Thursday, 31 January 2019


As I cleared the heavy frost off the car early this morning, I heard the familiar call of Bewick Swans flying out of the ARC over me to feed at Horses Bones Farm.  
Early morning at Cooks Pool, the Whoopers Swans roosting with the Mutes

 As I arrived at the sea watching hide wave after wave of Cormorants were flying past out of Rye Bay round The point into Lade Bay. The image above does not begin to show the numbers that swept past. I was trying to count them in blocks of 10 and believe a minimum of 9,000 birds were involved.
After that spectacle I wandered down to The Patch which was very quiet, probably because the boil was virtually non existent. Offshore plenty of Auks were tooing and froing, with a few Red-throated Divers and Gannets also 23 Brent Geese flew East. 
Brent Geese past The Patch
Razorbills and a Guillemot off the fishing boats this afternoon
MH joined me at the fishing boats this afternoon for a bitterly cold and fairly brief sea watch, which once again saw 100s of Razorbills and Guillemots tooing and froing and littering the sea while chasing Sprats, c50 Great-crested Grebes were feeding along with the omnipresent hordes of Cormorants, also 5 Turnstone on the beach and Grey Seal off shore.
Next stop the RSPB visitor centre for a warm up, where a Norwegian ringed Great Black-backed Gull JU850 was roosting. Details below.

CR-Code Black ring with white code: JU850 LBNW(JU850);RBM
Ringing Centre Stavanger Museum (Norway) Ring number 3039430
Species Great Black-backed Gull  Larus marinus 
Sex Unknown Age Pullus

Date Place Coordinates Observers Days/km/°
02.07 2014 Udvaare, Lindesnes, Vest-Agder, Norway 57°58'49"N 007°12'41"E Helberg, Morten -
22.11 2014 Boulogne-sur-Mer "bassin Loubet", Pas-de-Calais, France 50°43'38"N 001°35'14"E Petit-Berghem, Eric 143/884/206
01.07 2018 Udvaare, Lindesnes, Vest-Agder, Norway 57°58'49"N 007°12'41"E Helberg, Morten
Skår, Hogne 1460/0/0
31.01 2019 Dungeness, UK., Great Britain, Great Britain 50°55'51"N 000°56'16"E Casemore, Martin 1674/882/209
1w Caspian Gull
While I was in the visitor centre I saw a 1w Caspian Gull drop in front of Firth Hide, I quickly made my way to the hide, where fortunately the bird was still present and showing well.
Estonian ringed Common Gull P39J
Below are details of the above Estonian ringed Common Gull which David Walker and myself saw at The Patch on 29/01/2019. Many thanks to David for for forwarding the birds history to me.
Larus canus, white plastic P39J (ID= 7440)
ringed 7.06.2012 with an aluminium ring Estonia Matsalu UA9695 (on right tibia) as a chick in Kakrarahu colony (nest no. 545), Matsalu Nature Reserve, Estonia (58º46’ N 23º26’ E).
caught 10.06.2014 as a breeding female in Kakrarahu colony, nest no. 724. White PMMA ring P39J added on left tarsus.
observed 15.05.2015 in Kakrarahu colony, nest no. 620.
observed 15.05.2016 in Kakrarahu colony, nest no. 210.
observed 15.05.2017 in Kakrarahu colony, nest no. 409.
observed 15.05.2018 in Kakrarahu colony, nest no. 315.
observed 29.01.2019 at Dungeness, Kent, UK (50°55’ N 0°59’ E) by David Walker.


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Myriads of Gulls!

Todays juvenile Glaucous Gull  showing who's the boss
Apart from a short lunch break I spent all day around The Point. There were many 1,000s of Gulls today presumably attracted by a huge shoal of Sprats, many of which were stranded on the tide line and collected in buckets by locals. I took a number of photographs of the the Gulls today but none convey the sheer numbers of birds present.
Another colour ringed Mediterranean Gull E794
a rather distant yellow ringed 1w Caspian Gull at The Patch X21A
 Great Black-backed Gull JWM42 ringed as a chick on 23/06/2018 at Anholt Ørken, Midtjylland, Denmark 
My first Little Gull of the year
A minimum of 60 Red-throated Divers were seen this afternoon, with 18 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 Little Gulls, 14 Razorbills, 100s of Guillemots, 1,000s of Cormorants, 4 figure numbers of Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Kittiwakes, Common Gulls, smaller numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a minimum of 6 Caspian Gulls and 44 Brent Geese. 

Monday, 28 January 2019

Afternoon Gull Roost!

