Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Still waiting for it to happen!

Yesterdays seawatch was slow but today was even worse, only the 4+ Harbour Porpoises very close to shore were of any interest. 2 Black Redstarts on the power station wall and a Wheatear by the station. At the south end of the ARC nothing of note but on a second visit 4 Whimbrel had dropped in.
As I was having a coffee break at home 3 Jays flew over and out towards the ranges.
Parking at the entrance to Scotney Court I then walked to the western end of the pit and back seeing the Long-tailed Duck again roosting on the eastern spit and 2 Whimbrel on the turf, probably the most interesting sight was a burnt out Hot Hatch in the layby opposite the pit. 
 Another plod from Springfield Bridge round the Hayfields found the usual singing warblers, 2 drake Garganey, 5 more Whimbrel and a 2 Yellow Wagtails, also the Bittern booming periodically, The improved Tern rafts were put out on Dengemarsh today, Craig doing the hard work holding the outboard! note the state of the art anchor.
Whimbrel south end of the ARC
With little at Dungeness and SC tweeting a Black Kite near Appledore I made my way across the marsh to East Guldeforde to scan across the fields to Appledore and Rye, but could only find Common Buzzards. I was a few hundred yards from home when OL text a Red Kite over the trapping area, parking quickly I scanned the horizon towards the trapping area and the gantry but could see nothing in the heat haze apart from 4 Marsh Harriers round the tower, another scan picked up a raptor that appeared to be over the airport, once in the scope a very hazy Red Kite materialised a few more minutes scanning picked up a Peregrine and a Raven. PT found a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe on Lade North Pit this morning.    

Monday, 29 April 2013

Maybe Tomorrow

April 29th prime sea watching time and only PT and Barney in the sea watch hide did not bode well for an exciting watch. As the following totals sorry tale tells. 07.15-09.00

Red-throated Diver: 1E
Black-throated Diver: 1E
Fulmar: 2 off shore
Gannet: c25 off shore
Brent Goose: 7E
Common Scoter: 68E   9W
Eider: 4E   (3 adult drakes)
Arctic Skua: 2E
Great Skua: 2E
Commic Tern: 45E    c30 off shore
Sandwich Tern: c15 off shore
As The joker would say a good day in Bedfordshire!!!!!

With few migrants seemingly about and nothing of note at the south end of the ARC I cut my losses to prepare the house for the arrival of plumbers and electricians.
2hrs BOP watching from the house balcony was disappointing with 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel and the resident Marsh Harriers,
The forecast for the next 2 days looks hopeful, ever the optimist.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Few Migrants

Early morning with King Squacco at Scotney where the Long Tailed Duck was in its favourite pose but little else to be seen. Next stop The Midrips where as soon as we got out the car a Merlin and a Marsh Harrier flew over, a pair of Garganey flew west along the shore but there were no Terns off shore. On the grassy areas 8+ Wheatears and a Yellow Wagtail, 2 Mediterranean Gulls flew west and on the pools a singles of Avocet and Greenshank, 2 Black Tailed Godwits, 2 Bar Tailed Godwits, 8 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover and 10+ Redshank. A drive down Galloways found 6+ Wheatears, a Stonechat and a few Meadow Pipits. Dengemarsh Gully was disappointing with just a Wheatear and a Peregrine. 
Long Tailed Blob
 An evening walk from Springfield Bridge to Hookers Pit and back found  of note 21 Whimbrel on Dengemarsh flood with another 11 on Hayfield 3, where there was c20 Dunlin and c12 Ringed Plover and a drake Garganey. Near Hookers a party of 8 Yellow Wagtails, the Bittern booming, the ever present Marsh Harriers and good numbers of Sedge and Reed Warblers singing despite the cold wind.
A Montagu's Harrier flew west through the ranges at c19.00hrs per OL.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

