Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pas de Calais and Dungeness!

On Wednesday we had a trip to the Pas de Calais going there with absolutely no expectations. With a light NW wind blowing we went straight to Cap Gris Nez but tourists outnumbered the birds. We moved onto Tardinghen to check out the pools and reed bed for future visits spring and autumn.
Blanc Nez was also very busy with tourists though several Common Buzzards were observed there. 
Next stop was Guines Forest, which due to time of day and year was fairly quiet, but 2 Honey Buzzards gave us great views as did many butterflys. 
From the forest we drove the short distance to the boardwalk, Where Kingfisher, Great White Egret, juvenile Icterine Warbler, Spotted flycatchers and 6 Marsh Harriers were the highlights.
Our last stop was Oye Plage where at least 8 each of Common and Green Sandpipers, several Avocets, Little Egrets and a flock of 20 Spoonbills. On the beach Little Terns were feeding young, we also found at least 4 Kentish Plovers with at least 2 fluff balls, which was a great finish to a great day out recording 95 species  for the day.
Honey Buzzards Guines Forest

20 Spoonbills Oye Plagae
Clouded Yellow Guines Boardwalk
Silver-washed Fritillary Guines

First thing this morning I walked up to the pines, recording 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers, 10+ Common Whitethroats, 4 Sedge Warblers 2 Marsh Harriers, c100 Sand Martins. From the Screen 2 Garganey, 3 Common Snipe, a Ruff and c150 Lapwing of note.
The Patch was disappointing with only c50 Common Terns among the usual commoner Gulls, also a Grey Seal there.
I joined The Joker (he had just found the newly arrived Great White Egret from the ramp) for a drive down to Dengemarsh Gully and Galloways. The Gully was very disappointing with just a handful of Linnets seen. Galloways was no better with just a Wheatear and Linnets. 
This afternoon a walk along The Midrips which looks excellent for waders was also disappointing, seeing 1 Common Sandpiper, 14 Redshank, 12 Dunlin and 19 Avocet. It seems that 2 pairs of Avocet successfully bred there, along the green wall there many Small Tortoiseshells. 
At Pigwell which looks good not a single wader not even a Lapwing!
Late afternoon on the reserve 2 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, a Garganey, a Black-necked Grebe and a Black tern were noted.
This evening at the ARC the only change was the addition of 9 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper flew over.
 Garganey from Firth
 Little Ringed Plover from Firth
 Wood Sandpipers from Firth

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Black Terns!

First thing this morning from the screen hide, still 2 Garganey and 4 Common Snipe of note, along with several 100s of Sand Martins and a few Swifts over the lake. At the pines just a couple of Sedge Warblers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. From Hanson still large numbers of common wildfowl and Reed Warbler still singing. At the south end a Wood Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper,
At The Patch a moulting adult Black Tern, c100 Common Terns with the 100s of Black-headed Gulls. Behind the hide a Willow Warbler, a Sedge Warbler and a Black Redstart.
On Burrowes Pit a juvenile Black Tern, 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Dunlin, 2+ Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine and a Sandwich Tern through.  
Juvenile Black Tern at Burrowes

Monday, 28 July 2014

Wood Sandpipers

First thing this morning I walked up to the pines hoping to see my first returning Willow Warblers, alas my hopes were in vain. From the Screen Hide 2 Wood sandpipers among the dozens of Lapwings were of note as was a Water Rail and the several 100s of Sand Martins hawking low over the wind less lake. A look in the light house garden was as fruitless as the pines.
I walked down to the The Patch noting a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on the perimeter wall, arriving at The Patch there were 100s of Gulls on the beach in front the hide, so I carefully made my way into the hide, got myself settled and opened the hatch. I had just started to scan the Gulls when a family of birders turned up and promptly flushed all the gulls, I left with hump!
By now the wind was increasing so I visited Hanson where 3 juvenile Marsh Harriers were doing there best flush everything, though I did manage to locate 3 Garganey among the 200+ Coot, 150+Gadwall, c30 Shoveler, 100+ Pochard, 20+ Tufted Duck and 2 Wigeon.
A Common Sandpiper could be seen from Dennis's and another from Makepiece.
On my way to the beach this afternoon there was a Wood Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and a Dunlin at the south end of the ARC. Then an hour at the fishing boats with The Joker, saw only a handful of Gannets and Terns and 1 Kittiwake, 4 Oystercatchers and 8 Dunlin flew into the bay.
Driving back a juvenile Cuckoo flew from the north end of the Long Pits towards Kerton Road.
Late afternoon from the Screen Hide the 3 Garganey still present, also 3 Black-tailed Godwits and a Ringed Plover.
Again no bird images so below a images of stuff from the moth trap over the weekend. 
 Sallow Kitten
 Phycita roborella
 Oak Eggar
This beast is I am reliably informed a Dytiscus dimidiatus

