Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Yellow-browed Warbler & Brents

West Wittering - 0800hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw 2 - Our tour of West Sussex continues and what a cracking day it was too, particularly this morning. We walked along the foreshore from East Wittering where the half mile long tamerisk hedgerow held half a dozen Chiffchaffs, plus a number of Robins, Blackbirds, tits and Goldfinches. On the beach 50 odd Sanderling and Dunlin.
The plan was to arrive at West Wittering at high tide whilst the Brents were on the grass fields adjacent to the harbour. Now, Brent Geese, of which there were around 2,000, are undeniably superb birds and whilst we see them at Dunge they tend to be flying past the point on passage so it was great to spend a couple of hours just soaking `em up, on the deck; before some idiot in a micro-light flew over and purposely flushed `em. Was also good to see a number of juvenile birds in the throng. Amongst the geese were small numbers of Pied Wagtails, Lapwings and Curlews plus loads of corvids, Starlings and Woodies.

                                Brent Geese, West Wittering

Barney - "First its sea-watching, then it`s viz-migging and now he`s goose-watching, I`m bored, whatever next..."

Whilst admiring the geese a decent viz mig was underway (well, decent by this autumns low standard) with a steady flow of Skylarks, Mipits, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, 5 Siskins and 4 Redpolls overhead. We then moved on to check the marsh near East Head which attracted up to 100 each of Wigeon, Teal, plus a few Gadwall, Mallard and a single Pintail, Blackwits, Redshanks and Curlews. However, the scrub was full of passerines, mostly Robins and Blackbirds and a few grey, Continental type Song Thrushes, Reed Buntings, Long-tailed Tits, Cetti`s Warbler (singing) and best of all 2 Ring Ouzels. A Sparrowhawk whipped through and a Common Buzzard sat atop a shed enjoying the sunshine while 3 late Swallows hawked insects over the marsh. On the harbour side many of the geese had now moved onto the muddy creeks alongside the usual shorebirds and Little Egrets.

                                Curlew, West Wittering

                                Little Egret, West Wittering

On the walk past the WW Sailing Club a patch of scrub held a Yellow-browed Warbler, initially located on call and briefly seen in thick cover.
Pagham Harbour - From the hide we checked out the flood where only a few Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Curlew were on show plus a Sparrowhawk over, Green Woodpecker and 100 Goldfinches. Things improved no end at Church Norton where at low tide a feast of waders on the mudflats comprised ten common species, including 50 odd Grey Plovers, 20 Ringed Plovers and a stunning pale/leaucistic type Curlew. Also, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Shelducks, Little Egrets and Grey Heron, while there was no sign of this mornings grey Shrike.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

West Sussex

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, sunny, w 2 - The day commenced with a stunning Firecrest (aren`t they always) in the garden fir trees along with several Great and Blue Tits. Overhead a trickle of Goldfinches, Skylarks and Mipits, plus several Redwings in the scrub beside south pit, where all the usual wildfowl were present.
Arundel Park - We headed west this morning into Sussex to check out sites for articles. First stop a parkland type site complete with ornamental lake and mixed woodland. All the expected birds encountered plus 5 Crossbills over calling and 2 Siskins.

                                Blackwits, Colner Creek, Bosham

                               Bosham, West Sussex

Bosham - Part of the Chichester Harbour complex with acres of tidal creeks and mudflats full of birds. With the tide out there was plenty of wader habitat along the muddy inlets including 120 Blackwit, 50 Redshank, 30 Dunlin, 30 Curlew, 20 Turnstone, 10 Barwit and 2 Greenshank. Eventually we tracked down some Brents (50), north of the church in Colner Creek, along with 10 Shelduck and 5 Little Egret.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

St Jude approaches

Lade - 1200hrs - mild, showery, sw 6 - A blustery old morning with some heavy showers rattling through. The wind was so strong it was difficult to scan across south pit where most of the wildfowl were sheltering amongst the willow swamp. North lake was much the same and the only passerines noted were several small flocks of Starlings coming in off the bay, a Chiffchaff and two House Martins over the ponds.
ARC - The Glossy Ibis was still on the shingle ridges along with Red-crested Pochard, Curlew Sandpiper and all the usual wildfowl and Lapwings. From Screen hide 2 Greenshanks, Water Rail and a Ruff.
Burrowes - Had a good look around for the reported Red-necked Grebe but without success; all we could muster up were 4 Great White Egrets, Black-necked Grebe, Dunlin and Blackwit. However, the wind was so strong that most birds were hugging the sheltered margins or tucked into cover.
We could be in for a rough old night...

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A good day for a Penduline...

