Thursday, 31 May 2012


At The Patch this morning in a brisk south westerly a few Common and Sandwich Terns and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were the highlights. On the power station perimeter fence 2 Black Redstarts and a Northern Wheatear.
Round the bushes and Lighthouse garden a Sparrowhawk spooked the local Linnets and the resident Common Whitethroats.
At the south end of the ARC Pit the water level is starting to drop as the Herring Gulls nest is now on dry land also there 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Ringed Plovers, an Oystercatcher, a Lapwing and a Dunlin.
Round the reserve the wind was still blowing no sign of yesterdays Squacco Heron, plenty of Tree Sparrows and the Bitterns seem to be more in evidence, hopefully they are feeding young and 20+ pairs of Common Terns on the Dengemarsh rafts. At the viewing ramp a family party of Bearded Tits, 3+ Hobbys, 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Little Egrets and all the usual warblers also several Hares.
Across Walland more Tree Sparrows,  4+ Hobbys, 2 Marsh Harriers, a Turtle Dove, several Yellow Wagtails, Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Lord of Hookers finds another Squacco

Due to family commitments I was in the midlands yesterday and missed the skulking female Red Breasted Flycatcher, they are super birds even the females.
This morning I was at the south end of the ARC when I got a text from The Lord Of Hookers about a Squacco heron that had just flown over him at Christmas Dell and disappeared into the thick mist over Dengemarsh. I parked in the ARC car park and plodded along to Dengemarsh through the mist. On the way plenty of Reed ans Sedge Warblers singing along with Common Whitethroat and Linnets and Lesser Whitethroat. By Hookers a couple of Bearded Tits flew by the path and the Bittern boomed from the mist enveloped Dengemarsh. Reaching Dengemarsh I looked from the hide at the Common Terns on the rafts, I checked around the reed fringes that I could see but no Squacco. As I came out the hide MH appeared and we made our way to the gate overlooking the western side of the marsh, there we met The Lord of Hookers  and paid homage. A few minutes later the Heron flew out of the reeds and settled across the lake from us giving distant and misty views.
While we there a Bittern gave a couple of fly pasts and some more booming, a drake Garganey was floating about and 2 Little Egrets dropped in.
After going back to my car for lunch  I went back to Dengemarsh with DW and almost immediately the Squacco flew across the lake towards us and landed closer to us for a couple of minutes before going into the hayfield and then out to Christmas Dell.

Monday, 28 May 2012

On me bike

With Dungeness being quiet and beautiful weather it seemed perfect for a bike ride around Rye Harbour. I chucked the bike into the back of the Chelsea tractor and parked up at Jurys Gap at 07.45 and set off at very gentle pace, stopping and scanning at all the small pits up to North Point. It's amazing how many birds you here from a bike that you miss from the car. Numerous Reed and Sedge Warblers and a surprising amount of Cetti's Warblers, Mediterranean Gulls mewing overhead Lapwings in the fields and Marsh Harriers hunting. From Northpoint to Rye and to Harbour Road and on to the new floods. It was low tide so few waders 3 Avocet, 6 Ringed Plovers, 2 Redshank and 4 Oystercatchers. Along the seafront access road Little Terns were tooin and froing  with Sand Eels for there  mates, not sure how many pairs but at least a dozen. On to the Ternery Pool which gave great photo opportunities.

