Thursday, 17 May 2012

Late Again

After a family day in the midlands yesterday (42 Red Kites on M40) I had a short lay in this morning. So no surprise that I missed the best birds on the sea watch (1 Pomarine Skua E, 2 Arctic Skua's E and 3 Black Terns) in fact the most interesting thing I saw on the sea was the above ship.
I could find no migrants around the point just the resident Black Redstarts, Stonechats and Wheatears.
At the ARC Pit and New Diggings squadrons of Swifts hawking along with a few Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and 4+ Hobby's. Also a single Greenshank flew around and disappeared towards Lade.
At Scotney 2 Dunlin and some Ringed Plovers, also 2 Bar-headed Geese.
Opposite Lydd Gold Club the Turtle Dove was back on the wires and further along the road the Little Owl was on the derelict sheds, 2 Hobby's hawking over the Rape and a Marsh Harrier.
The best I can say about the Bee-eater is I missed it by a few minutes.
With favourable E to SE winds forecast, a car load off us are off to Breskens, Holland tonight for a dawn start hoping for some spectacular vis mig. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Black Kite

With a cold north wind blowing in very heavy hail and rain showers, the sea was once again unproductive. In a 30 minute sea watch there were a few Gannets and Common Terns off shore, 6 Common Scoter moved east, also a Common Seal and 2 Harbour Porpoises off shore.
At the back of the hide on the power station wall a Black redstart trying to gather enough insects to feed its young. Nearby 2 male Wheatears displaying.

With seemingly no new migrants on The Point I went to the south end of the ARC Pit which held 2 Little Ringed Plovers and scores of Swifts hawking over the causeway and the pits. From there I moved on to the reserve where the car park was empty. Many more Swifts and a few each of Swallow, House and Sand Martin hawking over Burrowes Pit but little else of note. At Christmas Dell the Lesser Whitethroat still singing along with Common Whitethroats, Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers. At Dengemarsh hide met MH and RP who were on there way out trying to dodge to weather. Once inside the hide the heavens opened and for the next half hour I was marooned there. The new Tern raft seems to be success by attracting more Terns and 2 Marsh Harriers braved the deluge. On the return trail 2 Hobby's and 2 Cuckoo's but little else of note.
Back at the ARC Pit half hour in Hanson Hide having lunch and seeing little. As I was walking back to the car park a large raptor passed me. Initially I ignored it assuming it was a Marsh Harrier I lifted my bins and **** Black Kite. I watched it flying towards Lydd before I put my brain in gear and lifted my camera, hence the very poor heavily cropped images. After dashing to Cockles Bridge to see if I could see it again I went back to Boulderwall Farm, where fortunately an RSPB working party had also seen the Kite.
Another half hour spent at the Water Tower hoping the Kite might come back found up to 6 Hobby's hawking over the pits.
Very poor heavily cropped image of a Black Kite

Monday, 14 May 2012


Once again very little sea passage at Dungeness (c150 Commic Terns and Sandwich Terns off shore and a few Gannets, also 4+ Harbour Porpoises)
On the land a few resident Common Whitethroats and Wheatears and the only new migrant was a Chiffchaff in the lighthouse garden.
 With a strong westerly blowing I made my way to the slightly sheltered Tower Pits where I was entertained by 14+ Hobby's for a couple of hours before the clouds came in.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunny Dungeness

As the sea was flat calm and unproductive this morning (15 Common Scoter E, and c150 Common Terns off shore and at The Patch) I plodded along the front of the power station to c200yds short of Denge marsh Gully and back. Highlights were a newly arrived Chiffchaff , 4 Wheatears (3 singing, 2  Black Redstarts (1 singing), a pair of Ringed Plovers, a single Redshank on the beach and 2 Mediterranean Gulls loafing with the Herring Gulls in the sun.