ARC - 0930hrs - Warm, sunny, light airs - Perfect weather and time of year for a Penduline Tit... or so I thought. Checked in front of Hanson, the willow trail and around Tower Pits but all to no avail. In the scrub several passerine flocks with Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaffs, Reed Buntings and a Blackcap, plus 3 singing Cetti`s Warblers, 2 Green Woodpeckers and a Sparrowhawk. Overhead a light passage of Mipits, Skylarks, Chaffinches and a Siskin. On the shingle ridges hundreds of Goldies and Lapwings as well as the resident Glossy Ibis, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Blackwit, Greenshank, Snipe and Dunlins. Also good numbers of dabblers, Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe and a flyover Bittern.
Lade - 1630hrs - A Great White Egret was of note on the far side of south lake sheltering from the increasing wind.
ps: A Penduline Tit was reported in front of Hanson around midday, plus a Red-necked Grebe on the lake (per BP).

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Off the Marsh

Faggs Wood - 1100hrs - mild, sunny, windy, w 5 - Had a run off the Marsh this morning to take a few site piccies in the company of MH and CP. From the car park in the woods the fence posts and rails, which previously attracted woodland birds to food, had disappeared so there was little of note apart from a tit flock which held a few Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests amongst the commoner tits and Chaffinches. A circuit of the wood yielded very little due to the strong wind.
Moor Lane - Checked out the ditches and game cover for farmland birds along the lane but once again the weather conditions were against us. However, two each of Marsh Harrier and Kestrel were noted plus a few Skylarks, Linnets and Stock Doves.

                                Moor Lane

Lade - Back home this afternoon and at least ten Sandwich Terns over the cottage coming off the bay at high tide. On the lakes the usual wildfowl plus 2 House Martins over the ponds.
ps: The Glossy Ibis was reported again on the bird reserve along with several Great White Egrets, Black-necked Grebes and the same waders as yesterday.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Parrot Crossbill

Hempsted Forest - 0815hrs - mild, cloudy, rain later, s 3 - Had a run out to the woods with CP, MH and TG this morning to look for crossbills. It takes a lot to drag me away from the Marsh these days as I`m not a great fan of twitching, but as always on a jolly with the `olds` the `Craic was 90` with plenty of anecdotes and jokes en-route and we did strike lucky with the crow-bars.
It was the classic stake-out-and-wait type of birding scanning across a large clearing in the forest and waiting for crossbills to come our way. There was up to 20 in the area, mostly flying around calling, but after a couple of hours a small group settled atop a nearish pine tree for ten minutes. In bright sunshine, it enabled identification of two Parrot types complete with bull necks and bulbous, Hawfinch-like bills alongside their Common congeners for comparison. And that was about it really, although another larger flock settled way across the clearing but were too distant to do anything with. There was no sign of yesterdays Two-barred Crossbill.
Other birds of note included a singing Yellowhammer, 5 Bullfinches, small groups of Redwings, Starlings, Redpolls, Siskins, Chaffinches, Linnets, 2 Fieldfares and a Skylark over, Sparrowhawk, 5 House Martins, 4 Swallows, plus Green and Greater peckers, Coal and Great Tits, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Robins.
By 1030hrs the rain started and with more twitchers arriving we called it a day.

                                Crossbills, Hempsted Forest (the top one is a Parrot, honest!)

RSPB - 1430hrs - With the rain easing off we checked out ARC where the Glossy Ibis was still present from Hanson along with Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Ruff, 2 Greenshanks, 10 Dunlins and a Redshank amongst the Lapwings and Goldies. From Screen hide a couple of surprises in the shape of a late Hobby over the pines and a Kingfisher briefly in front of the hide flying towards Hanson, plus 2 Greenshanks and a Great White Egret.
On Burrowes 3 Black-necked Grebes, Ruff, Barwit, Little Stint and all the usual wildfowl, where a Slavonian Grebe had been reported earlier.

Monday, 21 October 2013


Lade - 0700hrs - mild, murky, showery, s 4 - The warm southerly airflow continues to attract a few moths to the garden trap, but once again there was little of note. Migrants were hard to come by over the pits with only Goldfinches in any numbers heading into the brisk wind. In the willow scrub a few Robins, Song Thrushes and Chiffchaffs, Cetti`s Warbler and a Greater pecker.
Scotney - 1300hrs - Checked out the Golden Plovers which harboured a Ruff and a Redshank. A large mixed feral goose flock contained at least ten birds with drooping wings, presumably as a result of gun shot from local wildfowlers.
ARC - 1300hrs - Called in at Hanson where there was similar fare to yesterday with the Glossy Ibis looking settled on the fast disappearing shingle ridges. Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, Greenshank, Blackwit and Ruff were lurking amongst the Goldies and Lapwings. Watched the old female Marsh Harrier take a frog from the reedbed.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Ring Ouzel & Gannets

Lade - 0900hrs - mild, sunny, sw 5 - A blustery morning but at least it remained dry. All the usual wildfowl and grebes on the lakes plus several Chiffchaffs in the willow scrub and a Siskin overhead. As we walked back from the causeway a Ring Ouzel flew over from the airport scrub and promptly dived back into cover. Along the ponds three species of dragonflies on the wing in the warm sunshine and a dead Grass Snake on the shingle.
A short drive down to the Varne on an incoming tide delivered improved views of Grey Plovers, Barwits, plus Turnstones, Knots and Sanderlings.

