Thursday, 31 January 2013

Bittern and Barn Owl

 Arriving at The Point this morning the as rain cleared and the gale subsided a little, an hour watching the sea produced many Guillemots, Razorbills, Red-throated Divers, Gannets and Kittiwakes could be seen tooing and froing. A Fulmar moved west as did a Bonxie.
 On the beach 100s of Black-headed Gulls and a few Kittiwakes one of which was bathing in a puddle. A Knot resting on the beach was unusual. As I left the beach the 3w Glaucous Gull flew over.
On New Diggings from the causeway, 2 Great White Egrets and a single Smew among the common wildfowl sheltering under the western bank, on the ARC 2 more Great White Egrets and 12 Smew (2 drakes) among large numbers of common wildfowl sheltering behind the bushes.
 From Hanson Hide 2 Bitterns, one of which flew in front the hide. A kingfisher was fishing inside the bushes by the hide and 2 Marsh Harriers were doing there best to spook everything.

 Among the many common Wildfowl a female Red Crested Pochard and a female Common Scoter.
 At Boulderwall Farm c20 Tree Sparrows round the feeders. Looking north from the track to the VC at the junction of the track to Hookers, 7 Barnacle Geese and the Greater Whitefronted Goose still present behind the fence in the sheep field also another Great White Egret making at least 5 at Dunge today.
 At Scotney 2 Black-tailed Godwits (my first of the year on the marsh), 4 Ruff, c500 Golden Plover, 22 Dunlin and the feral Barnacle Goose flock. Feeding round the hay bales by the sheep troughs 16 Corn Buntings.
 On Walland still 100s of winter thrushes, c160 Bewick Swans, 1 Black Swan, 2 Common Buzzards. By the feeders 20+ Tree Sparrows, 4 Yellow Hammers and c10 Green finches. At the triangle a stunning Barn Owl. Another excellent day on the peninsular with 84 species seen today and 132 so far this year.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Red-throated Divers

As soon as I arrived at The Point a flock of Red-throated Divers was moving west totalling 596. Off shore many Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes with a few Gannets. The 3w Glaucous Gull was on the beach.
At the Varne Sailing Club Greatstone the 2 Snow Buntings as shy as ever, On the mudflats there 100s of Oystercatcher, Knot, Dunlin and Sanderling with smaller numbers of Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwits, Ring Plover, Curlew and Grey Plover.

 On New Diggings from the causeway 3 Great White Egrets and 4 red head Smew among the common wildfowl, with another Great white Egret at the southern end of  the ARC. From Hanson  5+ red head Smew were made several fly bys, many Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Shoveller with 6+ Goldeneye and a Kingfisher. (I'm sure Mr A will have obtained some great shots)
At Scotney 300+ Golden Plover, 1,000+ Wigeon and a single Ruff were of note.  
 On Walland a Merlin posed, nearby the Bewick Swan flock numbered 82 and another family party of 5 that seem to keep to themselves on an adjacent field. The seed dump at Tickners Lane held 4 Yellow Hammers and 8 Corn Buntings. Another good day with 76 species seen on the peninsular.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


At The Point this morning visibility was very poor in the the driving misty rain. Small numbers of Guillemots, Razorbills and Red-throated Divers were tooing and froing, a small movement of Kittiwakes east and the occasional Gannet ghosted in out of the mist disappearing just as quickly.  The 3W Glaucous Gull was in  a roost next to the concrete road.
From the south end of the New Diggings 8 red head Smew were sheltering under the western bank with the common wildfowl and 2 Great White Egrets were in the reeds nearby.
Another Great White Egret was at the south end of the ARC.
 As the ARC car park was empty I braved the weather on the walk to Hanson as recently a Bittern has been showing well in the reed bed to the left of the hide. I got my self settled in the hide and gently opened the shutter, immediately a movement caught my eye  about 30mts out, raising my binos a beautiful Bittern could just about be seen motionless and then a quick movement as it caught a Stickleback or similar. As I was unable to focus the camera through the reeds and the light was awful, I just sat and watched it as it caught several fish. After c20 minutes I was joined in the hide by a new birder who had never seen a Bittern, needless to say he was delighted. A few minutes later the bird stalked off out of sight the flew over to the screen hide.
 I was later joined by BH and CT who were also sheltering from the weather. A red head Smew flew in and swam into a small bay in the reed bed to the right of the hide, another movement caught my eye and the Smew shot out. A few minutes later another Bittern jumped out of the bay flew slowly in front the hide (to close for me focus quickly or even get the whole bird in) and landed c8 mts from the hide among the Bull Rushes, where it clambered and stalked around for at least an hour for the 3 of us to watch and enjoy it and take one two pictures.

