Sunday, 31 August 2014

Marvellous Mockmill

Lade - 0600-0900hrs - mild, cloudy, w 2 - A superb late summer morning with light airs and ideal conditions for walking Mockmill Sewer, a slither of marsh and scrub running south from the lakes into the Desert. As we crossed the storm beaches with Sand Martins fizzing by it was immediately apparent it was going to be a good session - you could just smell the birds! Crossing the main track and striking out across the Desert the first of many loose flocks of Yellow Wagtails were encountered; in total there must`ve been at least 150 grounded with another 50 moving over in the hour I searched through `em, most of which were juvs but also some spanking adult males too. Some of the Sand Martins pitched up on the shingle and atop scrub amongst hundreds of Starlings and House Sparrows feeding on emerging insects. Other grounded migrants on the shingle ridges included five Stonechat, three Wheatear and Stonechat and several Mipits.
As we approached Mockmill a Tripit went over calling, the first of the autumn. In the sewer bottom, with not a breath of wind, passerines were everywhere and over the next two hours I estimated there to be at least 50 Common Whitethroat, 20 Sedge Warbler, 10 each of Reed and Willow Warblers, eight Lesser Whitethroat, five each of Blackcap and Garden Warbler and two Cetti`s - and that was just the warblers! Also present were 10 each of Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Stonechat and Whinchat, five Wheatear, Robin, Dunnock, Wren and Blackbird.
Scanning across the airport fields a cracking ringtail Hen Harrier headed towards Lydd while three Marsh Harriers, two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel were also noted.
I never made it round the lakes and willow swamp so goodness knows what else was about.
On the walk back to Plovers a call from PB alerted me to the spectacle of hundreds of House Martins perched on the top rim of the water tower. This place never ceases to amaze me.
The moth trap was again low in species with only Angle Shades and Canary-shouldered Thorn of any note. Yellow Wagtails continued overhead throughout the morning while Willow Warblers and Whitethroats drifted through the garden fir trees.

                                        Angle Shades, Lade

                                "This beats seawatching any day"

                                Sedge Warbler, Mockmill

Dungeness - An early afternoon visit with family and a circular walk down to the fishing boats noted a steady movement of terns feeding offshore and an Arctic Skua. Two Wheatears and five Yellow Wagtails were on the shingle by the lighthouse and five Whinchats posed on scrub behind the Sanctuary. Whilst taking tea in the café two Common Buzzards drifted over the peninsula.

                                Whinchat, Sanctuary

Lade - A late afternoon Honey Buzzard came in off the bay and headed inland causing the local gulls to go into meltdown. On a falling tide, in warm sunshine and superb light, the beach was alive with shorebirds and gulls. Pick of the waders were 32 Redshanks and singles of Grey Plover and Curlew Sandpiper, plus two Arctic Terns amongst 50 Commons and 100 Sandwich Terns loafing on the mudflats. A trickle of hirundines pushed on south and 20 grounded Yellow Wagtails fed around the rotting sea kale.
Another terrific days birding on the local patch, which as usual I had to myself. I think this has to be one my best days for sheer numbers of warblers and chats.
NB: There was plenty more of a similar ilk to be had across the NNR today judging from Twitter, including an influx of Turtle Doves, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Great White Egret, several Honey Buzzards, Montagu`s Harrier, a Black Kite (?), plus the return of an old favourite, a Glossy Ibis on the bird reserve.
Happy days.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A day of drift migrants and mushrooms...

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, sw 3 - Another poor night around the garden moth trap with only 12 species recorded, mostly Flounced Rustics. A Whinchat was the best bird over the pits along with hundreds of hirundines and a scattering of Whitethroats and Willow Warblers.
ARC - From Screen hide the Red-necked Phalarope was busily feeding on the flooded islands amongst the Lapwings and dabbling ducks, including at least five Garganey. Other waders around the site were single figures of Redshank, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Snipe, Ruff, Dunlin and Little Stint. Masses of hirundines swarmed over the water and a Red-crested Pochard was noted amongst the distant diving ducks. From the pines a flock of 20 Yellow Wagtails were the only migrants of note feeding along the railway line.
There didn`t appear to be much else about passerine wise until the wind suddenly dropped and a clump of brambles and an elder near the Screen hide was jumping with migrants including Common Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, three Lesser Whitethroats, two Common Whitethroats, Reed and Willow Warblers.