                                Migrant Hawker, Lade

Dungeness - Finished off with Matt and Cathryn back at the fishing boats for an hour long seawatch which produced 200 Gannets (many of them close to shore) and 30 Sandwich Terns down-Channel, plus two Arctic Skuas harrying the terns, 20 Swallows outbound and 50 coasting Goldfinches.
In summary a decent weekends birding for our guests during which we clocked up 103 species with the undoubted highlight the Jack Snipe.

                                Arctic Skua, Dungeness

                                Gannet & gull, Dungeness

ARC - 1400hrs - On the way back from Ashford called in at Hanson hide where the Glossy Ibis  showed well, plus Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, 2 Blackwits, 3 Grey Plovers and 10 Dunlins amongst several hundred Goldies and Lapwings. A Water Rail dashed between cover and several Chiffchaffs called from the willows.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Jack Snipe

Dungeness - 0900hrs - Mild, cloudy, rain, `til 4pm, sw 3 - After clearing the moth trap (which didn`t take long), with only Blair`s Shoulder-knot new for the year we headed down to the point noting several Swallows and House Martins moving south along the beach.
A two hour seawatch in driving rain from the concrete road and then the seawatch hide yielded a wide range of seabirds with a steady flow of Gannets, Sandwich Terns and the usual roving Arctic Skua. On the move west during the course of the watch were 300 Common Scoter, 150 Brent, 30 Wigeon, 3 Mallard, 5 Red-throated Diver, 10 auks, 3 Little Gull, 3 Med Gull, and singles of Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and Kittiwake, plus coasting, 20 Redwings, 10 Swallows, 5 House Martins, 50 Chaffinches and inbound Sparrowhawk and 3 Skylarks. At The Patch, 5 Little Gulls and a juvenile Arctic Tern were the highlights, but nothing much noted on the land due to the poor weather. Whilst drying out at the Obs news came through of potential Dunge tick at ARC...
ARC - Twenty minutes later we were watching a stunning Jack Snipe (208) from Hanson hide, bobbing like a good `un, in a clearing in the reedbed and posing beautifully for piccies. What a little cracker, one of the best birds of the year so far, new for the Dunge list and the first seen since on my old local patch at Dunstable sewage works about ten years ago, a top bird.

                                Jack Snipe, ARC - what a poser!

                                Little Owl, Lydd

Scotney - From the lay-bye up to 1,000 Golden Plovers on the fields, plus 105 Barnacles and 8 Emperor types, Lapwings, Wigeons and a Ruff.
Galloways - With the rain slackening Robins began to appear everywhere around the range road along with Dunnocks, 5 Stonechats, Kestrels, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti`s Warbler and a pair of Ravens. Eventually we found a Little Owl in the area and from Springfield Bridge Marsh Harriers, Reed Buntings, 2 Shelducks and 100 Goldfinches.
Dungeness - We returned to the lighthouse garden, as the rain had stopped, to look for the reported Yellow-browed Warbler, but without success (weekend string?). Another quick look at the sea returned a few more Gannets, Sandwich Terns, scoters and an Arctic Skua.
Lade -  Ended the day checking the bay from the boardwalk where we nailed five species of shorebirds including Barwits and Grey Plover.
A cracking days birding around the Peninsula, despite the rain, and loads of good birds for the guests to enjoy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Two-headed Gull!

Dungeness RSPB - 1400hrs - Mild, cloudy, se 3 - With Mat and Cathryn down for a weekends birding we kicked off at Hanson hide where the Glossy Ibis showed well on the shingle ridges amongst several hundred Golden Plovers, Lapwings, 6 Snipe, 5 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, Blackwit and a variety of dabbling ducks plus all the common species of gulls. From the willow trail a mixed tit flock included Long-tailed Tit and Chiffchaff.

                                          Glossy Ibis and a Two-headed Gull! ARC

Over the road the Tree Sparrows were on and around the feeders with at least 18 birds present, while from the access road Stonechat, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier. There was plenty to see on Burrowes with up to 6 Great White Egrets following the Cormorants around along with ten each of Little Egrets and Grey Heron. Also noted around the pit 2 Goldeneye, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 13 Snipe, Greenshank, Little Stint, Red-crested Pochard and a Wheatear by Firth hide. A putative drake Ring-necked Duck type asleep in front of Scott hide eventually morphed into a Tufted Duck...
However, a good start with 65 species noted.

