Friday, 11 January 2013

Easterly passage

08.25-10.30  From the fishing boats saw another good movement of Auks with 5,000+ moving east, along with 230+ Red Throated Divers and smaller numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes. A surprise easterly movement of 639 Brent Geese also a Bonxie off shore.
New Diggings held 2 Great White Egrets, 3 red head Smew and 5 Goldeneye, among the much depleted numbers of common wildfowl which seems to be the case on all the pits.
A walk round the reserve found 2 more Great White Egrets, 3+ Marsh Harriers a Firecrest on the return trail but little else of note.
The ARC pit had another 2 Great White Egrets making probably 6 individuals, from Hanson 7 Smew(1 drake), 6 Goldeneye, a Kingfisher, a Bittern and 3 Marsh Harriers. In the Willow trail the Tit flock held another Firecrest, 4 Goldcrests and 2 Chiffchaffs.
On Walland Marsh the Bewick Swan herd has risen to 88 with Whoopers all feeding on the potato fields. Nearby 30+ Tree Sparrows opposite the feeding station and c15 Marsh Harriers out by the windmills.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Swimming Bittern

1of 250+ Red-throated Divers off shore today
 From the fishing boats this morning the sea was not quite as busy as yesterday but still a very entertaining morning.
07-50-11.00 TG,DW,OL,MH,PT,MC a full count was not made for the whole period (lots of chat and laughs)
Red-throated Diver: c250 tooing and froing
Great Crested Grebe: c2,000 off shore
Gannet: c50 off shore
Brent Goose: 16E
Shelduck: 16E
Common Scoter: 14w  3E
Teal: 18 E then W
Wigeon: 13E
Oystercatcher: 41E
Mediterranean Gull: 2 off shore
Kittiwake: 142E
Auks: 5,593 moved east in the first hour with a rough split of 70% Razorbill 30% Guillemot. The total for the whole period was probably well in excess of 10,000

On The New Diggings of note 3 Smew (1 drake) and 1 Great White Egret.
On the ARC Pit from the screen hide a Bittern watched swimming from 1 reed bed to another, behaviour that I have never witnessed before. Also there of note 1 Great White Egret, 1 Marsh Harrier, 5 Goldeye, 2 red head Smew, 2 Chiffchaffs, 8+ Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Scotney held c1000 each of Golden Plover and Lapwing, 30+ Dunlin and 2 Ruff.
Many thanks to Richard Smith Bird Watching Days Out for all his help with getting my 7D fixed.  

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Auk Spectacular

A photo cannot convey the extent of today's Auk passage 
 08.00-12.40 watching from the fishing boats TG,DW,MC.  We estimated that the Auks were moving west at a rate of c150-250 a minute and were still moving when we left all be it at a slower rate.
Red Throated Diver: c300 tooing and froing off shore.
Great Crested Grebe: 2,000+ off shore
Fulmar: 1w
Gannet: c50 off shore
Common Scoter:  22w    6E
Velvet Scoter: 1w
Wigeon: 18w
Gadwall: 3w
Mallard: 2 in
Pintail: 5E
Oystercatcher: 504E
Turnstone: c16 on beach
Kittiwake: c250 off shore
Mediterranean Gull: 3 off shore
3w Glaucous Gull: on beach
Guillemot: 12,000+ W
Razorbill:  18,000+W
Grey Seal: 1 bull off shore
Showing the anglers how it is done

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Another very gloomy start to the the day. The sea from the fishing boats was again carpeted with Great Crested Grebes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Red Throated Divers and Cormorants, with a few Kittiwakes and Common Scoter. A shoal of probably Whiting came close to shore encouraging the Gannets to put on a superb display. (Pity my good camera is still being repaired) Another highlight this morning was a party of 5 Eider moving west also a flock of 13 Shelduck. The Glaucous Gull was in its usual spot on the beach. 