                                Spotted Flycatcher

We then went mushrooming at a Top Secret location...

Lade - Whilst barbequing in the garden early afternoon a buzzard sp went over which was probably a Honey, but too distant to be sure, plus a house-high Hobby that sent the local Starlings into a frenzy.
Dengemarsh Gully - A late afternoon visit to the gully delivered brief views of the Wryneck and Melodious Warbler. Down towards the sea eight Whimbrel briefly dropped in, a Raven went along the foreshore and a Wheatear was on the lookout tower.


PS: Also reported across the peninsula today were an Osprey, several Honey Buzzards and a probable Rough-legged Buzzard (per DB & SB).

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Melodious Warbler

Lade - mild, wet, sw 3 - A disappointing catch in the garden MV considering how many moths were around the light last night. Whilst emptying the trap a Greenshank went over calling.
Nothing much of note over the pits apart from five Swifts in with the hirundines over south lake. A thousand or so Greylags flighting in from nearby farmland provided a fair spectacle. The recent rains have completely flooded the margins and emerging islands in the reed swamp to such a level that I doubt there`ll be any wader habitat here this autumn.

                                      Knot Grass, Lade

                                         Square-spot Rustic, Lade

Dengemarsh Gully - Following news of the Melodious Warbler staying over from yesterday there was only one place to head for this morning. I was expecting a typical skulking-warbler-type stake out, but no, not this little beauty as it performed like a good `un in the bushes by the wind turbine just below an admiring throng of local and visiting birders; check out  for some cracking pics.
A couple of Redstarts were also showing well, plus Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. A Wryneck was far more recalcitrant and it took a couple of visits to get brief views of this notorious skulker amongst the gorse scrub.

                                       Redstart, Dengemarsh Gully

Dungeness - 1530hrs - An hour at the boats this afternoon delivered a steady flow of Sandwich and Common Terns down-Channel, plus two Little Terns and two Whimbrels. Further out a few Gannets were on the move and an Arctic Skua was duffing up a tern.
NB: The Red-necked Phalarope was still present on ARC today and viewable from either Screen or Hanson hides

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Red-necked Phalarope

Lade - mild, cloudy, ne 4 - 0700hrs - The fabled easterly airflow overnight with low cloud certainly did the trick this morning with several classic drift migrants on the local patch. Best of all was two Whinchats in Mockmill and a Spotted Flycatcher in the willow swamp, plus at least three Lesser Whitethroats (they've got to be the smartest of warblers...) and a scattering of Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers and Whitethroats. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was new and a few Yellow Wagtails moved overhead.
ARC - Wasn't home long before a call came through from PB concerning a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope from Hanson hide, a rare bird in these parts. When I arrived it was frantically `spinning` and wading on the near islands amongst the wildfowl and Lapwings and occasionally taking short flights. As always with phalaropes, smart and highly watchable. I managed a few dreadful records shots, which quite frankly I`m embarrassed to post, but I`m sure there`ll be plenty of much better ones from PB et al. The recent deluge had raised the water levels, covering most of the islands.

                                Red-necked Phalarope, ARC

ARC - Having been in Hythe most of the day I couldn`t resist late seconds on the phalarope which was showing distantly from Screen hide this evening amongst a large of flock of Lapwings. A Little Stint was also present, alongside Dunlin, plus a Spotted Redshank, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank overhead, Garganey and Black-necked Grebe. A tip off from a visiting birding concerning a Pied Flycatcher near the pines was an unexpected bonus and new for the year.