                                Greenshank, Burrowes

                                Wheatear, Burrowes

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Hen Harrier

Lade - mild, sunny, sw 3 - Decided to run the moth trap last night, which despite the mild temperatures attracted only two moths - it looks as though the end of the season is drawing nigh.
Goldfinches were much in evidence this morning with small charms twittering away on the power lines and roof tops hereabouts plus more passing overhead. From the aerial mound a trickle of Skylarks, Chaffinches, Mipits and singles of Siskin and Swallow over and a Stonechat on the gorse beside the main track. Bird of the morning however went to a ringtail Hen Harrier that came in low off the sea and then got hammered by the local Herring Gulls (if it wasn't for the din they made I probably wouldn`t have seen the harrier) as it flew over the coast road before hurriedly disappearing towards the airport. Half an hour later it was seen flying towards the bird reserve.
In New Romney this morning a Grey Wagtail flew over the church while a Clouded Yellow was in the gardens of the old school house.
Burrowes - 1400hrs - The usual 6 Great White Egrets and similar numbers of Little Egrets and Grey Herons noted around the pit, plus Blackwits, Snipe, Dunlin and Ruff in front of Firth and 2 Black-necked Grebes on the water. From the access road 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Kestrels and a Merlin.
ARC - The Glossy Ibis showed well from Hanson hide along with all the usual dabblers, Lapwings and a few Snipe.

                                Glossy Ibis, ARC

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Lighthouse Yellow-browed

Lade - 0900hrs - mild, cloudy, se 3 - A thorough working of the local patch yielded little in return apart from 10 Swallows, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Ring Ouzel that flew in high off the sea and landed in the gorse by the main track. It then called a couple of times before rocketing over south lake, heading for the scrubby shingle ridges behind the `mirrors`, as they all seem to do.
Burrowes - 1500hrs - With the rain band clearing we checked out Burrowes from the VC where at least 7 Great White Egrets were showing. A Goldeneye flew in (my first of the autumn) and we also noted 2 Black-necked Grebes, Little Gull, Curlew Sandpiper, 5 Dunlin, 2 Marsh Harriers, Swallow and Rock Pipit.
Dungeness - In bright sunshine a Yellow-browed Warbler performed well in the Sycamore tree and later lower down in the lighthouse garden; trying to get a shot of it with a bridge camera however was another matter. A brief look at the sea yielded a steady passage of Black-headed Gulls west, plus several Gannets and a Little Gull.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Yellow-browed Warbler & Al Stewart

Dungeness - 0845hrs - mild, dry, sunny, nw 2 - Just as we were starting a round of the local patch news came through of a Yellow-browed Warbler (207) netted in the trapping area. Ten minutes later we were watching it in the hand at the Obs before it was released in the front garden, after which it promptly disappeared into the moat. A wander around the trapping area produced 3 Ring Ouzels at the northern end along with single figures of Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, Redwing, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Overhead a few Mipits, Skylarks, Goldfinches, 2 Siskins and 2 Swallows.

                                Yellow-browed Warbler, DBO

Royal Albert Hall - Al Stewart is one of our all time fav folk-rockers, and when we heard months ago that he was performing his seminal 1976 Year of the Cat  album at this famous old venue it was just too good to resist. The first part of the show was an acoustic set comprising a selection of numbers from his vast back catalogue during which he was joined on stage by various guitar luminaries including his old mate and co-writer Peter White. After the break (probably for a dose of Sanatogen, as they`re all well past 60!) he came out with a full band and worked through the entire album from the hauntingly beautiful Lord Grenville to an eight minute version of Year of the Cat, complete with a stunning alto-sax solo from Phil Kenzie who played on the original recording.
A fantastic show and one to saviour along with 3,000 other folkies - keep on rocking Al. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

First Brambling

Lade - 0800hrs - cool, cloudy, light airs - A dank morning but at least the rain relented and the wind had dropped away to nothing. There was little viz mig from the aerial ramp apart from a trickle of Goldfinches, Mipits and Skylarks. A few Song Thrushes, Chiffchaffs and plenty of Robins remained in the willow scrub, while all the expected wildfowl were on south lake. Walking through the buddleias beside north lake a Ring Ouzel rocketed out clacking loudly before disappearing over towards the airport.
Checked the bay from the Varne where nine out of ten species of shorebirds were present and correct (couldn`t find Redshank) with 35 Ringed Plovers a notable count. Best bird here though was a Grey Wagtail by the outfall pipe.
Dunes Road - A scout around looking for passerines delivered a Brambling (206) over calling, which was a Marsh year tick, plus several Chiffchaffs, Robins, Redwings and 2 Jays.