 At The Patch a Little Gull was the star among 200+ Black headed Gulls. On New Diggings 7 Smew (1 drake), 3 Goldeneye and 2 Great White Egrets. A walk from the ARC car park round the reserve produced 30+ Tree Sparrows and another Great White Egret at Boulderwall Farm, the Slavonian Grebe was still at the back of Hookers. The rest of the walk was pleasant now that the sun was shining, but apart from 3 Marsh Harriers and plenty of common wildfowl  little of note was seen.
At Scotney once again few geese present, Lapwings, Golden Plover and Wigeon however were plentiful. While I was there 15 Ruff flew in, one them being colour ringed and flagged. Also present a female Red Crested Pochard asleep on the peninsular, which was well spotted by PT.   

Monday, 7 January 2013

Another Gloomy Day full of Birds

08.00-09.00 from the fishing boats this morning the sea was alive with birds. As it was fairly calm I counted the Great Crested Grebes and in one sweep counted 1,856. Razorbills and Guillemots were streaming out of Hythe Bay as the tide dropped. I estimated c2,000 Razorbills and c1,000 Guillemots moved out of the bay. As the range safety boat came out of the bay it pushed a flock of 192 Red-throated Divers before it. Smaller numbers of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Common Scoter came out of the bay.
Slavonian Grebe on Hookers 
New Diggings held 6 Smew (1 Drake), 4 Goldeneye, 2 Great White Egrets and the usual widfowl. The south end of the ARC pit held another Great White Egret, c100 each of Gadwall, Shoveller and Pochard and a Marsh harrier over.
A walk around the largely deserted reserve found large numbers of the common wild fowl on most of the pits, 3 red head Smew and another Great White Egret at Christmas Dell. The flooded hay fields on Dengemarsh were full of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Wigeon.  A wander round the back of Hookers Pit revealed a Slavonian Grebe and 3 vocal Marsh Harriers.
A search for Grey geese at Scotney at lunch time drew a blank, not even a Greylag, though still 100s of the common wildfowl and 1000s each of Golden Plover and Lapwing.
Early afternoon  back at the ARC, an hour spent in an empty Hanson Hide was rewarded with another Great White Egret, a red head Smew, 5 Goldeneye, a Bittern, 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 1 Water Rail, 2 Chiffchaff s and Goldcrest with the Long-tailed Tit flock.
On Walland Marsh this afternoon 78 Bewick Swans and 2 Whoopers feeding on the old potato fields. Several 1000s each of Lapwing and Golden Plover being harassed by a Peregrine and Harriers. While watching a Harrier roost in which 13 Marsh Harriers dropped in, a smart adult male Merlin dashed through after a Skylark, later I watched it on a fence post plucking its supper. Also 2 Bearded Tits were seen and Water rails were squealing and in the distance the evocative call of the Common Crane going to roost.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


This morning from the fishing boats produced a few Guillemots, Razorbills, Red-throated Divers, Kittiwakes and the occasional Gannet that loomed out of gloom briefly before disappearing back into the fog.
Very poor visibility on the peninsular today
On New Diggings at the south end 6 Smew could just about be seen,  provided they stayed close to the road as could a Great White Egret at the south end of the ARC.
Scotney was just as bad with most of the pit obscured, but 2 Egyptian Geese could just about be seen at the Sussex end on the near bank.
The fog seemed thicker on Walland  Marsh so much so that the Bewick Swans could be heard but not seen so I called it a day. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Tundra Bean goose

Looking out the bedroom window this morning and seeing how dark and damp it was outside I quickly slid back into bed for an extra hour. The late start was fortuitous as while having breakfast a garden first of 2 Bullfinches dropped in.
I drove straight to Galloways and spent 20 minutes on the bank by the tank scanning all round, seeing a grand total of 1 distant Marsh Harrier and a few crows. While there I received a text from MB telling me that a Bean goose was on show at Scotney. Arriving a few minutes later the bird was on show in the Sussex part of the pit, it later moved to Kent where I managed a record picture of it. Also there a Slavonian Grebe, huge numbers of common wildfowl and 1000s each of Golden Plover and Lapwing which put on spectacular displays each time they were disturbed. After a tip off from PT that there were a couple of Corn Buntings at the back of Scotney Court Farm, I walked up the concrete road and out onto the marsh where I found a flock of 16 Corn Buntings. 6 Brent Geese were on one of the floods and 10 Little Grebes on another and 4+ Marsh harriers over.
A walk up to the pines and round the Tower Pits from the ARC car park produced 2 Cetti's Warblers, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 Little Egret and little else.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Harbour Porpoise demise