NB: Other drift migrants reported around the peninsula today included, Pied Flycatcher and Melodious Warbler in Dengemarsh Gully, plus a Wryneck and more Whinchats at Galloways.
With temperatures in the high teens forecast for tonight it could be a good for moths, providing its not too wet.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Rained off

ARC - 1045hrs - cloudy, mild, rain, s 3 - A very wet day with heavy rain throughout. We ventured down to Screen and checked from Hanson where the same waders and wildfowl as the past few days were present: eight Blackwits, seven Dunlin, three Little Ringed Plovers, two Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Knot, plus four Garganey and a Black-necked Grebe. The rain had driven down hundreds of hirundines over the lake, mainly Sand Martins.
Burrowes  - Whilst drying out in the VC more hirundines noted over the water, two Common Sandpipers on islands and the Great White Egret in front of Makepiece hide.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Raptors and herons

Dengemarsh - 1000-1300hrs - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - After single figure overnight temperatures the morning soon warmed up nicely with thermals rising off the shingle making for a bit of raptor movement. Mrs PT joined us for what is becoming a regular Sunday morning circuit of Dengemarsh, which got off to a slow start with just a few Robins, tits, Willow Warblers and Whitethroats around the ARC car park, while the Boulderwall scrub was a bird-free zone. The fields towards Lydd yielded two Common Buzzards, three Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel, plus the first of at least five Sparrowhawks soaring over the peninsula. The bean fields on the back track held a few more warblers, several Reed Buntings, Yellow Wagtails and Tree Sparrows. More Yellow Wagtails were feeding amongst the suckling herd at Springfield Bridge from where we had protracted flight views of a Bittern that eventually went down in front of Christmas Dell hide. Around the lake and on the hayfields were ten Little Egrets, five Grey Herons and a Great White Egret. The hayfields remained largely dry attracting nothing much of note apart from two Wheatears and a Snipe, but good views of Bearded Tits were had in adjacent reedbeds. After nattering with the duty warden we headed for the viewing ramp where a Hobby performed and more Buzzards and Sparrowhawks passed over; whilst there a tweet came through telling of a Honey Buzzard heading towards Lade - typical! But, no complaints, it had been a fair session with the raptor and heron tribes highlighting.

                                Great White Egret, Dengemarsh

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A clutch of waders, and a Scoter in the garden

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, sunny, nw 2 - A stunning start to the day with a cool northerly airflow and bright blue skies, perfect for a circuit of the local patch. We timed it so that the tide was on the way in forcing the shorebirds close to Greatstone beach, and being as it was before the bucket-and-spade brigade were at large they remained largely undisturbed. Best of all were two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers, my first of the season, in a flock of 35 Sanderlings, and a tight flock of nine small, darkish Ringed Plovers that were probably of the Tundra race. Also, 210 Oystercatchers, 142 Curlews, 55 Dunlins, 14 Barwits, 12 Ringed Plovers, and four Turnstones, plus the usual gulls and 25 Sandwich Terns. The pits remained full of waterfowl as yesterday, while a scattering of Willow Warblers, Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers were feeding around the ponds. At least 10 Yellow Wagtails passed overhead, plus a group of five grounded on the beach.

                                Black-tailed Godwit, Burrowes

                                Lapwing, Burrowes

ARC - Spotted Redshanks were up to two on the distant islands from Hanson hide, from where also 75 Lapwings, 48 Golden Plovers, 10 Dunlin, nine Blackwits, six Redshank, four Snipe and a Knot. Elsewhere around the lake Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Garganey and four Wigeon.
Burrowes - Pretty thin on waders here with just a few Dunlin, Common Sands, Lapwing and a Blackwit in front of Firth.

