Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Faggs Wood

 The Waxwings were still in Hesta Way this morning.
 Faggs Wood, hard to believe that in 6 weeks 20+ Nightingales will be singing here.
 As Dungeness was cut off this morning I spent a few hours in Faggs Wood car park snapping from the car. A short trip to the RMC at Kenardington let the Chelsea tractor earn its keep. Once there highlights were a Kingfisher and a pair of Bullfinches.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Out in the cold

Early this morning 40+ Waxwings were still in Hesta way, Ashford in the gloom as I made my to Dungeness. 
 An hours watch from The Point in the comfort of the car was uneventful. Very little was moving in the freezing conditions and in the snow showers visibility was very poor.
Ringed as a pullus on 05/07/2012 southern Norway
 On the beach few gulls in the roost, highlight colour JP939. The Great Black Backed Gull that is unable to close its wings properly was a having a hard time in the easterly gale, it does not seem to have the intelligence to find a sheltered spot to roost in.

 On the ARC Pit from the screen hide a fairly unique sight of 8 Great White Egrets together, sheltering from the snow and wind. With another on Lade Pit per PT breeding this year at Dungeness must be a distinct possibility. Also from the screen 10 Smew ( drakes)  and a Bittern, the duck red-crested Pochard still on its usual pit.
On a frozen Walland I was unable to find any wild Swans or Geese, a flock of 31 Ruff with Lapwings and 10 Snipe were feeding on a cut turf field.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Gulls, Divers, Auks, Pendulines and Sand Martins

At The Point a very busy sea watch this morning with 1000s of birds moving, though not much variety. Coverage was from 06.30-13.15 (AJG,DW,SC,MC)  Highlights were:
Red-throated Diver: 1,100+ E
Sandwich Tern: 35+ E
Little Gull: 36 W
Mediterranean Gull: 2 W
Auks: 5,000+ W  mainly Guillemots
3W Glaucous Gull: 1 on beach
3W Caspian Gull: 1 on beach
near adult Yellow Legged Gull: 1 on beach
                                              Caspian Gull

                                                  Glaucous Gull
                                          Yellow-legged Gull
                                           Record of 1 of the 2 Penduline Tits
 The sea watch was cut short by a text from SB saying 2 Penduline Tits were  showing beside the track to Lydd. From the visitor centre 4 Sand Martins were hawking over Burrowes and 5 red head Smew were also there.
 A stop at the south end of the ARC found a White Wagtail (thanks Neil) also 5 Smew (2 drakes) and 2 Marsh Harriers.
Back on the reserve 2+ Great White Egrets from the entrance track and 2 more Marsh Harriers, the drake Red-crested Pochard was back on the discovery pool early afternoon.
On Walland 30+ Bewick Swans and the Whooper Swan still present this afternoon.
The Harrier roost count late this afternoon was disappointing at the reed bed I was covering, as once again no birds roosted. Water Rails were squealing and Fieldfares were going over to roost as several Marsh Harriers flew over to other roost sites as did 2 Common buzzards.  

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Plastic Ducks

Domestic stuff this morning meant a late start at The Point and missing a good passage off shore the highlights being: 31 Little Gulls, 820 Brent Geese, 2 Velvet Scoter, a drake Goosander and 300+ Red-throated Divers all per AJG.
Meeting AJG and DW at the car park and being told the passage had dried up was not what I wanted to hear, but I made my way to the beach any way. As I walked up the shingle bank a flock of c1200 Brent Geese went by with more coming in the distance. My totals as follows:

Red-throated Diver: n/c   estimate 60+ W
Brent Geese: 1780E
Common Scoter: 10E
Wigeon: 30E
Pintail: 1E
Oystercatcher: 19E
Mediterranean Gull: 1E
Pied wagtail: 2 in
Meadow Pipit: 4 in
Goldcrest:  On power station wall
Chiffchaff: On power station wall
Black Redstart: On power station wall

2 Great White Egrets were on New Diggings from the causeway and a red head Smew was at the south end of the ARC. The duck Red-crested Pochard was still on its usual lake. I gave Hanson a miss as the car park was packed.
A short visit to the reserve where DW found a Caspian Gull which flew off before I arrived. The drake Red-crested Pochard was trying its hardest not to look like a migrant, by spending the last 2 days on the children's discovery pool next to the visitor centre following a Coot around.
Opposite the Midley drying barns I was surprised to see 34 Bewick Swans and a Whooper Swan still present. At the north end of the marsh 100s of Fieldfares in the fields.
At Galloways this afternoon a Barn Owl and the male Hen Harrier per MH.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Waxwing Surprise