Hundreds if not 4 figures of Black Headed Gulls many now with chicks.
 Dozens of Mediterranean Gulls probably more hidden at the back of the islands.
 Most of the Sandwich Terns were on the back Islands but this one posed infront the hide.
 Numerous Common Terns gave excellent photographic opportunities.
As did this Redshank posing in front the hide.
 From the Ternery Pool it seemed like a good idea to carry on to Pett Pools. On the way more Terns another Marsh Harrier hunting near RM Canal and few other bits and pieces. Once at Pett Pools it seemed a good idea to carry on up to the Pannel Valley Which was fairly productive with a minimum of 4 Common Buzzards another Marsh Harrier, 2 eclipse drake Garganey, a Little Ringed Plover, c40 Avocets, Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers and 2 Hobby's. I finished up at the Pannel Bridge hoping to see the Glossy Ibises but no luck. I made my way back to Winchelsea and then out to the Castle Water hide. From the hide another hunting Marsh Harrier and a pair of Garganey were the only birds of note. By this time my legs and arms ached I was sore in a few places and still had at least another 8 miles to cycle to the car. I gradually made my back with frequent stops for drinks and Ice Creams eventually reaching the car at c15.00. As I fell in the car I got a text from CT about a Red Crested Pochard at Springfield Bridge, as I was only a few minutes away I went to have a look. Fortunately MH was there to point out where it had buried itself in the vegetation. After about half an hour it came out and swum across the lake.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


The Peony below is credited as being the only wild example in Kent. 3 days later some moron has ripped it out! 
Thursday 24/05/12

Sunday 27/05/12 after the moron has done its work!

Grey Plover ARC south end
Very quiet on the avian front at Dungeness today. Best was the Grey Plover at the South end of the ARC with 3 Redshank, 5 Ringed Plovers and 1 Dunlin.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


After yesterdays long but great day I had a lay in. When I finally surfaced I heard that 2 White-winged Black Terns had been seen at Stodmarsh.  I guessed Steve Ashton would be at Stodmarsh so I called him for an update, he kindly informed me that the birds were still there.
On arrival at the Lampen Wall the birds were showing well though the light was terrible(thats my excuse) I spent a long time watching and try to photograph them before having a plod around the reserve. At the water meadows a Wood Sandpiper, a Greenshank and distant flight view of a Temminckt's Stint with 4 Ringed Plovers. Hoping for better views I walked round to Harrisons drove with Gavin Coultrip, then to the Marsh Hide but no luck, though a Lapwing performed in front the hide and Hobby's seemed to be everywhere. Arriving back at the Lampen Wall I heard that the stint was back at the water meadows so had a quick walk there to get good scope views of it.
Also seen and heard were Reed, Sedge, Cetti's and Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Treecreepers and a Nightingale.   

Northern France 25/05/12

With thoughts of a 0300 alarm I was unable to sleep. At midnight I got up and drove as well as plodded round my Nightingale tetrads. I only heard 2 singing males which hopefully means all the other birds are paired up and breeding.
 At 0415 I met TG,MH and PT our chauffeur for the day, we then picked up CP en route to the chunnel. First stop Sailly Bray a superb area of wet meadows managed for hunting. Larson Traps were much in evidence and seemed very effective as few corvids were seen but passerines were numerous and much to our delight several Grey Partridges were present. The star birds here were at least 3 Bluethroats, 3+ Marsh Warblers, Serins, a reeling Savi's Warbler (which myself and CP could not here but seemed to deafen the other 3) 3 Fly over Black-winged Stilts, a Great white Egret (which I missed) a supporting cast of Stonechats, Cuckoo's, Turtle Doves, Yellow and White Wagtails, Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Skylarks and Reed buntings, also most the common Warblers.
Turtle Dove
Nest stop Le Crotoy where some road side pools with lots of Breeding Black-headed Gulls, a couple of fly over Mediterranean gulls, 4 White Storks flew over, 10+ Turtle Doves, 2 Garganey another Black-winged Stilt, a Common Sandpiper and a few other commoner ducks.
Next stop Marquenterre where in a single Pine tree a White Stork on its nest with Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Night heron, Little Egret and Cattle Egret  an marvellous sight. As this is a popular site we had a quick walk in the woods where we glimpsed a Tawny Owl thanks to a Jay, saw more Turtle Doves, heard a Nightingale and had good views of a Crested Tit.
Honey Buzzard
Our last stop was Crecy Forest. Where a Honey Buzzard gave superb views and at least 3 more were seen, as were several Common Buzzards and Hobby's. Also there 2+ Short-toed Treecreepers, 3 singing Melodious Warblers, more Garden Warblers and a nuthatch bringing our species tally for the day to a very respectable 96. A great day out in superb company.