    Common Scoter, Lade

Lade -  Its not every day a knock on the door delivers a Common Scoter onto your garden list! Local birder Christine Keeling was clutching the drake sea duck, which her son had found floundering around on the beach and in obvious danger from predators, including dogs. As it appeared to be uninjured I suggested releasing it on the sea at Dungeness, which they did, and off it swam back out into the Channel, apparently none the worst for its ordeal.
An evening visit to the gravel pits was notable for a flock of 20 Yellow Wagtails feeding along the fence line.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Passerine flock

Lade - 1030hrs - cool, cloudy, w 3 - A late start due to a change over of guests. However, once out and about the local patch was heaving with birds, best of which was a large passerine flock working the willow scrub by the ponds. This part of the site is completely sheltered from the wind and as a result is often swarming with small flying insects, dragon and damselflies and common butterflies. I counted the flock as they `jumped` a gap: at least 150 birds of which 50 were probably Willow Warblers, 30 Long-tailed Tits, 10 Whitethroats, two Blackcaps, a Lesser Whitethroat with the remainder a motley collection of Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. With more Willow Warblers elsewhere there could easily have been up to 100 on site. The reed beds and low cover around the willow swamp also held plenty of Sedge and Reed Warblers, plus two Cetti`s.
South lake was yet again smothered in feral geese and swans, common ducks, Coots and grebes with Tufted Duck and Dabchick showing recently hatched young. Five each of Little Egrets and Grey Herons stalked the margins along with four Common Sandpipers and two Redshanks. Overhead all three species of hirundines were present, mainly Sand Martins, and five Swifts moved straight through, as did a couple of Yellow Wagtails. Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker also noted.
Scotney - Parked up at the entrance to the farm and walk along the cycle path checking the margins for waders of which there were only four Common Sandpipers, three Redshanks and two Curlews, plus at least 50 Yellow Wagtails on the fields and a 1,000 Grey Lags and Canada Geese, and a family party of seven Egyptians (geese, that is), probably the ones that bred at Brett`s. Marsh Harrier, Kestrel and Little Egret also noted. 

                                Egyptian Geese, Scotney

Littlestone - 1600hrs - A low tide visit to the beach revealed all the expected gulls, plus 100 Oystercatchers, 50 Curlews, 10 Turnstones, four Sandwich Terns and two Shelducks. The House Martin colony in the old red-brick house on the front appeared to be faring well with chicks still being fed in the nest.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Willow Warblers & waders

Lade - cool, sunny, w 2 - 0630 - A pre-breakie stroll over the pits yielded a scattering of Willow Warblers, maybe 10, plus a few Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers. Two Greenshanks went over calling and Common Sandpipers were up to six around south lake, that now has a mass of rotting weed on the margin near the track. The Water Rail family showed again briefly and a Sparrowhawk nipped over. There were more Willow Warblers through the garden this morning
ARC - 0900hrs & 1530hrs - A decent selection of waders on the islands, the highlights being two Avocets (one festooned with colour rings) and a Spotted Redshank. Also two each of Blackwit, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Redshank, 10 Snipe, six Dunlin, a Ruff and 100 Lapwing. Wildfowl included two Garganey, Wigeon and a Black-necked Grebe. The scrub by Tower Pits held more Willow Warblers and Whitethroats, a Blackcap and a Hobby flew over.
An afternoon visit to Screen hide added over 1,000 Sand Martins, plus the usual Marsh Harriers, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker. 
Back home and several more Willow Warblers in the garden, must`ve been hundreds through the peninsula today.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Spotted Flycatcher

Dungeness - 0900hrs - cool, sunny, w 3 - Following a chilly old night things soon warmed up once the sun rose encouraging various common butterflies onto the wing: Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Copper and two Clouded Yellows in the moat being the highlights. The lighthouse garden and scrub down to the Obs held a few Willow Warblers and a single Black Redstart, but little else besides.
At the Patch c2,000 gulls, mostly Black-headed, Herring and Black-backs, 100 Common Terns, 20 Sandwich Terns, a 2nd summer Med Gull and a juv Yellow-legged Gull. The sea was dead.

