2 Black Terns, Kittiwake and Fulmar. A Grey Seal was feeding close to shore along with 3 Harbour Porpoises.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Avocets & Blues

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, w 3 - Following a sprinkling of early morning, nuisance value rain the sun broke through making ideal conditions for insects to come out to play. Consequently the main track beside the lake was awash with butterflies, mainly Common Blues, and what a marvellous sight it was too. In the shelter of the ponds there were many more, plus loads of blue damselflies, Migrant Hawkers and Ruddy Darters.

                                Common Blues, Lade

Birds were everywhere this morning with the highlight being a pair of Avocets swimming on the lake and another on the island, plus Green and Common Sandpipers on the islands within the willow swamp where the habitat looks perfect for crakes and did attract 3 Water Rails amongst the Moorhens and Little Egrets. Willow and Reed Warblers were numerous and there were several tit flocks on the move. Also noted Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker and a Hobby. South lake was packed out with the usual ducks, grebes, Coots, feral swans and geese, Sand Martins coming and going and 3 Common and one Black Tern. Best of all though was a Bittern sunbathing in a gap in the reeds on the far side of the lake. On the shingle 5 grounded Yellow Wagtail was about all we muster up.

                                Avocets, Lade

Continueing on with the local theme of things we checked out the bay three hours after high tide, so around midday, which was full of birds up this end, chiefly gulls but also a similar number of large waders to the other day, such as Curlew, Dunlin and Oystercatcher, plus notable flocks of 25 Ringed Plovers and 35 Barwits. At least 150 Sandwich and 50 Common Terns were resting on the sands with a single distant skua noted, presumably Arctic. Several more Yellow Wagtails were on the shoreline and 2 Whimbrel headed south calling.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Waders & Warblers

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, w 1 - Plenty of moths in the garden trap this morning but little of any quality, plus another Migrant Hawker.

                                Migrant Hawker, Lade

ARC/Tower Pits - With a day in Canterbury beckoning with guests, and having to drop Barney off in Lydd, we spent a couple of hours birding the pits and along the railway line by the pines. The weather was glorious first thing with light airs and warm sunshine, ideal for warbler activity of which there was plenty, particularly in the scrub by Tower Pits where 10 each of Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and a Spotted Flycatcher, while the reed and willow scrub was alive with Reed and Sedge Warblers. A Cuckoo broke cover by the water tower and 2 Wheatears were out on the Desert, plus Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Marsh Harrier, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.
On ARC all the usual waders, so a scattering of  LRP, Dunlin, Common and Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Snipe, while a pair of Oystercatchers have successfully fledged their chick against all odds. As a Marsh Harrier flushed the waders in front of Hanson a Spotted Redshank called and headed towards Dengemarsh. Out on the mill-pond like lake hundreds of wildfowl, Coot and grebes, 50 Sand Martins and 3 Swifts.
News from Dungeness today included Balearic Sheawater and Roseate Tern, while Curlew Sandpiper and Great White Egret were reported from the bird reserve.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Gold Spot

Lade - 0500hrs - mild, cloudy, w 1 - Bounced out of bed like a puppy dog this morning at the prospect of a muggy night filling up the moth trap; as it was still dark, I even managed to beat the local Blackbird to his breakfast. An hour later the trap was emptied with only a Gold Spot of any note amongst the 32 species, but what a little cracker. A drowsy Migrant Hawker had also settled on the trap.
A trickle of Willow Warblers were present in local gardens, while a Hobby dashed over scattering Mrs PT`s Starlings. Migrants of note over the pits were a single Yellow Wagtail and two Swifts south. All the usual wildfowl on south lake, plus the long-staying Red-crested Pochard and Black-necked Grebe,

                                         Gold Spot, Lade

ARC - All the usual passage waders in front of Hanson, which included 10 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin, 5 LRP, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, Ruff and Green Sandpiper. Several Willow Warblers noted around the hide and 50 Sand Martins over the water. From Screen hide 2 Snipe and several more Common Sandpipers, Golden Plovers and Lapwings. The Water Rails again gave tantalising views between the two reedbeds.

