Monday, 29 February 2016

Slavonian Grebes

Lade - cold, dry, sunny, ne 2 - With the wind easing off it was a much better day to be out and about in the field and the early breeders certainly seemed to appreciate it with Dabchicks trilling from reedbed margins and Great Crested Grebes grunting and head-shaking nearby. A flock of 4 Reed Buntings along the main track was noteworthy and by midday several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers were thermaling high above the shingle ridges behind the `mirrors`.
Dungeness - A walk along the beach from the lifeboat station to the lighthouse revealed very little and we couldn't even find the Glaucous Gull. On the sea a few Red-throated Divers drifted by and a flock of 20 Brents headed east.
RSPB - From the causeway road 2 Slavonian Grebes on ND and the usual dabbling duck flock on ARC. The fields at Boulderwall revealed 500 or so Goldies and Lapwings, plus 100 Wigeon, a Great White Egret and 2 Egyptian Geese.
Scotney - The grass field by the road was virtually empty apart from the feral goose flock and a few Pied Wagtails. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

A trip down memory lane

Lade - cold, dry, ne 5 - The past couple of days has seen the return of the `beast from the east` with a rasping north-easterly wind scouring the shingle and making for difficult birding. To be honest if it wasn't for Barney pleading to be taken for a walk (he loves dry, cold weather) I would probably have slobbed out over the weekend. However, we did make the effort and worked the local patch, although it has become a little samey with declining wildfowl numbers, and waders on the bay difficult to find as they move to the Littlestone end to avoid the kite surfers. Despite the bitter cold the airborne kites reached 35 in number around low tide yesterday, a hardy breed of folk indeed.
The Early Days
  Anyhow, last October I reached the ripe old age of 60 and since then the family have been steadily nagging away suggesting that its about time I attempted to make some sort of sense from, `all those old log books and files cluttering up the bottom of the book case in the study`. So, being as its a quiet time of year with only a trickle of B&B guests coming and going and all my writing up to date, I grabbed a bundle and began delving back into the past.
  I`ve always been a note taker and recorder ever since a nipper in my egging days, before I knew better, but as I recall those note books were donated to Tring Museum long ago together with my old egg collection. However, the earliest log book I could find amongst the bundle was a home made, string-bound affair covering 1967/8 entitled `wildlife at the hide` and was pretty basic stuff as I was only 11 years of age at the time. Together with my life-long pal Kevin Downer we built a hide from branches and ferns in a wood near our village and set up a feeding station so`s we could get close up views of the birds. The first entry was from 15th July 1967 - at 5.15am! Can you believe it, two 11 year old boys in a wood without an adult for miles around; that wouldn't happen today, which just goes to show how much freedom we had back then.

                                First log book entry from 1967

  `Our village`, by the way, was Maple Cross in south-west Hertfordshire, set in the Colne Valley on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. It was a time before the M25 motorway blighted the place, a time when the hunt still met outside The Cross pub, a pub which was full of `characters` and when us village kids planted spuds by hand in the Easter holidays at the local farm for 15 bob (shillings) a day. An absolutely fantastic place to grow up if you were a country bumpkin and we milked it for all it was worth. From gravel pits and water cress beds in the river valley, to beech woods, orchards and dairy farms it was a haven for us kids and we had the time of our lives.
  My birding interest ramped up a level in 1968 when I went to Rickmansworth Grammar School. Our biology teacher, Dr Bruce Ing, was a keen birdwatcher (there was no such thing as a birder back then) who`d been to Fair Isle and regaled us with stories of rare birds from the north. He also introduced me to the YOC, the junior wing of the RSPB, where I met Graham Clarke, known to everyone as Mutley. We hit it off straight away and together with KD the three of us were regulars at Tring reservoirs and various other local haunts such as Staines Reservoir and Perryoaks sewage farm.
About the same time a ringing station was established at Maple Cross sewage farm by Pete Deleloye where I also became involved as a trainee bird ringer.
  Once the holidays came there was no holding us back and we regularly hitch hiked to north Norfolk, often via various sewage farms at Cambridge, Bedford or Wisbech. Cley was my favourite place though, where we either crashed in the old barn at the back of Walsey Hills or camped out rough. By the end of the decade we travelled further afield staying at Portland, Spurn and Dungeness Bird Observatories on occasions, but mostly sleeping under canvas to keep costs down.
  But Cley was where I saw my first `dream birds` such as Bluethroat, Dotteral, Red-backed Shrike and experienced large falls of migrants at Blakeney Point. It was where I spent five consecutive summer holidays (and most of the half terms too) at the end of the 1960`s into the 70`s. We birded from dawn to dusk, sustained by slabs of bread pudding from Nancy`s cafĂ© through the day, and pie and chips in the evening, followed by illicit pints of mild in either the George at Cley or the Dun Cow at Salthouse.
  It was the era of R A Richardson who most mornings held court on the East Bank overlooking Arnold`s Marsh, and where I first met characters such as Spiney Norman, Bill Slater, the Midwich Cuckoos, Tim Lawrence, Ray Turley, Bill Oddie and Richard Millington to name but a few. Happy times indeed.