                                Black Redstart, Dungeness

ARC - 1600hrs - On the way back from the allotment we called in at ARC where, joy upon joy, at last a Spotted Flycatcher was performing in the car park scrub. Incredibly, apart from one seen in France in June, this was my first of the year locally; a once familiar summer breeder and common passage migrant now elevated to near rarity status. Down towards the pines a few Willow Warblers were noted, plus two Wheatears along the railway line. Didn`t tarry long at Screen due to two of the Swallow chicks being out of the nest and clinging to the hide; one actually fledged whilst we were there, settling on the roof where an adult came in with food.
Waders on the islands were the usual Dunlin, Snipe, Redshank, Blackwit and a Ruff.

                                Swallow juvs, ARC

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Archer`s Dart

Lade - 0600hrs - cool, cloudy, w 3 - Despite being chilly last night at least the wind backed off attracting a few moths to light, including a smart Archer`s Dart, a Gallium Carpet and an influx of 12 White-points. Several Willow Warblers moved through the garden fir trees, while both Greenshank and Yellow Wagtail went over calling heading south.
On the margins of south lake, two Common Sandpipers and a flock of eight Redshanks.

                                       Archer`s Dart, Lade

ARC - A decent selection of wildfowl and waders on show from Hanson hide where more islands are steadily emerging as the water level drops. Wader highlights were up to nine Blackwits, two each of Ruff, Dunlin and Redshank, 10 Golden Plover, 100 Lapwings and singles of Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. Also of note Black-necked Grebe and Garganey, plus hundreds of Sand Martins over the lake.
Cockles Bridge - Joined a small throng of birders at the bridge staring up into the cloud base at a distant speck which, through the `scope, proved to be a narrow-winged ringtail harrier, presumably the Monty`s, that eventually drifted away high to the north.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A trip to Chavford

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, nw 3 - Five Swifts and a trickle of Sand Martins over south lake were the only migrants of note on a nippy old morning, plus several Yellow Wagtails overhead.
Chavford - Once the guests had departed we made our bi-annual trip to Chavford. We don't venture off the Marsh much these days (can`t stand hills), but some stuff just cannot be done on line - you know the sort of thing, if you want a new pair of boots and have elephantine feet (like mine) you`ve just got to try `em on, there`s no getting away from it.
Now, I`ll come clean, I hate shopping with a passion, I cannot think of a bigger waste of birding down-time, plus loads of people wandering around aimlessly freaks me out a little bit. Expeditions such as these have to be meticulously planned, nothing left to chance and no deviating from an agreed route, as it`ll only end up in a row with your loved one.
Our first stop a retail park on the outskirts of town where we drove passed a gigantic flock of Canada Geese at the entrance to a building site. While Mrs PT did the girly stuff in a fabric shop I bloked off to Wickes to buy manly nails, screws and the like. So far so good. Then it was into Chavford town centre where things went steadily downhill, dodging the drunks and wastrels, gobbing and `effing this and `effing that, but I wont go into details, its just too painful. Our last port of call was the outlet centre which was full of kids getting togged up on the cheap for the coming school year. Mrs PT bucked up a bit here as she found a pair of trainers and I got a tasty pasty so it wasn't a complete waste of time, and over all we did hit 8/10 of our targets, so job done really.
On return to paradise we noted eight Buzzards between Kingsnorth and Brenzett, including a `kettle` of four near Hamstreet.
Cockles Bridge - On the way to the allotment (I just had to let off steam) we had good views of the juv Monty`s over the corn fields heading towards the airport. Several Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel also noted.
ARC - From Screen hide five Blackwits and a Redshank, plus a load of Lapwings amongst the usual wildfowl.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Montagu`s Harrier

Lade - cool, cloudy, w 5 - 1100hrs - A late start due to one thing and another. We walked the local patch where the strong wind put the mockers on any migrant passerines apart from a few Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martins. However, a Water Rail with four chicks out in the open feeding amongst rotting water weed was a real treat. More Dabchick broods were on the water in the shelter of the willow swamp and a Marsh Harrier struggled into the wind over the airport fields.