                                Glossy Ibis, ARC

ARC - 1600hrs - A wander down to Screen hide delivered distant views of the Glossy Ibis feeding on the weedy islands along with 2 Greenshank, 4 Dunlin, 2 Snipe and the usual dabbling ducks. Two Marsh Harriers over kept them on their toes, a distant Little Gull was over the lake and a Common Buzzard flew over the causeway road on the way home.
PS: Elsewhere around the Dungeness NNR today at least 5 Great White Egrets remained on Burrowes and a Goshawk flew over Dengemarsh Gully (MH).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Wet, wet, wet

Lade - 0500hrs - Very wet, w 2 - Loads to do this morning so up early and on the keyboard. In the garden there were a few Blackbirds and Song Thrushes hereabouts and 10 Redwings overhead before the rain really got going, incarcerating both of us indoors until early afternoon.
Still, it did mean I got to listen to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 which this week featured the naturalist Chris Packham. All eight of his discs, from Bowie to Billy Bragg, were a good call and his comment on what to do with the bible and the complete works of Shakespeare was a classic! Fair play to you Chris, and his luxury item? Binoculars, of course.
WeBS - 1400hrs - Despite the persistent rain we trudged (well me, not Barney) across the shingle and counted the ducks, of which there was little of note. However, a flock of 10 House Martins and Swallows were hawking insects over the ponds, while several Chiffchaffs, Robins and Song Thrushes called from cover.
RSPB - With the harrier count cancelled due to the weather conditions we joined Marshman for a quick look around the bird reserve. From the VC 4 Great White Egrets in front of Firth along with double figures of Grey Herons and Little Egrets, but we missed the Glossy Ibis which had moved to ARC. Also Ruff, Blackwit and several Marsh Harriers. Over the road we failed to locate the ibis, although did see at least 10 Chiffchaffs, Robins and Long-tailed Tits in the willow scrub, 2 Ravens and a Swallow over, 4 Greenshanks, 2 Snipe, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Little Gull, plus all the usual wildfowl.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Thrush Rush - Ring Ouzels

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, e 2 - Following lashings of overnight rain dawn broke mercifully dry with a fantastic sunrise over the sea. Only had an hour on the local patch before driving up to London on grandparent duties but it was obvious a large fall of thrushes had dropped in last night. Song Thrushes were still coming in off the sea, calling overhead, and from back gardens where we normally don't get `em. Robins too were apparent with scores calling from cover along with Blackbirds and smaller numbers of Redwings. Having missed the ones on the bird reserve it was good to connect with 2 cracking Ring Ouzels along the track by south pit and another 3 by the holiday camp. Cutting back along the beach more thrushes were coming in off the bay, one or two of which were Rouzels on call.
Astonishingly, on the sands there was a flock of 300 Brent Geese! amongst the usual waders, plus loads more crossing the bay offshore heading west.
Finsbury Park, London - Late morning in the park was interesting as Song Thrushes were passing high overhead pushing inland and there was a noticeable influx of Jays with at least 10 noted.
ps: It sounded as though there was an unprecedented fall of Ring Ouzels this morning along the south coast from Folkestone to Hastings with `hundreds` around Dungeness. Goodness knows how many more went undetected along the Wealden hills just inland...

Friday, 11 October 2013

First winter thrushes

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, showery, ne 4 - In line with the wind direction and cooler temperatures it was no surprise to hear the autumns first Redwings flying over the cottage this morning. Also on the move were a number of Goldfinches and Linnets.
Dungeness - An hour from the seawatch hide produced little of note apart from 20 each of Sandwich Terns and Gannets, plus 5 Common and 3 Black Terns, 6 Little and 3 Med Gulls, Wigeon, Teal and 85 Brents. Several parties of Goldfinches noted coasting east and a single Wheatear by Jarman`s.

                                         Great White Egrets, Burrowes

Burrowes - Checked the pit for yesterdays ibis of which there was no sign. At the north end there was at least 7 Great White and 9 Little Egrets following the Cormorant flock around. Elsewhere, 10 Dunlins, 3 Snipe and a Barwit plus all the usual wildfowl.
From the access road 3 Marsh Harriers and 2 Kestrels. Nothing much of note on ARC apart from a tit flock in the car park that included Chiffs and Lottis, and then the rain hit...
Lade - With a break in the rain a foray over the pits was most productive with decent numbers of thrushes on the move and grounded, principally Redwings (100) but also 20 Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and 5 Fieldfares.
PS: Apparently, the Glossy Ibis was relocated on Burrowes this afternoon where it spent a couple of hours in front of Firth hide. Also grounded on the bird reserve were small numbers of Avocets, Spotted Redshanks, plus a noticeable increase in thrush numbers, including 8 Ring Ouzels from the access road (CP). On the Dungeness Estate 3 Bramblings were noted on a garden bird feeder (DB).

