Thursday, 30 August 2012

Cattle Egret

The Point this morning seemed fairly quiet with the Terns and Gannets seemingly tooing and froing feeding off shore.
A call from BP had me moving rapidly onto the reserve to see a Cattle Egret on Burrowes. The Egret was with 7 Little Egrets and they all promptly took off as I arrived and landed out of sight behind an Island. In the hour or so waiting in Dennis hide for the Egret to appear 30+ Knot flew through, 12+ Turnstone, 10+ Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Hobbys, 1 Peregrine, 1 Raven and 2 Marsh Harriers were also seen. Eventually the Cattle Egret took off with a Little Egret and flew to Dengemarsh.

After driving to Dengemarsh and walking round the hay field, the Great white Egret was seen along with several Yellow Wagtails while the Cattle Egret was vey mobile moving all over Dengemarsh.
The Little Owl was on the chicken sheds at Dengemarsh and a Black tern was on Bretts Marina.
At Scotney 200+ Golden Plover and common Sandpiper.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


A little Owl on the derelict buildings opposite Romney Farm on my way to Dungeness.
An hour at The Point this morning was relatively interesting with:
Balearic Shearwater: 1E
Fulmar: 3E
Gannet: 173W  36E
Common Scoter: 8E  2W
Kittiwake: 3W + 2 juvs off shore
Common Terns: 213W
Arctic Tern: 2W
Sand Martin: 5 out
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ off shore
At the obs DB told me that a Spotted flycatcher was in The Moat the first of the autumn for me. I had just located it when I got a call from BP about an Osprey heading my way over Burrowes. From the top of The Moat DB located it near the power station, we tracked as it disappeared on the seaward side of the power station by the explosion of Herring gulls. Also in The Moat 2 Willow Warblers and 3+ Common Whitethroats. DW had a Pied flycatcher in the trapping area.
At the ARC 3 Knot, 6+ Dunlin, 5+ Ringed Plover, 3+ Common Sandpipers, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 20+ Golden Plover, 2+ Garganey, a Hobby and a Peregrine.  

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bits and Pieces

At The Patch this morning 2 Little Gulls, 1 Arctic Tern and 1 Black Tern probably the same birds that have been there for while.
At the ARC in the company of MH a Cormorant on the small pool by the track to Hanson with something large in its throat that it was trying to disgorge. From Hanson 20+ Dunlin, 3+ Common Sandpipers, 6+ Ringed Plovers, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper which made the day for MH, also 2 Marsh harriers, 2+ Garganey, several Yellow Wagtails, a Hobby and a Ruff at the south end.
At Brett's marina a Black Tern and several Yellow Wagtails and Whinchat at Dengemarsh.
A Plod along Scotney GP found 100+ Yellow Wagtails 200+ Golden plover, 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Marsh Harriers also 2 Bar headed Geese among the 100s of Greylags.
Late this afternoon at The Midrips the juvenile Monty's still present along with 2 Marsh Harriers lots of  Dunlin and Ringed Plovers, 1 Knot, 8 Wheatears, more Yellow Wagtails, a steady trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows moving west. On the shore 40+ each of Sandwich and Common Terns.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Long-tailed Skua's

Due to domestic duties this morning I missed most of probably the best sea watch so far this year.
When I finally arrived at the fishing boats I was given a some what sarcastic round of applause from some of my kind hearted friends, who informed me with some glee of 10 Long-tailed Skua's, 100+ Arctic Skua's, 300+ Black Terns, 10+ Balearic Shearwaters with a supporting cast of Pomarine and Great Skua's and much more. If this was not bad enough my arrival coincided with an almost complete cessation of the seabird passage and most observers leaving (always a bad sign).
I stuck it out for a couple of hours and ended up seeing:
Balearic Shearwater: 2W
Gannet: 53W
Common Scoter: 29W
Ringed Plover: 13W
Arctic Skua: 9W
Long-tailed Skua: 1W
Black Tern: 17W
Common Tern: 161W
Guillemot: 1 on sea
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ off shore
On a normal day a really good sea watch but not a patch on what I missed, I still feel cheated and I'm sure my good friends wont let me forget. (The B*******)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Plodding Around and Water Rail first for me

