Wednesday, 29 February 2012


From Hamstreet Dungeness was obscured by fog, so Idrove the short distance to Warehorn. I parked by the Royal Military Canal and walked the canal to Appledore and back. There were no real avian surprises but a Peregrine entertained flying from pylon to pylon. 6 singing Yellowhammers 2 Bullfinches and five Thrush species were the highlights.
By the time I arrived at the ARC car park it was very busy and bathed in glorious sunshine. I was told the Penduline Tit had been seen from Hanson Hide briefly early morning which explained the crowd, so I made my way to the screen hide. From there a Bittern showed well and 60+ Curlew, 50+ Knot and a Ringed Plover were on the islands. 2 red head Smew were feeding close to the reeds by Hanson Hide, while scoping them I saw tufts of Reed Mace seed drop to the water behind them, zooming in on the Reed Mace I could see a Reed Bunting tearing one of the heads apart and next to it the male Penduline Tit. Walking back to Hanson 2 more Bitterns dropped into the Tower Pits. From Hanson I was unable to see the Tit but got from DW telling me the Snow Buntings were back at The Point.    

After spending some time with the Snow Buntings, I went back to Hanson. SB went to the screen hide and called to say he could see the Penduline Tit. With that most people left the hide and with SB relaying the Tits movements I was able to pick it out feeding on the Mace behind the reed bed.
poor record from Hanson

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lazy Day

Having a lay in and fried breakfast this morning meant when I arrived at The Point, I'd missed the 2 Snow Buntings that put in a brief appearance there, but I did eventually get a distant view of the 2w Glaucous Gull feeding among the bait diggers after its short sojurn elsewhere. With very little else except Great crested Grebes off shore I moved to the pits.
8 Smew(2 drakes) and a Great White Egret on New Diggings and little of note on the ARC Pit.
Moving to Scotney 34 Greater White Fronted Geese among the Greylags was the highlight.
On Walland 42 Bewick Swans at Midley, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Woodcock under the Tree Sparrow bushes opposite the feeders.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Back to Dungeness

Crossing Walland on my way to The Point, 58 Bewick Swans back in the usual field at Midley, a Common Buzzard flew over, 4 Corn buntings an the drying barn , 30+ Fieldfare at Hawthorn Corner and 2 Marsh Harriers.
At a bitterly cold  beach, on the sea it was as you were, with Auks, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Kittiwakes, Gannets and Red Throated Divers tooing and froing. The only passgae of any note was 18 Brent Geese moving east.
Reed Bunting from Hanson Hide
 At the ARC Pit 2 Ravens flew over the pit, 2 red head Smew, 8+ Goldeneye, 2 Pintail, 2 Bitterns, 50+ Curlew and 200+ Golden Plover over, 1 Dunlin, 1 Avocet on an island with the Black Headed Gulls, 2 Water Rail squealing, 2 Chiffchaff, 4+Cetti's Warblers calling, 2+ Marsh Harriers and the Great White Egret from the Screen Hide. 
Round the reserve very little of note just 1 Bittern, 2 Tree Sparrows by Dennis Hide, 2 Goldcrests at Christmas Dell, 4+ Marsh Harriers and another 10+ Tree sparrows at Boulderwall Farm.
I had a look at the massed ranks of feeders at Warehorn Church on the way home, they were very busy with dozens of Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits, House Sparrows, Starlings, Collared Doves , Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, 2 Tree Sparrows and  a Nuthatch. With all this food readily available I thought I might find a Brambling among the Chaffinches, maybe next time. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Woodland Surprises!