 At Scotney apart from the large numbers of Wigeon there was little of note. On a very wind and rain swept   Walland c150 Bewick Swans still and a ring tail Hen Harrier. With rain still coming down I called it a day.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Bewick's and Smew

Some of the 100s of Gulls at The Patch this morning
 After a few minutes of staring into the bright sunshine at The Point this morning I moved to The Patch which was very busy. Several 100s of Black Headed Gulls dominated with smaller numbers of the big gulls. At Sea noticeably less Auks, a few Gannets, c300 Kittiwakes and 25 Common Scoter moved east.
 From the causeway New Diggings held 9 red head Smew and 2 Great White Egrets and the ARC had 10 Smew (2 drakes) and another Great White Egret. From Hanson a Bittern showed well as did 2 Marsh Harriers and a Goldcrest also a Peregrine shot across the lake.
 At Scotney the Tundra Bean goose showed well among the Greylags, the feral Barnacle flock was still present, also 100s of Wigeon and Golden Plover, 6 Ruff and 14 Dunlin. 12 Bewick swans were in fields to the west of the pit. At the back of Scotney Court farm 12 Greater White-fronted Geese, 16 Corn Buntings, 2 Marsh Harriers and c200 Fieldfare and Redwing. Though in general winter thrush numbers were well down on previous days.
This afternoon the wind had really started to blow and the duck on the ARC were sheltering behind the bushes by the causeway. Among 100s of the common wildfowl were 19 Smew and there were 10 sheltering on New diggings making 29 for the day my biggest count this year.
Out on Walland 13 Bewick Swans at Hawthorn Corner, near Midley Cottages a further 177 Bewick Swans making a day total for the marsh of 202. 5 more Bean Geese that I assumed to be Tundras were with the largest Bewick Swan flock but distant and were flushed by dog walker on the marsh, 4 Greater White-fronted Geese flew over.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Wild Geese

Mid morning at The Point and the change of wind direction was really noticeable. With little avian activity at sea compared to recent days. Guillemots and Razorbills could still be seen but most were distant though some were fishing close inshore. Red-throated Divers were still much in evidence, also a few Kittiwakes and Gannets. The 3w Glaucous Gull was still around. 
 At the Varne Sailing Club the 2 Snow Buntings not so shy. Several Skylarks come in off the sea and Merlin flew east over the sea. As the tide dropped the waders came in and show very well for the first hour at least after the high tide. (Redshank, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Knot, Dunlin, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher)
 New Diggings held of note 9 Smew (1 drake), 4 Goldeneye and 2 Great White Egrets. The ARC from Hanson 4 red head Smew, 6 Goldeneye, 2 Kingfishers (hope they find the perches soon), 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Snipe over and a Goldcrest by the hide.
From the reserve entrance track of note the 7 Barnacle Geese, a Greater White-fronted Goose, a Common Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harriers and 2 Great white Egrets.
 At Scotney of note the Tundra Bean Goose showed well from the perimeter path, 16 Greater White-fronts flew over and the long staying Common Crane could  just about be seen at extreme range.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Winter Thrushes

08.35-10.05 at The Point:
Red-throated Diver: 200+
Gannet: c40 off shore 
Shelduck: 2W
Common Scoter: 26W  9E
Velvet Scoter: 17W  with 15 Common Scoter
Kittiwake: c100 off shore
Mediterranean Gull: 2W
3w Glaucous Gull: 1 on beach
Auks: c5,000 tooing and froing 