The Midrips
Thinking that Dungeness would be swamped with visitors this morning I decided to go to The Midrips for a quiet morning. The pools held a few waders 156 Dunlin, 72 Ringed Plover, 4 Common Sandpipers, 3 Curlew, 1 Knot, 1 Sanderling, 40+ Golden Plover over, 4 Wheatears and a steady westerly passage of Sand Martins. Last Thursday evening CT had rung me about a Ring Tail Harrier he had seen there, but as we had seen a Ring Tail Hen Harrier close by that afternoon left it at that.

Hen Harrier
 As I made my way along the sea wall I had to brief distant views of a Harrier which looked to me like Hen Harrier. Shortly after CT caught up with me and we sat on the sea wall by the third pool. After while a Harrier was seen distantly being chased by a Sparrowhawk towards Galloways where it disappeared. Shortly another Harrier was seen coming from that direction and eventually flew quite close and was definitely a Hen Harrier. As we watched it hunting round the back of the pools another very gingery Harrier came in a juvenile Montagu's Harrier. The bird appeared to be catching what we assume were Dragonflys and taking them back to the bank to consume them, which it did on at least a dozen occasions. While watching the Harrier we also saw a Hobby, Merlin, Kestrel and a Marsh Harrier. Nearby at Scotney GP 100+ Golden Plover and 60+ Yellow Wagtails.
A very poor distant record of Juvenile Montagu's Harrier
 A visit to the ARC Pit found 1 Ruff and 1 Common Sandpiper at the south end. From Hanson 26 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 Black Tailed Godwit and 3+ Garganey.
Water Rail Chick
 A text from SB about some Water Rail chicks at Scott hide was irresistable as I have never seen the chicks before. Fortunately as soon as I arrived on site 2 chicks were showing through the reeds. A brilliant first for me.

Saturday, 25 August 2012


A very windy and sometimes damp Dungeness today. A couple of visits to the ARC found 41 Dunlin, 17 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Common Sandpipers, 4 Garganey, 43 Common Terns, 1 Black tern, 1 Little Gull, 2 Marsh Harriers and several hundred Sand Martins.
Sea watching from The Point and the fishing boats 1 Balearic Shearwater E, minimum of 5 Arctic Skua's tooing and froing, 1 Black Tern W, 1 Razorbill W(my first of the autumn), 2 Teal W, Many Gannets and Common Terns off shore feeding, at least 1 Juvenile Arctic Tern, 5+ of the ever present Harbour Porpoises, also the adult Yellow-legged Gull on the beach.
Yellow-legged Gull

Thursday, 23 August 2012


A late start this morning still suffering bravely and needing a hair cut. Had a look at the ARC from Hanson and found no real change from yesterday. The Willow Trail held 5+ Willow Warblers. I joined TG and BM at the obs on a raptor watch. The highlight being an Osprey all be it distant and straight out to see, also seen 13 Sparrowhawks and 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Wheatears round the moat.
I spent the best part of 4hrs sea watching by the fishing boats and was later joined by TG in the hope that yesterdays Roseates might return. Unlike yesterday most the Terns were along way out as were 3+ Arctic Skua's and a few Gannets, 2 Little Terns were seen (not common here in Autumn). Although not alot was seen it was thoroughly enjoyable chatting, lounging in our chairs soaking up the sun(hard work but someones got to do it). Late afternoon I received a text from SB about a Ringtail Harrier at Galloways that might be interesting but was only seen distantly. On my arrival SB was still there and the Harrier soon showed distantly in the heat haze that's my excuse, we were still none the wiser until a little later when we joined by CT, it then flew straight past us out on to the ranges confirming that it was a Hen Harrier also 4+ Whinchats there. 

