Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Autumn Migration begins!

At The Patch this morning c200 Common Terns, c20 Sandwich Terns, 2 Little Terns, 1 Black Tern, 1 Juvenile Mediterranean Gull and 2 Kittiwakes among the 100s of Black-headed and Herring Gulls. Behind the hide the first 3 Willow Warblers of the Autumn for me.
Willow Warbler behind The Patch hide
 In 2 visits to The ARC 5 Wood Sandpipers, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, a Common Sandpiper, a Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Egrets and a Garganey were the highlights.
Little Egret from the Screen Hide
In 3 sea watches today I managed 1 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater, 3+ Arctic Terns, 3+ Black Terns, 3 Arctic Skuas, c200 Gannets, 6 Kittiwakes, 1 Mediterranean Gull, the usual Little Gull put in several appearances, c150 Common Scoter flew west, c30 east and 3 Dunlin east.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

What a difference an hour makes!

A thoroughly miserable day started from near the fishing boats from the comfort of my car. c50 Gannets moved West, small numbers of Common and Sandwich Terns were fishing along the colour change also a single adult Black Tern and the usual 1st summer Little Gull, 4 Common Scoter flew west and 3 east, my first Sooty Shearwater of the year flew west and 2 Turnstone were on the beach. A Grey Seal and 3+ Harbour Porpoises were off shore.
               The First summer Little Gull photographed yesterday from the fishing boats.

In 3 visits to the ARC Hanson Hide a maximum of 4 Wood Sandpipers, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, a Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpipers, 12 Dunlin, a Black Tailed Godwit, a Black necked Grebe, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Marsh Harriers and c200 Sand Martins and House Martins over the lake.
At Burrowes another Wood Sandpiper a Common Sandpiper and a few Swifts, the Great White Egret was still on Dengemarsh.
A short early afternoon sea watch produced nothing of note. Another hour between 18.00-19.00 saw just the first summer Little Gull and a Black tern of note. Though an hour earlier 30+ Black Terns, 2 Roseate Terns and 3 Manx Shearwaters were seen by PT.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

More Sandpipers

The lighthouse garden and surrounding bushes this morning were still a migrant free zone. I met AJG on his way back from The Patch where an adult Black Tern was the only notable bird.
At the ARC from Hanson 3 Wood Sandpipers, 3 Common Sandpipers, a Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Marsh Harriers  and a  summer plumaged Black Necked Grebe were of note. In The Screen hide the Swallows are ready to leave and another pair are building another nest.  A visit this evening found 5 Wood Sandpipers. 
1st summer Little Gull
An hour at the fishing boats early afternoon produced nice views of a 1st summer Little Gull but little else.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Storms and Wood Sandpipers

Lightning over an illuminated Dungeness power station
 At 01.00 this morning I was woken by the sound of distant thunder, laying in bed I saw half a dozen lightning flashes out at sea and thought I would like to experiment photographing lightning. As it was not raining I got up and crossed the road so that the street light was behind me as I looked towards the power station, the storm promptly abated, half an hour later and no lightning flashes I went back to bed. At about 02.00 another storm moved through the channel, so up I got again set the camera up. Reviewing the shots I took I was very pleased with my first ever efforts at photographing lightning.
Lightning over the fishing boats
 Approx. 08.00 at the ARC from Hanson Hide, 3 Wood Sandpipers, 4 Common Sandpipers, a Ruff, A Little Stint, 4 Little Ringed Plovers a Redshank and a few Oystercatchers were of note. Another Wood Sandpiper was at the South End of the ARC from the causeway.
Common Sandpiper from Makepiece
 On Burrowes 6 more Common Sandpipers, the 2 Egyptian Geese still, 2 Marsh Harriers, 4 Little Egrets and Sparrowhawk were the best of the bunch.
Late afternoon at The Midrips another 5 Common Sandpipers, 2 Wood Sandpipers, 7 Redshank, 2 Whimbrel, 17 Avocet, 9 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plovers and 2 Wheatears. Once again the sea was beautifully warm and refreshing. 

