Sunday, 31 March 2013

North Easterly still blowin!

With the NE wind still blowing and occasional snow/sleet showers heralded yet another bitterly cold day on the peninsular. An hour from the sea watch hide 08.20-09.20 was not particularly inspiring:
Red-throated Diver: 37E
Great-crested Grebe: 100+ on sea
Fulmar: 1E
Gannet: 40+ feeding off shore
Brent Goose: 7E  2W
Common Scoter: 2E   9W
Oystercatcher: 4E
Little Gull: 2E
Arctic Skua: 1E
Auk sp: 14E
Carrion Crow: 4 in off
Meadow Pipit: 8 in off
Harbour Porpoise:  4+ off shore
In a snow shower around the lighthouse 3+Black Redstarts but little else.
At the south end of the ARC 3 Smew still (1 drake), 3 Goldeneye, 5 Pied Wagtails, 1 Black Redstart, 3 Meadow Pipits, 1 Redshank, 1 little Egret and the usual Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck and Pochard.
On New Diggings 2 Great White Egrets and a Little Egret.
 The Little Ringed Plover was still on its muddy patch down Dengemarsh Road. Parking at Springfield Bridge I walked round the hay fields and once again failed miserably in my quest to find some Garganey there, but I did have 2 flight views of Bitterns, a Raven and a Peregrine over and 3 Pintail on the flood.
At firth hide 2 red head Smew and 3 Goldeneye were the pick of the wildfowl, behind the hide 3 Chiffchaffs but no sign of the Penduline Tits.
Wandering back up to Dengemarsh 4 Marsh Harriers were displaying and another Bittern and great white Egret dropped into the New Excavations.
Wandering round Hookers 3 more Chiffchaffs, several Cetti's warblers chattering, 4 Bearded Tits, another Bittern, 50+ Stock Doves. On the shooting pool another Great white Egret and 100+ Wigeon, among the feral Geese.
At the back of Hookers a Black Necked Grebe with the Coot and Tufted duck but stubbornly staying as far away as possible and into the light. While watching the Grebe the Marsh harriers continued hunting the ditches and fields, putting up another Great White Egret out towards Lydd. In the reeds more Bearded Tits were pinging and a Peregrine flew through.
Wandering back to the car the Raven came through again as did a Peregrine.
Apparently soon after I left Hookers someone found a male Bluethroat, life can be a bitch sometimes! Hey Ho! (I would be grateful if anyone has any more information on this bird).

Friday, 29 March 2013

No Garganey

My plan today was to scour the reserve today for some Garganey. Arriving at Boulderwall Farm to find a Police car across the entrance and the fire brigade steaming up behind me (apparently a horse was stuck in a ditch) it was time for plan "B". Straight on to the south end of the ARC where a Great White Egret and Little Egret were in the reed bed with a Cetti's Warbler singing nearby. Carefully scrutinising every duck and finding 5 Smew(1 drake) and 2 Goldeneye and definitely NO Garganey. While checking the Meadow Pipits for something better a smart male Black Redstart hopped into view. Across the road on New Diggings 3 Great White Egrets sheltering from the sleet and wind and a Marsh Harrier flew over the road.
I drove round to Dengemarsh Road where the Little Ringed Plover was still on its muddy puddle, parking at Springfield Bridge I could see several emergency service vehicles in the distance near Boulderwall farm. From the bridge I made my way round the flooded hay fields, once again scrutinising every duck and every tuft of sedge for a lurking Garganey and once again failing. However a smart pair of Pintail were some compensation also 20+ Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 3 Common Snipe, 6 Curlew and 2 displaying Lapwing. along the ditch at the top of hayfield 3, 2 Bearded Tits were flitting through the reeds, while trying to get an angle to photograph them I virtually trod on a Bittern, in my resulting panic I failed to photograph any of them. From the viewing ramp another Bittern (the one with the missing primaries) that came up from Christmas Dell dropped into the Hookers reed bed. While there a Marsh Harrier put on a superb aerial display flushing 200+ Wigeon, 100+ Stock Doves, 50+ Curlew, 50+ Golden Plover, 4+ Ruff and 100+ Lapwing and countless Starlings.
At the sheep coral another Bittern (the pale bird) jumped out and flew to Boulderwall and at the same time a Great White Egret flew towards Lydd. My last hope of Garganey was at the shooting pool but that was bird less, then I remembered the emergency vehicles.
Wandering back to the car I saw yet another Bittern in the distance at the back of Dengemarsh, 6 Common Snipe flew over as did a Raven.
In Dengemarsh Gulley another smart Black Redstart and a Chiffchaff were of note. In Dengemarsh Road I met NB and parents who told me of 2 Penduline Tits at Firth hide, although I was there in minutes there was no sign of them and as far as I know they weren't seen again. A last look at Dengemarsh found 2 LRPs on the muddy pool. Walland Marsh was quiet, except for the male Hen Harrier which flew across the road by the cut turf field, the Tickners lane seed dump was virtually bird less. Not a single usable photograph today.   