Hen Harrier Pity about the heat haze

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Weevers and Roseate's

Jersey Tiger
 A quick look at The Patch this morning revealed no change to yesterday, with a Little Gull, a juvenile Arctic Tern among the usual Terns and Gulls.
A plod around The Desert found 7 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Common Whitethroat, 3 Yellow wagtails, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat, 3 Sparrowhawks and 3 Green Woodpeckers. At the obs a Jersey tiger (first for the obs) was released. The ARC was very disappointing with just 2 common Sandpipers and 2 Dunlin, I could not even find any Garganey.
Jersey Tiger on release
 I went to the fishing boats where I was joined by CT and BH. Lots of Common and Sandwich Terns off shore along with a few Gannets and 4 Sanderling flew west.
The tide was exceptionally high and some small fish were being washed ashore. I picked up the first one and put back in the sea, a few minutes later another was washed ashore, I bent down to pick it up and yelped in excruciating pain the like of which I have never experienced before. Blood was literally fountaining from my thumb as I hopped around uttering expletives not knowing what to do, but slowly realising that the fish was a Weever. My thumb felt as if it would burst as did my finger tips. Even now 7 hours later my thumb is very painful.(I'm probably just a wimp)
While I was leaping around DW turned up and started to photograph the fish and its deadly stinging fin. As he was getting a close up there was a different call from the terns. DW immediately called Roseate Tern as an adult and juvenile were literally overhead then flew west fortunately they came back along the shoreline and made several passes allowing us to get some shots of them. Some compensation for the pain I was in.
Ad. breeding Roseate Tern

Juv. Roseate Tern

Juv. Roseate Tern

Ad breeding Roseate Tern

Ad. Breeding Roseate Tern

Juv. Roseate Tern

Juv. Roseate Tern

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

All at Sea

Quiet again at The Patch this morning with 1+ Arctic Tern, 1 Black Tern, c30 Common Terns, C15 Sandwich Terns, 1 Little Gull, 2 Black Redstarts on the power station and 2 Wheatears by the red and white gate.
After chat at the obs and another lesson in moth ID I went back to the ARC where I met MH and was joined by RK and TW from Sussex. The company was good but the birds were disappointing with just 1 Little Gull, 1+ Garganey, 2 Redshank, 3 common Sandpipers, c50 Golden Plover, 2 Marsh Harriers and c100 Sand Martins, also we only managed 2+ Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall but the feeders were empty.

Part of a flock of 28 Black Terns
 After parting company I went down to the sea from the concrete road where I spent c3hours. The stars of the afternoon were 2 flocks of Black Terns 28 and 24 respectively.
Gannets: off shore the whole time.
Common Scoter: 7E 12W
Turnstone: 3 on beach
Arctic Skua: c4 off shore
Little Gull: 1W
Yellow-Legged Gull: 1 on beach
Kittiwake: 3W
Black Tern: 55W  (28+24+1+1+1)
Sandwich Tern: c25 off shore
Common Tern: c50 off shore
Arctic Tern: 2 juveniles W
Swift: 1 out
Sand Martin: 8 out
Harbour Porpoise: 6+ off shore
Grey Seal: 1
Black Tern