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Glossy Ibis & Black Kite

Lade - cool, sunny, nw 6 - What a difference a day makes with a cold front from the north sending temperatures into single figures and a blasting north-westerly that picked up to near gale force by late afternoon with showers. Consequently birding was hard going over the pits as we worked our way round to the causeway seeing very little apart from the usual wildfowl in the sheltered middle section.
I decided to seek shelter in the wooded area at the bottom of Dunes Road where we picked up a Grey Wagtail, Swallow and 2 House Martins overhead, plus Jay, Greenfinch, Chiffchaffs, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Blue and Great Tits in the scrub, while a Comma and several Red Admirals were noted on ivy flowers.
Littlestone - Checked the foreshore at several locations to nail the remaining shorebirds: Turnstone 40, Ringed Plover 5 and a single Redshank, plus improved views of Barwit, Sanderling, Dunlin and Curlew.
Burrowes - Back to the bird reserve where the Tree Sparrows obliged at Boulderwall. From Burrowes a Glossy Ibis (205) had just been reported and we eventually had protracted flight views from Dennis`s as it flew around the north end of the pit before eventually settling down near 4 Great White Egrets, 6 Littles and 5 Grey Herons. Other waders noted from the VC included Little Stint, 3 Snipe, 2 Barwits and a Grey Plover.
In summary we finished off with 101 species over the three days with the highlights for Dave and June being the raptors, waders and two rarities - Dotteral and Glossy Ibis.
Lade  - As I was saying farewell to our guests SB phoned through a Black Kite (206) that flew over Boulderwall heading towards the airport. I smartly hot-footed down Taylor Road and across the shingle to the main track from where I had distant views of the kite as it emerged from the back of the `mirrors`. It kept low in the scudding wind and headed back towards Lydd where it was last seen again by SB flying towards the ranges. Needless to say both the ibis and kite were new for the Marsh year list. What a funny old game birding is, who would have predicted two such birds on a day with such adverse weather.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Dungeness - 0900hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs, cooler later - The garden moth trap had a Sallow, which was new for the year. A Mistle Thrush over the garden was unusual, plus a trickle of Mipits and Goldfinches.

                                Small Copper, DBO

At Dungeness we wandered down to the Obs where a few more Mipits and Goldfinches passed over and several Chiffchaffs were in the bushes, plus a Wheatear and Kestrel on the wires, while a pair of Ravens flew over from the power station. From the seawatch hide 4 Arctic Skuas and 20 Sandwich Terns was about it in half an hour. A good session at the Patch with all the usual gulls plus 20 Sandwich and 5 Common Terns, singles of Black and Arctic Terns, 3 Little Gulls, Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls. Offshore 3 Porpoises, a Grey Seal and a couple of distant Gannets. On the walk back 30 Linnets, 20 Goldfinches, Black Redstart and Wheatear.
Lade Bay - From the boardwalk at Lade we waited for the waders to come to us on an incoming tide. Over 600 Oystercatchers and 500 Curlews made for an impressive spectacle as they flew in front of us calling and heading over to their roost sites on the NNR. Also noted 20 Barwits, 20 Sandwich Terns, 50 Dunlins, 50 Sanderlings and 3 Grey Plovers.
Lydd - A scout around the various Little Owl hotspots revealed birds at three locations, while Caldecote Lane scored well with Hobby, Sparrowhawk and Merlin!

                                Little Owls, Lydd

Scotney - Checked a large Golden Plover flock opposite the lay-bye that delivered a cracking adult Dotteral (204)  although it proved difficult to see well due to the distance and kept disappearing in  folds of land and behind plovers and ducks. Every so often the nervy flock flew around but would eventually settle back down again. The white supercilium was most noticeable, even when hunkered down, followed by a white breast band and fading black and rufous belly.
Elsewhere on the grass leys were 100 Barnacle Geese, 6 Emperor types, 13 Egyptian Geese, 2 Ruddy Shelduck, Ruff and Dunlin, plus Marsh Harrier over.
We finished the day with a circuit of the Ranges and down to Springfield Bridge seeing another Little Owl and adding Stock Dove and Yellow Wagtail to the trip list.

                                Dotteral, adult, Scotney Pits

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cormorants & Fish

Lade - 0700hrs - mild and misty, brighter later - Another mild morning but looking at the forecast it looks set for a change with strong north-westerlies by tomorrow night making the place to be on Thursday morning - Cap Griz-nez.
However, not much happening on the local patch apart from 100 hirundines feeding on insects and settling on overhead lines. Viz mig comprised a few Mipits, more hirundines and single figures of Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Siskin, Skylark and 2 Grey Wagtails. One or two Chiffchaffs around the willow swamp, plus singing Cetti`s Warbler and a Green Sandpiper was about it apart from the regular wildfowl on south lake.
In the moth trap another Streak and Large Wainscot.
Birdwatching Break - Dave and June down for a three day stay at Plovers. We started proceedings with a butterfly twitch at the Obs where we dipped a Long-tailed Blue, seen and photographed by DW in the moat earlier. By the concrete road a small flock of gulls contained an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Driving across the desert towards ARC at least 6 Kestrels noted.