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Plodding around

No sign of any Waxwings in the garden or on my way to Dungeness this morning. I arrived at the car park by the power station at c07.50 in a snow storm and after a cup of tea started sea watching from the hide with AJG and SO at 08.30- 10.00:
Red-throated Diver: 42E
Gannet: c50E
Shag: 2E   species no.150 for me on the marsh this year.
Brent Goose: c100E
Common Scoter: 14E
Eider: 4E (3 drakes)
Merlin: 1 in
Sparrowhawk: 1 in
Grey Plover: 3E
Curlew: 4E
Knot: 3E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 2E
Oystercatcher: 3E
Auks: c50E
Bonxie: 1E
Sandwich Tern: 5E
Meadow Pipit: c30 in
Common Seal: 1 off shore
Harbour Porpoise: 2+ off shore
A wander around The Point found of note, 1 Wheatear, 1 Black Redstart, a Raven, a Peregrine and a Stoat.
At the south end of the ARC little of note, 2 Great White Egrets on New Diggings.
A wander up the track to the pines and back saw a Bittern, another Great White Egret, another Black Redstart , 2+ Common Snipe and a Green Woodpecker.
Round the reserve it is still very quiet, another Great White Egret, 3 flight views of Bitterns and a few Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and Redshanks on the flooded hayfields. Though 2 Garganey have since been reported and photographed.
From Dengemarsh Road c400mts south of Springfield Bridge a muddy puddle in the arable field held a Little Ringed Plover which showed very well. Further down in the Gully another Black Redstart, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Song Thrush and a Green Woodpecker.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

That's better a very good day!

The day started in fine style with sun shining and 2 Waxwings gorging on the Cotoneasters in my Garden.

At The Point I only watched the sea for 30 minutes as the passage was thin but still better than yesterday, with a steady trickle of Red-throated Divers and Auks moving east with lesser numbers of Gannets and kittiwakes. While checking the gull roost the 3w Glaucous Gull landed beside the car encouraging me take yet more pictures of it. 

 A wander around the bushes found 5 Black Redstarts, a Wheatear, a Stonechat, 4 Meadow Pipits and a Pied Wagtail.
Wandering around the ARC several Cetti's Warblers chattered, a Green and Great spotted Woodpecker flew along the track, in the Sallows 3 Chiffchaffs and a Black Redstart. Further on I flushed a Jack Snipe(very scarce at Dungeness), 2 Common Snipe and 2 Marsh Harriers flew over, also a Bittern where the Bamboo has been cut.
Record shot of Jack Snipe

From Hanson a Little Gull was fluttering over the the surface, 3+ Goldeneye, a Marsh Harrier and 2 Great White Egrets could be seen. In the Willow Trail 2 Goldcrests and 2 Chiffchaffs with the Long-tailed Tit flock.
At the south end of the ARC the first Little Ringed Plover of the year, a Little Egret, 5 Smew(1 drake) and another Cetti's Warbler.

