Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A bit of movement!

A hectic day of sea watching and domestic stuff.  
4 separate watches 07.00-09.20, 11.00-12.00,  13.30-14.00,  17.00-18.00 as I have mislaid my notebook the the following numbers are from my failing memory. The majority of the birds were seen in the first watch.
Brent Goose: c250 E
Shelduck: 2 E
Eider: 2 W
Common Scoter: c200 E
Velvet scoter: 2 E
Red-throated Diver: 7 E
Black-throated Diver: 1 E
Great-northern Diver: 1 E
Fulmar: 2 E  2 W
Manx Shearwater: 2 E
Gannet: c50 E
Oystercatcher: c5 E
Whimbrel: c20 E
Great Skua: 8  E
Arctic Skua: 5 E
Little Tern: 2 E   2 W
Common Tern: c200 E
Sandwich Tern: c 100E
Auk: c50 E
2 Pomarine Skuas were seen by the very early starters.
2 Spoonbills were new in this morning on Burrowes, then on the ARC this afternoon but had gone by early evening. 100s of Hirundines on the lakes failed to produce a Red-rumped Swallow, a Great White Egret was on The New Diggings and 2 Cuckoo's and 3 Egyptian Geese were at the south end of the ARC. It would seem after no confirmed sightings of the Cattle Egrets for several days that they have departed.  

 Spoonbills on Burrowes from Makepiece
 The same Spoonbills on the Cormorant Island ARC
Egyptian Geese south end of the ARC

Monday, 27 April 2015


As I parked by the power station this morning, DW was standing by the red and white gates looking less than enthusiastic, as he had checked the bushes for migrants and drawn a blank. As we started to walk to the sea watch hide, the door opened and AJG came out which told us all we needed to know about today's off shore passage.
I decided to wander around The Desert where a few Common Whitethroats, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel, several Swallows and an over flying Greenshank were of any note.
On the beach opposite Jarmans at least 6 Wheatears, another 7 Swallows and 2 Skylarks were seen.
At the south end of the ARC I was sifting through the Hirundines, when a Cuckoo flew in and landed in some Sea Buckthorn, where it ate a minimum of 43 Brown-tail Moth caterpillars in about 15 minutes, before it flew off to the other side of the lake. 
Cuckoo swallowing another Brown-tail!

 Next stop Springfield Bridge where I walked around the Hayfields seeing a Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plovers on 3, 2 flyover Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Bearded Tits. On the approach to Dengemarsh Hide a Reed Bunting and a Cetti's Warbler posed briefly and Bittern Boomed. From inside the hide where MH was already ensconced, the 2 Tundra Bean Geese flew in (their credibility a cause for some debate), 2 more Cuckoo's, 3+ Marsh Harriers and several Swifts of note. On the return to the car a Great White Egret flew over reed bed and a Raven flew over.
 Reed Bunting
 Cetti's Warbler
 A sea watch at The Point this afternoon was very disappointing with nothing of note.
I then joined MH in Hanson to check the Hirundines again but they were all at the south end, so we abandoned that idea and went to Scotney where 2 Ruff were the highlights. A drive around Galloways failed to locate the Cattle Egrets but we did see 2 Stonechats.

The Weekend

Both the early morning sea watches were very poor, with small numbers of Gannets, Terns, Divers, Brent Geese and Scoter. The highlight was a pod of at least 8 White Beaked Dolphins that passed up channel on Saturday.
Around the ARC a Bittern was booming both days near the tower, also the Marsh Harriers were displaying, a Cuckoo there this morning with plenty of singing Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warbler with the occasional Yellow Wagtail over. This afternoon 100s of Hirundines over the lake, despite much searching no sign of a Red-rumped Swallow but 3 Common Sandpipers flew through.
At Scotney an adult Little Gull was hawking over the eastern pits, a couple Egyptian Geese flew in and several Whimbrel could be seen, while around the farm at least 16 Corn Buntings and c20 Yellow Wagtails, on the back lake a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and possibly 10 pairs of Avocet, there was probably more waders there but visibility was very poor. 
 1 of at least 16 Corn Buntings at Scotney Farm
 Little Gull, Scotney eastern most pit.
The 2 Tundra Bean Geese at Dengemarsh.
On the reserve w Whimbrel by the entrance track, a Grey Plover and Wood Sandpiper flew over Dennis's hide, a Wheatear was at Christmas Dell, at Dengemarsh the 2 Tundra Bean Geese still present with 8 Egyptian Geese, a Peregrine, 3+ Marsh Harriers, 2+ Hobby's, 8+ Swifts, another Cuckoo from the ramp, where a Bittern was booming and several Bearded Tits could be seen. The Hayfields have now been re-flooded and look good, a Greenshank was on 3 this afternoon.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Baie de Somme! 23/04/2015

Another brilliant day across the channel with Tony and Trevor.
This Bluethroat was posing buy one of the hides being ignored by most the visitors.
Arriving at Calais around 06.00, I drove straight to the Parc de Marquanterre arriving soon after 07.00 despite getting a puncture on the A16 motorway. We then walked around the woods outside the park hoping and failing to see Black Woodpecker, though there were plenty of other birds to occupy us until the park opened at 10.00.
Inside the park it is very well laid out and managed, with apparently knowledgeable nature guides in most hides, though the design of the viewing holes in the hides leave alot to be desired. This probably does not matter to most the visitors and there are many of them, as very few seem to have binoculars or have much interest  However you can get good views of the birds, of which there are plenty.