                                Juvenile Montagu`s Harrier, Cockles Bridge

Cockles Bridge - Just as the afternoon was petering out a call came through from PB regarding a juvenile Monty`s type harrier over the corn fields opposite Cockles Bridge. A heavy shower had grounded the bird in a ditch close to the road and by the time I arrived it was still on the deck. However, after a ten minute wait up it came and we were treated to reasonable, but brief, views as it quartered the corn fields. A typical orangey breasted juvenile Montys/Pallid type, but with no obvious neck collar I reckoned it to be a juvenile Montagu`s Harrier, although future analysis of pics by PB and DW could prove otherwise, and of course further protracted views.
PS: It was later confirmed as a Monty`s; for some great pics see

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Wartime planes over Romney Marsh

Lade - cool, sunny, light airs - Single figure temperatures overnight suppressed moth numbers yet again although Mullein Wave and Cypress Pug made a reappearance for the first time in ages.
An early morning foray over the pits before doing breakfasts revealed a pair of Ruddy Shelducks on south lake, which is about normal in August, and a juv Cuckoo was enjoying the sunshine on the fence line by the caravan park. Several Yellow Wagtails went south and a scattering of Willow Warblers were already feeding in the usual sun-traps.

                                 Mullein Wave

Dengemarsh - 1100hrs - Mrs PT joined us for a circuit of Dengemarsh this late morning, where there was little of note apart from a Great White Egret that flew from Gun Club field towards Hooker`s. A few Yellow Wags passed overhead and a Wheatear was noted by the chicken sheds. From Springfield Bridge the last of the Common Tern chicks were being fed on the rafts, six Little Egrets stalked the margins and a Bearded Tit showed briefly. The hayfields were a disappointment with only a dribble of water on No 3 attracting a lone Green Sandpiper. Along the way we also saw Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush and a Weasel.  By the time we returned to the ARC car park the wind had picked up considerably from the west.

                               Hayfield No. 3, Dengemarsh

Lade  - Back home this aft we were treated to a once-in-lifetime spectacle (thanks to a tip off from CP and NB) as two Lancaster bombers (flanked by two Spitfires) flew imperiously over Marsh skies. We picked them up as they flew in from the west over Hythe, after which the four planes flew out over the bay, banked and came in over Littlestone where large crowds were enjoying the RNLI open day. The formation then flew down towards us at Lade boardwalk, where a number of locals and holidaymakers had gathered, before swinging over Lydd airport and back across the bay on towards Dover.
Phew, what a sight, and something I shall never forget. It certainly bought a lump to my throat, and on a glorious summers day admiring these iconic aircraft as they traversed the blue skies of Romney Marsh, it got me thinking how lucky our generation is, and of all the young men that died a horrible death in those flying machines many years ago.

                               Lancasters & Spitfires over Lade

Friday, 15 August 2014

Dodging the downpours

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, nw 3 - A touch autumnal first thing, but it soon warmed up bringing some hefty rain and hail showers throughout the day. A White-point in the garden mv was the first one for a while amongst 15 species. Walked the local patch where bird numbers were similar to yesterday, plus more Sand Martins and a few Yellow Wagtails over.


Dengemarsh - Got a right old soaking here for little reward apart from the usual terns, wildfowl, Marsh Harrier and Cetti`s Warbler.
ARC - With the sun temporarily breaking through a Water Rail, plus fluffy black chicks, showed intermittently from Screen hide. On the water four Garganey amongst the dabblers, plus Snipe, Golden Plover and Redshank amongst the Lapwings. Down towards the pines a scattering of Willow and Reed Warblers, Whitethroats and a Blackcap.
Dungeness  - 1500hrs - Another deadly one hour seawatch from the boats with just a trickle of distant Gannets, gulls and terns over a flat calm sea.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dungeness `Finger Lake`