This morning was taken up with hospital check up, but I was back in time for the afternoon Gull roost on Burrowes where higher numbers came in that of late. At least 2 Caspian Gulls came in as well as at least 3 colour ringed Gulls. At the moment I am only using my 7D MK11 coupled with 100-400 MK11 as it is far lighter than the 1DX MK11 & 400DO. 
 Decent numbers of Gulls came into roost this afternoon 
  Caspian Gull I've aged this as 5th cal year but could be wrong, I'm sure someone will put me right.
F5MT I last saw this bird on 04/12/2017

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Tough Going!

This weekend in fairly inclement weather at Dungeness, there were still 100s of Auks tooing and froing between the bays, with smaller numbers of Gannets, Great-crested Grebes, Red-throated Divers and Kittiwakes, not forgetting the 1,000s of Cormorants,
On the land the 2 Whooper Swans and 3 Cattle Egrets could still be found around Cockles Bridge and Boulderwall Fields along with 2 Great White Egrets, 100s of Wigeon, Lapwing, Golden Plover and up to 46 Curlew and a single Ruff, all often being spooked by Marsh Harriers and Common Buzzards. In general the reserve was very quiet with occasional sightings of Bittern and Bearded Tits at Dengemarsh and a red head Goosander late this afternoon on Burrowes.
On Walland the 35 Bewick Swans were still Horse Bones Farm though always distant, better views of nice flock of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Chaffinches near Hawthorn Corner, while Caldecott lane held at least 20 Corn buntings as well as a few Fieldfare and Redwing.
A nice drake Goosander has spent the weekend on Bretts Marina with a Little Owl there also.
Scotney on the sward the c175 feral Barnacle Geese still with a few Greylags, if you get there at the right time c500 Golden Plover, c300 Lapwing, 20+ Dunlin and a few Redshank can be seen on the sward, but usually very little is seen as they seem to spook very easily.  

Friday, 25 January 2019

On a thoroughly miserable day around the peninsular I chose to go to The Patch this morning, despite spending an hour going through several 100s of Gulls that were present I was unable to find anything even slightly unusual among them, off shore a few Auks and Red-throated Divers were seen through the dire visibility, I eventually gave up when a single fisherman walked the length of the beach flushing all the Gulls and setting up directly in front The Patch hide. 
Just some of the 4,283 Cormorants I counted on Burrowes this morning
From Boulderwall a flock of 43 Curlew were notable along with a single Great White Egret but otherwise no change. When I got to Dennis's I was confronted by every island covered in Cormorants, as the weather was still poor I decided to count them, all 4,283 of them. The only notable bird was a 2nd cal year Great Black-backed Gull that was ringed as a nestling in Skotholmen, Fedje, Hordaland, Norway 60°47'17"N 004°42'33"E . on the 21/06/2018.
JJ314 Great Black-backed Gull
The 2 Whooper Swans can still be seen from Cockles Bridge, also 3 Cattle Egrets still foraging in that general area. At Scotney once again very little of note , 21 Dunlin being the highlight. From the causeway c350 Pochard on the ARC and another c200 Cormorants.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

 Whooper Swans
I had a plumber booked for a morning slot today 07.00-12.30, he arrived dead on 12.30 so that was the best part on my day gone. However it did mean I was at home when the Whooper Swans flew into the field very close to my garden, but as usual a dog walker went out into the field and flushed them. They only take their dogs out there so they don't have to clean up after them, they are certainly not out out there to enjoy the countryside as most the time they have mobile phones glues to their ears, or staring down at them.
Also from the garden this morning 2 Ravens, a Great White Egret, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Common Buzzard.
1 of 3 Cattle Egrets around today
Early afternoon around Cockles Bridge 3 Cattle Egrets were in the horse paddock in the company of a Little Egret, the usual Golden Plover, Lapwing and handful of Curlew was also present.
At Scotney it was very quiet again with small numbers of duck and the usual feral Geese.
I was watching the Little Owl at Lydd camp at 15.40 when the van turned up to take down the the safety flags, I quickly drove down Galloways then made a quick plod along the green wall to the mound to view Sooth Brooks, the light was already fading, so I was not surprised that I didn't see any Short-eared Owls or the male Hen Harrier, however 2 Barn Owls and a Merlin were nice compensation.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Another Quiet Day!