Friday, 26 July 2013


First thing at the The Patch the usual 3 Little Gulls, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, c100 Common Terns and a few Sandwich Terns and Gannets off shore. 5 Harbour Porpoises were also seen thanks to the flat calm sea. Behind the hide a juv/female Black Redstart. In the scrub by the car park a Common Whitethroat posed. Still no migrant passerines in the bushes.
 Next stop Burrowes Pit where 4 Common Sandpipers and Green Sandpiper could be seen also the 2 Egyptian Geese still present.
Appears to have a Tick in front of its eye.
 At Dengemarsh the Great White Egret still, a Bittern flew over the reed bed, a Bearded Tit sat on the fence, 3+ Marsh Harriers could be seen and the Common Terns as noisy as ever on the rafts.
The electric fence has its uses!
 At the ARC 3 Wood Sandpipers, 4 Common Sandpipers, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, c100 Lapwing could be seen. Also c100 Sand martins flew through. In the Screen Hide the young Swallows look just about ready to fledge.
            By the Water Tower the Spitfire and Hurricane put on their now daily display.

This afternoon at Jurys Gap I met Tony and Brenda who had just seen a Curlew Sandpiper with some Dunlin on The Midrips on the second pools. When I arrived it was still there along with 2 Whimbrel, 23 Avocet and 2 Marsh Harriers, but no sign of the Wood Sandpiper and 8 Common Sandpipers seen in the morning by OL.  As it was high tide I had a lovely swim in the beautifully warm sea, I was surrounded by White Bait driven inshore by a Mackerel Shoal and had superb views of the Sandwich Terns diving after the them just a few feet from me. The Terns took absolutely no notice of me wallowing amongst them.
Stopping at Scotney on the way home there was still 6 Egyptian Geese present and a single Whimbrel.  

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Unsatisfactory Emperors

At The Patch this morning still 3 Little Gulls, but only 1 juvenile Mediterranean Gull. A definite increase in the number of Common Terns present including the first juveniles.
Little Gull. 1 of 3 at The Patch
 A trip to Denes Wood with DW and GH for Purple Emperors was successful in that we saw a minimum of 3 individuals, but all spent their time flying high in the canopy so was not brilliant for photography. Maybe next year!
Redshank at The Midrips
 This evening a visit to The Midrips found 2 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 27 Avocets,(including a colour ringed individual that insisted on staying at the back of the pools) 1 Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 5 Ringed Plovers, an adult male Marsh Harrier and 6 Wheatears. Offshore many Sandwich and Common Terns and a few Gannets.
Colour ringed Avocet
At Scotney the 7 Egyptian Geese still present.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Brent Geese in July!

No sign of the Roseate Terns at The Patch this morning but still 3 Little Gulls, at least 7 Mediterranean Gulls, (2 Juvs, 1 1st Summer, 2 2nd Summer and 2 Ads), 500+ Black-headed Gulls, c10 Sandwich Terns, c10 Common Terns. Off shore just a few Gannets and c50 Common Scoter flew West. By the car car park a male Black Redstart a different individual from the one at the back of The Patch.
At the ARC from Hanson hide in the company of MH and joined by PT, 4 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpipers, 4 Little Egrets and a Marsh Harrier were the highlights.
Late morning an hour drinking tea and staring at Burrowes from the Visitor Centre with MH and King Squacco was fairly productive after recent days with 1 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpipers, a Ringed Plover, 2 Egyptian Geese and newly fledged Common Gull.
Early afternoon at Springfield Bridge found the Great white Egret still in situ and 2 Mediterranean Gulls over.
At Scotney a surprise in the form of a flock of 7 Egyptian Geese and the usual 100s of Greylags and Canada Geese  but little else.

 An hour or so at the fishing boats this afternoon found a 1st summer Little Gull hawking and roosting with Black-headed Gulls, 3 Mediterranean Gulls with them and several Sandwich Terns. 5 Common Scoter flew east but the biggest surprise was 6 Brent Geese that flew east.

The biggest surprise of the day 6 Brent Geese moving East
Yesterday evening 2 Green Sandpipers and a Wood Sandpiper at The Midrips per CT. I was going to go there this evening but the rain stopped that. 

