Sunday, 17 November 2019

AJG kindly sent me his early morning sea watch numbers. You know the sea watch is poor when the Cormorants are being counted though he did find a Shag among them, still a scarce bird at Dungeness.
07.15-08.45 from the sea watch hide 
Red-throated Diver: 10W  14E
Gannet: 17E
Cormorant: 162W into Rye bay
Shag: 1W
Auk: 2 on sea
Starling: 40 in off sea
I decided to walk down to The Patch and spend an hour scanning through the gulls over the boil, but saw nothing of note.
As the bushes were being done by a KOS group I headed for Scotney, as I climbed out of the car I received a call from Ray O'reilly telling the group had just found a Pallas's Warbler in The Moat, I was soon on site but sadly the bird appears to moved on, a couple of Firecrests and Goldcrests were some compensation.
I'd just finished a late breakfast when I received another call, this time from Dave Scott who was looking at a Stone Curlew from the comfort of his lounge that was roosting with Oystercatchers on Greatstone beach, an excellent house tick for him. Once again in a few minutes I was on site, this I saw the bird even though it had been flushed by a jogger. I managed some record images of the bird which eventually settled further along the beach where it remained for the rest of the day and was seen by many admirers. 

 Stone Curlew on Greatstone Beach take straight into the light
Late afternoon I did the monthly Harrier roost count which was disappointing in the fact that just a single adult male came into roost. This was probably due to the fact that Brett's depot apparently flooded during the week, so they dug a flood alleviation channel, unfortunately the channel was straight through the roost site. Hopefully in time they will return. While I was there several Water Rails were squealing and a flock of 14 Corn Buntings dropped into nearby bushes, as I left site a Little Owl was sat on top of a barn.

Saturday, 16 November 2019


Another very dull day but at least it was dry
07.30-09.00 from the sea watch hide, RW,OL and AJG who collated the numbers
Brent Goose: 7W
Wigeon: 2W
Common Scoter: 3W
Red-throated Diver: 7W    9E
Gannet 211 up
Cormorant: 520E from Rye bay into Lade Bay
Oystercatcher: 3E
Great Skua: 1E
Sandwich Tern: 1E
Razorbill: 3W
Auk sp: 10W
Starling: 1 flock of 150 in
A quick look around The Point found a Dartford Warbler of note which disappeared into a private garden. The drive home for breakfast saw a Great White Egret at the Southern end of the ARC and 2 Marsh Harriers over the causeway.
A wander along the cycle path at Scotney. found despite my intensive scrutiny of all the feral Geese, nothing unusual. 5 Ruff, 7 Redshank, 4 Curlew, c50 Golden Plover among the many Lapwing. On the main lake at least 70 Mallard which seems unusually high number, a single drake Pintail among them, also many Wigeon and a few Shoveler, no sign again of the Long-tailed Duck.
As I drove past Dengemarsh a Merlin zipped across the road, the Gully was an avian free zone. 3 dogs and their owner saved me the trouble of walking out to switching station.
Early afternoon at the reserve saw 2 Great White Egrets at Boulderwall, while Burrowes was disappointing.
Early afternoon at the fishing boats I joined RW where 4 Red-throated Divers flew West, 2 Razorbills and half a dozen Kittiwakes lingered off shore with a few Gannets. As i drove away from the boats a Woodcock came in off the sea and across the beach to The Desert like a rocket.
Mid afternoon I walked out onto Lydd Ranges accessed from Galloways to hopefully see if any Hen Harriers came into roost. As soon as I got to my chosen view point got comfortable and set my scope up I picked out a Short-eared Owl quartering the rough grass land, then a male Merlin dashed through landing on a distant fence post, a Common Buzzard came over the pines and settled on one of the armoured cars used for target practise, next sweep of the scope and there were 2 Short-eared Owls over the rough field. A few minutes later and there were what I thought at first were 3 Short-eared Owls, until I realised one of them was in fact a Long-eared Owl. It is many years since I saw a daytime hunting Long-eared Owl, though it was very dull and overcast this afternoon. I watched the LEO hunting for several minutes when it dropped into the grass out of sight, I had another scan around and this time there were definitely 3 Short-eared Owls, as I watched these hunting they joined by the LEO, all thoughts of my watching out for Hen Harriers were gone as I enjoyed the Owls for the rest of the afternoon. As the light faded the Owls seemed to disappear or were too distant to see, but the pale shape of Barn Owl came into view.
Many thanks to Paul for for finding my mobile phone which I had left on the car roof before walking out onto the ranges. I have already lost at least 3 like that.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Friday 15/11/2019