As Dungeness was so busy yesterday and probably would be today I thought I might try to catch up on some woodland birds with a 5 hour plod around Orlestone Forest. I parked at Faggs Wood and could see that the lady who feeds the birds there had already been, as the tops of the fence posts, nearby bushes and picnic table were laden with bread, cakes and doughnuts for them.
Standing by the car numerous Blue and Great Tits and some Coal Tits, Nuthatches, Robins, Chaffinches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Treecreepers, Jays and Goldcrests were seen.
Leaving the car park and crossing the road into Longrope Wood a scene of devastation confronted me. It looked like the aftermath of WW1 battle. The upside to it was that as I scrambled across it I flushed 8 Woodcock.
Sensitive Woodland Management?
 Moving on to the track that runs along the south western edge of Longrope Wood, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers could be heard and seen drumming, a Tit flock came through with 15+Goldcrests, 20+ Long Tailed Tits and smaller numbers of Blue,Great and Coal Tits.
A bit further down the track I heard the unmistakable call of Crossbills  as a flock of 12 birds flew over and settled in trees about 100mts further on. With some careful stalking I was able to get some record shots of some of them.

 As I plodded further down the track 3 Nuthatches were chasing each other in the tree tops, 2 Tawny Owls were calling and a couple of Buzzards were mewing high over the woods.
As the track moved into Bayland Wood I heard a short burst of drumming which I thought was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker  I stood and listened for a couple of minutes before I heard it again emanating from what seemed a long way down the track. Plodding further down the drumming was  was getting louder and louder, also I could hear at least 2 birds calling to one another. On the sharp bend in the track on north west corner of Bayland Wood I saw the first bird a male flitting through tops of the trees closely followed by 2 more birds another male and a female. They spent 30 minutes drumming, calling and chasing each other around the tree tops before they went quiet and I lost them. Sadly they gave me no real photo opportunities but it was a real treat to have such prolonged views of them. I will definitely be going back there in the hope of seeing them again. A plod that started out with little expectation turned into brilliant one.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Loads of Grebes

c2,000 Great Crested Grebes on a flat calm sea at The Point this morning. With them 100+ Cormorants, 20+ Red Throated Divers and a few Auks and Kittiwakes. Despite intensive scanning none of the rarer Grebes could be found among them.
On the New Diggings 23 Smew(2 drakes), 4 Goldeneye and a Great White Egret.
Round the ARC 3+ red head Smew, 8  Goldeneye, 200+ Shoveler, 150+ Gadwall, 100+ Teal, 3 Pintail but just a handful of Wigeon. Waders were represented by 46 Curlew, 1 Dunlin, 6 Snipe, 1 Black Tailed Godwit, 8 Oystercatchers, 200+ Lapwing, 150+ Golden Plover and a fly over Redshank.
Raptors included 3+ Marsh Harriers, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Peregrine and 2 Sparrowhawks. 3 Chiffchaffs at the pines with 1 singing and at least 8 Cetti's Warblers around. A high flying Bittern came in from Lade and dropped into one of the Tower Pits.
On Walland no sign of any Bewick Swans at the usual spots but plenty of Tree Sparrows at the feeders, 3 Marsh Harriers and 2 Common Buzzards.

Friday, 24 February 2012

All a bit flat

At The Point this morning the foghorn was going and visibility was down to a few metres so nothing was seen.
Around the ARC Pit just 2 red head Smew, 8+ Goldeneye, 3 Pintail, 7 Curlew, 20+ Golden Plover, 1 Black Tailed Godwit, 2+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Ravens flew over carrying nesting material, lesser numbers of the usual wildfowl and 3 Chiffchaffs and a Bittern by The Pines.
At Scotney 2 Pale Bellied Brent Geese and the feral flock of Barnacle Geese and little else of note.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


08.30-09.30 at The Point with the fog horn going and poor visibility. Still some Auks, Great Crested Grebes and plenty of Cormorants in shore. The highlight being 1 Fulmar and a flock of 105 Red Throated Divers chased out of Lade Bay by the Range Safety Boat. 24 Smew still on New Diggings (3 Drakes) from the causeway.
By the time I reached the reserve the sun was out. Dunnocks and Reed Buntings were singing, Herring Gulls were nest building as were 2 Ravens flying back and forth with nesting material. 4 Marsh Harriers were displaying around Hookers and a Bittern flew over to Christmas Dell, 4 Stonechats around the tracks , a Great White Egret at Boulderwall Farm and 25+ Tree Sparrows around the feeders.
 On the ARC 200+Golden Plover, 1 Black Tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin also 2 Ruff and 2 Ringed Plovers were the first of the year on the pit for me. 2 red head Smew, 15+ Goldeneye, 3+Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine raced through causing mayhem just as Bittern flew into the reed bed beside Hanson Hide.  In the Willow Trail 2 butterfly's a Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell.
Another Bittern around the Tower Pits and from the Screen Hide a Little Egret catching tiddlers.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