                                Old log book entries from 1971



Friday, 26 February 2016

Sussex waders

Dungeness - cold, grey, e 2 - We kicked off at the point with a wander across the beach where the Glaucous Gull continued to attract a steady flow of devotees. A Black Redstart and a few Pied Wagtails were the only passerines around the sea containers, while on the sea the usual grebes, gulls a few auks and a trickle of Red-throated Divers noted. Nothing to add at the Patch apart from a couple of hundred regular gulls and more Pied Wags on the power station wall. Stopped for a natter with OL who had a Barn Owl picked up dead on the road yesterday south of Hamstreet.

                                Barn Owl road casualty, Hamstreet

New Diggings - Two Black-necked Grebes, in partial breeding plumage, were on the lake close to the causeway road. The fields at Bouldwall were quieter than of late although 2 Great White Egrets, several Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard present, while two each of Red-crested Pochard and Long-eared Owl were reported from Dengemarsh and the Discovery pond respectively.
Pett Level - Having dropped Pat and our Kate off in Rye we headed down to Pett to check out the high tide waders. The fields around and behind the pools were packed out with hundreds of Curlews, Dunlins, Goldies and Lapwings, while it was a treat to see 10 Ruff and Spotted Redshank amongst the Redshanks. Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Little Egret and a variety of dabbling ducks were also noted, although there was no sign of the ibis.

                                Lapwing, Pett Level

Rye Harbour - A check of Long Pits revealed very little apart from the obligatory diving ducks and grebes. On the beach reserve over 1,000 Goldies and Lapwings present, plus single figures of Blackwit, Ringed Plover and Avocet. Several pairs of Black-headed Gulls were already performing their nuptials in preparation for the forthcoming breeding season on ternery pool.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Purple Sandpipers

Hythe - cold, dry, sunny, n2 - Had to go into Hythe this morning so called in at the traditional haunt of the wintering Purple Sandpipers along the promenade sea defence blocks. There was a single bird opposite the Hythe Imperial Hotel (where the light was awful) and two by the fish restaurant at Stade Street where the light was marginally better. Having just upgraded my bridge camera to a Nikon P610 I spent a bit of time playing with the new toy.
  On the way home we paused at the Willop Basin viewpoint where there was little of note apart from a few Great Crested Grebes on the sea and a couple of Curlews and a small flock of Common Gulls on the flooded fields.

                               Purple Sandpipers, Hythe

Lade - No change on the local patch this morning, while a check of the beach pm on a falling tide revealed all the usual shorebirds. As the light was better I attempted a few pics of a Great Black-backed Gull and 3 Turnstones feeding on dogfish along the shoreline.

                                Turnstones and GBBGull, Lade beach


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Bearded Tits

Dengemarsh - warm, dry, sunny, e2 - Another cracking morning to be out and about in the field and perfect for a circuit of Dengemarsh. From Springfield bridge a trickle of overhead Skylarks moved inland while 2 Ravens and a Kestrel noted towards the ranges. On and around the hayfields 100 Lapwings, 8 Curlews and 6 Shelduck, plus several Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine and 2 Stonechats.
  Bearded Tits are undeniably gorgeous birds and while resident around the reedbeds are not always that easy to see, mainly due to the incessant wind hereabouts. Not so today though, as the light airs and warm sunshine encouraged small parties and individuals to feed along the reedbed margins and  atop the phragmites and bulrushes. Stunning views were enjoyed across Dengemarsh along with singing Cetti`s Warblers and Reed Buntings, 2 Bitterns, Water Rail and Kingfisher, plus Stonechat, Goldcrest and Great Tits in the gorse scrub.