1 of 2 1w Caspian gulls at the Patch
Good to see plenty of Gulls at The Patch again
07.30-09.00 from the sea watch hide and The Patch with SO & AJG who collated the numbers:
Brent Goose: 42W   8E
Teal: 8E
Wigeon: 23W
Pintail: 3W
Common Scoter: 31W       9E
Red-throated Diver 1W   4E
Black-headed Gull: c500 present at The Patch
Common Gull: 16 Present at The Patch
Herring Gull: c800 present at The Patch
Caspian Gull: 2 X 1w at The Patch
Lesser Black-backed Gull: 9 at The Patch
Great Black-backed Gull: 26 at The Patch
Razorbill: 2W
Auk sp : 1W
Black Redstart: 1 at The Patch
Starling 68 down in three locks
Black Redstart flanked by Chaffinches behind The Patch
 Great Black-backed Gull that has swallowed a hook and will no doubt die because of it

4 Eider flying west past the fishing boats this morning
10.15-11.15 from the fishing boats:
Brent Goose: 23W   8E
Common Scoter: 1W
Eider: 4W
Red-throated Diver: 1E
Great-crested Grebe: 7E
Gannet: 73W     32E
Cormorant: c200 o/s
Kittiwake: 90W
Sandwich Tern: 1W
Guillemot: 8W
Auk Sp: 159W
Starling: 25W
Pied Wagtail: 2 present
Grey Seal: 1
At least 5 juveniles in this small party of Brent passing the fishing boats this morning 
The same 4 Eider flying back East past the fishing boats this afternoon
13.40-15.10 from the fishing boats with Doug Standard:
Brent Goose: 3W      2E
Common Scoter: 2W
Eider: 4E same birds as this morning
Red-throated Diver: 5W        2E
Gannet: 38E     11W
Dunlin: 6E
Kittiwake: 9E        5W
Sandwich Tern: 3E
Guillemot: 2W
Razorbill: 1W
Auk sp: 28W
Common Seal: 1
Grey Seal: 1
When I left the fishing boats the rain had set in and it was already getting dark.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Thursday 14/11/2019

A thoroughly cold and miserable morning, so I was surprised to find Owen already in the sea watch hide albeit wrapped in a blanket and an umbrella near to hand, as since the felt roof was blown off in the last storm it is nearly as wet inside as it is out.
07.15-09.45 from the sea watch hide with OL, AJG & SO
Wigeon: 2W
Common Scoter: 4W         1E
Red-breasted Merganser: 4W
Red-throated Diver: 1W     1E
Great-crested Grebe: 7E
Gannet: 64W        37E
Cormorant: c1,400 into Rye Bay (at least 2,000 on Burrowes this afternoon)
Lapwing: 1 out (being hunted by the 2 Peregrines which it evaded with some spectacular aerobatics)
Peregrine: 2 o/s
Arctic Skua: 1W
Kittiwake: 108W  17E
Mediterranean Gull: 1E
Sandwich Tern: 5W
Guillemot: 3W      1E
Razorbill: 2W
Auk sp: 52W       19E
Grey Seal: 1
A look around the bushes on The Point found nothing notable.
At Scotney I was unable to relocate the Long-tailed Duck found earlier by Owen, the usual feral Geese were present along with c200 Golden Plover, 3 Ruff and c200 Lapwing.
On Burrowes this afternoon 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls of note. Also on the islands a regular Lesser Black-backed Gull bearing a red ring marked SHB which was ringed in Suffolk, also 2 Norwegian ringed Great Black-backed Gulls.
Yesterday I went to Copt Point where I read 36 Mediterranean Gull rings, mainly French and Belgian but also 2 from Hungary, 3 From Germany, 1 from the UK and PTA2 from Poland whose life history is above. Double click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Tuesday 12/11/2019

With the birding so poor around Dungeness this autumn, I have been struggling to motivate myself to get up and out early. This morning it was after 08.30 before I left home, with a freezing NW wind whipping across the peninsular I was in the shelter of the car at the fishing boats, watching just a few Gannets and Kittiwakes feeding off shore, along with a couple of Sandwich Terns and some Auks tooing and froing but little of note, I was just beginning to think I would be better off at home getting domestic stuff done when a Swallow flew past me heading south, that gave me the encouragement I needed to go to Greatstone and Littlestone just in case there were other migrants around. Greatstone Beach was a complete waste of time, it was like Winalot advert there, loads of seemingly out of control dogs running around with their owners shouting at them. Littlestone however was much better, still loads of dogs, but on leads and sticking to the sea wall path. As the tide pushed up, a flock of c150 Knot were swirling around eventually settling on quiet bit of shingle, Sanderling were running along the incoming tide line with a few Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers and Grey Plovers headed towards the Varne. Despite walking along to St Mary's and back no Snow Buntings were found  nor anything else.  
 Sanderling, Littlestone Beach

