Thursday, 20 June 2013

Midsummer Doldrums

This morning a look around the ARC found nothing new of note. The Swallows still in the Screen Hide, Duck numbers increasing each day, but at least the water levels are dropping exposing tiny bits of islands.
This afternoon at Dengemarsh nothing new of note, still 3 Hobby's present and the Common Terns as raucous as ever.
Tomorrow I am off to Turkey birding for the next 10 days with DW,GH and AJG. Main targets the Brown Fish Owls, Caspian Snowcocks, Radde's Accentor, Menetries's Warbler, Red-tailed Wheatear and Iraq Babbler + lots more good birds.                                                                                                                                            
Many thanks to Richard Smith ( for saving my holiday by  lending me his camera as mine is playing up again.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Clouded Yellow

A dull damp start to the day at the ARC where a Cuckoo was calling, 2 Marsh Harriers over the Tower Pits, a Green Sandpiper could be seen with a Ringed Plover and Redshank on an island from near the screen hide and a Bittern flew from the Screen to Hanson. The Swallows are still in residence at the screen so please do not linger there any longer than necessary. I met MH and BP (AKA King Squacco) in Hanson hide where a pair of Great Crested grebes tended there single chick, also 3 Wigeon appeared among the growing numbers of eclipse ducks (Autumn is coming). As BP had seen a Garden Warbler near the Screen MH and myself tried to find it without any luck (still not seen on on the marsh this year) walking back to the car 8 Lapwing flew over with 3 Green Sandpipers. At Boulderwall 8+ Tree Sparrows on the feeders and nearby the Little Owl in its usual spot.
This afternoon I cycled down to Springfield Bridge and around the reserve. From the Bridge up to 4 Hobby's could be seen, a Bittern gave to fly pasts and my first Clouded Yellow of the year. At Hayfield 3, 4 Little Egrets and more views of Hobby's and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls over.  From Dengemarsh  Hide a Cuckoo singing, 2 Marsh Harriers, c30 pairs of Common Terns some with chicks, The Common Gulls still look as if they have at least 1 chick and an Oystercatcher has muscled in on there raft for a second breeding attempt. On Burrowes 9 Black-tailed Godwits, a Redshank and 6 Mediterranean gulls (4 ads + 2 1st summers) could be seen from Makepiece Hide, from Dennis's  the pair of Common Gulls have chicks. On the way home I stopped to Photograph some Southern Marsh Orchids. 
Southern Marsh orchid

Monday, 17 June 2013

Back on the Bike

 09.00-09.30 at The Patch:
Gannets: c30
Common Scoter: 7E
Common Tern: c50
Black Redstart: 1
Grey Seal: 1
Harbour Porpoise: 2
Still singing for a mate and starting to look tatty.
At the fishing boats just a few Common and Sandwich Terns fishing off shore. 
The south end of the ARC  yesterdays Swifts had all but gone leaving just the usual eclipse ducks and 2 Little Egrets.
A cycle ride this afternoon through Dengemarsh round the reserve to the ARC and home, found at Dengemarsh 4+ Hobby's taking St Marks flies and Damsels, on the rafts c30 pairs of Common Terns have started hatching chicks also the Common Gulls looked as though they had at least 1 chick, 2 Marsh Harriers hunted the reed beds and a Cuckoo was still singing. At the ARC in the Willow Trail clouds of newly emerged Damsels and a happy Great Tit taking beak fulls back to a nearby nest. The Swallows are still building in the Screen hide and I just missed a returning Green Sandpiper, a Cuckoo flew towards the tower. The water levels are steadily dropping leaving one pair of Great Crested Grebes high and dry and very vulnerable to predation. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Roseate Terns

First thing this morning I thought I'd check Scotney out just in case the AGP had relocated there. It had not! 3 Curlews and c30 Lapwing were on the sheep field along with 100s of Greylags. Over the lake 100+  Swifts and a Marsh Harrier hunting the back of the lake. Over the ARC/Tower Pits//New Diggings/Burrowes 100s more Swifts. 2 Marsh Harriers and a Cuckoo at the tower. The pair of Swallows still building their nest in the screen hide and the build up of eclipse ducks continues on the ARC.  
Both Roseate Terns
 This afternoon a message from DW that 2 Roseate Terns were at The Patch. They were still present when I arrived but shortly after  flew off East. One of them had the usual ring on both legs but the other appeared unringed. While i was there a flock 40 Common Scoter flew East and a party of 17 Gannets moved West, The first summer Common Tern was still on the beach.
Ringed on both legs

This one appears to be unringed

 Behind The Patch the Black Redstart that has been singing there for weeks finally gave it's self up to the camera.
A distinct lack of a white wing patch