In and out

An early morning walk from Springfield Bridge to Hookers and back found plenty of Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers singing along with several Common Whitethroats in the cold north wind, at least 1 Bittern was booming and a couple of Marsh Harriers were quartering the reed beds. In the hayfields a Ruff a Greenshank and 2 Whimbrel, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers displaying. The first broods of Greylags are out and about being eyed by a stoat. At Hookers my first Cuckoo of the year, a Lesser Whitethroat singing from its usual bush.
While having breakfast after a bit of painting a call from SB alerting me to a Red-Rumped Swallow over Burrowes Pit, I managed to get there in time to see it high over Burrowes and New Diggings with a mixed flock of House Martins, Sand Martins , Swallows and Swifts. Despite waiting c1hr it did not return so no pics were obtained but Mike Buckland managed a few good shots HERE but 2 Ravens, a Great White Egret, a Peregrine and 3+ Whimbrel were seen.
Early afternoon while doing more decorating a text from Mike about a Long-tailed Duck at Scotney, when I arrived an assortment of locals were there looking at a pale blob asleep on the spit, until it lifted its head to reveal its identity. This was presumably the bird reported last Sunday and the first on the peninsular this year apart from a couple of flybys seen by DW. It was still present this evening along with a Wheatear, 20+ Yellow Wagtails, 5 Whimbrel and a Marsh Harrier.

Friday, 26 April 2013

A Wash Out

First thing this morning sea passage was nil in the drizzle! I gave up after 45 minutes with grand totals of 12 Common Terns, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Swallow in and a few Gannnets off shore with a couple of Harbour Porpoises.
A Black Redstart on the power station wall and a Willow Warbler by the car park were the only birds of note on the way to the obs.
At the back of the obs was a Whinchat my first of the year, a wander around the southern part of trapping area and the desert in the increasingly heavy rain was virtually bird less. Back in the moat several Common Whitethroats and the Whinchat.
At the south end of the ARC a party of 21 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel and the Spotted Redshank. A Great White Egret was sheltering under the bank, also another on New Diggings and 4 Swifts through.  
A brief dry spell early afternoon allowed a wander around the Willow Trail and up to the tower with King Squacco before the rain set in again.  In that time a Lesser Whitethroat was singing by the car park as were Common Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Cetti's Warbler which were found all along the walk, also plenty of Reed Buntings and a 3 Whimbrel. At the tower we just missed a male Hen Harrier but saw 2 Marsh Harriers and a Hobby another first of the year for me.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Living on the Marsh

View out to the ARC/RSPB reserve and power station from the small balcony of my new abode! (pity about the cables) Looking forward to all the raptors!
 Finally my move to the marsh has happened and we are now settled in. BT excelled themselves by installing a new phone line and Internet connection far speedier than estimated, so I am now back in blogland.
 First thing at The Point this morning the fog was so dense I could not even see the sea! A wander from the Old Lighthouse to the observatory produced only a Black Redstart. While at the Obs PT HERE text to say he had a Ring-necked Duck (Conningsbrook Bird?) on Lade South Pit. A few minutes later we were watching the duck in the foggy gloom. Myself and King Squacco were about to leave when the fog started to lift allowing better views of the duck while a few parties of Swallow flew through.

 Stopping at the south end of the ARC the Spotted Redshank swam out from behind the sedge very briefly a Greenshank flew in and was flushed immediately by a Marsh Harrier.  2 adult Mediterranean Gulls flew in to wash and preen and a couple more Swallows went through. On New Diggings 2 immature Great White Egrets.
Popped home for breakfast and then a wander round Dengemarsh where a Wood Sandpiper had been seen to drop into Hayfield 3 which was covered in a low mist and heat haze, Greenshank, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Lapwing could be seen and a Raven and Peregrine flew over. After a spot of lunch and few chores I went back to the south end of the ARC, where 3 Whimbrel and the Spotted Redshank were showing well, until a pair of birders pulled up behind me and got out their car and flushed everything, not the first time this has happened. Please stay in your car if visit this site!
Next stop Dengemarsh and Springfield Bridge with SB and CT. CT could see a wader at the far end of the Dengemarsh flood that puzzled him because of the heavy heat haze. The 3 of us looked there and all I could see was a Redshank but with new directions CT got me onto my first Wood Sandpiper of the year. The 3 of us walked down the side of the flood and the Sandpiper took no notice of us allowing fairly close approach with super scope views. We carried onto Hayfield 3 and the Sandpiper flew over in display flight. On the Hayfield a Greenshank and a pair of Garganey and another Peregrine flew through.
Taken at 21.25 25th April 2013
Many thanks to DW for ringing this evening to let me know of this stunning partial eclipse.
One of the reasons for moving to this particular house is The Big Sky view.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Alpine Swift Again