Monday, 22 July 2013


At The Patch this morning 2 Roseate Terns were the highlight, with a supporting cast of 3 Little Gulls, 7+ Mediterranean Gulls among the Black-headed Gulls. A few Gannets were fishing off shore and 40+ Common Scoter flew east, the Black Redstart is still behind the hide but not so vocal. The mystery seal was still present swimming around the back edge of the boil.
The 2 Roseates being moved by the rising tide
 A visit to the fishing boats over the high tide found just a few Sandwich Terns and 2 Mediterranean Gulls. The highlight for me being a swim in the warm sea.
The screen hide Swallows
   The highlights at the ARC in 3 visits today were 2 Whimbrel, 6 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plovers, 4 Little Egrets and a Marsh Harrier. In the screen hide the young Swallows growing fast.
The juvenile House Martin that Patrick and DW nurtured was accidentally chased out of the observatory last week by a visitor who thought it was trapped! It has not been seen since!  
This afternoon the Great White Egret could be seen on Dengemarsh from Springfield bridge but little else of note.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Fat Common Seal?

On arrival at The Patch this morning DW was on site with another birder watching the mystery Seal just off shore. The Seal soon hauled out and small gathering of locals began to study and photograph it. All seem to come to an ambiguous conclusion on its identity. 
I received a call from Tony and Brenda who have seen and photographed many Bearded Seals. They checked there slides of Bearded Seals against my photograph and ruled out it being a Bearded Seal. They also contacted one of there friends in the Orca Society who was 100% certain that the mystery seal is a a very fat Common Seal. Unless you know different!    
Rolling down the beach!
Head and shoulders dry back and tail wet
Completely different in the water
 Whilst watching the Seal 7+ Mediterranean Gulls could be seen on The Patch and beach along with at least 2 Little Gulls, good numbers of Gannets moving east an c200 Common Scoter west, also an Arctic Skua was seen per MS.
At the ARC 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plovers and 2 Marsh Harriers were the highlights. The Swallow still feeding there young in the Screen Hide.
This afternoon at Springfield Bridge the Great White Egret, a Hobby and a Marsh Harrier were the highlights.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Possible Bearded Seal? and 200 up!

Seal sp.
 07.45 at The Patch this morning, DW was already there grilling the Gulls. We carried on scanning the Gulls on the beach and over The Patch finding a minimum of 6 Mediterranean Gulls including a Juvenile and a colour ringed adult (Green Ring, white 5S3) also a 1st summer Little Gull. I pointed out a seal swimming close inshore to DW assuming that it was a Common Seal that has been seen regularly there, then carried on looking out to sea for a few minutes where a flock of c200 Common Scoter were flying around off Rye Bay. In that time DW had been studying the Seal and eventually said that that he thought it was unusual and that it might be a Bearded Seal. As my knowledge of Seals is very limited I was not much help to him. Others arrived and even with the help of mobile internet ID of the Seal was not confirmed. If anyone can help with the ID of this Seal I would be most grateful.  While looking at the Seal 2 Crossbills flew over my 200th bird species for the marsh this year. 4 more Crossbills were seen at Galloways by OL this afternoon.
CT covered the reserve this morning and apart from 2 Common Sandpipers had little to report and no sign of the Great White Egret on Dengemarsh this morning.
Mediterranean Gull colour ring 5S3
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sedge Warbler

First thing this morning I went as far as the sea watch hide as there were several parties of far eastern fisherman hoping to catch supplies for there restaurants. 
There were no Gulls or Terns on the beach and very few over the boil. In another visit this afternoon 3 Mediterranean Gulls among roosting Gulls on the Beach and couple more off shore also 3+ Harbour Porpoises off shore.
In 3 visits today to the ARC the highlights were a first summer Little Gull, 2 Little Ringed Plovers (adult and a Juvenile), 6 Little Egrets, 2 Marsh Harriers and c30 Sand martins through. 
At Dengemarsh viewed from Springfield Bridge 3 Marsh Harriers, a pair of Sedge Warblers entertained me feeding there young with constant supply of what looks like newly emerged Damselfly's. The Common Terns seemed to be catching a good supply of small fish for there young. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

A warm sea!

07.30 at The Patch: No sign of any Little Gulls or Mediterranean Gulls, in fact very little of anything. Just 1 Sandwich Tern, 4 Common Terns and a few Black-headed, Herring and Black Backed Gulls, not even any Harbour Porpoises or Seals. At least the Black Redstart was still singing its heart out at on the power station fence.
Studying the menu
In the observatory the juvenile House Martin now flying around with some encouragement though not exactly chasing after food.
This nest is a bit thin!