                                Water Rail, ARC

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Starlings & Shorebirds

Lade -- 0600hrs - mild, cloudy, early drizzle, w 2 - Flame Shoulder was the only moth of note in an otherwise poor trap, despite the weather conditions appearing suitable last night.
There were a few Willow Warblers and Whitethroats in the gardens hereabouts this morning. Checked out the north end of Kerton Road pit where highlights were 3 Greenshanks and a Green Sandpiper.
Back at Plovers Mrs PT, who doesn`t normally take much notice of birds, was in a flap as `her` Starlings hadn't come down for breakfast; we chucked a pile of old oats and seed out on the lawn the other day and they`ve been feeding and cackling away as only Starlings can. Anyhow, once her cat went for its day long sojourn in the summerhouse the Starlings returned and provided rich entertainment for the next half hour - oh, we`re easily pleased down here...

                                Mrs PT`s Starlings

Littlestone - Having not checked the shorebirds lately on Lade Bay and with the tide suitable around midday I decided to give it a go at two locations, which went something like: 450 Oystercatcher, 85 Curlew, 30 Knot, 21 Barwit, 18 Redshank, 230 Dunlin, 160 Sanderling, 5 Grey Plover and 10 Ringed Plover, plus hundreds of gulls, 30 Sandwich Terns and 2 Shelducks.
ARC - A late afternoon return to Screen delivered tantalising views of two Water Rails in front of the hide dashing between reedbeds. The lone Golden Plover was still in the same spot as yesterday and has been seen flying around today sporting a white underwing, which appears to have confirmed its identity. Also present, Green and Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Snipe, LRP, Greenshank and Dunlin, plus 4 Little Egrets, Marsh Harrier and Black-necked Grebe.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fall of Passerines, a Garden Tick & an odd Plover...

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, nw 2 - sw 4 - Another glorious sunny day on the Marsh began with a garden tick, a Pied Flycatcher; actually it was in the neighbours garden, but let`s not split hairs as I was standing in MY garden when I saw it. Eventually it put on quite a show, sallying forth from the fir trees snapping up insects along with at least 10 Willow Warblers and 5 Whitethroats. There were more Willow Warblers over the pits, plus gardens on Dungeness, 50 in the Trapping Area, 50 around Long Pits and more reported in Dengemarsh Gully and elsewhere; a conservative estimate of 150 across the Peninsula is probably way on the low side. Also noted were more Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warbler, Common Redstart (Old Light), Whinchats (Galloways) and Cuckoo (ARC).
ARC - 1000hrs - From Hanson a decent selection of waders included 13 Dunlin, 5 Common Sandpiper, 5 LRP, 4 RP, 2 Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper. Plenty of Migrant Hawkers on the wing plus a Clouded Yellow. At the south end a Ruff, 2 Common Sands and a Black-necked Grebe amongst the diving ducks.
1530hrs - A phone call from PB necessitated a return to ARC concerning a golden type plover that didn't quite fit the mould... When  I arrived at Screen hide PB, SB and MH were already scrutinising the single plover on the shingle ridges c300m distant, but in good light.
It was an adult golden plover in moult and showed a broad white band down the side, around the face and on the forehead. The underparts were black with a paler vent and the back was spangled golden. Due to the range I couldn't discern any feather details; ie fine or coarse notched tertials. It didn`t appear to be longer in the leg, but this of course is subjective on a lone bird; I`m sure you can see where I`m going with this - could it be an adult Pacific Golden Plover in moult? And then a Marsh Harrier flew over and up went our bird...
The conversation then went something along the lines of - "it`s got a pale underwing and armpit - well that`s that then, it must be a Golden Plover `cos that`s diagnostic, as Pacific/American have grey underwings - didn`t see any feet sticking out the back end, so cant be Pacific as they`ve got long legs - it`s landed again - did anyone hear it call - NO! - I know the underwing looked pale, but could it be the effect of the bright sunlight... - it just doesn't look right - wish it was a bit closer - shame there aren't a few of its kin around for comparison - oh! its up again, definitely pale on the underwing - its` landed, still something odd about it, look at the white frontal band and forehead, have you seen a goldie like that...". And so it went on, we were wracked with doubt and the distance wasn't helping.
OL arrived on site and quipped, "good to see we`ve got the professionals on the case!" While MH reminded us that it was the same quartet that had confidently identified a winter plum Little Stint last autumn that mysteriously morphed into a Semi-p - or did the two-bird-theory come into play? With around 200 years of combined birding experience in the hide surely we knew what we were talking about, didn`t we?
Then SB went for the smart phone which showed pics of Pacifics with dark grey underwings and by the time CT arrived with the Birders Bible we`d all sort of agreed it was an adult Golden Plover in moult, but now I`ve got home and looked at my, albeit poor digi-pics, I`m unsure. At the range we watched it plumage and shape were all subjective, but it did appear to have a pale underwing with no feet projection beyond the tail on the brief flight views I saw.
NB: PB and CT remained for another hour during which time further pics were taken and comparison with another golden plover was possible, so best check out Plodding Birder`s blog for a further instalment.