A Tasty Bluebottle

                                                        A new visitor to the garden!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Summer Gale

A short sea watch from the concrete road in a gale force south westerly 07.40-08.00:
Fulmar: 1E
Gannet: c30 off shore
Brent Goose: 1E
Common Tern: c20 feeding off shore
Sandwich Tern: c10 feeding off shore
Harbour Porpoise 2+ off shore
Over the ARC, New Diggings and Burrowes several 100s of Swifts. The pair of Swallows were still building there nest in the screen hide and a Marsh Harrier was hunting the Tower pits.
In the shelter of The Willow Trail several Four Spotted Chasers and many Damselflys. Due to the wind I gave up for the rest of the day.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

OMG It's an AGP

Sea watch from the concrete road 07.15-08.05: 
Manx Shearwater: 1W 
Gannet: c25W
Common Tern: c20 feeding off shore
Sandwich Tern: 15W
Swift: 56W
House Martin: 3W
Swallow: 2W
Harbour Porpoise: 1+ off shore.
 On news that the American Golden Plover was still present at Cuckmere Haven DW, AJG and myself made our way to the small pool at north end of the scrape there. There were only a handful of other birders on site including the finder Matt Eade. As can be seen from the photographs the bird performed unbelievably well. It took absolutely no notice of of several coach parties of school children that walked past within a few yards of it. Strangely the only thing that upset it a little was the rangers Land Rover. We spent several hours watching and photographing it in which time I saw and caught up with some old friends which is always great. Thanks Matt for a great find and filling the gap in my Sussex list, as I was in Yugoslavia when the 1988 Pagham bird turned up.

                       On the way home we stopped off on the downs to see some Frog Orchids.
Frog Orchid

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Black Redstarts

A sea watch from the end of the concrete road 07.50-0910:
Fulmar: 1E  1W
Gannet: 26W  12E
Common Scoter: 71E
Ringed Plover: 1 on beach
Oystercatcher: 1E
Common Tern: c15 off shore
Sandwich Tern: c10 off shore
Guillemot: 1 on sea
Swift: 36 W
Harbour Porpoise 2+ off shore
From the south end of the ARC 100s of Swifts over the lakes with smaller numbers of House Martins and Swallows.
At West Beach/Lloyds a pair of Black Redstarts were on the fence opposite, shame about the light.

 Midday at The Patch was predictably quiet as the tide was high. Just a few each of Common and Sandwich Tern, Common Scoter 15E 35W, and 4 Great Crested Grebes. Highlight was my second Painted Lady of the year on the Sea Kale at the back of The Patch.
 Mid afternoon at the ARC sheltering in Hanson Hide from the now constant drizzle, a pair of Great Crested Grebes displaying. The summer build up of duck continues with c 50 each of Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall and Coot, with lesser numbers of Teal, Shoveller and Mallard. A Reed Warbler was singing in front the hide as was a Cetti's Warbler and a Marsh Harrier flew across the lake.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


First thing this morning I had a look around Walland Marsh. 4 Cuckoo's seen at various sites, 3 Common Buzzards, a single Turtle Dove, Tree Sparrows at the usual spots and 2 Marsh Harriers. 
Late morning AJG, MH and myself decided that we would go to a well know Honey Buzzard site and try our luck. Probably not a great idea considering the time and weather but us 3 duffers went anyway. 5 minutes after arriving on site a male Honey Buzzard gave us great prolonged scope views displaying with plenty of wing clapping, a few minutes later another Honey Buzzard appeared fantastic. While we watching them DB turned up and invited us to follow him to where he had been watching the Back kite. as we followed him down a lane near Selling the Kite appeared and gave great views. Pity I totally messed up the camera settings more than I usually do. While watching the Kite a White Wagtail appeared and a Garden Warbler was singing (my first of the year in Britain)

 We decided to push out luck and drove to Oare Marshes to try and see the Bonaparte's Gull. We pulled into the layby by the East Flood and more or less the first bird we saw was the Bonaparte's. Unfortunately it just sat on the island all the time we were there, also there some Black-tailed Godwits which gave a nice fly by and plenty of Avocets. We were not there long before the weather closed in. What a brilliant twitch.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Distant Osprey