This Stork nest is right beside the footpath!
Storks and Black-winged Stilts were plentiful, as were Spoonbills, all 3 Egrets, Greenshanks also seen Spotted and Common Redshanks, Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, Garganey, a Smew, a Common Crane. In the bushes along the footpaths, Blackcaps, Common and Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers. A super reserve which we will definitely visit again. 

This Black-necked Grebe was posing on the roadside pools at La Bassee along with 6 Little Gulls, more Garganey, nesting Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls.

By the time we got home we had clocked up 100 species with out really trying to hard.
One of 2 reeling Savi's Warblers we found around the Baie de Somme!

Friday, 24 April 2015

A day on the beach!

After a great day in the Baie de Somme yesterday, I spent most of today sea watching. Although slow at times it was by no means a poor day for passage. 
 Eider passing in the gloom!
Brent Goose: 1,272E
Eider: 13E
Common Scoter: 409E
Red-throated Diver: 5E
Fulmar: 8W     6E
Gannet: 27E    7W
Oystercatcher: 2E  3W
Turnstone: 1 on beach
Bar-tailed Godwit: 18E
Whimbrel:28E  4W
Curlew: 1E
Great Skua:  8E      2W
Arctic Skua:  13E
Mediterranean Gull: 4E
Kittiwake: 4E
Little Tern: 2E
Sandwich Tern:  51E
Common Tern: 214E
Guillemot: 5E
Auk sp: 19E
Swallow; 4 in
Common Seal: 1
Harbour Porpoise: 6+

 Common Seal!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

First Cuckoo!

A very poor early morning watch with AJG who collated the numbers:
05.45-08.00 from the sea watch hide.
Brent Goose: 8 E
Shelduck: 3 E
Common Scoter: 79 E
Red-throated Diver: 1 E
Fulmar: 2 E
Gannet: 8 E
Whimbrel: 24 E
Kittiwake: 3 about
Little Gull: 13 E
Mediterranean Gull: 2 E
Commic Tern: 22 E but much tooing and frowing( c50 on patch)
Auk sp: 5 W
A wander around the trapping area found virtually no new migrants other than a couple of Swallows over, the Wryneck was still present in the scrub south of the trapping area but very flighty.
A walk from the ARC car park to the Hayfields saw of note 5 Tree Sparrows and 3 Little Egrets at Boulderwall, several Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Buzzards, numerous Sedge, Cetti's and Reed Warblers singing, my first Cuckoo of the year (170 for peninsular) 8 Egyptian Geese, a Brent Goose, Whimbrel, Curlew, 2 Common Terns and a Booming Bittern. The Hayfields were disappointing as they are now drying out rapidly, there were 4 Dunlin on hayfield 3 and a couple of hopefully sitting Lapwings.     
Bar-tailed Godwits past the fishing boats.
Basking in the afternoon sun in the shelter of the fishing boats sea watching with AJG:
Brent Goose: 173 E
Common Scoter: 82 E
Red-throated Diver: 4 E
Great-crested Grebe: 13 around
Gannet: 42 E
Turnstone: 1 on beach
Oystercatcher: 7 E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 99 E  (7 flocks)
Whimbrel: 8 E
Arctic Skua: 1 W
Kittiwake: 11 E
Little Gull: 3 E
Sandwich Tern; 18 E
Commic Tern: 59 E
Guillemot: 9 E   6 W
Swallow: 10 in

Harbour Porpoise: 4+
 Brent Geese passing the fishing boats.
Winter plumage Turnstone at the fishing boats.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Black Tern and Barwits!