                                golden plover, ARC, 14-8-13

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Passage Waders

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, cloudy, nw 2-4 - The cool north-westerly suppressed moth numbers again, although Orange Swift was new for the year. Spent a fair bit of time this morning checking out the breeding birds of Lade pits, of which there were many. Water fowl in particular have done well this year with plenty of juv Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe and Coot around the place;  probably in some part due to a local gamekeeper trapping the Mink, and thinking back I`ve not seen one here for a couple of years or more. Although the warblers have largely fallen silent the reed beds were bursting with juv Reed Warblers with Whitethroats in the drier scrub.
On the migrant front at least 20 Willow Warblers noted, plus 5 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Green Sandpipers, Whimbrel and a Hobby.

                                          Wood Sandpiper, Burrowe`s

ARC/Burrowes - 1400hrs - Checked out the waders this afternoon, although a Peregrine kept them on the move at both locations. Best of the bunch was 2 Wood Sands in front of Firth hide and a flock of 16 Redshanks from the VC; also, 10 Common Sandpiper, 10 Dunlin, 4 Green Sandpiper, 4 LRP, 3 RP, 2 Greenshank, Whimbrel, Ruff and Grey Plover, while Curlew Sandpiper and Blackwit were reported this morning. Other bits and pieces included, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Egyptian Geese, Little Gull, Garganey and Hobby.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Oblique Carpet

Lade - 0600hrs - Warm, dry, sunny, w2 - Very little in the garden trap this morning apart from an Oblique Carpet, a widespread but localised Geometrid and new for the site.
Several Willow Warblers hereabouts this morning and all the usual wildfowl on Lade south, including Black-necked Grebe and Red-crested Pochard.

                                Oblique Carpet, Lade - a site first

ARC - Decent enough from Hanson with 20 Lapwing, 10 Dunlin (6 flying in), 5 LRPs, 4 Common and one Green Sandpiper, Golden Plover and a Greenshank, plus all the usual wildfowl, a Black-necked Grebe, 6 Little Egrets, but not a single Sand Martin. Chaos ensued when a male Peregrine showed up, swooping imperiously over the shingle ridges causing some birds to scatter, others to hunker down and the Coots to scuttle for cover. It eventually settled on the far bank but there remained an air of nervousness amongst the waders and wildfowl.
Elsewhere around the bird reserve today, 10 Willow Warblers in the gully, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Ruff and Black-necked Grebe on Burrowes (MH).

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A Scattering of Waders

Lade - 0600hrs - Warm, dry and sunny sw 2, increasing 4 by pm - Shark was new for the moth trap this year, but otherwise nothing much of note except for loads of Silver Ys and Flounced Rustics amongst the 25 species trapped. Two Willow Warblers were in the garden firs and a Sparrowhawk whipped a juv Starling off the top of a tree for breakfast.
A Whimbrel over calling and Common Sandpiper on south lake was the sum total of Lade waders this morning, while Red-crested Pochard and Black-necked Grebe were still present.
ARC - A sprinkling of waders from Hanson included several each of Common Sandpiper, LRP and Dunlin, while the Black-necked Grebe was close to the hide. Hundreds of Sand Martins over the lake again.
Burrowes - Wood Sandpiper and Ruff were added to the wader list, plus 5 more Common Sandpipers, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper, plus 2 Black-necked Grebes.
Dungeness - 1430hrs - An hour at the boats staring at a largely blank sea yielded a few distant Gannets and terns, plus one very distant Bonxie in the heat haze. Also a calling Whimbrel and several pulses of Sand Martins. The 1st summer Little Gull, however, continues to feed just offshore.
A Whinchat was seen at Galloways this morning (OL).

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Distant Falcon

Lade -0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw 2-4 - Small Blood-vein and Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing were new for the year in the garden moth trap this morning. Other noteworthys included Toadflax Brocade, Webb`s Wainscot and 42 Silver Ys.