Sea watch from the fishing boats 08.00-09.25 with DW, PT and MH: The first thing I saw was a dead Harbour Porpoise on the high tide line. It looks like the fins have been cut off, so it was probably trapped in a fishing boats nets.
Red-throated Diver: c100+ off shore
Great-crested Grebe: 1300+ off shore
Fulmar: 1w
Gannets: c100w
Common Scoter: 7w
Red-breasted Merganser: 1w
Turstone: c20 on beach
Dunlin: c200w
Bonxie: 1+ off shore
Kittiwakes: c100 off shore
Auks: 1000+ off shore (probably equal numbers of Guillemots and Razorbills)
Harbour Porpoise
A call from CT had us hot footing it to Scotney where he and BH had found 7 Greater Whitefronted Geese and a single Pinkfoot among 100s of Greylags and a Bar-headed Goose. A spectacular sight was a male Hen Harrier beating up a Peregrine over the pit and at the same time flushing 1000s of Lapwing and Golden Plover, also there a Slavonian Grebe picked out by DW a Marsh Harrier over and 100s of Wigeon, Tufted duck and Pochard.
From the Causeway 1 Great White Egret and 3 Smew also another Great White Egret on the ARC pit.
Out on Walland Marsh the Common Crane still showing distantly, 46 Bewick Swans, 2 Whooper Swans, 6 Waxwings found by CT and BH.
This afternoon 14 Mistle Thrushes at Cold Harbour and only 3 Fieldfares now that the huge flocks of last month have stripped the bushes of berries. A late afternoon watch on an isolated reed bed  in the hope that some Harriers might come into roost drew a blank but 6 Bearded Tits and some squealing Water Rails was some recompense.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Yet another victim of an angler

A beautiful sun rise at the fishing boats this morning, saw the 3w Glaucous Gull nearby on the beach, several 100s of Great Crested Grebes on the sea, a few each of Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Red-throated Diver on the sea.  As the sun rose sea watching became difficult looking straight into it, so I went round to the sea watching hide.
 At the sea watching hide I noticed a juvenile gull behaving oddly, but quickly realised it was another anglers victim. David Gower who keeps the beach clean joined me, I pointed the gull out to him, as he lives nearby he fetched a knife and pliers and we went down the beach to see if we could help the gull.
 As the hook was embedded into its lower mandible and the line was secured to the beach, it was unable to fly away which was fortunate.
No Escape 
 I easily caught the gull and could see that it had ripped its flesh around its bill trying to free its self.  I held it tightly while David pushed the hook through the lower mandible enabling him to cut the hook off the line and free the bird from its bond. Immediately that was done I set it on the beach and it flew off hopefully learning a lesson and leaving me to head for The Patch.
The hook has penetrated the lower mandible
 At The Patch 100s of Black-headed Gulls also 2 Mediterranean Gulls of note, a Black Redstart was on power station wall.
New Diggings held 6 Smew (1 drake) and 2 Great white Egrets. On the ARC Pit 100s of the common wildfowl and 32 Bewick Swans of note.
A walk around the reserve was pleasant with 100s of the common wild fowl, another Great White Egret on Denge Marsh, 3 Marsh Harriers and a pair of Stonechats.
Probably the rarest birds on the marsh today were 3 Egyptian Geese at Scotney and little else of note there. On Walland I could only find 28 Bewick Swans (others had 54 + 2 Whoopers). A wander out onto the marsh on one of the footpaths produced the Common Crane and c20 Marsh Harriers but it was cut short by the rain.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Orlestone Forest

As Dungeness would be busy today I decided to go to the woods. Driving along Brittania Lane I saw the familiar shapes of 20 Waxwings in the tops of the road side bushes, they were dropping down out of sight into a garden to feed then back up. As I pulled up to try and photograph them ,it seemed every man and his dog come out to see what I was doing. So I left them to it.
Orlestone was very wet and muddy which seemed to deter most people. The bright sunshine seemed to bring out the woodland birds, including all 3 woodpecker species. Nuthatch's and Treecreepers, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, were numerous and even a few Redpolls were found.