                                Cormorants squabbling over a huge Pike Burrowes

                                              Great White Egret, Burrowes

RSPB ARC - From the causeway road we had distant views of a Peregrine terrorising the waders. By the time we got round to Hanson hide things had settled down a bit. Amongst the hundreds of Goldies and Lapwings present were 5 Snipe, 4 Grey Plover, 5 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank and a Knot, plus Water Rail, Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler vocalising around the hide. Several Marsh Harriers were active across the site plus 3 Sparrowhawks, one of which settled on an island scattering the waders. A single Garganey was noted amongst the Wigeons, Teal and Shovelers.
Burrowes - Over 300 Cormorants on the pit were working the fish shoals again causing great excitement amongst the 6 Great White and 10 Little Egrets and 10 Grey Herons hunting the margins. At one stage they`d corralled a huge Pike that was so big that none of them could swallow it! Waders included 4 Dunlin, 3 Blackwits, 2 Ruff and a Grey Plover from Firth hide, while 20 Pintail, 3 Black-necked Grebes and 3 Dabchicks noted from Makepeace. More Marsh Harrier were hunting over the Oppen Pits and from the access road the Black-back Gull flock included a couple of hundred Goldies and Lapwings.
A decent start with 65 species noted.

Monday, 7 October 2013


Lade - 0700hrs - mild, misty, light airs - A murky start to the day with the sun eventually burning off the mist by midday. Large Wainscot was new for the year in the garden trap but otherwise it was the same old autumn moths.
                                         Large Wainscot, Lade

Chiffchaffs were just about everywhere this morning with hundreds present across the Peninsula. Over the pits there was little movement due to the fog with just a few grounded Mipits and a Wheatear of note on the storm beaches. A Green Sandpiper remained on the islands in the willow-swamp and several Sparrowhawks were present. A late afternoon Whimbrel flew over the cottage calling.
Dungeness - A Lesser Whitethroat in the moat and a Blackcap in the lighthouse garden were the only warblers seen apart from Chiffs.
ARC - Not many waders on the shingle ridges apart from a few Snipe, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Lapwings and a Greenshank. Water Rail and Black-necked Grebe were in front of Hanson.

                                3 Great White Egrets, Burrows

                                            Grey Plover, Burrowes

Burrowes - Plenty of birds here with 6 Great White and 10 Little Egrets, 10 Grey Herons plundering the fish shoals along with 200 Cormorants and 100 Black-headed Gulls. In front of Firth, 2 Blackwits, 3 Ruff, 3 Snipe, Ringed and Grey Plovers and Little Gull. From Makepeace, 3 Black-necked Grebes, 8 Egyptian Geese, 2 Dunlins and all the usual wildfowl. From Dennis`s 100 Golden Plovers. There was no sign of yesterdays Glossy Ibis.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Pine Carpet

Lade - mild, cloudy, nw 2 - Another mild night attracted the first Pine Carpet and Streak of the year. The carpet is scarce down here and only the 3rd for the site. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth was on the garden lavender this afternoon.
Pretty quiet around the local patch migrant-wise with a trickle of hirundines and Mipits south, Chiffchaff and Blackcap in the willow swamp and a late Tree Pipit over.

                                Pine Carpet, Lade

Friday, 4 October 2013

Balearic Shearwaters

Lade - mild, showery, sw 5, brighter later - A late start due to mopping up from last night deluge which flooded the porches front and back at the cottage; according to the Weather Man at the Kerton Road Café we had 37mm of rain last night - and the thunder and lightening show was pretty impressive too.
Despite the rain it remained mild at 17C overnight encouraging a number of moths to the light trap, including Common Marbled Carpet, the first of the year.
Dungeness  - 1000hrs - An hour at the seawatch hide in blustery conditions was difficult due to the deep troughs and driving rain but we still managed a single Balearic Shearwater, Little Gull, 4 Arctic Skuas and a steady flow of Gannets and Sandwich Terns down-Channel. Despite the poor weather small groups of hirundines headed out across the Channel on the first of many natural barriers that will confront them on their long haul to sub-Saharan Africa. On the land at least 50 grounded Mipits and a Wheatear by the old lighthouse.
1415hrs - A 90 minute seawatch from the boats with the Joker et al was memorable for the lively banter as well as 4 Balearic Shearwaters, plus a steady flow of Gannets, Sandwich Terns, 2 Med Gulls and singles of Arctic Skua, Black Tern and Little Gull. Pulses of Swallows continued to push out across the Channel.
On the bird reserve all the usual waders present including a Pectoral Sandpiper (PB).