Common Tern

Sandwich Tern

Arctic Skua

Juvenile Turnstone

Yellow-legged Gull

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bits and Pieces

The Point was covered in fog with seemingly few birds around when I arrived this morning. TG had been into the trapping area and seen 50+ Willow Warblers, 3 Lesser Whitethroat and a Redstart.
I needed to go to the reserve centre so I thought I'd spend the morning there.
On Burrowes of note just 2 Common Sandpipers. While walking up to Dengemarsh I found a Lesser Emperor Dragonfly which was flying up and down the path refusing to settle after ten minutes it disappeared. Carrying on to Dengemarsh the Great White Egret was viewable from the path to Hookers and 6+ Willow Warblers were in the bushes. With little else to see I went back to Christmas Dell to have another look for the dragonfly and found it in the same place. I took dozens of images in the next 15 minutes as it dashed up and down the track at breakneck speed before it disappeared again, but only managed 1 that was partially in focus. As I left the reserve I received a text from PT alerting me to an Osprey heading south at Lade but was unable to see it.
The only partially in focus image I managed of this Lesser Emperor
In 3 visits to the ARC today 3 Common Sandpipers, 1 Wood Sandpiper, C35 Golden Plover,4 Garganey, an adult Little Gull, 2 Marsh Harriers and several hundred Sand Martins.
A quick look at Scotney found 200+ Golden Plover, 3 Yellow Wagtails and Marsh Harrier among 100s of Greylag and Canada Geese.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Willow Warblers

I didn't bother with The Patch this morning as judging by the car park the beach would be smothered in fishermen. First look at the Lighthouse Garden revealed it to be virtually bird less, so was taken aback on arrival at the obs to be told of 30+ Willow warblers and a Pied Flycatcher in The Moat.
A walk around The Moat found easily 30 Willow Warblers but the Pied Flycatcher had gone missing.
A check around Lloyds, West Beach, The Lighthouse and the station found another 6. A wander around The Desert, the high gorse and the south edge of the trapping area found at least another 32 with 8 Common Whitethroats. 

 Moving on to the ARC where most the waders had gone leaving just 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Golden Plover. The Willow trail held another 4 Willow Warblers and another 12 on the track to and around the pines. From the pines I saw a Honey Buzzard flying north over Boulderwall presumably the same bird seen over Burrowes and from the screen 2+ Garganey and 2 Marsh Harriers. 

 A very hot plod from the ARC car park to Springfield Bridge found c10 Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall with another 5 at Hookers, still plenty of Reed and sedge warblers in the ditches and bushes also a few more Willow Warblers. A few Cetti's Warblers are still making themselves heard around the reserve. At the viewing ramp 4 Bearded Tits and 4 Marsh Harriers and 3 Swifts with the increasing numbers of Swallows. On Dengemarsh the Great white Egret showed well then flew to north end of the marsh. Wandering back 6+ Yellow wagtails flew over and a party of c50 Golden Plover. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012


A late start due to domestic duties but lunch time at the ARC in baking Hanson hide found 1 Knot, 5 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 5 Common Sandpipers, c50 Golden Plover, 5 Garganey, 1 adult Little Gull, the juvenile female Peregrine, c30 Yellow Wagtails and many Hirundines over the pit(C150 Sand martins, C100 Swallows, C30 House martins and 2 Swifts).
An hour and half at the fishing boats sitting soaking up the glorious sunshine in a cool breeze was entertaining with up to 3 Arctic Skua's beating up c100 Common Terns and c25 Sandwich Terns, also 37 Swallows and 4 Sand martins flew south and up 11 Harbour Porpoises were off shore. 
Late afternoon a plod from Springfield Bridge to the viewing ramp at Hookers saw 10+ Yellow Wagtails, 5 little Egrets, the newly arrived Great White Egret, 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Ravens and a Whinchat making use of the anti predator fencing. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Another victim of a Angler

At the point this morning little of note 0800-0900:

Fulmar: 2w
Gannet: 107w  42E
Common Scoter: 9E  4w
Little Gull: 1 at The Patch
Common Tern: c200 moving into Hythe bay
Swift: 1 in
Harbour Porpoise: 8+
At the ARC lees waders than of late but still 2 Little Stints, 9 Common Sandpipers, 1 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plovers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 3+ Garganey and c100 Sand Martins.
Cap Blanc Nez from Dungeness
This afternoon the french coast was very clear which did not bode well for a sea watch. In 3 hrs:
Balearic Shearwater: 1w
Fulmar: 1E
Gannets: 32W 14E
Black Tern: 2 off shore
Common Tern: 40+ off shore
Arctic Tern: 1 Juvenile off shore
Arctic Skua: 1W
Sand Martin: 7 out
Harbour Porpoise: 11+
Grey Seal: 1
Juvenile Herring Gull fighting a losing battle to stay afloat
A juvenile Herring Gull flew into a fisherman's line, instead of trying to free the bird, he remained in his chair and cut his line, leaving the gull entangled with the weights dragging it down. The gull lasted c10 minutes before it drowned. The gulls wing was probably broken when it flew into the line and would probably have perished any way. Although the collision was not the fisherman's fault it was the callous way he made no attempt to aid the gull.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Pied Flycatcher