 A thoroughly miserable day started at the sea watch hide where AJG had already done 90 minutes.
Totals 06.20-08.50:
Red-throated Diver: 278E    33W
Fulmar: 2E
Gannet: 526E
Brent Goose:  56E
Common Scoter: 8E
Curlew:   8E
Bar-tailed Godwit:   3E
Oystercatcher:   11E
Little Gull: 8E
Mediterranean Gull: 1E
Kittiwake: c50E
Auk sp:  92E
In the roost by the fish shop North Thames colour ringed Herring Gull  TY3.T
Herring Gull  TY3.T
At the ARC 6+ Smew(1 drake), 2+ Marsh Harriers, several Water Rails squealing 1 showing briefly, 1 Great White Egret in front the screen hide, 4+ Chiffchaffs and the Red-crested Pochard the only birds of note in the horrible weather. The Red-crested Pochard can usually be found on on the first lake on the left as walk from the car park to the screen hide. 
 Across Walland  I was unable to locate any wild swans, but still plenty of Buntings and finches at the Tickners Lane seed dump.
 As I drove along Hesta Way a few hundred yards from home, I saw the unmistakable silhouettes of a party of 15 Waxwings. As I tried to get one or two record images of them, in the terrible light and now persistent rain, another 11 flew in. I gave up after a few minutes due to the light and rain. when I left they happily tucking into some Cotoneaster berries.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

False Start

After yesterdays reasonable sea passage I parked at the power station full of expectation. As I left the car hopes of another good passage were dashed at the sight of AJG coming from the beach shaking his head. I watched for an hour with DW but the passage was very thin, the highlight being 2 Sandwich Terns and 2+ Harbour Porpoises.
 The camera does not do justice to the fantastic aerial display of several thousand Starlings over Boulderwall Farm being attacked by a Sparrowhawk(bottom centre).
 I spent several hours in Hanson hide and around the Tower Pits. Despite dawn to mid afternoon coverage of the reed bed by Hanson there was no sign of yesterdays Penduline Tit. A couple of Bitterns were seen and up to 10 Smew, also in the Willow Trail a Firecrest, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and several Long-tailed Tits, Water Rails and Cetti's Warblers.
The Tower Pits produced the Red-crested Pochard, another bittern, 2+ Marsh Harriers and a Great white Egret over. New Diggings held 2 each of Great White and Little Egrets.

Another Bittern flew along beside the entrance track and disappeared into a tiny reed strip of reeds beside the road. Despite intensive scrutiny it could not be seen, however a few minutes after every one left it jumped out and moved to a bigger bed.
From Dengemarsh Road yet another Bittern, Great White Egret and 2 Marsh Harriers. By the chicken sheds 3 Corn Buntings(the first I have seen here this year) 1 of which was singing. As Galloways was open I had a drive down to the sea but there was little to see apart from a male Stonechat.
On Walland at Midley still 31 Bewick Swans and a Whooper Swan. The bushes opposite the feeders were alive with Tree and House Sparrows, Greenfinches and Chaffinches. The Tickners Lane seed dump was still attracting Corn and Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and Finches.   

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Return of the Penduline

 A beautiful clear spring morning at Dungeneness. 06.30-10.00 from the sea watching hide with AJG, DW, BH, CT, BB thanks to AJG for collating the numbers.

Red-throated Diver: 116E   15W                         Curlew:                 57E
Fulmar: 1E                                                         Oystercatcher:       34E
Gannet: 138E                                                     Auk:                     138E Mainly Guillemots
Barnacle Goose: 1E                                            Mediterranean Gull: 4E
Brent Goose: 1424E                                           Kittiwake:              1176E
Shelduck: 3E                                                      Arctic Skua:           1E
Pintail: 26E                                                        Sandwich Tern:      1E
Wigeon: 4E                                                        Skylark:                 2 in
Teal: 11E                                                           Harbour Porpoise:  1+ off shore
Common Scoter: 91E
Velvet Scoter: 7E

A visit to Hanson Hide at the ARC Pit was richly rewarded by virtually the first bird to be seen being a Penduline Tit. It is ringed and probably the returning bird making it nearly 4 years old at least.
Also seen were 1+ Bittern, a Great White Egret, 2+ Marsh Harriers, 5+ Smew, 5+ Goldeneye of which 2 were performing in front the hide. In The Willow Trail 4 Chiffchaffs, 2+ Goldcrests, 2+ Water Rail squealing and 1+ Cetti's Warblers.