 At the south end of the ARC Pit 1 drake Garganey and 3 Dunlin were the highlights there.
A very pleasant plod around Orlestone Forest this evening found at least a dozen Nightingales, several Garden Warblers, a Hobby and most of the usual woodland birds.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Out and about

The sea was very quiet this morning just a handful of Gannets, Commic Terns and a few Swifts and swallows coming in. The highlight being to the 2 local Peregrines coming back in presumably after hunting out at sea. Very few migrants around The Point apart from Hirundines.
A small raptor passage observed from the obs involving 3+ Common Buzzards,1 Hobby,1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Kestrel.
At the south end of the ARC Pit 2 Little Ringed Plovers and little else due to the high water levels.
Yellow Wagtail in Rape Field
 A look around Appledore for the 2 White Storks drew a blank, but several Yellow Wagtails in the Rape a Hobby hunting over the field and a Wood Sandpiper on the flood which held the Storks last night. Nearby 2 Red-legged Partridges were foraging in the middle of the road until a Sparrowhawk appeared overhead.
Watching Sparrowhawk overhead
 A plod around the woods found another 5 Nightingales singing though all just outside my Tetrad and a Woodcock flushed.
A very full ARC Pit from The Screen Hide

Friday, 11 May 2012


05.00 in Orlestone Forest counting Nightingales. 2 extra territories found today, 23 singing males in the 2 Tetrads. Also seen on my plod around the tetrads 10+ fly over Crossbills, 2 Turtle Doves purring, 2 cuckoo's, several Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling and a Tawny Owl.
After finishing in the forest I made the short drive to Rye Harbour NR. Most the waders have moved on though it was low tide, Plenty of Common and Sandwich Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls on Ternery Pool and 3 newly arrived Willow Warblers by the hide. 8+ Little Terns on The Quarry and at least 3 Avocet chicks on the new flood.

Newly arrived Willow Warbler Rye Harbour
At Scotney 2 Curlew, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Grey plover, 8 Dunlin and c20 Ringed plover.
 Back at Dungeness at the ARC Pit 8+Hobbys, Cetti's,Reed and Sedge Warblers but little else probably due to the very high water levels, even Stilts would need stilts.
 By the entrance track to the reserve centre a very confiding Wheatear a superb bird. On the reserve much the same as the ARC Pit  plus a Spotted flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Hopefully the new Tern raft on Dengemarsh will attract more breeding Terns.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Rain, Wind and Birds

Black-tailed Godwits over Dengemarsh

Sea watching this morning was slow but relatively productive:

Black-throated Diver: 1E
Fulmar: 2E
Gannet: 71E
Common Scoter: 58E 64W
Pomarine Skua: 2E
Arctic Skua: 4E
Great skua: 5E
Black Tern: 1E
Commic Tern: 81E
Arctic Tern: 5E
Sandwich Tern: 20+ off shore
Kittiwake: 3E
Auk sp: 9E
Swallow: 51 in off
Swift: 16 in off
Lesser Whitethroat: 1 newly arrived feeding on power station wall.
At the ARC Pit water levels are very high so no waders. 5+ Hobby's hawking along the railway line bank and many Swifts and Swallows over the pit also over the New diggings.
On the reserve water levels also very high so very few waders. On Dengemarsh 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Redshanks, 4 Oystercatchers, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit over and 3 Lapwing (All the Lapwing nests have been predated inside the anti predator fence) a steep learning curve. On a brighter note a new Tern raft at least 3x the size of the existing rafts has been launched on Dengemarsh and already some of the 30+ Common Terns were mating and displaying on it. Also there many Swifts and Hirundines up to 5 Hobby's, 2 Garganey, 2+ Bearded Tits, a Bittern booming, 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Wheatears, 4 Yellow wagtails and a Turtle Dove on the Chicken shed roof. At the viewing ramp 3+ Hobby's giving super displays of agility catching insects and the one below alighted on the Brambles in front of me. All around the reserve Reed, Sedge, Common Whitethroats and Cetti's Warblers singing and with decent weather will be even more vocal. Also at least 2 singing Lesser Whitethroats 1 at Hookers and 1 at Christmas Dell.
Despite the weather a quality selection of birds seen today.

Hobby by the viewing ramp

Great Crested Grebe on Dengemarsh

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Just to late

07.30-08.45 the sea watch hide with (TG,DR,PT) very little moving:
Fulmar: 3W
Gannet: 85E
Common Scoter: 29E
Guillemot: 1W
Arctic Skua: 5E
Arctic Tern: 4E
Commic Tern: 46E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 20E
A short visit to the observatory where resident Common Whitethroat and Wheatears were seen, also a Willow Warbler.
Back to the hide 09.35-10.45(TG,DR) Black Redstart on Power Station Fence.
As we opened the hide slats 2 Pomarine Skuas flew past very close well inside the bouy. If only we were 30 seconds earlier I am sure excellent photographs could have been obtained.  Apart from 26 Brent Geese very little of note passed. So when we heard the Red-rumped Swallow was back at Greatstone we quickly made our way there. After 30 minutes of scanning the Swallows no Red Rumped but 9 Black-tailed Godwits over.
Next stop Scotney. Most the waders have departed leaving 9 Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Grey Plover and 2 Dunlin.
At Pigwell the water level has risen so much that no waders at all there and then the rain started again. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A quieter day all round