In a strong SW wind this morning a reasonable sea watch but by 09.45 passage had finished. Of note 54 Great Skuas, 10+ Arctic Skuas, 35+ Mediterranean Gulls and a Little Gull. By the car park 6+ Wheatears.
 A few minutes after leaving the beach news came through that yesterdays Alpine Swift had been relocated at Lade by PT of Plovers Blog. A few minutes we were watching it over the caravan park with a Common Swift and a few hirundines. It showed well all day as it moved at great speed in the near gale force wind over the site. Also a Serin was seen in the caravan Park per PT.
This will be my last post for at least a week as I am moving house on to the marsh tomorrow and BT say it will take this long to install the internet.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Alpine Swift

Driving along Hestia Way this morning I was surprised to see 3 Waxwings after a break of nearly 3 weeks. These are by far my latest Waxwings.
Arriving at a nearly full sea watch hide this morning at 08.00 it was clear on entering by the long faces that nothing much was happening on the sea. AJG had been there since 05.45 and the totals below are his sightings till 08.15.

Red Throated Diver 33  E
Gannet 77  E
Brent Goose 59 E , 4 W
Common Scoter 28 E
Whimbrel 7 E
Curlew 3 E
Sandwich Tern 277 E
Common Tern 112 E
Arctic Skua 4 E
Bonxie 2 E
Med Gull 4 around
Kittiwake 11 E
Swallow 1 in
Carrion Crow 12 in
A rather meagre total for the time and effort he put in.
I had a wander with AJG round The Point up to the north end of the Long Pits and back to the observatory seeing of note 1 Black Redstart, 1 Common Redstart, 2 Firecrests, several each of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Swallows also 2 Common Whitethroat.
At the south end of the ARC the highlight was 16 Yellow Wagtails and 2 Little Egrets, also a Great White Egret on New Diggings. A wander around the Willow Trail and track to the pines found more Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, Common Whitethroats, Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers with a few Hirundines overhead.
At Scotney apart from a few Swallows little of note.
I was just climbing out out of the car at Springfield Bridge when SB phoned to say an Alpine Swift was over Boulderwall Farm heading for Hookers Pit. I immediately scanned over Dengemarsh to Hookers and a few seconds later the Alpine Swift came into view in front the viewing ramp where to people were sitting looking at Pochard totally unaware the Swift was right in front of them. It flew around Hookers for a very brief time before appearing to head back to Boulderwall not to be seen again by 18.00hrs as far as I know. A big thank you to Steve who found it and gave up his chance of photographing it, by phoning me and others, once again many thanks Steve.
Whilst making my way to the viewing ramp with AJG we saw 2 Garganey and a Greenshank in Hayfield 3, in the brambles more Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats. From the viewing ramp 3+ Marsh Harriers, 2+ Bearded Tits and more Hirundines, back at Springfield Bridge a Peregrine dashed through and a Raven went over. Another look at the sea from the fishing boats was disappointing but 8 Wheatears on the beach was good.  