 Part of a flock of c150 Knot on Littlestone Beach
A wander out the back of Scotney saw yet another Swallow, several Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards, 2 Peregrines, a Merlin, a Sparrowhawk, several Kestrels and a distant ring tail Hen Harrier heading out East Guldeford, with all these raptors around it wasn't surprising that the flock of c1,000 Golden Plover spent most of the time flying around high over the wind turbines,  there were a few Skylarks and Reed Buntings around but I coudn't find any Corn Buntings, all the usual feral Geese were present.
In Lydd Wood a few Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, 2 Goldcrests, a Great spotted Woodpecker but sadly no eastern sprites.
Mid afternoon back at the fishing boats a few Gulls came to my offerings of bread but no Caspian Gull.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Monday 11/11/2019

A thoroughly wet, miserable and cold start to the day, even more so now that the sea watch hide no longer has a waterproof roof, as it was torn off during the recent storm.
08.30-10.30 from the sea watch hide joined by AJG
Brent Goose: 1W
Common Scoter: 10W
Red-throated diver: 16W           1 o/s
Great-crested Grebe: 12W
Gannet: 183W         87E
Cormorant: c250 into Rye Bay
Merlin: 1W (looked to be hunting)
Great Skua: 1W
Pomarine Skua: 1W juvenile
Kittiwake: 197W       38E
Mediterranean Gull: 3W (all adults)
Sandwich Tern: 5W
Guillemot: 7W
Razorbill: 16W
Auk sp: 98W         27E
Skylark: 4W
Around the lighthouse area a Chiffchaff, Stonechat and Sparrowhawk were noted along with a very few finches overhead.
I tried to some Gulls in with bread but attracted nothing of note.
A windswept Scotney held 8 Ruff, 9 Redshank, c150 Golden Plover, c250 Lapwing along with the 1,000+ Greylag, 150+ Barnacle Geese, 26 Canada Geese, 37 Egyptian Geese, also 50+ Shoveler, 100+ Wigeon, 40+ Tufted Duck and 40+ Mallard.
A male Merlin was chasing a Pipit at the top end of the Long Pits as I drove to the fishing boats.
13.45-14.45 from the fishing boats yet another very poor afternoons watch:
Great-crested Grebe: 48 o/s
Gannet: 27W
Kittiwake: 22W
Sandwich Tern: 5W
Guillemot: 2W
Auk sp: 9W
Grey Seal: 1
Common Seal: 1

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Sunday 10/11/2019

07.00-08.30 from the sea watch hide: SO, RW and AJG who kindly collated the numbers:
Brent Goose: 5W
Common Scoter: 10W
Red-throated Diver: 8E
Black-throated Diver: 1E
Gannet: 629E
Great Skua: 3E
Kittiwake: 109E
Sandwich Tern: 86E (unusually high number for this time of year)
Guillemot: 1W
Razorbill: 2E
Auk sp: 15W
Starling :95 in
A brief look in the bushes saw reasonable numbers of Blackbirds and Robins, a single Chiffchaff and few Blue and Great Tits, the highlight being a Firecrest at the old lighthouse.
Another sea watch this afternoon produced a highlight of a single Great Northern Diver.
13.15-14.45 from the fishing boats with AJG, LH, PH, RW, SO
Red-throated Diver: 2W    1 o/s
Great Northern Diver: 1W
Great-crested Grebe: 3 o/s
Gannet: 42E     6W
Cormorant: present n/c
Dunlin: 1W
Sanderling: 3W
Kittiwake: c80 o/s
Mediterranean Gull: 2 o/s
Guillemot: 1W       3 o/s
Razorbill: 3 o/s 
As Dungeness has been so quiet avian wise recently I have been spending time at Copt Point reading Mediterranean Gull rings, yesterday in the company of Renaud Flammant from Belgium we read 64 rings. Most were French, Belgian and German for which we have already had the details sent back.
When I look at these details it usually amazes me how few times colour ring birds are reported or sighted, I guess most birders only seem to give Gulls a cursory glance at best. The map below shows the known life history of a Mediterranean Gull colour ringed at Pitsea as an adult bird in June 2013 then next seen in December 2017 at Icklesham, then another 2 year gap to last week at Copt Point. 
The Known Life history of yellow ringed  Mediterranean Gull 2E33
 Last Friday Dungeness was again very poor avian wise, that I was tempted away by Owen Leyshon on rare twitch to St Margaret's to see the Great Grey Shrike that performed admirably for us, I was very glad I was tempted thank you Owen.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Thursday 07/11/2019