On its way to Gaza
 With little moving at sea this morning a short watch was in order. A few Terns and Gannets, the Little Gull and Black Tern were seen. Probably the most interesting sighting was The Estelle on its way to the Gaza blockade.
 On the ARC the highlights were the 2 Little Stints still, a good count of 34 Redshank, 4+ Common Sandpipers, 3 Ringed Plovers, 7 Golden Plovers, a Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 2 Little Egrets, 5 Garganey, the large juvenile female Peregrine, 2 Marsh harriers and c200 Sand Martins.
 A text from BP had me plodding out to Hookers for a Pied Flycatcher. On the way 2 Whimbrel in the fields, a Raven over, 2 Yellow Wagtails over and 4 Swifts. In the bushes with the flycatcher several Reed Warblers and a Willow Warbler. On my way back to the car 2 Marsh Harriers and a couple of Tree sparrows at Boulderwall.
 A couple of hours at the fishing boats this afternoon found no improvement in the sea bird passage. 5+ Harbour Porpoises kept me entertained some coming close in shore, but very difficult to get good pics of them.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

All at Sea

From the sea watch hide this morning with DW and TG:

Balearic Shearwater: 1+ W
Fulmar: 1 W
Gannet: c300
Shoveler: 7 E
Common Scoter: 26E 17W
Peregrine: 1 chasing terns over The Patch
Little Gull: 1+ o/s
Guillemot: 1 o/s
Black Tern: 2 o/s
Common Tern: c300 moved into Hythe bay
Arctic Skua: 4 o/s
Bonxie: 1 w
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ o/s

On the ARC from Hanson 2 Little Stints, 4+ Common Sandpipers, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Dunlin, 4+ Little ringed Plovers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 11 Golden Plovers and 5 Garganey. By the pines c200 Sand Martins, a juvenile Cuckoo, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtails and Hobby.
Another watch from The point 14.00-16.00 with MH and TG:
Balearic Shearwater: 1E
Fulmar: 2E
Gannet: 50+ o/s
Black Tern: 3+
Sandwich Tern: 30+ o/s
Common Tern: 150+ o/s
Arctic Skua: 3 o/s
Swallow: 1 out
Swift: 53 out
Harbour Porpoise: 6+

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Sods Law

A fishermans legacy
 At The Patch this morning a Great Black Backed Gull with a tangle of fishing line firmly entangled round one of its legs. The tangle was c1mt long but the gull was still able to fly. Nothing else of note was seen.
With slightly damp and very humid weather this morning I was hoping for a fall of migrants, but was sadly disappointed. Walking from the lighthouse to the obs no migrants were seen. At least the Wasp Spider posed.
Wasp Spider

 The best part of a couple of hours was spent sitting in the obs garden drinking tea bemoaning the lack of migrants and putting the world to rights, though a couple of Swallows and a Marsh Harrier moved over the obs. GH arrived and suggested we go in land to see some Violet Helleborines. They were situated in a brilliant Beech and Hornbeam wood but in deep shade. After photographing them and being bitten by some voracious Mozzies, we came across a Tit flock that contained a couple Nuthatches, 2+ Treecreepers and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that really posed for us. Sods Law all I had with me was my macro lens, so I just enjoyed the superb views of it until it started to move away, when I took a couple of snaps of it with the macro (see the rubbish results below). My normal 400mm lens would have nailed it. 
Violet Helleborine

Violet Helleborine