                                Bearded Tits, Dengemarsh

  The wet fields at Boulderwall yielded a couple of thousand Lapwings and Golden Plovers, Wigeon and feral geese, 6 White-fronts, 50 Dunlin, 20 Stock Doves, Great White and Little Egrets, while  Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine kept the plovers and ducks on their toes.
  The back track to Lydd through arable land was much quieter delivering very little apart from a few more Reed Buntings and Pied Wagtails, 2 Egyptian Geese and a Black Redstart on the chicken sheds. However, 2 Brown Hares gambolling over an arable field was a rare treat as numbers of this iconic Marsh mammal continue to decline across the flatlands.

                                Egyptian Geese, Dengemarsh

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Sunshine at last

Lade - mild, sunny, nw 2 - Following three days of near continuous drizzle and leaden skies the weather gods finally relented with a dry morning and sunshine, ideal conditions for a circuit of the local patch. As we walked up Mockmill virtually the first bird of note was a Dartford Warbler in the gorse scrub with, as is often the way, a pair of Stonechats, plus a number of singing Wrens and Dunnocks. The farmland by the airport yielded more singers in the form of Skylark and Reed Bunting and a distant ringtail Hen Harrier flew through heading towards Lydd. A weedy field delivered 15 Corn Buntings, 20 Linnets, 10 Goldfinches and 2 Stonechats.
  On the lakes there was no real change in wildfowl numbers from the weekend, while a Great White Egret stalked the reed bed on north lake. Chiffchaff, Cetti`s Warbler, Long-tailed Tit and Green Woodpecker were all noted around the willow swamp and by late morning, from the aerial mound watch point, the sunshine had encouraged two each of Marsh Harrier and Buzzard into the sky for a spot of pre-nuptial sky-dancing and soaring.  

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Wildfowl and Harrier counts

Dungeness - cold, overcast, sw 3 -A grim start to Saturday that warmed up later, along with increasing wind and rain. A wander along the foreshore from the lifeboat station yielded very little apart from the usual high tide gull roosts including both 1st winter Glaucous and Caspian Gulls. We joined PB at the fishing boats for an hour staring out to sea where a steady procession of Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Black-headed Gulls moved westward around the headland, plus up to 20 each of Red-throated Diver and Gannet. Just as we were about to leave 20 Brents flew up-Channel.

                                Glaucous Gull, Dungeness

Lade - mild, windy, drizzle, sw 5 - Much milder and windier today, and less than ideal conditions for the WeBS count, of which there was a steady, but expected, decline in numbers from last month, although there was still over 200 Teal present. On the beach 550 roosting Oystercatcher, plus 480 Dunlin and 350 Sanderling.
Walland Marsh - The wind and drizzle continued to make for difficult viewing across the flatlands as CP and I trudged out to our watch point. En-route we were treated to a terrific display by a Peregrine chasing a Golden Plover that had been singled out from a large mixed flock of Lapwings and Goldies. Also, nearby 3 Buzzards, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier. As the light faded a few Marsh Harriers drifted past heading towards the Woolpack, but eventually 4 dropped in at our site, 2 adult males and 2 adult females. Things went a bit flat for a while until a spanking grey ghost Hen Harrier came through, heading for the ranges, followed by flight views of a Bittern and a couple of Snipe. And then in the twilight loose flocks totalling over 100 Mute Swans flew onto the floods along with 10 Bewick`s Swans to round off a surprisingly good session.

Friday, 19 February 2016

`New` Optics

Dungeness - cold, sunshine and showers, sw 3 - Yesterday I picked up my Swarovski optics from Hythe Camera shop as they`d been to Austria for some long awaited TLC. So today I felt like a kid on Christmas morning with a new bike, I couldn't wait to get into the field and road test `em, and what a difference, they were like new, I just hadn't realised how badly they had deteriorated over the past 20 years - and many thanks to the staff at the camera shop for their superb customer service.
  Anyhow, in the early morning sunshine we strolled along the beach between the lifeboat station and lighthouse half expecting a Wheatear to pop up. No such luck, but Mipit, Skylark, Greenfinch and a pair of Stock Doves were noted, plus the 1st winter Glaucous Gull at roost amongst the large gulls. On the sea a scattering of Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants and auks. 

                               Stock Dove, Dungeness

Boulderwall - The fields between the main track down to the VC and Cockles Bridge were a delight,  being packed out with thousands of Wigeon, Lapwings, Golden Plovers, feral geese, corvids and Starlings. In between the massed ranks were 2 Egyptian Geese, a redhead Smew, Shoveler and Dabchick on the ponds, 30 Dunlin, 5 Curlews, 2 Great White Egrets, several Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine terrorising the waders.
  On Burrowes all the usual wildfowl plus a Slavonian Grebe and a Chiffchaff in the car park scrub.
Scotney - Plenty of geese and waders here on the wet fields by the road including 2 Brents, 17 Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin, 2 Curlew and 3 Redshanks. Close scrutiny of the Ringed Plovers revealed a noticeably smaller much less well-marked individual, but with a blobbed supercilium, which I took to be a female/1st year bird. Unfortunately just as it was moving closer a Peregrine flushed the lot.