07.45-10.00 at Dungeness Point with PT and DW:
Many Auks, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants and Kittiwakes toing and froing.
Red Throated Diver: 269E  129W
Gannet: 451W
Brent Geese: 3E
Shelduck: 1E
Mediterranean Gull: 3E
In the Gull roost, the Great black Backed Gull that is unable to stand with its wings folded but can fly very well.
On New Diggings 26 Smew(3Drakes), 4 Goldeneye and the Great White Egret.

On the ARC from Hanson Hide, MH told me that a Bittern was in the small reed bed to the left of the hide. In a short time it duly posed for me. Also 1 red head Smew, 12 Goldeneye some displaying, 1 Black Tailed Godwit, 16 Golden Plover, 1+Cetti's Warbler and a Chiffchaff in the willows. 
A plod around the Tower Pits found another Bittern, 2 Cetti's Warblers and 2 Ravens by the Water Tower.
At the screen hide the Great White Egret and a little Egret and another Bittern flew in.

Back at Hanson Hide the Bittern came out and climbed the reeds before moving to the other side of the pit. Another Bittern was in the reeds to the right of the hide and a red head Smew swam close to the hide.

Driving back across Walland  51 Bewick Swans with 6 juveniles. The end to another very good day.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Around Ashford

3 of the 5 on Conningsbrook Lake
 On the partially frozen Conningsbrook Lake this morning 5 Goosanders, 2 Little Egrets, a few each of Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Teal but no sign of yesterdays Iceland gull. Beside and in the Stour adjacent to the pit 2 Great White Egrets and 2 Common Snipe. 3 Woodcock flushed from surrounding bushes containing several each of Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers. At Wye a flock of 500+ Fieldfare. From a nearby raptor watchpoint with a distant veiw of The Swale a minimum of 10 Common Buzzards, 2 displaying Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel.
Record of 1 of the 2  Great White Egrets  at Connings brook

In the car park at Faggs Wood this afternoon a blinged up Goldcrest was feeding on bread as was a Treecreeper.The bread and cakes that are left there dailyby a dog walker attracted dozens of Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, several fighting Robins,  2 Coal tits, 2 Nuthatches, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers also Magpies and Jays. A 2hr plod around the wood found 100s of flighty Redwings, 2  Woodcock, 4 Lesser Redpolls, 6 Bullfinches and 4 Mistle Thrushes. Everything else was in the car park.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Much The Same but I'm Not Complaining

At The Point the usual Auks, Red Throated Divers, Great crested Grebes and Cormorants feeding in shore with Gannets and Kittiwakes off shore. New Diggings from the causeway held at least 2 red head Smew and 9 on the ARC, where 3 superb drake Goldeneye were doing their wonderful head tossing display. The ARC car park was nearly full so I drove back out and went to the visitor centre stopping at Boulderwall to admire the Tree Sparrows basking in the glorious sun shine.
As the visitor centre was packed I plodded back up to Hookers and round the back towards Lydd. During this plod highlights were 1 fly over Bittern up to 4 Marsh Harriers, 6 Common Snipe and 4 Stonechats.
Driving back out a Great White Egret flew over Boulderwall and John and Doreen Cooper pulled up beside me and had a chat.(Twice in a week). From there I went to Scotney where 30+ Geater White fronted Geese and the 2 Pale bellied Brent Geese were still present among the several hundred Greylag Geese. Also a Marsh Harrier,15+ Skylark, 2 Stonechats, 50+ Curlew and 100+ Stock Doves were out in the fields.
On Walland 45 Bewick Swans at midley and 2 more Marsh Harriers.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