Saturday, 26 July 2014


I didn't get any birding done today as yesterday we bought a new lap top for Sally to replace her Toshiba that died. By the end of yesterday evening I was all for using the new one as a Frisbee. The reason Windows 8! A nightmare! I called GH who very kindly spent the best part of the day at the observatory sorting it out for me. A huge thankyou Gill. Although I have to say I am still totally underwhelmed by Windows 8, by how slow it is even compared to my old steam powered Vista lap top.  
Below are images of some of the moths from the Plodland trap.

 Chinese Character
 Marbled Green
Agonopterix alstromeriana?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Jersey Tiger and other garden critters!

Jersey Tiger
 In the Plodland moth trap this morning I was very pleased to find a Jersey Tiger, although apparently it is now common around the London area. Also in the trap a Roesel's Bush cricket along with many other moths.
Roesel's Bush Cricket
 On my way to the observatory this morning I met DW near the car park who pointed out a Clouded Yellow butterfly. He had been down to The Patch with little to report.
With the temperatures rising I had a rather lazy day around Plodland watching the Buddleia's and failing miserably to get any images of the visiting butterfly's.
Great Green Bush Cricket
While checking the front Budleia Great Green Bush Cricket crash landed on the drive an impressive beast.
What I believe to be an Ichneumon Wasp species grabbed a caterpillar and carried it off under the garden shed. I will speak to one of the the Dungeness insect Gurus to ascertain the identity of the wasp.
This evening I visited Burrowes Pit , apart from 100+ Sand Martins and 3 Common Sandpipers I found little of note.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sand Martins and a Golden Plover

A quiet morning at The Patch probably not helped by the anglers fishing there. c20 Common Terns there including a 1st summer individual, 17 Common Scoter flew east, also a few Gannets and at least 3 Harbour Porpoises.
A juvenile Marsh Harrier flew around the power station and the observatory.
At the ARC from Hanson c50 Sand Martins moved through, a flock of c100 Lapwings flew in cramming onto the the few bits of island that are now growing larger by the day, still lots of the common wildfowl on view there.
This afternoon a wander around the Scotney complex found 3 Common Sandpipers, 6 Avocets, 2 Curlew, a Dunlin and the first returning Golden Plover. On the wires opposite Scotney Court Farm c400 Sand Martin, in the field 10+ Yellow Wagtails and 7 Corn buntings.
Early evening an the reserve found 2 Black-necked Grebes, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and an adult Mediterranean Gull. 
 Lapwing from Makepiece

Below a few moths from the Plodland trap
 Grass Eggar (male)
 Small Fanfoot
 Epiblema foenella ?
Drinker (female)

Monday, 21 July 2014


At The Patch this morning 4 juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 1+ Arctic Tern and 40+ Common Terns were the highlight.
At the south end of the ARC 13 Little Egrets and a Redshank with the usual assortment of eclipse duck. Met The Joker at Burrowes where the highlights were 2 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover and 3 Marsh Harriers.
On the ARC from Hanson another 2 Common Sandpipers on Cormorant Island, 200+ Pochard, 150+ Coot, 100+ Gadwall and another Marsh Harrier. Along the track to Hanson 2 Reed Warblers still singing.
Avocet on the beach at The Midrips
This afternoon at Scotney, 6 Common Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 6 Curlew, 2 Avocet and 3 Dunlin.
At The Midrips, an adult and 2 juvenile Wheatears, a Little Tern roosting on the beach, 10 Avocets, 3 Common Sandpipers, 7 Redshank, 4 Curlews, 4 Whimbrel, 9 Oystercatchers, a Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, a pair of Shelduck with 4 well grown young and another with 6 liquorice allsorts. While walking along the Green Wall, Red Admirals and Peacock Butterflys were streaming in off the sea, a Brimstone came in, also a Demoiselle species along with many Darters, the Thistles along the Green wall were attracting lots of Tortoiseshell's but no Scarce ones that I could see.
Below are a few images of the moths from the Plodland trap.
Canary-shouldered Thorn
Rusty-dot Pearl
Kent Black Arches
Swallow Prominent
July Highflyer

Sunday, 20 July 2014

And then there was none!