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, sunny, light airs `til mid-morning then heavy showers and w 5 `til noon - A cracking start to the day with light winds and bright sunshine affording ideal birding conditions. We walked the local patch where a Stonechat on the Desert was the first of the autumn. A goodly number of Willow and Sedge Warblers around the ponds kept the interest going while south lake was plastered with wildfowl; Great Crested and Little Grebes, Coots and Tufted Ducks all showed off recently hatched juvs on the water and a crèche of Shelducks had moved onto north lake. Behind the  `mirrors` a steady passage of Lapwings headed for the bird reserve and both Marsh Harrier and Kestrel were already hunting the rough grassland. Along the main track by south lake we counted over 50 Common Blues on the wing. Looping back along the beach a mixed flock of 20 Ringed Plovers, 10 Dunlin and two Sanderling allowed a close approach.
Back at Plovers several Willow Warblers filtered through the garden fir trees, while the moth trap held a paltry 12 species with Orange Swift and Straw Underwing new for the year.

                                Shelducks, Lade

                                Willow Beauty, Lade

ARC - Around the lake hundreds of Lapwings and single figures of Golden Plover, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and Redshank, plus Garganey and Wigeon amongst the dabblers.
Scotney - The post-breeding flock of feral geese was well over 1,000 on the sheep fields, plus a few Curlews, Lapwings and Redshanks. 
Dungeness - 1415hrs - Joined PB for an hour at the fishing boats this aft during which time all we could muster up was a flock of five Common Scoters and a few distant Commic Terns.
However, every so often an odd long-shore drift type phenomenon occurs down here, usually following rough seas and high tides as witnessed last weekend, when a `finger lake` floods just inland from the main seaward shingle bank. It cried out for a nice phalarope `spinning` around in the still water but we had to be content with a few Turnstones on the margins. Apparently, the salt water lake warms up nicely and makes for good swimming, so tomorrow I must remember to wear me cozzie.

                                Dungeness `Finger Lake`

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wood Warbler

Lade - 0700hrs  - cool, cloudy, sw 2 - There was a noticeable clear out of warblers around the ponds from yesterday with numbers back to more normal levels. At least 100 Sand Martins and 30 Swifts were hawking insects over the shingle ridges and the Black-necked Grebe remained on south lake. The moth trap has not been in operation since returning from holiday due to cool nights and strong winds.
Wood Warbler - Nipped out onto the Marsh to see a Wood Warbler in a private garden that performed admirably, at times down to ten feet. Unfortunately the bridge camera was not having any of it and all I could get was a blurred shot of what was a real show-off. Wood Warblers have gone the way of many passage migrants in these parts, such as Pied Fly, Gropper and Tripit, to become something of a scarcity.

                                Wood Warbler - honest!

RSPB - Nothing much to report here apart from Common and Green Sandpipers, Dunlin and Redshank on Burrowes and a Clouded Yellow in the car park. From Screen hide five Garganey, Dunlin, Blackwit and Redshank amongst legions of Lapwings and dabbling ducks while at the south end my first Pintail of the autumn. Also from Screen a Water Rail played hide and seek in the reedbed. A well camouflaged (that`s my excuse!) Red Underwing on Hanson hide was pointed out to me by an eagle-eyed PB.

                                       Red Underwing, Hanson hide

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A fall of warblers

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, showery am, sunny dry pm, sw 6 - A shocking morning weather-wise with a blasting south-westerly rattling in a succession of heavy showers. However, once the rain stopped and the sun emerged so did a host of warblers around the willow swamp and beside the sheltered ponds. Numbers were difficult to ascertain but Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers were in the vanguard with at least 30 odd of each, plus lesser numbers of Blackcaps, Whitethroats and two gorgeous Lesser Whitethroats. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours trawling through them in the vain hope that something with tiger stripes or wing-bars would emerge, but it was not to be.
  Elsewhere two Common Sands and a Black-necked Grebe were on south lake, plus hundreds of Sand and House Martins, ten Yellow Wags over, Kingfisher and Great Spotted Woodpecker from the causeway.