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Yellow Wagtails and Garganey

A slow sea watch this morning in the company of MH and BB 08.15 - 09.45:
Red Throated Diver: 5E
Gannet: 32E
Brent Geese: 54E
Common Scoter: 45E
Velvet Scoter: 3E
Oystercatcher: 10E
Great Skua: 4E
Kittiwake: 4E
Common Tern: 15+ off shore
Sandwich Tern: 10+ off shore
Auks: 4E
Swallow: 3 in
Harbour Porpoise 3+ off shore
A plod around the bushes in the mizzle was mercifully cut short after seeing just a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Sedge Warbler by a text from SB about 3 Garganey on Hayfield 3. Parking at Springfield Bridge with BB and making our way to Hayfield 3, we met BH who told us the Garganey had moved to Dengemarsh. On arrival there the birds were easily located and showed reasonably well and showed some signs of display.

With the drizzle worsening we made our back to the shelter of our cars. Next stop Dengemarsh Gully where I found just 2 Chiffchaffs. On the way back to the beach a stop off at the south end of the ARC where 8 Yellow Wagtails and 2 Little Egrets could be seen. On New Diggings 3 Great White Egrets of which only one has moulted to breeding plumage. 15 minutes at the fishing was enough to tell me that sea passage had not improved.
From the entrance track in the field by the Boulderwall Farm 30+ Yellow Wagtails, a Whimbrel by the corral, 3 Marsh Harriers over Hookers Pit also several Sedge Warblers singing. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Trickle of Migrants

Sea watch totals from the hide 05.40-09.10 thanks to AJG for collating them:
Red throated Diver 127 E
Gannet 147 E
Fulmar 3 E
Brent Goose 315 E
Eider 22 E
Pintail 2 E
Scoter 624 E
Velvet Scoter 13 E
Red Breasted Merganser 7 E
Oystercatcher 16 E, 5 W
Curlew 2 E
Great Skua 2 E
Arctic Skua 4 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 off shore
Little Gull 2 E
Sandwich Tern119 E
Common Tern 66 E
Carrion Crow 63 in
Swallow 6 in

In the bushes around the point 2 Whitethroats, 1 Sedge Warbler, 4 Northern Wheatears, 4+ Chiffchaffs, 4+ Willow Warblers, 4+ Goldcrests, 6+ Firecrests, 2 Black Redstarts, c20 Linnets and 2 Swallows over.
A report of a possible Dotterel over the reserve heading towards the hayfields found only several Ringed Plovers, 1 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, several Lapwings, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Brent Goose, and another Wheatear.
A Great White Egret and 2 Little Egrets were of note at the south end of the ARC.
Another watch from the fishing boats 14.20-15.30:

Red Throated Diver: 74E
Gannet: 5E
Brent Geese: 2E
Red Breasted Merganser: 3E
Common Scoter: 14E
Turnstone: 8 on beach
Arctic Skua: 2E
Kittiwake: 4+ odd shore
Common Tern: 10+ off shore
Sandwich Tern: 10+ off shore
Swallow: 1 in

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Few Migrants

 A wander around The Point this morning produced a migrants, 4 Swallows, 6+ Goldcrests, c10 Firecrest, 6+Willow Warblers, 6+ Chiffchaffs, 4 Wheatears, 2 Blackcap, a Ring Ouzel, 3 Song Thrushes, a Redwing and a flight view of male Serin which disappeared near the power station, also 2 Ravens over and 145 Brent Geese high along the beach.

Ring Ouzel distant in the heat haze
At the estate entrance a male Stonechat singing. On the ARC the oiled Red Throated Diver trying desperately to clean itself and 4 red head Smew. A single Great White Egret on New Diggings.
Dengemarsh Gully held 2 more Firecrests, 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Chifchaffs and then the rain came down.

Friday, 12 April 2013

First Skua Passage

 Another good sea watch this morning at Dungeness considering the regular showers and poor visibility 06.45-10.15 Totals kindly collated by AJG.