A much quieter day at Dungeness. On the the sea just 1 Pomarine Skua, a few Scoter, Terns and Barwits and a Hobby in.
With news that the Red-rumped Swallow was still at Greatstone sewage works myself, TG and DR went to see if we could get views than we had yesterday. When we got there most of the Hirundines had gone along with the Swallow. We went to Lade to check the pits there but no Hirundines there either.
Back at Dungeness a Stone Curlew had been reported in The Desert, but no one new anything about it and despite a search by a group of us nothing was found.
Another hours sea watch was not very productive except for 2 Eider and adult and imature drake at C13.30. These were probably the 2 seen from Birling Gap by John Cooper et al. Also 2 Eider were recorded at Selsey Bill this morning by Bernie Forbes, Dorian Mason and Dave Smith. It would be interesting to know if these were the same birds and the time they were seen.   

 A walk along the canal at Warehorn this afternoon found the 3 Nightingales still singing, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Yellowhammers, a Bullfinch, a Cuckoo, a Hobby and this handsome Song Thrush finding lots of worms for its young.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Mow the Lawn miss the Lark

After spending the best part of 7 hours sea watching at Dungeness today, I was on my way to have lunch out with Sally when I got a call from young David that a Crested Lark had been found at Lloyds. 10mins later I was there but no Lark, it had flown into the power station compound. Half hour later and DW had got permission to go into the compound to find it. Unfortunately a thorough search of where it was seen to land drew a blank. Now 2 hours late for lunch I went home  to make amends and mow the lawn. As I got the mower out I got a call from DW to say the Lark had been relocated. Conscience got the better of me and I mowed the lawn then drove back to Dungeness. I parked up and was a couple of minutes walk from the Lark when TG phoned to say it had flown off towards the Lighthouse ****. As a small recompense a Red-rumped Swallow was located at Greastone sewage works and showed well all be it distantly. Maybe the Lark will be on show tomorrow!
Sea watch totals 06.10-12.50
Black-throted Diver: 35E
Fulmar: 15E
Manx Shearwater: 1E
Grey Heron: 1 in off
Brent Goose: 18E
Common Scoter: 334E
Shelduck: 8 out to sea
Gadwall: 2E
Peregrine: 1 around
Merlin: 1 coasting E
Hobby: 1 in off
Whimbrel: 32E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 12E
Grey Plover 2E:
Sanderling: 10E
Avocet: 4E
Pomarine Skua: 16E
Arctic Skua: 4E
Great Skua: 2E
Mediterranean Gull: 4E
Little Gull: 1E
Kittiwake: 21E
Sandwich Tern: 82E
Common/Commic Tern: 340E
Arctic Tern: 89E
Little Tern: 76E


Sunday, 6 May 2012

23 Nightingales

04.30 back in the woods for the Nightingale survey. Just a light breeze and a bit of drizzle! summer compared to yesterday. Located 20 singing males in one tetrad and 3 in the other. Also a Turtle Dove purring in Faggs Wood and a Cuckoo. A Kingfisher flashed along the canal, though where will it nest with the water levels so high? Also 2 Common Sandpipers flew past and another Cuckoo.
At Scotney a good selection of waders, Bar-tailed Godwits, Black-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Knot, 2 Ruff, plus a Hobby amongst the many Hirundines.
At the north end of the Long pits 10+ Reed Warblers singing, a Cetti's Warbler singing, 2 Lesser Whitethroats singing, numerous Common Whitethroats, 6+ Phylloscs, a Cuckoo and Hobby over.
Round The Point and Desert 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Hobby, 1 Redstart, 2 Yellow Wagtails over, 1 Whinchat 14+ Wheatears, Many Common Whitethroats, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Blackcap and a Black Redstart.  