                                Ringed Plover, Scotney

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Dartford Warbler

Lade - cold, dry, sunny, s 3 - We wandered down towards the Kerton Road pit this morning where OL had reported a Dartford Warbler yesterday afternoon in broom scrub near Pleasance Road. I wasn't expecting much as there was a brisk wind running, but bang on cue, following a buzzing trill, up popped the warbler for a brief show with a pair of attendant Stonechats close by. This may have been the bird that was present around New Year a bit further north on the NNR. This past late autumn and winter period has produced a number of Dartford Warbler sightings across the Peninsula and with a bit of luck perhaps one or two will stay on to breed in the many gorse thickets.
  Further north around Lade pits there was no change to the usual wildfowl numbers. A couple of Marsh Harriers were on the wing behind the `mirrors` and a Great White Egret fished north lake.
Whilst working in the garden today `our` Goldcrest was in fine voice singing from the Leylandiis.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Grey Ghost

Scotney - warm, dry and sunny - Having spent the past couple of days in London and Brighton it was great to get out about again in my preferred habitat. We called in at Dungeness where the fog was too thick to stick around, but once lifted it turned into a cracking day with light airs and warm sunshine, and the birds certainly came out to play too. On the roadside grass at Scotney displaying Ringed Plovers were a sign of things to come, plus Redshanks, Dunlins, Lapwings, Oystercatchers and the feral goose flock. On the lake amongst the common wildfowl 2 Black-necked Grebes with another one on the pit near the farm.

                               Feral geese and Little Owl, Scotney

  Around the farm buildings a host of passerines was a welcome change including 10 Pied and one Grey Wagtail, several Mipits, Chaffinches, 10 Goldfinches, a Black Redstart, a gang of House Sparrows while a pair of Stock Doves and a Little Owl soaked up the suns rays on a barn roof.
  Out back a couple of Skylarks were in song and 6 Corn Buntings flushed from a ditch with a Green Sandpiper. Best of all though was a stunning male Hen Harrier quartering fields towards Cheyne Court where Kestrel, 2 Common Buzzards and a Peregrine noted. On the new pits 62 Shelducks, 4 Egyptian Geese, 5 Little Egrets, 20 Shoveler, 2 Stonchats and several Reed Buntings. The only negative was an absence of any Tree Sparrows.
Boulderwall - Plenty of activity here on the fields with hundreds of Lapwing, Golden Plovers, Wigeons, Starlings and the like, plus 6 White-fronts, 2 Great White Egrets, several Marsh Harriers and 2 Stonechats. A Glossy Ibis did a tour of the site earlier (presumably the Pett bird) while a Long-eared Owl had returned to its roost site behind the pond, despite being flushed on Sunday, and a Slavonian Grebe was on Burrowes. It was busy around the visitors centre with half termers.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Singing Goldcrest

Lade - cold, grey, rain, e 5 - I suppose it had to happen at some stage this winter, the wind shifting round to a bitterly cold eastern direction, coming in straight off the North Sea from the Low Countries. With the combination of 4C, sleety rain and a blasting wind perhaps it wasn't the best day to be trudging around the local patch. On the lakes the Slavonian Grebe was absent and a redhead Smew had dropped in overnight on north lake, while head-shaking Great Crested Grebes and trilling Dabchicks seemed undeterred by the weather conditions from performing their nuptials.
The RSPB`s recent efforts certainly hadn't gone unnoticed by the locals and yesterday when I went round they all wanted to know what was going on. The old railway bridge is now cleared of rubbish and the proposal is to eventually make it into a kind of formal site entrance.