A phone call from OL telling of a Bluethroat at Samphire Hoe had me hot footing it back to the car,  45 minutes later myself and another birder walked up the path towards a bush being watched by the assembled birders, to see the female Bluethroat fly out of another bush in front of us. The Bluethroat showed in some long grass being mainly obscured for a couple of minutes allowing a couple of record shots. As far as I know was not seen again while I was there. A very good day.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Its getting boring now!!!

Another day of bitterly cold North Easterlies, it's becoming very boring the same weather everyday and very little migration on land or sea.
 From the comfort of the car 07.45-08.45:
Red-throated Diver: 41E  23W
Gannet: 6E
Pintail: 4E
Common Scoter: 12E
Sandwich Tern: 4E
Kittiwake: 6E
3w Glaucous Gull: 1 on beach
Auks: 91E
Harbour Porpoise 2+ off shore
A pretty pathetic total for late March. Having said that it would have been a good  watch from where I used to watch in Shoreham, West Sussex.
A look around The Point came up with 6 Meadow Pipits and 2 Pied Wagtails Pathetic!!!
At the south end of the ARC 8 Smew (1 drake), all sheltering under the railway bank with a few Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and 2 Goldeneye. No passerines on the small beach. 2 Great White Egrets on New Diggings from the causeway.
A brief view of a Bittern from the entrance track to the reserve, on Burrowes 3 more Smew(1 drake) and very little else. A wander round Dengemarsh to the Hayfields which look excellent for waders and Garganey found only 8 Ringed Plovers, 15 Dunlin, 1 Redshank and a Shelduck. Wandering back to the visitor centre into the raw wind 2 Marsh Harriers were over Christmas Dell a couple of Chiffchaffs were heard but little else. Maybe Tomorrow!!!
Scotney was no better with just a few more Ringed Plovers and Dunlin on the grass.
Across Walland still good numbers of winter thrushes, at the feeding station the Water Rail still dashing in and out of cover spooking the Tree Sparrows and finches, 2 Common Buzzards and 3 Marsh Harriers were seen from the various vantage points.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Kentish Plovers

No sign of the Waxwings in Hestia Way this morning but they are probably nearby.
Driving past Belgar Farm a Barn Owl land on a post beside the road totally ignoring all the traffic rushing by, allowing me stunning views when I parked on the opposite verge. 

 A sea watch from The Point in the comfort of the car 07.55-09.00:
Red-throated Diver: 29E   2W
Gannet: 49E
Brent Geese: 26E   16W
Common Scoter: 14E
Sandwich Tern: 14E
Arctic Skua: 1E
3w Glaucous Gull: 1 on beach
Kittiwake: 14E
Auks: 95E  all those identified were Guillemots
Harbour Porpoise: 2+ off shore
A plod around the Lighthouse, Lloyds, West Beach, The station, the Research Station and the fishing boats came up with the grand total of:
Wheatear: 1
Black Redstart: 1
Stonechat: 1
Linnet: 2
Meadow Pipit: 4
Skylark: 1
Blackbird: 3
 At the south end of the ARC another Black Redstart showed well with a couple of Meadow Pipits and 3 Pied Wagtails. A Great White Egret was on New Diggings.
 While I was in Lydd getting some breakfast DW called with news of Kentish Plover at Rye Harbour. A short while later I arrived at Lime Kiln Cottage with PT hot on my heels. As no one else was there we had to find it for ourselves, fortunately it was virtually the first bird I looked at. Other people arrived and while trying to show them the bird I realised that were in fact 2 birds present. Most of the time they were fairly distant but mid afternoon the colour ringed individual did venture a little closer.
                      Both Kentish Plovers can just about be seen in this record image.
A jaunt around the hides with PT, Wendy and Doug. We saw 20+ Avocets, 50+ Sandwich Terns, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 20+ Knot, 2 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, 100+ Dunlin, 20+ Ringed Plover and 5 Black-tailed Godwits flew in. The day started badly but got better and better.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Freezing Easterly