Drake Merganser passing the fishing boats this morning
07.50-09.00 from the fishing boats:
Brent Goose: 19W       2E
Shelduck: 4W
Teal: 5W
Common Scoter: 21W          8E
Red-breasted Merganser: 1W drake
Red-throated Diver: 4W     2E
Great-crested Grebe: 7 o/s
Gannet: 283W       74E
Cormorant: c750 pushed out of Lade Bay by the range boat
Merlin: 1 in off
Oystercatcher: 3E
Turnstone: 2 on beach
Great Skua: 2W
Kittiwake: 37W
Mediterranean Gull: 2W
Sandwich Tern: 2W
Guillemot: 17W
Razorbill: 2W
Auk sp: 637W
Rock pipit: 1W
Pied Wagtail: 2 present
2 Swallow: W
Common Seal: 1
Grey Seal: 1
Harbour Porpoise: 2
  Firecrest in the lighthouse garden
Around the lighthouse were 3 Swallows, a Firecrest, 2 Godcrests, a Chiffchaff, a Blackcap and a Sparrowhawk of note.
  Goldcrest in the lighthouse garden
 Chiffchaff in the lighthouse garden
 Blackcap in the Lighthouse Garden
1 of 3 Swallow around the lighthouse
As Dungeness was quiet avian wise I went to Copt Point again reading another 22 colour rings.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Wednesday 06/11/2019

A rare day of no wind on the peninsular today produced little of note.
07.00-09.00 from the sea watch hide RW and AJG who collated the numbers:
Brent Goose: 11W
Common Scoter: 19W
Red-throated Diver: 5W
Gannet: 64W
Great Skua: 1W
Arctic Skua: 1W
Kittiwake: 72W
Little Gull: 2W  + 1x1w at The Patch
Sandwich Tern: 1W
Razorbill: 12W
Auk sp: 151W
The undoubted highlight of the day was a Great White Egret that appeared to have come in off the sea and landed in a flooded part of The Desert, it stayed for a couple of minutes before presumably realising that there was no food to found there and flew off north, it is as far as I know the first one to landed in The desert.
 1 of 3 Great-spotted Woodpeckers seen around The Moat this morning
The bushes around The Point were very quiet with just the odd Goldcrest, Firecrest and Chiffchaff, still plenty of Robins and Blackbirds and 3 Great-spotted Woodpeckers. A Brown Hare was in The Desert. The Shorelark was seen early morning by OL but not seen again by dusk.
At Scotney all the usual feral Geese, c500 Golden Plover, 2 Redshank and the Black-necked Grebe still present from the double bends.
A distinct lack of Thrushes on Walland Marsh at the moment despite there being plenty of Hawthorn berries, 4 Yellowhammers by the model airfield, 2 Marsh Harriers and 5 Common Buzzards were noted.
13.45-15.15 from the fishing boats:
Brent Goose: 7W      4E
Wigeon: 5W
Common Scoter: 5W
Goosander: 1W  (female)
Red-throated Diver: 6W     2 o/s
Great-crested Grebe: 9 o/s
Gannet: 96W
Cormorant: present n/c
Turnstone: 1 on beach
Kittiwake: 255W
Mediterranean Gull 2W
Sandwich Tern: 11W
Guillemot: 2W
Razorbill: 1W   9 o/s
Auk sp: 108W
Grey Seal: 3
Harbour Porpoise: 4

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Tuesday 05/11/2019

Merlin hunting off shore this morning
07.50-09.00 from the fishing boats:
Common Scoter: 1W        8E
Red-throated Diver: 7W   2E    1 o/s
Great-crested Grebe: 51 o/s
Gannet: 90W
Cormorant: c150 o/s
Merlin: 1 juvenile hunting
Oystercatcher: 3E
Guillemot: 11W
Razorbill: 109W
Auk sp: 142W
Swallow: 1 out.   2 more over entrance gate
Skylark: 4 present
Shorelark: 1 still showing very well around the puddles
Pied Wagtail: 3 present
Starling: 85 in
A very quiet morning around The Point and observatory, 3 Firecrests, 4 Goldcrests, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Swallows, 2 Black Redstarts and a single Song Thrush.
As Dungeness was so quiet I went along the coast to Folkstone Warren and Copt Point, walking from the Warren to the Point many Robins and Blackbirds but little else of note. At Copt Point c400 Mediterranean Gulls, probably more over a 2 hour period with them coming and going. I found myself a comfortable vantage point to scan through the Gulls and managed to read 26 Darvik rings 1 Hungarian, 1 UK, 3 German and the rest French and Belgian. There were also 6 Sandwich Terns roosting on the rocks.
Starling murmuration
Late afternoon I visited a Harrier roost where 5 Marsh Harriers came to roost but no Hen Harriers, at least 40 Pied Wagtails came to roost several Water Rails and Bearded Tits were calling and 2 Sparrowhawks were around 1 which tried to catch a large Bat species. A small Starling murmuration added to the visit.