As dawn broke with freezing north wind and a little lying snow on the roof of the car, I made myself another coffee and stayed in the warm for another couple of hours. I did tick off the 2 Whooper Swans for the day from the comfort of home as well as a Cattle Egret and Marsh Harrier.
When I eventually worked enough enthusiasm to drive to the beach a single Cattle Egret was in the garden of Green Hop Farm as I drove by.
From the fishing boats the usual hordes of Cormorants but very few Auks, Kittiwakes and Gannets so I didn't stay long.
I stopped at the New Diggings but found little of note, the same goes for the southern end of the ARC, though 6 Goldeneye were seen from the causeway.
From Boulderwall a few Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Wigeon and a Great White Egret of note. At Cockles Bridge the 2 Whoopers still, a Common Buzzard and a Stonechat.
This afternoon a wander from the ARC car park to the Tower Pits out to the Airport Pits and back saw very little apart from Marsh Harriers, a few Common Snipe and several Song Thrushes.
Another wander form the ARC car park past Boulderwall out to the back of Hookers was also very quiet, seeing the usual Golden plovers, Lapwing, Stock Doves and Wigeon, a couple of Marsh Harriers, some more Common Snipe  and a nice mixed flock of Reed Buntings, Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Sky Larks. As I drove past Home Leigh Farm 3 Cattle Egrets were in the Horse Paddocks.

Monday, 21 January 2019

A proper winters morning saw myself CP and MH on the reserve doing a WeBs count. Nothing out of the ordinary was seen though nice views of a Bittern were had from the viewing mound, also 2 Kingfishers were seen on Burrowes. A count of just 17 Cormorants on Burrowes was remarkable, though when we went back an hour later 100s had arrived from Lade bay.
From Cockles Bridge the Whooper Swans still with the Mute Swans.
 The 2 Little Owls at Lydd camp trying to hide late morning
Some of the Gulls feeding on the dung heap opposite Herons Park this afternoon
This afternoon a wander down to Denge Marsh Gully was very quiet with a flock c50 Linnets being the highlight.
Late afternoon at the ARC 9 Great White, 4 Cattle and 4 Little Egrets came into roost. 2 Goosander dropped on to the ARC, but best of all was an adult male Merlin putting a spectacular aerobatic display while catching a Starling for its supper.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Harrier Count!

 Stonechat at Cockle Bridge
First thing this morning as I left home I could see the 2 Whooper Swans still in the rape field with the Mute Swans. As I drove past Green Hop Farm 4 Cattle Egrets were in the adjacent field.

08.30-10.00 from the fishing boats with RW & SO:
Brent Goose: 236E
Red-throated Diver: 188E   9W
Great-crested Grebe: 3 on
Fulmar: 1W
Gannet: 32E    46W
Cormorant: N/C many present
Kittiwake: 16E    28W
Guillemot: c60 on sea  + c100W
Razorbill: c20 on sea + c200W
Auk sp: c150W
Grey Seal: 1
Mid morning from Boulderwall the Black-tailed Godwit still with 17 Curlew, a Great White Egret there along with c150 Wigeon and small numbers of Greylag and Canada Geese. Most of the rest of the day was spent scouring the area for something interesting and failing. A few flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing on Walland with at least 6 Common Buzzards seen.
Late afternoon at a newly discovered Harrier roost 12 Marsh Harriers came in to roost.
On the ranges late afternoon per OL a male Hen Harrier, 3 Short-eared Owls and 2 Barn Owls, I think I'll have make the effort to get out there one day this week if the army stops firing early enough.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Whooper Swans!

 1 0f 4 Great Skuas seen this morning
08.25-09.40 From the fishing boats with DW:
Brent Goose: 43E
Red-throated Diver: 5W     90E
Great-crested Grebe: 2+ around
Fulmar: 1W
Gannet: 93W
Cormorant: many present n/c
Great Skua: 4W
Mediterranean Gull: 2W (1w + 2w)
Kittiwake: 167W
Guillemot: many present n/c
Razorbill: many present n/c
 A quick stop at Cockles Bridge on my home for a late breakfast saw 3 Cattle Egrets, a Great White Egret, 2 Common Buzzards, a Marsh Harrier harassing 100s of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Wigeon.
Common Buzzard Cockles Bridge
Cattle Egrets opposite Cockles Bridge
At Scotney the regular feral Barnacle Goose flock on the sward with 24 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Redshank and c40 Golden Plover.
Black-tailed Godwit at Cook's pool early afternoon
A wander this afternoon around the Tower Pits, Pines and pumping station was virtually birdless with nothing of note seen.
 The 2 Whooper Swans about to be flushed by a dog walker, image taken from my garden
The flushed Whooper Swans flew to Cook's Pool for a short while before flying back towards Cockles Bridge, also at Cook's Pool a great White and Little Egret and Marsh Harrier.
The 30+ Bewick Swans were still at Horsesbones farm this afternoon but distant per DW/GH.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Hume's Warbler!