Walking to The Patch this morning a Grey Heron flew out to sea, once there in the company of DW and AJG  c170 Common Scoter flew east and c90 west,  a single Shelduck flew east also 9 Oystercatchers and 2 Kittiwakes. On the beach and over The Patch up to 3 Mediterranean Gulls, c 30 Common Terns including a first summer bird and 6 Sandwich Terns. 15 Swallows and 4 Sand Martins flew east. Mammals were represented by a Common Seal, a Grey Seal and 4+ Harbour Porpoises. A Black Redstart was singing inside the power station complex.
The south end of the ARC held a Little ringed Plover, Little Egret and 100+ Hirundines and Swifts. Arriving home a few minutes later a tweet from BP (AKA King Squacco) alerted me to an Osprey over the south end of the ARC. I found it among a swarm of Gulls with my binoculars but by the time I got the scope out of the car and set up I was unable to find the bird again. A very unsatisfactory from the garden tick.
 A late morning/early afternoon visit  to The Midrips with AJG found the summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper still present, also 4 Grey Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, 3 Dunlin, a Turnstone, 14 Avocet, 20+ Ringed Plover, 40+ Redshank, several flottillas Liquorice Allsorts (Shelducklings) and 4+ Wheatears including 2 juveniles.
This afternoon by the track to The Pines my first Painted Lady of the year, a couple of Cetti's Warblers and a Marsh Harrier. The Swallows are still in residence in the screen hide so please be careful if you use the hide.
On Burrowes 15+ Common Terns with a single Sandwich Tern and 2 Marsh Harriers over the Open Pits. Many Swifts and Hirundines over the pits taking advantage of the masses of insects there.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Another winters day

A very cold cloudy day with the sun not appearing until around 18.30. First stop this morning was the Willow Trail, 100+ Swifts fighting the strong north easterly over approach track and trail, a few Reed warblers were still singing but most birds were keeping in cover in the horrible wind. I only opened the hatch at Hanson for a few seconds as the wind blasted in.
The track to the pines was much the same, though duck numbers appear to building up. In the screen hide a pair of Swallows appear to nest building, so please be careful if you in there if the hide has not already been closed.
Dengemarsh Gully was an avian free zone. On Dengemarsh the Common Terns still on there rafts but no Hobby's.
A message from CT had me going to the Midrips where the cold North Easterly blasted across the bank and me wishing I had worn my gloves as well as the 2 fleeces I had on. On the second pool complex a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was on show with a Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 40+ Redshanks, 16+ Ringed Plovers, 12 Avocet, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 + Wheatears and at least 40 Shelduck.
This evening a trip down Galloways found 2 Stonechats, 6 Meadow Pipits and a Red-legged Partridge.

Friday, 7 June 2013


A pleasant walk around The Willow trail first thing this morning. Plenty of Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings singing also a Cetti's Warbler, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and 20+ Swifts hawking overhead. From Hanson Hide a dozen each of Pochard  and Tufted Duck but little else. By the time I had driven down to Dengemarsh Gully the wind had increased considerably. All I could find were a few Linnets and a Peregrine by the Converter Station.
1 of up to 7 Hobby's over Springfield bridge today
After lunch I cycled down to Springfield Bridge where I spent an hour watching up to 7 Hobby's taking Damsels and Dragons. Because of the weight of my normal camera  while cycling I only had my small 300mm DO lense with me, which does not do justice the Hobby's. Also there 2 Cuckoo's, 2 Marsh Harriers and the Bittern booming. From Dengemarsh Hide more of the same with the added attraction of 20+ pairs of Common Terns on the rafts and the pair of Common Gulls still in residence. A pleasant if windy half hour on the mound with more of the same. At Burrowes Pit the water levels are definitely dropping and with a bit of luck come the Autumn there will be enough exposed areas to attract waders,

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Northern France 5th June 2013

Last of the summer wine crew( AJG,JM,CP,BP and myself) had another day out in Northern France. Catching the 04.20 ferry to Calais and consuming the obligatory full English on board to set us up for the day. Once off the ferry I drove straight to Sailly Bray where the cloud cleared and the sun shone for the rest of the day.Few birds were seen on the drive down but several Grey Partridge were noted. 
 At Sailly Bray we found at least 4 (3m, 1f) White-spotted Bluethroats. The males were singing and gave great views in the telescopes.5 Marsh Warblers were singing but were typically elusive, 3 Great White Egrets flew in and 4 White Storks were present, as were 2+ Marsh Harriers, several Common Buzzards, a Hobby, 2 Turtle Doves, several Blue-headed Yellow Wagtails, Nightingales, Reed, Sedge, and Cetti's Warblers, a family party of Blackcaps, singing Garden Warblers and much more.
 Next stop was the roadside pools at Le Crotoy, where the Black Headed Gull colonies were in full swing with a few Mediterranean Gulls, several stunning White Wagtails were present, 2 Garganey, several White Storks could be seen in the distance, a Cattle Egret flew over as did another Great White Egret.
 Next stop Marquenterre which was packed with French tourists and not a pair of binoculars between them. We opted to lose the crowds and view some of the Herons from a mound outside the park.
 Although fairly distant in the picture above there are White Storks, Spoonbills, Cattle Egrets. Little Egrets and Grey Herons, The Night Heron is obscured. While at the mound we heard Crested Tits, a family party appeared and gave superb views. We had our lunch in the car park and CP shared the lovely cake his good lady baked for the day out.