 With the sun peeking out occasionally, I went to the Varne Sailing Club, Greatstone, where the Snow Buntings were showing well.
 Also at The Varne a good selection of waders, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits.
All over the Peninsular still large numbers of winter thrushes. At the southern end of the New Diggings 10 Smew (1 drake) and 4 Goldeneye among the common wildfowl also 2 Great White Egrets.
From Hanson 2 red head Smew, 4 Goldeneye  and 2 Marsh Harriers hunting the reed beds. In the Willow Trail still dozens of Redwing, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests and 2 water rails squealing.
At Scotney still many Wigeon but little else of note.
The 7 Barnacle Geese that maybe the real deal still viewable from the reserve entrance track c600mts north west of Boulderwall farm, while round the farm c30 Tree Sparrows.
At Midley on Walland Marsh 176 Bewick Swans (42 juveniles), 2 Whooper Swans, a Black Swan and 2 Marsh Harriers. Another good day with 85 species recorded on the peninsular today.
On the way home driving through Shadoxhurst a Barn Owl swept across the road.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Marsh Harriers

08.00-09-30 at a very gloomy Point this morning with a bitingly cold easterly blowing the sea was positively brimming with birds. 
Red-throated Diver: c150 mainly East
Gannet: c40 off shore
Shelduck: 2w
Common Scoter: 42E  18W
Velvet Scoter: 3E  2W
Red-breasted Merganser: 1E 
Kittiwake: c200 W
Auks: c5,000w   50/50 split Guillemot and Razorbill + many on the sea.
At Greatstone I was unable to find the Snow Buntings but they were reported as being present earlier. While I was there 7 Brent Geese flew East as did 3 Eider and 24 Wigeon. On the shore large numbers of waders mainly Oystercatchers but good numbers of Sanderling, Dunlin and Knot with a few Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwits.
New Diggings held 8 red head Smew among the common wildfowl. The ARC held another 8 red head Smew, 8 Goldeneye and 2+ Marsh Harriers. The Willow Trail was full of Redwing, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds with 2 Water Rail and 2 Goldcrest.
Winter Thrushes were in large numbers all over the peninsular. By the track to the VC near Boulderwall Farm 6 Greater White-fronted Geese and 7 Barnacle Geese which could be the real deal unlike the the feral flock at Scotney. Marsh Harriers were much in evidence quartering the peninsular. A Great White Egret from Dennis's Hide but little else of note in very few wildfowl on Burrowes.
At Scotney this afternoon 1000s of Wigeon the feral Barnacle Goose Flock and 100s of Greylags.
Coming back across Walland 160+ Bewick Swans, 2 Whooper Swans, the Black Swan and more Marsh Harriers.     

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Goosanders and Whitefronts

Another gloomy day with a biting easterly wind. A brisk walk up to the Willow Trail found dozens of Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds under the bushes by the track and in the Willow Trail, also there a Woodcock again alerted to my presence by the thrushes, a Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, 2+ squealing Water Rails, 2 Cetti's Warblers and a party of Long Tailed Tits.
At the south end of New Diggings 8 red head Smew among c100 each of Tufted Duck and Pochard and a Great White Egret.
From the Fishing Boats 08.45-09.55
Red-throated Diver: 160+ off shore
Gannet: c100 E + offshore
Cormorant: c400E + offshore
Common Scoter: 26W   30E
Velvet Scoter: 4E
Red-breasted Merganser: 1 on sea
Kittiwake: c120 E
Auks: c 2000E +100s on sea  70/30 split in favour of Razorbills.
At the Varne Sailing Club Greatstone the 2 Snow Buntings in the car park. On the sands 100s of waders of 9 species and c40 Wigeon west.
At Scotney 1000s of Wigeon, the Barnacle Goose flock but little else of note.
15 0f the 28 Whitefronts that flew west over Dungeness RSPB
On the reserve 100s of Winter Thrushes, also 5 Goosanders from Dennis's hide and 6 Goldeneye. The bushes by the track to Scott hide held 2 Chiffchaff, New Excavation held 2 Great White Egrets with a Raven and 3 Marsh Harriers  over. On the way back to the VC a flock of 28 Greater White-fronted Geese flew west. At Boulderwall Farm 30+ Tree Sparrows round the feeders.
Out on Walland 100s more Winter Thrushes, 140+ Bewick Swans, 2 Whooper Swans, a Black Swan and a flock of c40 Corn Buntings near Midley. At the feeding station 20+ Tree Sparrows, 30+ Chaffinches, 10+ Greenfinches, 4 Yellowhammers and 2 Common Buzzards. The seed dump in Tickners Lane held another Common Buzzard, 6 Yellowhammers and 8 Corn Buntings. Another good day with 90 species recorded on the peninsular.  