Another meagre sea watch this morning enlivened by a super summer plumage Black Tern.
06.00-07.45 from the sea watch hide with AJG who collated the numbers.
Brent Goose: 28 E
Common Scoter: 25 W   6 E
Red-breasted Merganser: 3 E
Fulmar: 5 E
Gannet: 6 E
Whimbrel: 36 E
Oystercatcher: 1 E   3 W
Curlew: 1 E
Kittiwake: 4 E
Mediteranean Gull: 2 E
Sandwich Tern: 28 E
Common Tern: 27 E  (c75 at The Patch)
Black Tern: 1 on The  Patch
Carrion Crow: 28 in off the sea
Swallow: 8 in
A walk around the Trapping area and the Long Pits found 17 singing Common Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Reed Warblers, 7 Swallows and the Wryneck still present but very elusive.
 Swift over the ARC
From the causeway 3 Swifts with a flock of Hirundines hawking over the ARC, while watching them a party of 6 Dunlin and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits flew over the New Diggings, quickly followed by a Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel and a Curlew.
 Part of the flock of c70 Bar-tailed Godwits this afternoon
While driving to the beach this afternoon 2 Red-legged Partridges ran across the road into the north end of the Long Pits.
13.40-14.50 from the fishing boats:
Great-crested Grebe: 5 on sea
Gannet: 5E     3W
Turnstone: 1 on beach
Bar-tailed Godwit: c70E one flock
Whimbrel: 5E
Sandwich Tern: 7E
Wheatear: 4 on beach behind boats.
Swallow: 7 in
 Turnstone moulting to summer plumage on the beach this afternoon.
 1 of 4 Wheatears behind the boats this afternoon
Wood Pigeon on the Plodland bird table
The big news is that an island has begun to appear on Burrowes per MH, though the downside is that the hayfields are rapidly drying out. 6 Garganey and the 2 Tundra Bean Geese at Dengemarsh per MH. A Cattle Egret still present at Brickwall Farm this afternoon per SB.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


This mornings sea watch was probably the poorest this spring, the only entertainment was provided by 2 would be sea anglers trying to launch their rubber dingy. Fortunately for them they never managed to launch, as the waves either swamped the boat or pushed it broadside. After about 15 minutes of trying when they wet and most likely very cold, the safety range boat came along, saw them, came in shore and told them to desist(probably in Anglo Saxon language). 
 Suicidal Anglers! note the life jacket in the boat!
Our dire sea watch was brought to sudden end with news of 5 Bee-eaters in a Dover cemetery, which I successfully twitched.
A big thank you to Trevor Morgan for sharing his great local patch find with me and all the other birders who successfully saw the 5 stunning Bee-eaters.
 The sun shone very briefly
 Doing what Bee-eaters do! before departing SW at 10.31

 This one land right above me, shame about the light!
This afternoon at the ARC plenty of Hirrundines including my first House Martins of the year, Sedge and Cetti's warblers were singing and a Greenshank flew over, at the screen hide Swallows were prospecting nest sites and a Water Rail was squealing in front the hide, little else of note was seen. 
 An early evening plod from Springfield Bridge to the ramp and back saw of note a Brent Goose on  Hayfield 3 with a 3 Ringed Plover, a White Wagtail, a Yellow Wagtail, and 2 Little Egrets. From Dengemarsh hide a Garganey, a Great White Egret, 2 Tundra Bean Geese, a Bittern booming, 3+ Marsh Harriers and worryingly now 8 Egyptian Geese.
Sedge Warbler outside Dengemarsh hide this evening.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Few Migrants!

With the NE wind still blasting across the peninsular I gave the sea watch a miss, instead I parked at Springfield Bridge and walked to Dengemarsh Hide. En route I checked the Hayfields which were disappointing, 3 Dunlin and 2 Swallows being the only birds of note. I joined PW in the hide where there was no sign of yesterdays Black-winged Stilts, but 5 Garganey were still present and a Bittern was booming. We had a look at the other Hayfields where a smart Yellow Wagtail and several singing Sedge Warblers were notable. I visited Pigwell where 6 Avocets could be seen. At Scotney the drake Scaup was looking very smart, a Brent Goose and Barnacle Goose were on the turf, 10+ Yellow Wagtails were by the farm. 
Drake Scaup Scotney
 While looking for the elusive Wryneck a Stoat appeared  from a Rabbit burrow.

Eventually the Wryneck gave its self up,
1 of 3 Whimbrel which flew in early evening and landed by the Crow trap.
A leucistic Linnet at the south end of the ARC
This evening there were plenty of Swallows and Sand Martins on New Diggings but no rumpers! 

Friday, 17 April 2015


Another day of cold blasting North Easterlies producing another poor sea watch:
06.00-08.30 with DW and AJG who kindly collated the numbers:
Brent Goose: 3 E
Shelduck: 2 E
Common Scoter 103: E
Red-breasted Merganser: 9 E
Fulmar: 9 E
Gannet: 76 E
Whimbrel: 4 E
Oystercatche:r 11 E
Arctic Skua: 1 E
Great Skua: 1 E
Sandwich Tern: 57 E
Common Tern: 27 E
Kittiwake: 1 W
Swallow: 2 in
 Great Black Backed Gull giving the Dogfish the coup de grace!
 Whimbrel beside the road near Jarmans.
Long range shot of Black-winged Stilts and 2 of the 6 Garganey.
At Dengemarsh 2 Black-winged Stilts were found by MH, also there of note 6 Garganey, 2 Tundra Bean Geese, 4 Egyptian Geese, a Peregrine, 4 Marsh Harriers, 4+ Bearded Tits, many Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Cetti's Warblers and Bittern booming.
On the Hayfields 5+ Little Ringed Plovers, 6 Ringed Plovers, 2 Redshank, a Snipe & 5+ pairs of Lapwing.