                                    Sedge Warbler, Lade

                                 Willow Warbler, Lade

Burrowes - Despite the buffeting wind there was plenty to see from the hides around the lake with Makepeace being the most profitable for waders. Two Wood Sandpipers and Ruff were the highlights plus four Common Sandpipers, three Dunlins, two Redshanks, Lapwing and Oystercatcher. From Firth hide a selection of terns and gulls was of interest, plus a crèche of ten juv Shelducks. A party of ten Yellow Wagtails headed south and a couple of Marsh Harriers struggled to remain airborne over the Oppen pits. On the way out a Great White Egret flew over the fields at Boulderwall heading towards Dengemarsh.

                                Common and Sandwich Terns, Burrowes

Lade - Checked the gravel pit for waders this aft but all we could muster up was a couple of Common Sands and a Little Ringed Plover, plus the usual roosting Curlews and Oycs.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Lakes, waders & shearwaters

Lake District - 1-8th August - Having had no phone/broadband line of late, due to a combination of being away up north and the usual crap service from BT getting round to fix the problem, which as per usual was a corroded overhead cable atop a telegraph pole.
  Anyhow, a family trip to the Lake District based at the small village of Backbarrow in the southern lakes was a great success. The contrast in weather (wet) and landscape (hilly, lakey and verdant) to the dry flat lands couldn`t have been greater. Birdwise it was pretty quiet in the oak woods without birdsong, but roving flocks contained plenty of Willow Warblers, one or two Redstarts and Marsh Tits, which seemed to be everywhere. The Grizedale Forest yielded more common woodland birds including a few Redpolls and Siskins and one group of five Crossbills. We did well for raptors though with Buzzards and Sparrowhawks common place, plus two sightings of Goshawk in Grizedale and singles of Osprey and Red Kite in the Kent valley.
  The fells were full of Ravens, plus small numbers of Mipits and Wheatears and a Peregrine on the Scafell Massif. The only place we saw Dipper was on the river Leven at Backbarrow while Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and Goosander were noted at several locations.
  A trip to Walney Island was memorable for the vast numbers of shorebirds, including 100 Icelandic Blackwits, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. Breeding Eiders were still present as were Little and Sandwich Terns, both of which failed to breed successfully this year, and huge numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls which nest on the island.
  Probably the most memorable birds in Lakeland were the House Martins, they seemed to be everywhere with colonies in most villages, farmhouses and out buildings. Smashing little birds, and far more numerous than down here.
  Oh, and one Border Terrier had a great time in his native habitat amongst the fells.

                                Barney, Wast Water

                                River Leven, Backbarrow

                                Wast Water & Scafell Massif

                               Juv Wheatear, Yewbarrow

Saturday 9th August -  Back home and a scout around the bird reserve delivered a decent selection of passage waders including eight Greenshanks, Wood Sandpiper and Ruff from Makepiece Hide, plus a Black-necked Grebe.
Sunday 10th August - Lade - mild, cloudy, rain showers, s 6 - The monthly WeBS count found most of the ducks, Coots and grebes sheltering amongst the islands due to the increasing, gale force wind. Hundreds of Sand Martins and 50 Swifts were feeding low over the water.
Dungeness  - 1045-1245hrs - A two hour seawatch from the boats in the company of MB in squally showers and strong winds proved profitable with the highlights being two Sooty Shearwaters down-Channel along with three Manx, five Fulmar, 12 Common Scoter, Bonxie, Arctic Skua, Arctic Tern and a steady procession of Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns. Several large flocks of Swifts headed south in appalling conditions, low to the water, and I wondered how many of them didn't make it across. 
We had a surprise visit from Peter and Sandy Smith from Bedfordshire this afternoon and spent a very pleasant couple of hours catching up on news from the old county.
Monday 11th August - Heavy showers, sw 6 - The unsettled weather continued with a blustery wind whipping in some hefty downpours during the morning. An hour at the fishing boats this afternoon produced very little apart from a few Swifts going out and three coasting Whimbrel. There was movement of terns and Gannets, but way out in the Channel.