I joined DW at the fishing boats this morning in the most unpleasant weather of the winter so far, strong cold NW wind with sleety showers that set the fog horn off and rapidly reduced visibility, needless to say I only lasted around 30minutes. 100s of Auks mainly Razorbills were flying mainly West, while on the sea feeding many Guillemots, with usual 100s of Cormorants, smaller numbers of Gannets and Great-crested Grebes, of note 13 Brent Geese flew East.
Black-tailed Godwit at Boulderwall
At Boulderwall a single Black-tailed Godwit was of note also 27 Curlew, a Great White Egret and a Marsh Harrier.
A couple of the 27 Curlew at Boulderwall
The 4 Cattle Egrets were in there usual Horse Paddock c400mts north of Boulderwall Farm. 
At Pigwell the long staying but elusive Woodlark a very difficult species to see in Kent, unlike neighbouring Sussex where they are relatively easy to see, it showed briefly to me in the company of a Chaffinch before flying off into the ranges which explains why it is so elusive.
I spent a large part of the day trying to see and photograph a Hume's Warbler which has been seen and heard intermittently for a few days by a resident in and around private gardens in Littlestone. Although I did eventually see the bird well as it darted hither and thither fly catching through the bushes, my photographic efforts were again abysmal. My thanks to the resident for the call. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

A Quiet Day!

08.30-10.00 from the fishing boats joined by DW & PW:
Greylag Goose: 1over then inland
Velvet Scoter: 2W
Red-throated Diver: 1E  1W   3 on
Great-crested Grebe: c100 around
Gannet: c40 around
Cormorant: N/C. 100s present
Oystercatcher: 2E
Turnstone: 2 around
Great Skua: 2E
Kittiwake: c40W
Guillemot: 200+ moving into Rye Bay + off shore
Razorbill: 1,200+ mainly moving into Rye Bay + off shore
Harbour Porpoise: 2 off shore

At least 3 Cattle Egrets are still present in Horse Paddocks north of Boulderwall Farm.

A Great White Egret was the only notable bird at Brett's Marina. 2 Firecrests were in on the Sallows opposite Wraxalls Aggregates.

At Scotney singles of Pink-footed Goose and Greater White-fronted Goose per PW.

Early afternoon on Burrowes from VC with MH a drake Goldeneye was the only notable among the black slick of Cormorants.

This afternoon I joined CP at Harrier roost on Walland Marsh where 8 Marsh Harriers came into roost, also a Barn Owl showed itself quite well and a Common Buzzard flew over and several Water Rail were calling from the reed bed.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Slow Recovery!

Now I am starting to get out and about I Joined DW near the fishing boats this morning, fortunately he had his telescope as I am still unable to lift mine or my camera. Even through binoculars I could see many Guillemots, Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Great-crested Grebes, a few Razorbills, at least 2 Great Skua's and not forgetting the black slick of Cormorants.
There were at least 2 Cattle Egrets just south of Cockles Bridge but not much else on this very grey day. At Scotney the Whooper Swans still present, also a few Tree Sparrows around the farm but not a single Corn Bunting.
At Pigwell no sign of the Woodlark but 2 Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail at the sewage works.
Out on Walland at least 35 Bewick Swans with 3 Juveniles, 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Buzzards, 2 Great White Egrets and a small number of Redwing and Fieldfare.
For the first time in living history of some of the older locals no Smew were seen in December on the peninsular, January appears to be following in the same vein.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Home Watch!

As I have been laid up for the last week and probably for another couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time bird watching from home. In the last 3 days I have managed to see 46 species, including daily views of all 3 Egret species, Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Common Buzzards, Ruff and  Golden Plovers, 3 Bewick Swans on the 1st were flushed by lycra wearing cyclists who seem to think they can take their mountain bikes where ever they like. Todays highlight was the Pink-footed Goose in among the Greylag flock, also a minimum of 10 Egyptian Geese. I don't do that well for normal garden birds for example Long-tailed Tit seen once in 8 yrs, Coal Tit, Treecreeper and Nuthatch are unheard of, and still waiting for my first Firecrest.
It would seem at the moment I am missing a sea fest at the moment at the fishing boats with 1,000s of Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets, Great-crested Grebes, Cormorants and 100s of Red-throated Divers feeding close inshore per AJG, MH & DW. Hopefully I'll be back down there soon.
View south from Plodland over the reserve to the lighthouses and power station
View East from Plodland to Cockles Bridge and the Water Tower
One of a regular party of 6 Greenfinches today
Even the Starlings look good in the sun