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Short-eared Owl

Lade - 0730hrs - mild, sunny, se 2, rainy later - The perfect morning for a slog across the shingle to Mockmill Sewer to look for Rouzels. En-route plenty of Swallows, House Martins and Mipits pressing southwards with more Mipits grounded on the shingle ridges. However the sewer was quiet with only a few Reed Buntings, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a Stonechat of note, but there was no sign of any thrushes whatsoever. As we reached a patch of juncus and tussock grass (which always looks good for a Corncrake) in went Barney and out popped a surprised looking Short-eared Owl ! It wasn't on the wing for long before flopping back down in the rough ground behind the `mirrors` and was the first of the autumn here.
On south lake over 600 Grey Lags flew in to join a similar number of Coots and hundreds more common wildfowl. On the walk back home a party of 5 Siskins over were also new for the season.


                                Lade `Mirrors`

Dungeness - 1430hrs - A seawatch from the concrete road was once again disappointing by Dunge standards with only a few Gannets, Sandwich Terns, Brents and scoters on the move. One or two pulses of Swallows went out between the showers and a Merlin fizzed along the beach.
RSPB - A scout around the pines and Tower pits for this mornings Rouzels drew a blank. All we could muster up were a few Chiffs, Mipits and Robins, 50 Stock Doves, 2 Blackcaps, Green Woodpecker and a Marsh Harrier. On ARC, Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Stint and Greenshank.
Checked the scrub along the access road but only Stonechats and Mipits here.
From the VC 2 close Little Stints, Ruff, Blackwit, Little Gull and a Merlin over.
The 6 GWEgrets were on the sightings board for Burrowes along with 5 Black-necked Grebes.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Feeding Frenzy

Dungeness  - 1000hrs - mild, wet, cloudy, se 3 - The early morning had an end-of-the-world feel to it with rain and low cloud producing an eerie, reddish half light until around 0900hrs. Anyhow decided on a change of tack prompted by the fabled south-easterly airflow which is supposed to produce loads of seabirds, but rarely does, as today... An hour from the boats was very pedestrian with just a few distant Gannets, Sandwich Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas, a Little Gull and several small groups of Brents and scoters to alleviate the tedium. Viz mig was provided by a steady passage of hirundines crossing the Channel.

                                   Four-spotted Footman, KRC

                                         Large Ranunculus, KRC

Called in at the Kerton Road Café to see a migrant Four-spotted Footman and a Large Ranunculus the larger version of the similar Feathered Ranunculus. Mrs Moth reckons you can tell the two apart by the Large, "looking as though it`s been cut out of felt", and I think she`s onto something there.
RSPB - 1500hrs - Called in at Burrowes this afternoon but the Spoonbill had gone awol (probably back to Rye). However, from Makepeace hide there was the unusual spectacle of 150 Cormorants working as a team `rounding up` a shoal of small fish (Roach/Rudd types). As they approached the shore the fish were met by a `welcoming` party of 6 Great White Egrets, 8 Little Egrets and 5 Grey Herons! For a couple of minutes it was mayhem with the gulls joining in as the fish leaped out of the water, after which the whole mass of birds flew over to the islands as though nothing had happened. I`ve seen Cormorants doing this on the sea but can`t recall this behaviour on a freshwater lake.
Also on Burrowes 3 Black-necked Grebes, 12 Egyptian Geese, Ruff, Dunlin and Greenshank.

                                Feeding party of Cormorants & Egrets, Burrowes

Over the road on ARC Pectoral Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, Little Stint, plus a Red-crested Pochard on Tower pits.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Grounded Migrants

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, e 3 - Aha, October, the month of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and rarities - we hope. But not this morning; however there was a fair bit about commencing with hundreds of Swallows and a good few House Martins streaming south towards Dungeness. On the storm beaches at least 200 grounded Mipits and 100 Linnets with plenty more of both species overhead, plus a party of 15 alba wagtails, 2 Grey and one Yellow Wagtail. Around the willows a few Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, 5 Song Thrushes, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and the autumns first Jay.
South lake was packed out with feral geese, Coots, common wildfowl and 12 Shelducks.
ARC - A late morning scan from Hanson yielded very little apart from 5 Greenshank, 3 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, several hundred Wigeon, 4 Brents and a Jay over.
Lade - 1330hrs - Checked the foreshore from the Varne where all 10 species of waders noted, although Grey Plover and Knot took a bit of finding, plus 100 Brents and 15 Shelducks out on the mud. Another look at the pits found more hirundines on the move along with a Hobby, a Green Sandpiper on the islands and 2 Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk behind the `mirrors`.
ps: News from the bird reserve today concerned Great White Egret and Pectoral Sandpiper, plus a Spoonbill on Burrowes.