Red throated Diver 98 E
Gannet 177 E
Fulmar 12 E   1 W
Red-necked Grebe 1 E
Brent Goose 516 E
Common Scoter 659 E
Gadwall 2 E
Eider 3 E
Red Breasted Merganser 16 E
Great Skua 42E
Arctic Skua 7 E
Mediteranean Gull 1 E
Little Gull 2 E
Kittiwake 17 E
Sandwich tern 6 E
Common Tern 133 E
Curlew 2 E
Auk 13 E  Mainly Guillemots
Swallow 1 in

                                        North Thames Herring Gull JZ1.T on the beach
                                                    Oiled Red-throated Diver

 On the ARC an oiled Red-throated Diver, 5 Smew, and 3 Goldeneye among the very few common wildfowl that has not left.
Around the reserve a few migrants, 8+ Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 6 Goldcrests, 2 Firecrests, 2 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins and a House Martin. Round Hookers 4 Marsh Harriers, a flight view of a Bittern and 4 Bearded Tits were of note. I was unable to locate any of the 3 Black Necked Grebes that were present yesterday.
A short afternoon watch from the fishing boats was not particularly productive with a few Common and Sandwich Terns, 2 Red Throated Divers and a Red Breasted Merganser. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

King Squacco Awakes!!!

Had a day out with King Squacco today, he has finally come out of his winter hibernation and had a target of a Smew and Garganey on the same day preferably in the same field of view, not much to ask for. After learning that the sea passage was very quiet we decided to start at the ARC pit. From the track to Hanson we managed to see the only red head Smew of the day(though 9 Smew were reported on Twitter this evening). A stroll around the Willow Trail found couple each of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest, several Reed Buntings, a Water Rail squealing, Cetti's Warbler chattering  and a brief flight view of a Bittern.
From the hide 4 Goldeneye among very few common wildfowl, a Great White Egret that dropped in front the Screen, a Raven flew over the pit and a Marsh Harrier patrolled the railway bank.
 Along the track to the pines and around the pits more Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Goldcrests, a Redwing, Green Woodpecker and 2+ Marsh Harriers.  
 Next stop Dengemarsh Gully. At the bottom a flock of c100 Brent Geese flew east but little else. On the way back up we stopped at the windmill and walked the Gorse where several more Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were seen also a Firecrest, 4 Blackcaps and another Raven sighting. Parking at Springfield Bridge we made our way out to the Hayfield's where we failed dismally in our search for Garganey despite the fields looking excellent habitat, but we did see a few Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank and a Grey Plover. Reaching Hookers SB spotted a House Martin first of the year for me and more Marsh Harriers were seen displaying. At the back of Hookers the Black Necked Grebe was still present and several Cetti's Warblers were singing, 2 very high flying Marsh Harriers were calling and displaying, our first Sedge warbler of the year was singing by the track and some Tree Sparrows were calling in the copse. A Whimbrel  was in the field by the entrance track from where we saw 3 Great White Egrets, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons that had been flushed from New Diggings flying together.
From Christmas Dell a Red-throated Diver could be seen, along the track yet more Cetti's Warblers, Reed Buntings, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. On New Excavations 2 more Black Necked Grebes among the Tufted Duck. Another search of the Hayfield's on the way back to the car again failed to find Garganey but did see 2 Swallows.
We ended the day at the fishing boats where 30+ more Brent Geese were seen, 3 Red Breasted Mergansers, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Sandwich Terns, a few Red Throated Divers, Kittiwakes, Gannets and 2 more Swallows came in off the sea. Coming off the beach 2 Northern Wheatears and 2 Skylarks were noted. The quest for Garganey and Smew the same day continues!  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Summer Migrants