At Dungeness point this morning I pulled behind a DW who pointed out a Yellow Legged Gull in the gull roost and had also seen 5 passerines drop in behind them and thought they might be Snow Buntings. While we were chatting I saw 5 passerines drop onto the beach, shortly after DW spotted a Snow Bunting on the shingle ridge but by the time we had finished scanning the gulls and parked up they had vanished.  In a strong NW wind Auks, Gannets and Red Throated Divers were tooing and froing along with a few 50+ Common Scoter and c20 Velvet Scoter. Also a few Great Crested Grebes 1 Red Breasted Merganser and a flock of 46 Brent Geese flew east as I left the beach.
On the New Diggings 17 Smew (3 Drakes) 5 Goldeneye and a Great White Egret.
Across Walland only 35 Bewick Swans at Midley Tree Sparrows at the usual spots, 3 Common Buzzards perched up and 2 Marsh Harriers.

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Morning at Dunge!

After the yesterdays excitement today was always going to be an anti climax. A dull drizzly morning at the fishing boats found the sea was full of Guillemots, Razorbills,Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants and a few Red throated Divers. Off shore Gannets were more numerous than of late and a few Kittiwakes patrolled the beach. Again I was unable to locate the Glaucous Gull.
On the New Diggings from the causeway 7 Smew (2 Drakes), 6 Goldeneye and a Great white Egret.
On the ARC from Hanson 9 red head Smew, 8 Goldeneye, plenty of the usual dabbling and diving duck, 300+ Golden Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Marsh Harrier. From the screen 1 Bittern.
A brief visit to the reserve saw the Long-tailed Duck from Dennis's Hide and 2 Tree Sparrows on the centre feeders.
A wander around Pigwell pits found just 1 Little Egret.
Coming back across Walland the Bewick Swan herd numbers  were down to 58

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Eagle Has Landed (In Sussex as well)

Juv White-tailed Eagle at Playden(East Sussex) above Scots Float from the Military Road.
 I had just left Hanson Hide making my way to the car park when I received a call from TG, telling me the White Tailed Eagle was in the field at the entrance to the wind farm on the A259, feeding on a dead Fox. Before I got to the car I got 2 more calls with same info (thanks everyone). Then a hectic drive across Walland Marsh following 2 other cars with the same destination and all being held up by the Gas Boards temporary traffic lights and some tree cutting. I arrived on site to the news that the Eagle had now flown off and was a blob in a distant tree. Where I was told that the farmer had told CP that a Vulture was eating a dead Fox, fortunately CP followed this info up to discover the Eagle. While waiting for it to show a Ring Tailed Hen Harrier and a Marsh Harrier did fly bys.
After watching the blob for half an hour I moved to what I thought was a better position, which it was slightly. A few minutes later the Eagle left its tree and flew low over my original position. That will teach me to trespass.
The Eagle appeared to land in a field north of the A259, but could not be seen. After a while it took off from where it was hidden in a fold in the land and headed towards Rye being harrassed by 2 Peregrines. It then landed well into East Sussex above Scots Float. Another hectic drive to the Military Road via Rye ensued where great scope views were had by all observers except one. ME! I had driven off leaving my scope beside the A259. Definitely dejavu  as I lost my last tripod leaving at Amberly after twitching the White-tailed Eagle there.  I took few record pictures and watched it being harassed by Gulls and 2 Common Buzzards, then hurtled back for my scope which fortunately was being looked after Romney Marsh Warden(thanks Owen). As I got out the car he pointed skyward the Eagle was high overhead thermalling before eventually moving off north.
Above Boonshill (Sussex)

Still in Sussex

Still in Sussex

Still in Sussex

Thermalling over A259 Kent/Sussex Border 

Thermalling over  A259 Kent/Sussex Border
This afternoon at Northpoint G.P. 4 Ruff and a Golden Plover with the Lapwing flock. At Scotney the 2 Pale Bellied Brent Geese  and 32 Greater White fronted Geese.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