                                         Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

                                Small Blood-vein, Lade

                                       Webb`s Wainscot, Lade

Whilst working in the garden late morning the Starlings started chipping away their raptor alarm call. I grabbed the bins and scanned around and up into the cloud base, just as I was about to give up I noticed a tiny shape `miles` up which turned out to be a falcon, probably a Peregrine - keen eye sight those Starlings.
ARC  - 1600hrs -  Called in the Screen hide on the way back from the allotment where a single Garganey amongst the dabblers, 6 Little Egrets, 2 Common Sandpipers and 3 Greenshanks. Most impressive of all though was the hundreds of Sand Martins feeding low over the lake in an increasing south-westerly blow. Wood Sandpiper and Black-necked Grebe were reported `over the road`.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Bits and Pieces

Lade  - 0600hrs - warm, dry and cloudy, sunny later, sw 3 - A better night in the garden moth trap with 32 species including Toadflax Brocade and Webb`s Wainscot. The Black-necked Grebe was still on south lake with 50 Sand Martins over the water and a Common Sandpiper on the island.

                                      Toadflax Brocade, Lade

RSPB - From Hanson hide at least 6 Common Sandpipers, 5 LRPs, 4 Dunlins, 2 Ringed Plovers and a Greenshank on the shingle ridges along with all the expected wildfowl, 4 Little Egrets and a Marsh Harrier over. In the willow scrub a mixed tit flock contained several Long-tailed Tits. On Burrowe`s a smart Wood Sandpiper in front of Firth, Black-necked Grebe, Egyptian Geese and a Green Sandpiper on the Discovery pond. Dengemarsh was notable for Great White Egret and a fly over Bittern, 4 Marsh Harriers and a Wheatear by the return trail.
Dungeness  - 1400hrs - Finished off at the boats for a one hour seawatch which was memorable for the banter amongst the locals; same old jokes, but always worth another telling! Birdwise a steady trickle of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Common Scoters.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A Trickle of Migrants

Lade - 0500hrs - cool first off, warmer later, sunny, sw 2 - Another slow night in the garden moth trap, although Flounced Rustics moved into double figures and both Oak Eggar and Sallow Kitten recorded. Plenty of butterflies around the garden today including Holly Blues, Painted Ladies and a Brimstone (at last). At the end of Church Lane, New Romney a White-letter Hairstreak was noted by the suckering elms feeding on Soapwort flowers (OL).

                                Oak Eggar

                                Sallow Kitten

A wander around the pits produced a trickle of migrants including Willow Warblers in the scrub, a Wheatear on the Desert, 50 Sand Martins over the water, two Common Sandpipers around the margins, plus two Yellow Wagtails, Whimbrel and Greenshank overhead.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Lade - 0530hrs - coolish, cloudy, ne 3, warm later - The brisk north-easterly ensured that moth numbers were down in the garden trap. Over the pits the Black-necked Grebe was still present amongst the hundreds of wildfowl, while a 1st summer Little Gull was on the island at the south end. The first of several Greenshanks flew over heading south and at least 50 Sand Martins were hawking insects over the water.
ARC - 1200hrs - Another Greenshank from Hanson hide plus two Common Sandpipers, Redshank and Snipe on the shingle ridges. All the usual wildfowl and hundreds of Sand Martins over the lake.
Lade - Several more Greenshanks over calling this afternoon, plus two Whimbrels. Checked out the northern end of Kerton Road Pit where two Common Sandpipers and yet another Greenshank, or maybe one from earlier that had dropped in. Three broods of Tufted Ducks of note as well as two pairs of Oystercatchers with well grown young.
ARC - 1830hrs - From Screen hide a single Garganey was amongst the dabbling ducks, plus two Common Sandpipers, two Snipe and a Greenshank, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel.
Lydd Allotment - Whilst watering the plants this evening I watched a male Sparrowhawk take a House Martin in mid-flight from the colony adjacent to the gardens. The hawk has a nest nearby and 10 minutes later he was back again having a second go at the martins, most of whom rocketed skywards. I regularly see this Sparrowhawk bringing in prey, but it is the first time I`ve seen it connect with a House Martin, which I presume was an opportunistic one off attack on an inexperienced juvenile, or maybe not...

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Pied Flycatcher & Swallowtail

Lade - warm, dry, sunny, n 2 - se 3 - The moth trap was notable for 85 Silver Ys and precious little else this morning. Flogged around the local patch where up to 12 broods of Tufted Ducks on south pit along with many common wildfowl and their young, plus the long staying Red Crested Pochard and newly arrived Black-necked Grebe and 2 Garganeys. Juv Reed Warblers and Whitethroats were everywhere and several migrant Willow Warblers were singing from the willow-swamp.