 At the south end of the ARC Pit some Bar-tailed Godwits pitched in, one them carrying 5 colour rings and flag ring which seems a bit excessive. 
3+ Hobby's over the Tower Pits, 3 Common Terns and 8 Whimbrel.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Nightingale wash out

05.00 raining and windy I parked at Birchett Wood/Longrope Wood for Nightingale Survey. As I put on wellies and wet weather gear I could hear Nightingales singing. I started slipping and sloshing  down a ride trying to fix in my mind the positions of the singing birds, as unable to write anything down in the appalling weather, after 20 minutes I was cold and my wellies were full of water and mud. I abandoned todays attempt and went back home for a hot shower and breakfast.
After a warm up I went to Scotney where a good selection of waders were on show. (Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel,Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Knot, Ruff) and on Pigwell 4 Avocet and a Common Sandpiper.
As there was no shooting on the ranges today I thought I would visit the Midrips. A damp windy plod out to the pools was poorly rewarded with 8 Avocet, 4 Oystercatchers, 2 Common Sandpipers and 26 Shelduck.
At Galloways a newly arrived Hobby on the shingle, 2 Stonechats, 2 Whinchats, a Cuckoo and 5 Bar-tailed Godwits and 8 Whimbrel in the field opposite the guard house. Further up the road a male Kestrel was feeding on beetles at the side of the road.     
Male Kestrel
 Met Pete and Pam who persuaded me with tales of myriads of waders to go to Rye Harbour. They were right, soon after arriving at the superb flood opposite Lime Kiln Cottage, I was watching the Kentish Plover giving good scope views among dozens of Ringed Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrels, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, 2 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 2+ Little Stints but no luck with the Temminck's Stint.   

On the way back I spent some time going through the hundreds of Swallows on at Scotney looking for a Red Rump with no luck, I did the same at the ARC Pit where at the southern end 6 Yellow Wagtails, a White Wagtail and 2 Little Ringed Plovers were on show. Shortly after arriving home and watching the cup final I got a call to say that there was a Red-rumped Swallow on the New Diggings. Maybe it will still be there tomorrow.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Incredible day at Dungeness

I arrived at the sea watch hide at 06.55, to be regaled by TG of clouds of Waders and Terns passing  and Raptors and Passerines coming in off the sea. But things had now slowed. After going back to the car to get my binoculars that i'd forgotten (AGAIN) I settled in the hide and almost immediately a Common Whitethroat landed exhausted on the beach in front the hide and took advantage of the many midges on the ridge. Then the call came to say 2 White Storks were at Scotney.    
Newly arrived Common Whitethroat on beach in front hide 
 The hide was quickly vacated and shortly after I was pulling into the layby at Scotney followed by MB next to the Storks. Before we could get out of our cars they were off and appeared to land out on Walland Marsh. I went to look for them with no luck. Fortunately MB located them behind Bretts Agregates and reasonable views were had.

 AS it was obvious lots of migrants were dropping into Dungeness I went back. As I dropped DR off at the top of Long Pits a Turtle Dove flew over. Stopping at a private garden Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs  were coming into the garden from the Broom scrub in huge numbers. Swallows and Sand Martins were coming over in waves and 2 Pied flycatchers and a Redstart were in the garden. Next the lighthouse garden which was jumping with warblers and another Redstart. The Station Gorse held another Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat, Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Garden Warbler, Willow warblers and Chiffchaff.
Garden Warbler in Heligoland trap

Pollen covered Garden warbler
 The Moat was stuffed full of Warblers. Common Whitethroat probably in 3 figures(40 crossed the causeway in a couple of minutes). Large numbers of Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers (some Acredula) and 3+ Lesser Whitethroats, 4+ Whinchats, 3 Nightingales, 2 Wood Warblers, 3 Common Redstarts, a Spotted flycatcher, 3 Tree Pipits, 8+ Northern Wheatears,  2+Redpolls, 2+ Yellow Wagtails over and 2 Grey Partridges.
Blackcap bush


Willow Warbler (I don't like this shiny new ring)

Common Redstart
 My own rough totals for The Point were:
Pied Flycatcher: 5
Common Redstart: 8
Spotted Flycatcher: 7
Whinchat: 8
Northern Wheatear: 40+
Common Whitethroat: 150+
Blackcap: 40+
Garden Warbler: 14
Lesser Whitethroat: 3+
Willow Warbler: 100+
Chiffchaff: 40+
Wood Warbler: 2
Yellow Wagtail: 5
Tree Pipit: 3 (and i am deaf)
Swallow: several hundred
Cuckoo: 2
Merlin: 1
I am sure these totals are only a small percentage of the actual totals.