As I made my way to Dungeness on another bitterly cold morning there were 30 Waxwings in Hestia Way, Ashford. A Barn Owl  flew dangerously low across the road at Belgar farm, Lydd. A sea watch from the hide with Mike Buckland from 08.45-09.45 was slow in the penetrating cold:
Red-throated Diver: 12E       8W
Gannet: 78E
Common Scoter: 51E
Shoveler: 11E
Teal: 3E  2W
Little Gull: 2E
Kittiwake: 8E
Sandwich Tern: 12E  2W
Harbour Porpoise: 3+ off shore 
 A wander around the Lighthouse area produced 4 Black Redstarts, 3 Stonechats, 2 Meadow Pipits, a grounded Lapwing and distant views of a Peregrine.
 A very brief look around the fishing boats found 2 more Black Redstarts and 2 Skylarks.
From the causeway a Great White Egret and a Little Gull on New Diggings.
At the ARC the track to Hanson held 8+Reed Buntings and in the Willow Trail 2 Chiffchaffs with the Long-tailed Tit flock. From Hanson 4+ red head Smew and 5 Goldeneye in the briefest of scans as an icy blast came through the open flaps. By the track to the screen hide a Cetti's Warbler sung half heartedly and another Chiffchaff called. From the Screen 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Little Gulls and 3 more Smew(1 drake). By the time I had got the pines which appeared birdless and back to the car I was frozen and had enough.
From a nice warm car across Walland a female type Merlin flashed across the road at Midley, plenty of Finches and Sparrows(both makes) at Bayland Farm and at the seed dump 12 Corn Buntings, 20+ Yellowhammers, 10+ Reed Buntings and 50+ Chaffinches.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Garden Waxwings

Mid morning 24 Waxwings were feeding in Windsor Court seen from my lounge window. I only spent a couple of hours at Dungeness today due to to domestic stuff this morning and the washing machine flooding the kitchen this afternoon.
At Scotney 40+ Dunlin on the flood with a single Redshank, 8 Ringed Plovers and few Golden Plover and Lapwings were of note.
At a windswept Dengemarsh little to be seen from the car, a few Wigeon were feeding in the fields opposite Brickwall Farm and a Marsh Harrier quartered the reed bed,  a single Corn Bunting was by the chicken shed was about the only passerine to be seen.
A short stop at the visitor centre where a Marsh Harrier was observed carrying nesting material and a Great White Egret dropped into Burrowes. Another 2 Great White Egrets were on New Diggings. A short an uneventful sea watch saw little of note, however minutes before I arrived 2 Long-tailed Ducks flew east (DW).
After clearing the kitchen and deciding to buy a new washing machine I opened the front door to see 40 Waxwings feeding on my Pyracantha and Cotoneaster hedge. Hopefully they will be back in the morning.  


Friday, 22 March 2013

Waxwings hanging on!

2 Waxwings still in Hestia Way early this morning seen from the car on my way to visit mum in Shoreham, West Sussex. In her garden a Robins nest with well grown young, they must have been sitting on eggs during the blizzards 10 days ago.
I see in PT's  blog HERE he is remarking how the snow has hung around the observatory in the cold weather!
There's a what behind me!

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Red-throated Diver with deformed bill off the sea watch hide 
 50+ Waxwings still present in Hestia Way, Ashford at 07.20 this morning as I made way to Dungeness. On arrival I spent the morning sea watching from various points. Combined totals:
Red-throated Diver: 182E
Great crested Grebe: n/c  many off shore
Fulmar: 1W
Gannet: n/c  many off shore
Brent Geese: 620E
Barnacle Geese: 3E
Common Scoter: 45E
Pintail: 4W
Red Breasted Merganser: 1E
Oystercatcher: 15E
Sparrowhawk: 4 in
Peregrine: 2 over power station
Sandwich Tern: c30 off shore
Little Gull: 4E
Kittiwake: n/c
Auks: n/c many off shore
Harbour Porpoise 2+
Grey Seal: 1
Most of the Geese were moving along the tide line
From the causeway 1 Great White Egret on the New Diggings but little else. On the ARC 5 Smew(1 drake), 4 Goldeneye were the only birds of note on yet another cold dreary day.
10+ Waxwings still present in Hestia Way Mid afternoon.