 Our next stop was a new site for me. We walked along the railway line near Le Crotoy which overlooked some pools. There we found a minimum of 10 Black-winged Stilts, 20+ Spoonbills, 5+ Great White Egrets, many Little Egrets, a Purple Heron, lots of Yellow Wagtails, Avocets and more. We also found Musk rats there.

 Next stop was Crecy Forest, from the escarpment we saw 2 Honey Buzzards, though the views were not as good as last year, we were unable to find Melodious Warbler probably because of the time of day and lateness of the season. On the way home near Cap Blanc Nez a superb adult male Hen Harrier flew over the road and hunted the fields. To finish a superb day we found 2 distant Stone Curlews. A great day out with great company. Thanks to the tenacity of CP our day species total reached 100, by staying on deck in the bitter evening wind, spotting 6 Kittiwakes and 15 Fulmars following a fishing boat just outside of Calais while the rest of us sat in the warm bar with pints of Stella.
A distant Stone Curlew
Today most of my time was spent driving to Swarovski at Salfords to try and expedite repairs to my telescope.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

North Easterly becoming Tedious!

 First thing this morning the cold North Easterly still blowing The Point was very quiet. Very little new in the bushes but still a trickle of Swallows coming in. The Black Redstart was still singing behind The Patch hide and on The Patch just 15 Common Terns, 1 Sandwich Tern, a few Black Headed Gulls and a few larger Gulls. By the Converter Station 30+ Linnets, 4 Wheatears and a Peregrine. At the south end of the ARC 6 Teal and Little Ringed Plover of note. The Willow Trail held many Damselflys and a few Dragons, from Hanson nothing of note, except that the water levels are definitely dropping and there could be some islands in few weeks if this dry weather continues.
From the screen hide scores of Swifts could be seen over the lakes and beyond, also c20 House Martins and nearby the Little Owl was sun bathing. 2 hours spent sky watching from the garden (10.00-11.00 and 14.00-15.00) was not very productive, except for a Cuckoo that a spent a couple of minutes in the hedge opposite. Today was first day in a while that I have not recorded a Hobby from the garden.
Late this afternoon I cycled to Camber scanning the Scotney complex and its shores on the way, finding nothing of note. Camber sands held 8 Redshank and 5 Grey Plover. On the way back I went to the Midrips where there were 2 Wheatear, 6 Avocet, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a few more Redshank and 6+ Ringed Plover.
While getting my things together for a day trip to Northern France tomorrow the base of my telescope snapped off. I have heard of this happening, but doubt I will be able to get it fixed before my birding trip to Turkey in just over 2 weeks time!  

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Chiffchaff lighthouse garden
On The Point this morning a Chiffchaff was the only migrant in the Lighthouse garden, the rest of the bushes were devoid of avian life.
A try for yesterdays Serin between B Station and the Converter Station drew a blank, but 40+ Linnets, 4 male Wheatears and a Peregrine were worth the walk. On the way back a Reed Warbler in the brambles behind The Patch hide.
A couple of hours BOP watching from the front garden yielded the usual Marsh Harriers, 1 Common Buzzard, 3 Hobby's, a female Sparrowhawk, several Herons tooing and froing the Heronry and 2 Yellow Wagtails.
This evening down Galloways a family party of Stonechats were of note.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


This morning at the south end of the ARC a drake Garganey and a Little Ringed Plover were the highlights. On The Point 3 Spotted Flycatchers in the moat, 3 Male Black Redstarts singing around the power station and a female by the car park, a newly arrived Willow warbler on the photogenic  perimeter security wire were of note.
Late morning from the garden up to 4 Marsh Harriers and 4 Hobby's could be seen, also a Common Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk, several Grey Herons to and from the Lydd Heronry, also good numbers of Swifts and Hirundines very high.
Willow Warbler
 This afternoon I joined DW,GH, AJG and P on a trip around a few sites in Kent looking for Orchids. We saw many Lady Orchids, a few Fly Orchids and Man Orchids, some Early Purple Orchids, Birds Nest Orchids, White Helleborines and some Greater Butterfly Orchids and Spotted Orchids which were not yet in flower.
Lady Orchids

Lady Orchid

Lady Orchid (Whire Form)

Man Orchid

Fly Orchid

Fly Orchid

White Helleborine