                                Old railway bridge, Lade

  When the wind vector is anywhere between north and south-east the kite surfers move in and today was no different. As we walked down the beach three hardy (or mad!) souls were already flying along the tideline way out in the bay with more arriving throughout the morning. Chatting to one of the youngsters togging up in the car park he said it was the adrenalin that keeps them going once  airborne, but as soon as they land on a such a cold winters day as this one, out come the flasks of hot soup or tea. Oh, what it is to be young and invincible!
  Anyhow, onto the subject of the unlikely post title, Singing Goldcrest. The past couple of weeks have seen a pair of Goldcrests take up residence in our garden Leylandiis and this morning the male was merrily singing away deep within the canopy, completely sheltered from the wind. It`s perhaps no surprise that one or two have stuck around this winter considering how many there were last autumn, so hopefully this pair will stay and be our first breeding record.
Dungeness - Our optimism was soon dashed when we arrived at the point with driving rain deterring us from even getting out of the car. A check of the beached gulls from the road revealed nothing unusual, but the regular 1st winter Glaucous Gull was on patrol along the foreshore by the fishing boats. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Slavonian Grebe

Lade - cold, showery, light airs  - Its a weird, almost disturbing feeling when you step out of doors down here and there is absolutely no wind, and this morning was one such occasion. Walking across the shingle in vertical drizzle we checked Mockmill where 2 Stonechats and a few Blackbirds were the only birds noted. On south lake a Slavonian Grebe was lurking amongst the wildfowl, presumably the same wandering individual that`s visited the bird reserve recently.

                                Clearing Scaffold Island                               

                                Slavonian Grebe, Lade

  With RSPB now taken ownership of Lade Pits, today staff and volunteers set about clearing the scaffold island of a past encampment and tidying up around the old railway bridge. It was the perfect day for mucking about in boats as the lake was as still as a mill-pond. A marvellous effort by all concerned.
  This afternoon we checked the foreshore down to the Tavern on an ebb tide. Thousands of gulls and waders were streaming back to feed where the highlights were 25 Grey and 19 Ringed Plovers, 5 Mediterranean Gulls and 4 Shelducks.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Goose Barnacles

Lade - cold, dry, sunny, nw 3 - With a promising weather forecast we spent the day in the field just mooching about and generally enjoying the wealth of wildlife on offer within a two mile radius of the cottage.
  The local patch was notable for the superb light on the wildfowl, particularly the hundreds of Teal on both lakes. The drakes looked stunning in their nuptial plumage and many were making that lovely `preep` call as they fussed around the ducks.

                                Teal, Lade

RSPB - A circuit of the reserve produced a host of wintering ducks on Burrowes, including 3 Smew, one of which was a drake, plus a Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere, Goldcrest and Stonechat near Christmas Dell; Black-tailed Godwit, Merlin, Raven, Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tit at Dengemarsh; Peregrine, Great White Egret and thousands of Lapwings and Golden Plovers on the Boulderwall fields.

                                Slavonian Grebe, Burrowes

Dungeness - A walk along the tideline between the boardwalk and the seawatch hide produced four batches of Goose Barnacles attached to plastic fenders and floats. Their long retractable stalks were anchored to the flotsam with the bodies protected by a series of bluish translucent plates. These extraordinary pelagic animals had been washed ashore on the recent storm; many thanks to OL for the tip off as to their whereabouts. Also of note along this section of the beach was a line of Sea Kale, where the waves had battered the foreshore exposing the `trunks`.

                               Goose Barnacles, Dungeness
                                Sea Kale stumps, Dungeness

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Garden Peregrine

Lade - mild, wet start, sunny later, w2 - Returning from our morning round of the local patch we had an extraordinary encounter with a Peregrine which had killed a feral pigeon and was halfway through plucking and eating its catch. The amazing thing was - it was in our back garden!
While we`ve seen them cruising high over the cottage in the past, this is the first time one has actually grounded.Why on earth it would choose such an enclosed space to feed in is something of a mystery. 

                                Feral pigeon remains from Peregrine strike

RSPB - A tour of the bird reserve this afternoon delivered all the usual wildfowl, egrets, Marsh Harriers and Smew, plus a Long-eared Owl by the pond and a Bittern from Screen hide on ARC. However, there was no further sign of this mornings Great Northern Diver on Burrowes, which was seen to fly off high towards the sea earlier.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Storm Imogen

Lade - mild, sunny, sw 6-8 - With most of the previously named winter storms having battered the north-western seaboard of the British Isles, it was invigorating to feel the full effect of the latest blow, which this time came our way, and traversed southern England during last night, peaking around mid- afternoon.

                                Lade bay

  We went out purposely late, at the height of the tempest, for a circuit of the local patch, staggering along the beach like a drunken sailor and dodging the roosting waders towards the Tavern. A welcome pause in the sheltered sand dunes contrasted with slow going into the wind up Seaview Road towards north lake. Needless to say most of the wildfowl were hugging the margins or in amongst the willow swamp, while 4 Great White Egrets were tucked into the reedbed on the far side of south lake.