Sea passage was not quite so good this morning. In a couple of hours from the sea watch hide 300+ Red Throated Divers, 1000+ Brent Geese, 14 Little Gulls, smaller numbers of Red Breasted Mergansers, Common Scoter, Gannets, Dabblers, Common and Sandwich Terns all accompanied by 8+ Harbour Porpoises. Not bad for a supposed quieter day.
One of several first year Kittiwakes patrolling the beach.
On the land 2+ Ring Ouzels in the desert which I failed to see, my first Willow Warblers one of which was found its way into the Heligoland and onto the Dungeness ringing figures. Also there 6+ Chiffchaff, 6+ Goldcrest , 3+ Fieldfare, 4+ Song Thrush, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Merlin. Several Hares were seen here and on the reserve.
The south end of the ARC held 11 Smew still and a little Egret. 2 Great white Egrets on New diggings from the causeway.
On the reserve 2 Spoonbills and the 2 Penduline Tits which I also missed. A Swallow at Boulderwall was my first UK one this year. While looking for the Pendulines I saw the Black Necked Grebe at the back of Hookers and 400+ Golden Plover in the fields behind also a Great White Egret briefly, some in superb summer dress. At several places around the reserve Bearded Tits were pinging but unseen and more Chiffchaffs were seen, Marsh Harriers were displaying and a Whimbrel was in the fields by the entrance track as I made my way back to the car late afternoon. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

All at Sea!!

A photograph cannot convey the spectacle of migration
A brilliant sea watch today in the company of AJG, JRHC, MH, and RJ 05.55-15.30:
Thanks to AJG for collating the totals:

Red throated Diver 474 E
Great crested Grebe 30+ off shore
Red-necked Grebe 3 E, 1 W
Fulmar              12 E
Gannet            198 E
Greylag Goose    1E
Brent Goose     3179 E
Common Scoter  8240 E
Velvet Scoter      2 E
Mallard               10 E
Shelduck              2 E
R B Merganser       151 E
Shoveller          117 E
Pintail              210 E
Teal                   90 E
Gadwall             33 E
Wigeon             31 E
Scaup                 2 E
Tufted Duck       3 E
Curlew              35 E
Whimbrel            2E
Spotted Redshank 1 In
Dunlin                135 E
Knot                      6 E
Sanderling            1 E
Ringed Plover      3 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 9 E
Avocet                  2 E
Grey Plover          7 E
Oystercatcher     27 E
Bonxie          1 E
Meditteranean  Gull 2 W
Sandwich Tern 38 E
Common Tern 108 E
Little Gull 24 E
Kittiwake 8 E
Auk sp 24 E
M/Pipit 4 in
Skylark 4 coasting
Goldfinch 2 in
Peregrine, Resident male chased off an immature male
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ off shore
 On the land 2+Ring Ouzel and a fall of Goldcrests and Robins on The Point. At south end of the ARC still 10 Smew (2 drakes), 3 Goldeneye, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Gt Wt Egret, 1 Little Egret, 2 Marsh Harriers over and a few dabblers.
At the tower a Garganey and the first Sedge Warbler per PT.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Playing catch up!

                                             Presumed Leucistic Herring Gull

Another good day seawatching at Dungeness with AJG, MH : 05.45-11.30, 12.20-14.20, 15.45-16.30 totals:

Red throated Diver: 501E
Black Throated Diver: 2E
Fulmar: 5E
Gannet: 278E
Brent Goose: 2131E
Barnacle Goose: 1E
Shelduck: 11E
Common Scoter: 2103E
Velvet Scoter: 5E
Eider: 5E
Red Breasted Merganser: 50E
Pochard: 4E
Mallard: 8E
Garganey: 2E
Pintail: 118E
Wigeon: 11E
Teal:     99E
Gadwall: 14E
Shoveller: 111E
Oystercatcher: 23E
Grey Plover: 1E
Curlew: 15E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1E
Knot: 6E
Dunlin: 22E
Sanderling: 1E
Arctic Skua: 1E
Little Gull: 2E
Kittiwake: 13E
Mediterranean Gull: 8E
Leucistic Herring Gull: around
Sandwich Tern: 101E
Common Tern: 3E
Meadow Pipit: 9 in
Carrion Crow: 3 in
Harbour Porpoise: 6+ off shore
 At the south end of the ARC a Yellow Wagtail with 5 Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail, 6 Meadow Pipits, 1 Great White Egret, 1 Little Egret, 1 Curlew, 1 Black tailed Godwit and 12 Smew 2 drakes.
 From the screen hide the Spoonbill was showing quite well.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Law of Sod!!!!!