                                Black-necked Grebe, Lade

St Mary-in-the-Marsh  - A call from Marshman, who`d found a Pied Flycatcher in his garden, necessitated a change of plan this afternoon and it wasn`t long before my 200th species for the Marsh year list was accrued. Not an easy bird to see, but eventually it obliged after several flight views through cover. A good find of what has become a scarce passage migrant.
Burrowes - Spent an hour looking for a Swallowtail butterfly which was seen earlier near Dennis`s hide by SB, but without success. This magnificent resident butterfly is only found in the Norfolk fenlands, although this specimen probably originated from the continental race which is slightly paler than our native race. SB had the presence of mind to quickly take a snap of this beauty with his smart phone as it settled on a teasel head for us all to enjoy and be thoroughly gripped off! Well done Steve, a mega find of the insect world.

    Swallowtail, Dungeness RSPB (Steve Broyd)    

Once again there were plenty of other migrant butterflies across the peninsula today, including more Clouded Yellows on the bird reserve, where also three Black-necked Grebes and a Great White Egret reported.
Dungeness - Finished off with a brief seawatch but nothing much was happening apart for a few passing terns, Gannets and one flock of 25 Common Scoters. At least six porpoises and a seal were feeding just offshore.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Rye Waders

Burrowes - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw 2 - Checked Burrowes for yesterdays Spoonbill of which there was no sign. There were the usual hundreds of gulls, eclipse wildfowl and Cormorants present, plus 10 Little Egrets, 6 Redshanks, 9 Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Sandpipers and a Greenshank over.
ARC - Another Greenshank here, plus LRP, Common Sandpiper and Black-necked Grebe amongst the hundreds of wildfowl, 50 Lapwings, 5 Little Egrets, 4 Common Terns and a Hobby over.
Scotney - Ten Egyptian Geese were the only birds of note on the spit by the county boundary.

                                Egyptian Geese, Scotney

Rye Harbour NR - A cracking session from the John Gooder`s hide with hundreds of waders, albeit most of them a bit distant. A flock of c300 Dunlins comprised mostly adults but also 20 or so juvs, plus 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 3 Sanderlings, while another mass of waders included 150 Ringed Plovers and 50 Redshanks. Also noted 85 Golden Plovers, 50 Lapwings, 20 Oystercatchers, 15 Turnstones, 12 Avocets, 5 Barwits, 4 Greenshanks, 4 Common Sandpipers, 2 LRPs and a Green Sandpiper - sheer wader heaven!
All the terns - Little (2), Sandwich and Common - drifted over whilst in the hide, while Skylark, Rock and Meadow Pipits, Wheatears and Linnets all noted.
Had a natter with Barry Yates who was full of tales of woe about the breeding terns with only one Little Tern fledged from 11prs and a complete failure of the Sandwich Tern colony of c150 prs due to a shortage of food at the critical time of the breeding process; apparently colder that normal sea temperatures in May/June resulted in a shortage of sand-eels. After also failing the Common Terns have re-nested and appear to be doing well, while 30 prs of Med Gulls reared only a single chick. On the plus side Avocets did well with over 25 chicks fledged, although Lapwings and Redshanks had a poor breeding season.
It is always a pleasure visiting Rye Harbour, with the new wetland making it even more attractive for wader-lovers. Having already had Terek Sandpiper, Kentish Plover and Temminck`s Stint this year so far, I`m sure it wont be too long before another clonking rarity is discovered amongst the legions of visiting shorebirds...
Butterflies - This past month or so has been perfect for butterflies and everywhere I went today these magnificent insects weren`t far away. Migrant Painted Ladies were all over the place and coming out of Firth hide a Clouded Yellow flew past and headed inland.
Continuing on the migrant African butterfly theme, this afternoon I received a phone call from Kelvin Taylor at Whitfield near Dover who`d had a female  Long-tailed Blue in his garden today, so keep checking those Holly Blues!
Dungeness - 1530hrs - Finished off at the boats with a 90 minute seawatch in the company of PB. Nothing much to report apart from a steady flow of Common and Sandwich Terns, plus a few Gannets further out, 40 Common Scoters, Kittiwake and Little Gull, while a passage of c50 Sand Martins headed out towards France. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was on one of the fishing boats. Earlier in the day over 80 Black Terns were noted along with several Balearic Shearwaters and Bonxies.
Very pleasant in the warm sunshine along with clear views of the Pas-de-Calais across the way.

                                Turnstone, Dungeness