                               Roosting waders, Lade beach

At times it was difficult to stand upright walking into the gale beside the Desert and after two hours we were glad to get back home and out of the wind.
Interesting to note this afternoon, en-route to Rye, that none of the Cheyne Ct wind turbines were turning, so presumably the wind speed was 50 knots plus. On the way back this evening a Barn Owl flew over the road at Scotney.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Ten species of gulls

Dungeness - mild, overcast, ssw 5 - We spent most of the morning wandering along the foreshore from the lifeboat station to the lighthouse - looking at gulls! I cannot believe what I just wrote, but in my defence there`s not much else around bird-wise at the moment, except for a rather large amount of gulls, and lets face it the big ugly brutes are obliging and they do get you thinking about identification, what with their differing ages and plumage variations and all.
  However, the main spectacle was provided by thousands of Black-headed Gulls rounding the point and hundreds of larger gulls either loafing on the shingle or feeding along the tideline. In amongst the loafers were the 1st winter Glaucous and Caspian Gulls by the puddles near the concrete road and I`m pretty sure I had another Caspo, a 2nd winter, before the roosting flock was flushed by a dog (not Barney of course) towards the Patch.
  An hour from the fishing boats delivered 8 Mediterranean and a single Little Gull, which brought the gull tally to a respectable 10 species for the session. Also offshore a Bonxie put in an appearance along with a trickle of Gannets, auks and 2 Red-throated Divers, plus 35 Brents going up-Channel.

                                Dungeness gulls

ARC/New Diggings - A scan from the causeway road revealed a Black-necked Grebe on ND and 3 redhead Smew on ARC amongst 100 Gadwall and Shovelers.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Firecrests and White-fronts

Dungeness - mild, sunshine and showers, sw 3 - For a change of scene we opted to bird a few different sites today and leave the local patch to the weekend and a wet and windy forecast. We kicked off at the point with a circuit of Long Pits, the Trapping Area and adjacent Desert which to be fair was quiet; infact it was deadly quiet, apart from a few Mipits, tits and Chaffinches. However, the saving grace was a pair of spanking Firecrests feeding low down in cover on the eastern flank of Long Pits, so all was not lost, while Barney enjoyed himself covering a wide area without a sniff of a snipe. Along the foreshore the wintering Glaucous and Caspian Gulls were still present.

                                A watery Desert, Dungeness

                               "Going in for a swim? He must be joking!"

Scotney - From the roadside pull-ins all the usual feral geese and ducks on the grass and lake, plus 12 Ringed Plovers, 4 Redshanks, 10 Pied Wagtails and 5 Mipits. Whilst scanning from the double bends a flock of 36 White-fronts flew over heading towards Rye and a ringtail Hen Harrier hunted the back fields, along with several Marsh Harriers, disturbing a large flock of Lapwings and Golden Plovers on the way.

                                White-fronted Geese, Scotney

Pigwell -The sewage farm attracted a Grey Wagtail, which would have been new for the year, if only I was keeping such a list.... Anyhow, moving on, Barney flushed 3 Common Snipe from the wet field and a pair of Stonechats were on the rough ground by the fishing lake.
Galloways  was predictably devoid of any form of bird life, while a sweep around several `guaranteed` Little Owl haunts in the Lydd area also drew a blank. Most of the battery chicken units hereabout have been upgraded recently and fitted with roof-top solar panels, which may have disturbed the owls from what was formerly a popular residence.
Lade North - This afternoon we tramped out from Dunes Road and checked the farmland north of the pits. Typical open country birds prevailed with a small flock of Skylarks, several Mipits, some Linnets, a pair of Stonechats and a couple of hundred Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Stock Doves and Woodpigeons being about all we could muster.
Anyone planning a visit this weekend should be able to connect with Smew, Great White Egret, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes and Long-eared Owl on the Dungeness RSPB reserve, while the Glossy Ibis remains on the roadside pools at Pett Level. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Ravens and Jellyfish

Lade - cold, sunshine then cloud, w 3 - A cold bright morning first thing commenced with a pair of Ravens raucously calling and tumbling in flight as they flew high over the cottage heading inland.
A circuit of the local patch was notable for the hundreds of beached Barrel Jellyfish along the foreshore, plus a couple of dead Guillemots.
Alive, and very much kicking, was an influx of 12 Ringed Plovers scurrying along the hard sand.

                               Beached jellyfish, Lade