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Thawing Out

First thing this morning at the ARC Pit. Walking out to the Willow Trail a Merlin sped low over the track flushing some of the many Redwing and fieldfares. In the Willow Trail dozens of Redwing, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes all seemingly alerting a single Woodcock to my presence, the Tit flock held a Chiffchaff and and 2 Goldcrests. As the lake was still largely frozen wildfowl numbers were low but 8 Goldeneye were notable. A walk up to The Pines  found 3 more Chiffchaffs, 2 Green Woodpeckers, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 8 Common Snipe over and 2 Marsh Harriers.
A Mallydams bird by the fish shop
 At The Patch c1000 Black Headed Gulls, with lesser numbers of the big Gulls and a few Kittiwakes. Further out 100s of Guillemots and Razorbills and a few Red Throated Divers and Gannets.
This bird appears to cock its tail most of the time
 The 2 Snow Buntings performed a little better today inAdd caption the Varne Sailing Club car park  at Greatstone, on the sands there 100+ Oystercatchers, and few each of Bar Tailed Godwits, Curlews, Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling and Dunlin.
 On the New Diggings 12 Smew(2 drakes) and 4 Goldeneye with the usual wildfowl. At the visitor centre a Goldcrest perched in the entrance for a few minutes and a 30+ Tree sparrows on the feeders at Boulderwall Farm.
Back at the ARC from Hanson  the wind had broken up most of the ice but still little of note to be seen  there, walking back along the track a Bittern jumped out of one of the small reed beds taking me by surprise.
At Scotney still good numbers of wildfowl, also a Merlin and a Peregrine also 3 Bean Geese seen by CP before I arrived.
On Walland in the late afternoon gloom 150+ Bewick Swans, The usual Tree Sparrows in the bushes opposite the feeding station, in Tickners Lane at the seed dump 5 Yellowhammers, 6 corn buntings and a Common Buzzard. 86 species today on the peninsular without really trying.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow Buntings

As I got out of the car in the ARC car park first thing this morning I could hear Bewick Swans calling as they left the lake. In a couple of minutes 114 left roost on the pit. The bushes along the track to Hanson was alive with Redwings and a few Fieldfares and Reed Buntings also 2 Marsh Harriers over. The Willow Trail was also full of Redwings and Blackbirds. The view from the hide was disappointing with most of the lake frozen and few wildfowl to be seen. Driving to The Point a Great White Egret and 3 red head Smew could be seen on New Diggings.
 From the fishing boats still 100s of Razorbills, Guillemots, Great Crested Grebes and 10s of Red Throated Divers, Gannets and Kittiwakes tooing and froing, also 18 Common Scoter moved west.
Scotney pits were covered in wildfowl, mainly Wigeon and Greylags, but also good numbers of Pochard and Tufted Duck. The Barnacle Goose flock was still present and in the small copse dozens of Redwing and fieldfare and a single Woodcock.
News from PT that he had seen the 2 Snow Buntings in Greatstone Dunes first seen Saturday by OL. I was joined on the beach by the dunes at Greatstone by CT and SB where we saw a few Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits, on the shore Sanderling, Dunlin, Knot, Bar Tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Curlew and Oystercatchers but no Snow Buntings. I decided to walk along the dunes to the sailing club and saw a few more Reed Buntings also a few winter Thrushes but Snow Bunting. I was half way back when SB called to say the Buntings were just east of the sailing club. Another hike back and I could see them. They were uncharacteristically flighty not allowing close approach and flying several hundreds of yards each time a dog walker came near.    
On Burrowes Pit 2 Great White Egrets from Dennis's Hide, from Scott a red head Smew, a Raven 2 Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine. Along the track 200+ Golden Plover and 20+ Common Snipe over.
On Walland near Midley I counted 162 Bewick Swans but there may well have been more as they were distant and the light was failing, also a Merlin dashed over a ploughed field putting up a flock of c40 Corn Buntings. Driving through the lanes winter Thrushes were much in evidence.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Orlestone Again

Orlestone Forest
By 11.00 hrs and the snow still falling I had to get out into the woods. A couple of hours wandering    along the forest tracks not really seeing much. Once again 3 rear end views of Woodcock, plenty of Redwings and Blackbirds with a few Fieldfares and a couple of Tit flocks, 2 calling Tawny Owls. Getting back to the car I parked up near a feeding station and let the birds come to me.