A darker HB

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Moths & Dragons

The Patch was very quiet today with only 6 Common Terns, 3 Sandwich Terns, 1+ Yellow -legged Gull and 5 Whimbrel and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits through.
Round The Point migrants were non existent. 2 resident Black Redstarts collecting food for separate broods and a Wheatear.
I had a pleasant hour at the obs where the moth trap seems to have done well last night. DB kindly  tried to educate me in moth ID as I am a complete moth Philistine.  Thanks to him I am starting to become interested in moths.
At the north end of the trapping area the only bird of note was a flyover Greenshank. Four-spotted Chasers, Hairy Dragonflys, Broad-bodied Chasers were much in evidence along with a number of Damselflys.
At the ARC Pit little of note.
A small group of us are off to Northern France tomorrow for a days birding which should be good.  
Eyed Hawkmoth

Light Brocade

Peppered Moth

Poplar Hawkmoth

White Spot

Four-spotted Chaser

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

8 Red Kites

After a call from Nick Green last night ( alerting me to 4 Red Kites that had been following a plough near Shadoxhurst, which is a very short journey from my home, had me on site at 07.45. Even as I parked I could 2 Red Kites sitting out in the ploughed field and 2 more in a tree in the middle of the field. As I watched them 2 more Red kites dropped out of the back of tree into the field  making 6.  (many thanks Nick) I called a couple of local birders but as often happens just before they arrived all 6 Kites just upped and flew off north. Just as MH and BP arrived another Red Kite (No.7) flew in from the south and continued northwards, at least there journey was not a  waste of time. We all decided to go back to Dungeness to spend some time on the viewpoint. As we turned into Boulderwall Farm another Red Kite (No.8) appeared being harrassed by a Marsh Harrier which it dwarfed. Most of the Kites were quite tatty individuals untagged and probably originating from the continent.

From the viewpoint we saw 4 Marsh Harriers, 3+ Hobby's, a Cuckoo, several flight views of Bearded Tits, a Common Tern fishing infront the veiwpoint, Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers singing around us, also a Lesser Whitethroat and the Bittern boomed several times.
The Little Stint was still at the south end of the ARC Pit and on the sea 4-500 Common Terns along with adult Iceland Gull untill the sea fog moved in and obscured The Patch.
On Walland Marsh plenty of Tree Sparrows at all the usual spots, a few Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers, 3 Turtle Doves and 3 Marsh Harriers.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Another Missed Bee-eater

A family of  6 Ravens
This morning at The Patch the adult Iceland Gull still present, also 1st summer Little Gull, 1+ adult Yellow-legged Gulls and 600+ Common Terns. As there was a Reed Warbler new in on the sea wall at the back of The Patch, I decided to plod along the bottom of the sea wall to Dengemarsh Gully in the hope of something good. I found 2 pairs of Wheatears on the open ground west of the power station, a pair of Ringed Plovers, a Yellow Wagtail, 20+ Linnets and a family of 6 Ravens on the switching station. Just before I reached Dengemarsh Gully I got a text about a Bee-eater on wires by the station at least 20 minute walk away. I got to the station as quickly as possible but was to late. Apparently the bird w3as only on the wires for a few minutes before flying south.
I spent most the afternoon on the concrete road at The Point staring out to sea scanning for a Roseate Tern and enjoying the sun. Up to 100 Gannets off shore and a few Common and Sandwich Terns tooing and froing and a few Swallows trickling in but not the hoped for Roseate Tern.
At the south end of the ARC Pit a Little Stint, a Dunlin, a Little-ringed Plover, 3 Ringed Plovers, a Redshank, 2 Oystercatchers, a Cuckoo, 4 Hobby's hawking the railway bank and a Marsh Harrier.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Iceland Gull

A short visit to Scotney in a cold northerly wind this morning found a summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, a Marsh Harrier hunting near the windmills, 3 Wigeon and  little else of note.
I had just arrived at the north end of the Long Pits when I received a text from OL to say DW was watching an adult Iceland gull at The Patch.
A few minutes later I was watching the gull roosting on the beach and later feeding in The Boil. Also there 400-500 Common terns and 2 Mediterranean Gulls. Later I went back to The Patch with MH and the Gull was still there, also a first summer Little Gull.