Wood Warbler
At the south end of the ARC this afternoon were 8 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and Hundreds of Swifts and hirundines over the pit
At Scotney loads of waders(Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, 1 Ruff, 3 Knot, 2 Turnstone, Dunlin and a Curlew Sandpiper 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Back to Northerlies

I spent most the day sea watching in the company of TG,MH,BB,PT. apart from an hour spent in the trapping area where I missed a Wood Warbler and a Montagu's Harrier which I missed by seconds.
The sea watching was predictably slow with leaden skies and light northerly winds, but a steady passage of Terns and some waders kept the interest going just!
Red-throated Diver: 1E
Black-throated Diver: 1E
Fulmar: 7E
Gannet: 207E
Common Scoter: 244E
Shelduck: 3E
Garganey: 1E
Knot: 85E
Sanderling: 25E
Grey Plover: 10E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 356E
Whimbrel: 16E
Oystercatcher: 2E
Arctic Skua: 2E
Great skua: 1E
Black Tern: 5E
Little Tern: 113E
Arctic Tern: 22E
Commic Tern: 1251E
Little Gull: 1E
Kittiwake: 6E
Swift: 3 in
Harbour Porpoise: 5+ off shore.
At the south end of the ARC Pit  1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Yellow Wagtails and 100s of Swifts and Swallows with lesser numbers of House and Sand Martins.
Scotneys flooded field looks excellent for waders and this early evening held 35 Whimbrel, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Grey Plover, 5 Dunlin and a Ruff.
By the spoil heap in Tickners lane on Walland Marsh 6 Yellowhammers, 4 Corn buntings and a Cuckoo.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Mr Fox Goes Hungry

Arriving at the beach at 06.30, with a cold northerly blowing and leaden skies, did not bode well for sea watching. It started well with a Pomarine Skua passing as I arrived and another a little later, then the Terns started moving and passerines and hirundines started arriving. A Northern Wheatear landed in front the hide and rested for a few minutes before moving on. 40+ Little Terns, 15+ Arctic Terns, several hundred Commic Terns and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers passed when at c08.30 all passage stopped.
Northern Wheatear resting infront the sea watch hide
 By 09.00 I was plodding around The Point, where in the Lighthouse Garden 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps and the now resident Common Whitethroat. At west beach Gorse a Garden Warbler was singing and another Willow Warbler. In the Station Gorse a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler, nearby the "Rubicola" Stonechat and a 10+ Northern wheatears, also a Black Redstart singing on the power station fence. Next stop south end of the ARC Pit where a Greenshank dropped in to join the 2 Little Ringed Plovers and Cetti's warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were both singing. Over the pit hundreds of Swifts and Swallows with smaller numbers of House Martins and Sand Martins. From Hanson very little to be seen as all the islands are now under water, but plenty of Reed, Sedge and Cetti's warblers singing and 6+ Tree Sparrows in the car park bushes.

 On the reserve very few islands left on Burrowes, those that are have been taken by the Herring gulls and Cormorants. From Makepiece Hide a Common Sandpiper on the tiny bit of shingle left in front the hide, a Peregrine could be seen sitting on the railings above its nest on the power station and presumably its Youngs heads could be seen bobbing up occasionally.

 At Christmas Dell a couple of Northern Wheatears, a Garden Warbler was singing along with many Sedge, Reed, Cetti's and Whitethroats and 5 Black-tailed Godwits flew over. Just past the Dell a Mallard with newly hatched ducklings found the downside to the shiny new predator proof fencing, as a fox stalked them. Though the ducklings could get through the fence to the safety of the reeds and ditch she could not. As the Fox started his attack in her panic she got her neck stuck in the fence. Fortunately I was able to deter the Fox and extricate her from the fence, then drop her the other side where her brood quickly joined her quite unafraid of me or the Fox.
 Further on at Dengemarsh 6 Yellow Wagtails seemed to like the fence when they were not feeding round the cows. Also from the side of the track I flushed a Short-eared owl, further still towards hayfield No 3 4 Bearded Tits in the reed lined ditch. At the bottom of the field I could see a drake Garganey (PT had 2) 3 more Black-tailed Godwits, several Wheatears and a Whinchat. At Hookers the Lessser Whitethroat has returned to his bit of scrub on the bend, a Bittern flew in front the ramp, a Hobby and 4+ Marsh Harriers there. A Spotted Flycatcher was in the bushes with the Tree Sparrow nest boxes in, it was still there a couple of hours later when I returned with MH with the addition of a Cuckoo. At Scotney 18 Whimbrel and 8 Bat-tailed Godwits and 2 Marsh harriers.
Far to slow with the camera