The Islands on Burrowes Pit are looking better every day to me, though apart from the feral geese, Cormorants and Herring Gulls little is yet using them, but I am confident that very shortly there will be a wader fest there. From Makepiece a Black-necked Grebe was the high light.
 Common Gull at the dipping pond.
 When I arrived at The Patch Hide with David G the beach was full of gulls, also 2 juvenile Common Terns were being fed by there parents on the beach. 3+ juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls among 100s of Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, then they all took flight, the image below explains why. Shortly after several anglers took the same route so we gave up.
 The rest of the day was a wash out, which gave me the chance to thoroughly investigate the Plodland Moth Trap, where 42 macro species were logged, I'm still working on the micros.
 Several Crambus perlella today
 Spindle Ermine? 
 Dark Tussock

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Amazing Storm Clouds!

 Having dinner about 20.00hrs last night alfresco style in the garden, I could see dark clouds on the horizon. I was not prepared for the speed at which I can only describe as a mega size white paint roller shaped cloud came in. It was rolling at an incredible speed and as it came overhead, the garden irrupted with pots being blown all over and plants being flattened. The wind dropped immediately the roller passed over, day became night as the dark clouds followed bringing some welcome rain. I was not quick enough with the camera to catch the white roller and the above image does not reflect the ferocity of the weather, but shows how dark it became in seconds. I have never seen this phenomenon before, I'm sure it must have a meteorological name.
Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at the fishing boats this afternoon.
 This morning a spin around Dengemarsh, Galloways and Scotney not unexpectedly found little of note, the usual Marsh Harriers, 2 Hobby's and 1 Yellow Wagtail were the highlights. This afternoon at the ARC a Jay at the pines was my first one this year on the peninsular, from Hanson c200 Coot, c150 Gadwall, c100 Pochard, 56 Cormorant on Cormorant Island rather overwhelmed the 4 Herring Gull chicks there.
At the fishing boats Mick and Richard had attracted a Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull with loaves of bread and bucket of fish heads.
The moth trap gave a poor return this morning but I have hopes for tonight even though it is raining at the moment.
 Cynaeda dentalis
 Langmaid's Yellow Underwing
Least Yellow Underwing

Friday, 18 July 2014

Lazy Day.

A plod around the bushes at The Point, then along the beach from the lighthouses to the fishing boats and back to the observatory, saw 3 Common Whitethroat, 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk. No sign of a Scarce Toroiseshell, best I could find was a Painted Lady by the fishing boats. 

 At the ARC from Hanson a Reed Warbler was collecting food for its young. 2 Black-tailed Godwits flew in onto the beginnings of an island which is very good news. In the hide a beautiful Wasp nest, so be careful if you are visiting the hide.
A lazy hour at the fishing oats this afternoon:
Great Crested Grebe: 1 on the sea
Gannet: 2 down
Sandwich Tern: 6 down
The bull Grey Seal
Harbour Porpoise: 1
Chatting to angler there who had been fishing all day, he told me he hadn't caught anything today, indeed he had not even had a bite, which may explain the lack of Terns off shore.
At the South end of the ARC 6 Little Egrets and c150 Lapwing of note.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ice Cold Beer & Ice Cream!

An early morning stroll down to The Patch making the most of the cooler air and not an angler to be seen. On the perimeter fence a tatty Black Redstart, over The Patch 4 Yellow-legged Gulls, 1 Mediterranean Gull and not a single Tern. Plenty of Gulls on the beach with at least 3 North Thames colour ringed birds, but the heat haze was to severe to read them.
A cup of tea at the observatory where DW identified some moths for me. With his bionic hearing he heard Swifts calling from the stratosphere, they were only dots in the binoculars.
At the south end of the ARC 13 Little Egrets with the motley assortment of eclipse duck. With birds hard to find let alone photograph in the rising temperatures, I spent most the rest of the day doing domestic chores and sorting through the Plodland moth trap, interspersed with Ice Cream and Ice cold Beers.
Four-spotted Footman (male)
Evergestis limbata 
Ethmia bipunctella
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Maple Prominent
True Lover's Knot
Pine Hawkmoth