As I predicted with me in Portsmouth this weekend the spring sea migration at Dungeness kicked off big time. Yesterday was good but today was exceptional.
Today's totals below: 05.50-15.20 with thanks to AJG for the info.

Red throated Diver 3171 up   A record day total for Dungeness!
Black-throated Diver 9 up
Great Northern Diver 1 up
Fulmar 55 up
Gannet 443 up
Brent Goose 5612 up
Scoter 1166 up
Velvet Scoter 13 up
Eider 24 up
Merganser 18 up, 2 down
Shelduck 18 up
Wigeon 8 up
Pintail 8 up
Shovellor 8 up
Teal 5 up
Gadwall 1 up
Marsh Harrier 2 in
Common Buzzard 1 in
Peregrine 1 about
Curlew 159 up
Whimbrel 1 up
Oystercatcher 41 up
Sanderling 3 up
Knot 9 up
Auk sp113 up
Little Gull118 up
Kittiwake 202 up
Med Gull c25 around?????
Sandwich tern 455 up
Meadow Pipit 6 in
Carrion Crow 2 in
Herring Gull 1 albino
Black Headed Gull and Herring Gull: many 1000s feeding off shore and on the beach.

No doubt tomorrow when I am back at Dungeness things will be back to normal. Hey ho!!!!!!!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Another thoroughly miserable day!!

08-15-10.00 from an empty sea watch hide in rain/sleet and snow and strong north easterly winds:
Red Throated Divers: 204E
Great Crested Grebe: 76 on sea
Fulmar: 9E
Common Scoter: 11E
Red Breasted Merganser: 4E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1E
Sandwich Tern: 1E
Kittiwake: 65E
Auks: 19E
Harbour Porpoise: 2+
It was still raining hard when I left the hide, by the time I reached the car I was very wet and some what fed up with this thoroughly miserable weather.
From the comfort of a warm car on the causeway 14 Smew(1 drake) was the only birds of note on the ARC. 2 Great White Egrets still on New Diggings.

Driving back across the marsh still plenty of Winter Thrushes and on the fields opposite Midley Barn 27 Ruff with c100 Golden Plover and c100 Lapwing.
As I will be in Portsmouth for the weekend for family stuff I have no doubt that the sea watching at Dungeness will be brilliant and the reserve will be full of rare and scarce migrants.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Winter Continues

Arriving at the sea watch hide at 08.30 in another snow/sleet shower and a fierce north easterly. I had the hide all to my self, not surprising considering how cold it was in the hide, by 09'30 I'd had enough.

Red Throated Diver: 120+ on the sea 38E
Great Crested Grebe: 60+ on sea
Gannet: 117E
Brent Geese: 4E
Common Scoter: 33E
Shoveler: 7E
Wigeon: 2E
Oystercatcher: 3E
Bar Tailed Godwit: 1E
Knot: 9E
Kittiwake: 21E
Sandwich Tern: 1E
Common Tern: 1E  my first of the year
Auks sp: 26E
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ off shore

After a warm up I had look around the bushes on The Point and finding just 1 Black Redstart and a Raven overhead of any note.
The south end of the ARC from the causeway 5 red head Smew still but little else. 2 Great White Egrets still on New diggings,
Scotney G P was virtually bird less apart from the Herring Gulls on there nesting island. As another snow shower swept in and my house move to the coast imminent I called it a day to get some domestic stuff done.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Last of the Summer Wine Crew in Northern France