14.00-15.30 from the fishing boats AJG, MH and myself:

Red-throated Diver: 43E
Fulmar:                    1E
Gannet:                   2E
Brent Goose:         243E
Common Scoter:       7E
Eider:                       4E
Curlew:                  63E
Auks:                     24E
Harbour Porpoise: 1+ off shore

Late afternoon on Walland a Barn Owl coming out of a shed in Caldecott lane. At Midley 37 Bewick Swans still and at the Tickners Lane seed dump 16+ Yellowhammers, 12+ Corn Buntings, 4+ Reed Buntings and 20+ Chaffinches.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Brents Starting To Move

Half an hour at the sea watch hide this morning was some what disappointing, as what had been an interesting watch came to abrupt end as I arrived. I did manage to see c60 Brent Geese and a Bonxie.
A wander to The Patch was uneventful. Although c1000 Gulls were present I found nothing of note. the wander back to the Old Lighthouse was just as uneventful.
Thinking I'd go to Rye Harbour I stopped at Scotney which was virtually birdless. The road was blocked temporarily at Jurys Gap, so I turned round and went back to Dengemarsh where I walked round the hayfields to Hookers then out to the go cart track and back. En route I had several sightings of Bitterns, Bearded Tits, Cetti's Warblers and Marsh Harriers. 2 Common Buzzards were over the fields which were full of Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Fieldfares, I eventually located the 5 Tundra Bean Geese at the back of Dengemarsh with some Barnacle Geese.
Just under 2 hours at the fishing boats this afternoon produced:
Red-throated Diver: 22E  + 4 on the sea.
Great Crested Grebe: N/C  but good numbers on the sea.
Gannet: 16E
Brent Geese: 127E
Wigeon: 39E
Pintail: 6E
Shoveler: 8E
Common Scoter: 3W
Curlew: 146E
Great Skua: 1E
Kittiwake: N/C
Auks: N/C but good numbers on sea + moving E

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Marsh Harriers

A much quieter morning at The Point, still good numbers of Great Crested Grebes on the sea with a few Guillemots and Red-throated Divers, with a few more of each flying east into the bay, including the Guillemot below with all white wings. 2 Curlew, 9 Oystercatchers, 1 Fulmar and 13 Common Scoter also moved east.
 The south end of the ARC held 4 Smew (1 drake), c200 Shoveler, a Little Egret, a Marsh Harrier and a Great white Egret with another on New Diggings.
 A plod from the ARC car park out to Hookers, then up to the GO Cart track and back via Manor Farm was pleasant in the weak winter sun. The fields to the NW of Boulderwall Farm held 100s of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Stock Doves and Wigeon, also 3 Great White Egrets, 2 Common Buzzards,  25 Barnacle Geese, 5 Tundra Bean Geese among the Greylags and Canada's. Reed Buntings seemed to have returned to the ditches in good numbers and the Cetti's Warblers have started shouting, also most the fields seemed to have Skylarks in them. The large manure piles each had there own Stonechat with a few Meadow Pipits which have been very scarce lately. Up to 6 Marsh Harriers were on view the whole time I was there, they are superb birds but seeing them every day I tend to take them for granted, I will try not to in future. The fields between the go cart track and Manor Farm had several 100s of Fieldfare in them but very few Redwing. Arriving back at Hookers the 5 Tundra Bean Geese gave me a fly by shot.

At Scotney 25 Dunlin and 5 Ringed Plover of note on the flood opposite the lay by and a couple more Marsh Harriers hunting the fields behind.
On Walland the Bewick Swans still just about viewable but very distant from near Hawthorn Corner, opposite Midley drying barns a family group of 5 Bewick Swans showing well with the Mute Swans and nearby the usual Tree Sparrows in bushes opposite the feeding station. At Tickners Lane seed dump the usual Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and finches. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Walland Spectacle

Late morning at The Point and the sea was covered in Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants with a few Guillemots. Red Throated Divers were streaming east into Lade Bay with a few Gannets, Kittiwakes and Auks also 14 Common Scoters. While I was there the Glaucous Gull was flying up and down insisting on yet another photograph.

 The south end of the ARC 5 Smew (1 drake), 6 Goldeneye, c200 Shoveler, a Great White Egret and a Little Egret. From Hanson another 10 Smew (1 drake), 5 Goldeneye, another Great White Egret with the usual wildfowl. With the Long Tailed Tit flock in the Willow Trail were a Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. The bushes round the car park had c20 Tree Sparrows with 3 Marsh Harriers over.
From the track to the visitor centre a single Tundra Bean Goose with the Greylags. 24 Barnacle Geese (possibly a new flock as no hybrids present), c100 Curlew, c150 Golden Plover, c500 Lapwing, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Common Buzzard. Scotney was again disappointing.
On Walland this afternoon the Whooper Swan and Bewick Swan herd still present, if you want to see them I would do it in the next few days as they will very soon be off. Also still 100s of Fieldfare with a few Redwing and Mistle Thrushes feeding in the fields. A walk out from the Woolpack towards the windmills was disappointing, as the only geese I could find were Greylags, though the spectacle of 1000s of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Starlings doing aerobatics as a Peregrine came through was worth the walk, with a Barn Owl on the way back the icing on the cake.