To Hythe and Back

 Back to Botolph's Bridge first thing this morning for a couple of hours just in case the White Tailed Sea Eagle was still around. Unfortunately no sign of it, but there was some compensation in the form of partially oiled Red-throated Diver in Nickoll's Quarry on the sailing pit, also good numbers of Redwing and Song Thrushes feeding around the sewage works and a Chiffchaff. Next stop Littlestone sea front where the tide was out. Plenty of waders on show including Sanderling, Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Grey Plover and couple of Ringed Plovers.
 On to the New Diggings where a Great White Egret was showing well. Also there 8 Goosander, 6 Smew and 6 Goldeneye.
 Next stop the ARC Pit Hanson Hide where 33 Bewick Swans were resting after being chased off the marsh. A Cetti's Warbler was feeding on the ice in front the hide and a 1+ Water Rails were squealing in the reeds. Out on the pit 8+Goldeneye, 1000+ Wigeon, 400+ Shoveler, 150+ Gadwall, 100+ Teal a few Shelduck and 2 Pintail. 2 Marsh Harriers hunted the reeds. I had a treat while I was there when old friends John and Doreen Cooper came into the hide enabling me to catch up on Beachy Head and things in general. 
Pity about the reed stem

 A red head Smew fed close to the hide for a couple of minutes before flying off and walking back to the car park a Bittern flew towards Boulderwall Farm.

 On the reserve from Dennis's Hide the Long tailed Duck was distant and 2 Goosander were seen. Being half term the reserve was busy, so I made my way to Dengemarsh Road stopping to admire the Tree Sparrows on the feeders at Boulderwall Farm. At the Dengemarsh chicken sheds i finally caught up with the Black Redstart there. Opposite the sheds an abherrant plumaged or hybrid Wigeon.
Abherrant Wigeon

 Walland Marsh was very quiet with little of note, except for a Common Buzzard feeding on worms near The Woolpack PH.
 Heading for home I found my first Green Sandpiper of the year in ditch by Fairfield Church and near Woodchurch 60+ Yellowhammers by a game strip. A very good day out.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


A morning visit to Castle Water found whilst walking out to the hide, the 4 Pink-footed Geese and 44 Greater White-fronted Geese, loosely associating with the Greylag and Canada Geese feeding in the fields by Camber Castle. 2 Marsh Harriers were hunting the partly frozen reed beds disturbing several hundred Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall and Teal. Also seen on the way to the hide 4 Common Snipe, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 8 Song Thrushes and a Merlin.

Arriving at the empty hide and opening a flap a Common Snipe posed for the camera then a movement in the reed bed as Bittern jumped out and flew to the Cormorant tree reed bed. While watching an adult male Marsh Harrier putting up the duck and Coots an adult female swooped in and took a Coot as it struggled to get airborne.
A short while later another movement from the reed bed to the left of the hide caught my eye, another Bittern but this time it stalked out on the ice and walked towards the hide eventually crossing in front. Amazingly another Bittern came out of the reeds on to the ice for a few minutes before stalking back in.

As I was leaving the hide I recieved a call from DW telling me he had seen a Glossy Ibis drop into Scotney, so I hot footed there but was to late it had flown off. Arriving at the ARC car park I was informed the the Ibis had dropped into the ARC Pit for a few minutes, before once again flying off appearing to go high out to sea.
On New Diggings 8+ Smew and 8+ Goosander. As I drove into the reserve a Bittern dropped into the pit next to Boulderwall Farm and from Dennis's hide 4 more Goosanders, 1 Smew, 1 Peregrine and a Raven.
Back at the Tower Pits 3 more Bitterns,2 Marsh Harriers, 3 Water Rail and a Chiffchaff. While there I got another call about a Sea Eagle reported at Bottolph's Bridge, 30 minutes later I was there but no Eagle.