Myself, MH,CP,AJG and PT our driver for the day had a superb day in Northern France today in search of Black Woodpeckers and Middle spotted Woodpeckers. We went over early via Eurotunnel and drove straight to Crecy Forest seeing several pairs of Grey Partridges on the way and my first Swallow of the year over the motorway.
In the forest we parked up and wandered along one of the tracks having brief views of Red Kite and Hawfinch. Nuthatches were calling all around and several Marsh Tits were seen. It was not long before we heard a Woodpecker calling which then flew over us, as soon it landed CP got onto it immediately identifying it as a Middle Spotted Woodpecker. It eventually showed well to all of us along with its mate. Being buoyed with our success we drove onto another part of the forest for Black Woodpecker. As we got out the car the forest floor appeared to rise up as 100s possibly 1000s of Redwing took off moving to the canopy. For a few minutes the cacophony of sound from calling Redwing, something which I have never experienced and recalled a large Starling roost resounded through the forest. While watching and listening to this we heard another pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers which also showed well Fantastic! While in the forest we also had good views of several Short-toed Treecreepers which were busy calling and chasing one another, Firecrests and more Marsh Tits. Although we did not achieve our prize of Black Woodpecker we had a truly amazing time in the forest. 
                                   Middle Spotted Woodpeckers Crecy forest
                                   c50 miles as the Woodpecker flies from Dungeness!!!!
 We move on to Sailly Bray, on arrival the wind had increased so the chances of seeing the Bluethroats were not good and weren't surprised not to see any. However at the entrance a fine male Black Redstart, a White Wagtail, several Chiffchaffs, a Sand Martin and 12 Swallows greeted us. 2 Stonechats were along the fence line, 2 Great White Egrets, 2+ Marsh Harriers, a ringtail Hen Harrier, 2+ Common Buzzards were over the marsh, as we leaving another Red Kite and Goshawk gave us brief views.

 Next stop was Le Crotoy ponds which can be viewed easily from the road or if you are feeling lazy you need not leave the warmth of the car.
 At Le Crotoy we saw a pair of Garganey, 2 Spoonbills, 2 more Great White Egrets, 5 White Storks flew over, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 more superb White Wagtails, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 7 Common Snipe and at least 2 stunning Water Pipits. More about our day out can be seen HERE

Our last stop of the day was at Sangatte where AJG picked out a Stone Curlew despite the freezing and now blasting wind. A superb end to a brilliant day in Northern France with 87 species seen without really trying. I am sure the The Last of the Summer Wine Crew will be back in Northern France a few more times this year having loads more laughs and superb birding.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Black Day

An hour at the sea watch hide this morning was not particularly  productive with c60 Red-throated Divers Divers east, c40 Gannets feeding off shore and very small numbers of Common Scoter, Sandwich Terns and Auks.
A walk around The Point in increasingly strong winds produced a male Black Redstart, a Stonechat and 4 Meadow Pipits a very poor total for April.
The south end of the ARC there were 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Smew (2 drakes) and 3 Goldeneye. New Diggings held 2 Great White Egrets and a red head Smew.
From Hanson and the Screen another Great White Egret and a Chiffchaff  by the track.   
 By lunch time the NE wind had strengthened further making the land virtually unbirdable. In Dengemarsh Gulley a Black Restart and a Wheatear were struggling to perch in the wind, overhead a Peregrine and a Raven made light of the wind. Parking at Springfield Bridge I plodded around the hayfields seeing little of note. Round Hookers 3 Marsh Harriers put on a marvellous aerial display and the Black-necked Grebe shone in the sun.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Lazy Day

Waking up at 05.30 and seeing the trees swaying in the the easterly gale I went back to bed. When I finally surfaced I made my way to Dungeness seeing a new bird for the year in the form of 2 Mandarin Ducks chasing round over some gardens near Shadoxhurst. (Were you looking up Pete and Pam). On the Lydd road at Belgar Farm the Barn Owl was hunting, this time away from the road  with no photo opportunities.   
An earlier shot of the same bird as today 
As I am a year older today I had family things to do so couldn't stay at Dunge to long, so decided to park at the ARC and wander out to the back of Hookers to look for yesterdays Bluethroat.
I joined the Burt family on the walk there seeing Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall, at least 3 different Marsh Harriers, Curlews, Wigeon and Stock Doves of note. At Hookers the Black Necked Grebe was still present, 2+ Bearded Tits, Cetti's Warblers shouted, Water Rails squealed but no sign of the Bluethroat.