 On the beach near the Iceland Gull a Herring Gull with with identical black smudges on both sides of its face and round its throat. Presumably feeding stains.

From The Patch I went to the reserve which was decidedly wind swept. I spent a very pleasant hour at the viewpoint watching up to 8 Hobby's hawking over the reed beds. These were joined by numerous screaming Swifts, 3 Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, several Common Terns, 2 Bearded Tits, a Cuckoo and singing Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A very quiet day

 A damp start to the day at Galloways where the only birds of note were a family of Stonechats and a Red-legged Partridge.
At sea from The Point the local Common Terns and Gannets tooing and froing and 2 Harbour Porpoises. On the land the resident Common Whitethroats, Northern Wheatears and Linnets, the only new migrant was a Willow Warbler in the lighthouse garden.
The Desert was devoid of birds and the trapping area held just the residents.
At the ARC Pit 5+ Hobby's and little else of note.
Huskies providing some entertainment

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Dungeness Point this morning was very quiet. A plod around the trapping area in a vain hope of finding yesterdays Woodlark was fruitless. The highlight being a Common Buzzard drifting high west.
At the south end of the ARC Pit a summer plumaged Turnstone and a Little-ringed Plover.
At Dengemarsh 3+ Marsh Harriers and 6+ Hobby's. In front the hide the C15 pairs Common Terns are making them selves at home on the rafts. As I left the hide DW called to tell me a Bee-eater was on the wires viewable from the approach road to the lighthouse. I was at least 10 minutes from my car, with another 7 or 8 minutes drive to get there achieved in less than half that (the causeway is a blur at 100 MPH). Fortunately the bird stayed long enough for me to get there  and get record pictures of it  before it flew of North. As we watched it flying away we could hear it calling when it was the best part of a mile away. Had we not been following the bird with our binoculars we would have never located it from the call believing it to be much closer. A slow day with a brilliant ending, which shows if you put in the time the rewards will come.    

Breskens 18/05/2012

Breskens vis mig viewpoint
 After picking up TG,DW and GH we drove the short distance to Dover and got the 21.20 ferry to Calais then drove the c120 miles to Breskens arriving at c01.00. On arrival a Nightingale and a Grasshopper Warbler were singing. We tried to get a few hours asleep which I was unable to do.
c04.00 dawn broke and we climbed the bank to the viewpoint. 2 Long-eared Owls were quartering the fields by my car and already a trickle of Swifts were moving along through, a Green Sandpiper dropped into the field and the first of the Yellow Wagtails came through.
Very quickly the trickle of Swifts became a flood with Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins joining them. Waders and Terns were moving along the shore and Herons,Storks and Raptors started moving. There were literally migrant birds all around a brilliant experience and this was not an exceptional day by Bresken's standards. In all 106 species were seen by us today. The highlights were:
Great-White Egret: 2
Spoonbill: 30+
White Stork: 10+
Purple Heron: 4
Honey Buzzard: 3
Common Buzzard: 7
Black Kite: 1
Marsh Harrier: 10+
Hen Harrier: 3
Montagu's Harrier: 1
Hobby: 4
Wood Sandpiper: 4
Black Tern: 6
Turtle Dove: 8+
Long_eared Owl: 2
Short-eared Owl: 1
Swift: 6000+
Swallow: 1000+
Tree Pipit: 4+
 Blue Headed/ Grey Headed Yellow Wagtail: 300+
Icterine Warbler: 1
Grasshopper warbler: 1
Hawfinch: 1
For a full species account go to:
Purple Heron

Honey Buzzard

 A nearby wetland held 18+ pairs of Black-necked Grebes, breeding Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Common Sandpipers and this small Canada Goose
Richardsons Canada goose?