No fear of man!
At the ARC highlights were a fly over Greenshank, 7 Little Egrets and the Swallows still in residence at the Screen hide.
Late morning I cycled to the Midrips. At Scotney the highlight was 2 Avocets with the usual Greylag and Canada Geese, Herring Gulls, Mute Swans and a single Black Swan. 2 Yellow wagtails were in with the pigs at Jurys Gap. At The Midrips 25 Avocets, 2 Redshank, 4 Curlew, 4 Ringed Plover and a male Marsh Harrier. I could not see any Shelducklings so I assume the Harrier has had them. On the way back I stopped off at Jurys Gap for swim in the sea and not another person on the beach brilliant! I was surprised at just how warm the water was ! I'll be back in tomorrow.
This evening I cycled down to Springfield Bridge and spent a pleasant hour looking over Dengemarsh, where 3 Marsh Harriers including a juvenile hunted the reed beds. A Hobby made a brief fly through and Common Terns were very active also dozens of Greylags and Canada Geese came in to roost despite the best efforts of an army helicopter to disturb all the birds.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Bits and Pieces

07.30 at The Patch: 4 Little Gulls, 8 Mediterranean Gulls among the usual species of Gulls and Terns. The Black Redstart still singing behind the hide though looking decidedly scruffy. 
1st summer Little Gull
 At the observatory the juvenile House Martin still thriving on its diet of moths.
 At the ARC from Hanson a Reed Warbler still singing in front the hide. On the islands 6 Black-tailed Godwits and 8 Little Egrets with 2 more at the south end. At the screen the pair of Swallows still in residence and at the pines a Cuckoo, a Hobby and a Marsh Harrier. From Dennis's Hide 100s of eclipse wildfowl and 11 Dunlin on an island.
This afternoon at Dengemarsh plenty of activity on the Tern rafts and seemingly thriving this year, also 3 Red-crested Pochards, a Hobby, and 3 Marsh Harriers.
At Scotney little of note.
Early evening at The Midrips 31 Avocet including a colour ringed individual, 2 Greenshank, 4 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 2 Redshank, 6 Ringed Plovers, 12 Oystercatchers, the injured Bar-tailed Godwit that has been present since May, 2 Wheatears, a Marsh Harrier and c50 Sand Martins.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Little Gulls

A much cooler morning with 100% cloud cover and the North Easterly blowing stronger than ever.
Over The Patch 5 Little Gulls, 9 Mediterranean Gulls were of note. Also the first juvenile Common Tern and Juvenile Herring Gulls that I have seen there this year. Off shore 40+ Gannets were feeding and 50+ Common Scoter moved east. A Grey Seal was also there.
1 Of 5 Little Gulls at The Patch this morning
 As I walked into the observatory the juvenile House Martin was chirping away and looked up expectantly. It is obviously doing well on its diet of moths.
At the south end of the ARC a Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and a Little Egret.
From Hanson 9 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Dunlin and 4 Little Egrets along with all the eclipse Ducks.
A Marsh Harrier flew over the car park towards Boulderwall and several Tree Sparrows were in the bushes.
While listening to the cricket a Little egret flew over the house along with 3 Spitfires in tight formation.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


On the way to The Point the Little Owl  was posing beside the road and at the south end of the ARC a Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and a my first juvenile Little Ringed plover of the year..
 At The Patch no sign of yesterdays Black Tern or Little Gulls but still 8 Mediterranean Gulls and only 1 Sandwich Tern and 8 Common Terns.
3 Little Egrets were on the beach in the gull roost and then attempted to land on the floating scum around the boil. 2 flew off west and the other returned to the beach. 10 Common Scoter flew east, 2 Swifts moved west off shore and c40 Gannets were feeding off shore.
 At the ARC from Hanson all the usual reed bed warblers, still 100s of eclipse ducks, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Dunlin, a Greenshank, a Marsh Harrier and c100 Sand Martins.  At Cockles bridge an Oystercatcher posed and Yellow Wagtail was in the horse field.
Spotted Redshank from the screen
After spending the afternoon listening to England's woeful batting performance, I took a walk up to the Screen and the pines. From the Screen the Black-tailed Godwits had increased from 4 to 15 and a superb summer plumage Spotted Redshank was roosting with them. In the hide the Swallows were feeding there young with Damselfly's and a Cuckoo was still calling in the Tower pits.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Black Tern

07.30 at The Patch this morning DW was already there scanning the Gulls. Over the boil 3 Little Gulls, a 1st summer Common Tern and my first Black Tern of the Autumn. On the beach 10+ Mediterranean Gulls and a few Terns in the Gull roost. Off shore a few Gannets, a single Common Scoter, a Grey Seal and a Harbour Porpoise. The Black Redstart still singing in the power station, 
At the observatory the juvenile House Martin growing fast on its diet of Dark Arches.
A Common Sandpiper and 2 Ringed Plovers at the south end of the ARC, the Swallows now feeding young in the Screen Hide, Reed and Cetti's Warblers still singing there. On the islands 4 Black-tailed Godwits, a Green Sandpiper, many Lapwing and 100s of eclipse duck.
This afternoon at Galloways a male Marsh Harrier was of interest.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Black Throated Diver

The Little Owl was showing well this morning near Boulderwall as I made my way to The Point. 07.30 The Patch: 8 Mediterranean gulls on the beach in the Gull roost with just 4 each of Common Tern and Sandwich Tern. 5 more Mediterranean Gulls following a fishing boat, a first summer Little Gull over the boil, c30 Gannets feeding off shore along with a party of 45 Common Scoter and 3 Swifts in. A real surprise was an adult Black Throated Diver flying west just outside the boil. Behind the hide the Black Redstart still singing.
At the observatory the juvenile House Martin still devouring the moth catch.  
Lizard Orchid
 A cycle ride to Camber to see the Lizard Orchids taking in the Scotney complex where apart from 100s of Greylags and Canada Geese there was little to be seen. On the Camber pools 3 Little Egrets and several Reed and Sedge Warblers still singing. At the Lizard Orchid site I counted 70+ spikes along with many Pyramid Orchids and a few Bee Orchids.
The Midrips looking good for Autumn waders.
On the way back I visited The Midrips where I found 19 Avocet, 2 Greenshank, 6 Redshank, 6 Oystercatchers, 4 Sandwich Terns roosting , 5 Little Terns fishing off shore and a Marsh Harrier seemingly taking Shelducklings at will.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Moth Trap Feeder!

After spending 3 days battling with a flat pack greenhouse (I'm not sure who won) it was good to get out and about.
First stop was The Patch where there was 2 Mediterranean Gulls on the beach, 2 first summer Common Terns with 8+ adults, 4 Sandwich Terns and dozens of Black-headed Gulls, Herring, Lesser Black Backed and Greater Black Backed Gulls. Then the hordes of anglers arrived and flushed everything. The Black Redstart is still singing behind the hide and a Pied wagtail was collecting food off the perimeter wall. 
In the lighthouse garden which is now becoming quite over grown and looking good for migrants 2 juvenile Goldfinches.
 At the observatory the juvenile House Martin was being fed by DW. It has now graduated from Tawny Shears to Dark Arches from last nights catch and seems to be thriving.
At the ARC a Cuckoo was still calling by the track to Hanson, also there many Reed Buntings a family of Sedge Warblers and a Sparrowhawk over. From Hanson 2+ Reed Warblers still singing in front the hide, on the islands which are rapidly appearing 100+ Lapwing, 2 Redshanks, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Terns and many eclipse ducks.
In the screen hide the Swallows still in residence, behind the hide a Hobby over the Tower Pits also a Marsh Harrier and a Bittern flew from the Tower Pits to Boulderwall.
This afternoon watching from the garden listening to the tennis produced the usual Marsh Harriers, a Hobby, a Little Egret and several Oystercatchers calling high overhead.
Islands are now rapidly appearing on Burrowes Pit, hopefully one or two good waders will find them. From Dennis's Hide today 200+ Canada Geese, many eclipse ducks, a Redshank and on the raft behind the hide the pair of Common Gulls have a well grown chick.
This evening a bike ride down Galloways was as expected very quiet. An adult male Marsh Harrier was hunting close to the road, a few Linnets, Common Whitethroats, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were seen. In Dengemarsh Road a Yellow Wagtail by the entrance to the race track.