Thursday, 11 April 2013

King Squacco Awakes!!!

Had a day out with King Squacco today, he has finally come out of his winter hibernation and had a target of a Smew and Garganey on the same day preferably in the same field of view, not much to ask for. After learning that the sea passage was very quiet we decided to start at the ARC pit. From the track to Hanson we managed to see the only red head Smew of the day(though 9 Smew were reported on Twitter this evening). A stroll around the Willow Trail found couple each of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest, several Reed Buntings, a Water Rail squealing, Cetti's Warbler chattering  and a brief flight view of a Bittern.
From the hide 4 Goldeneye among very few common wildfowl, a Great White Egret that dropped in front the Screen, a Raven flew over the pit and a Marsh Harrier patrolled the railway bank.
 Along the track to the pines and around the pits more Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Goldcrests, a Redwing, Green Woodpecker and 2+ Marsh Harriers.  
 Next stop Dengemarsh Gully. At the bottom a flock of c100 Brent Geese flew east but little else. On the way back up we stopped at the windmill and walked the Gorse where several more Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests were seen also a Firecrest, 4 Blackcaps and another Raven sighting. Parking at Springfield Bridge we made our way out to the Hayfield's where we failed dismally in our search for Garganey despite the fields looking excellent habitat, but we did see a few Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank and a Grey Plover. Reaching Hookers SB spotted a House Martin first of the year for me and more Marsh Harriers were seen displaying. At the back of Hookers the Black Necked Grebe was still present and several Cetti's Warblers were singing, 2 very high flying Marsh Harriers were calling and displaying, our first Sedge warbler of the year was singing by the track and some Tree Sparrows were calling in the copse. A Whimbrel  was in the field by the entrance track from where we saw 3 Great White Egrets, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Grey Herons that had been flushed from New Diggings flying together.
From Christmas Dell a Red-throated Diver could be seen, along the track yet more Cetti's Warblers, Reed Buntings, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. On New Excavations 2 more Black Necked Grebes among the Tufted Duck. Another search of the Hayfield's on the way back to the car again failed to find Garganey but did see 2 Swallows.
We ended the day at the fishing boats where 30+ more Brent Geese were seen, 3 Red Breasted Mergansers, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Sandwich Terns, a few Red Throated Divers, Kittiwakes, Gannets and 2 more Swallows came in off the sea. Coming off the beach 2 Northern Wheatears and 2 Skylarks were noted. The quest for Garganey and Smew the same day continues!  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Summer Migrants

Sea passage was not quite so good this morning. In a couple of hours from the sea watch hide 300+ Red Throated Divers, 1000+ Brent Geese, 14 Little Gulls, smaller numbers of Red Breasted Mergansers, Common Scoter, Gannets, Dabblers, Common and Sandwich Terns all accompanied by 8+ Harbour Porpoises. Not bad for a supposed quieter day.
One of several first year Kittiwakes patrolling the beach.
On the land 2+ Ring Ouzels in the desert which I failed to see, my first Willow Warblers one of which was found its way into the Heligoland and onto the Dungeness ringing figures. Also there 6+ Chiffchaff, 6+ Goldcrest , 3+ Fieldfare, 4+ Song Thrush, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Merlin. Several Hares were seen here and on the reserve.
The south end of the ARC held 11 Smew still and a little Egret. 2 Great white Egrets on New diggings from the causeway.
On the reserve 2 Spoonbills and the 2 Penduline Tits which I also missed. A Swallow at Boulderwall was my first UK one this year. While looking for the Pendulines I saw the Black Necked Grebe at the back of Hookers and 400+ Golden Plover in the fields behind also a Great White Egret briefly, some in superb summer dress. At several places around the reserve Bearded Tits were pinging but unseen and more Chiffchaffs were seen, Marsh Harriers were displaying and a Whimbrel was in the fields by the entrance track as I made my way back to the car late afternoon. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

All at Sea!!

A photograph cannot convey the spectacle of migration
A brilliant sea watch today in the company of AJG, JRHC, MH, and RJ 05.55-15.30:
Thanks to AJG for collating the totals:

Red throated Diver 474 E
Great crested Grebe 30+ off shore
Red-necked Grebe 3 E, 1 W
Fulmar              12 E
Gannet            198 E
Greylag Goose    1E
Brent Goose     3179 E
Common Scoter  8240 E
Velvet Scoter      2 E
Mallard               10 E
Shelduck              2 E
R B Merganser       151 E
Shoveller          117 E
Pintail              210 E
Teal                   90 E
Gadwall             33 E
Wigeon             31 E
Scaup                 2 E
Tufted Duck       3 E
Curlew              35 E
Whimbrel            2E
Spotted Redshank 1 In
Dunlin                135 E
Knot                      6 E
Sanderling            1 E
Ringed Plover      3 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 9 E
Avocet                  2 E
Grey Plover          7 E
Oystercatcher     27 E
Bonxie          1 E
Meditteranean  Gull 2 W
Sandwich Tern 38 E
Common Tern 108 E
Little Gull 24 E
Kittiwake 8 E
Auk sp 24 E
M/Pipit 4 in
Skylark 4 coasting
Goldfinch 2 in
Peregrine, Resident male chased off an immature male
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ off shore
 On the land 2+Ring Ouzel and a fall of Goldcrests and Robins on The Point. At south end of the ARC still 10 Smew (2 drakes), 3 Goldeneye, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Gt Wt Egret, 1 Little Egret, 2 Marsh Harriers over and a few dabblers.
At the tower a Garganey and the first Sedge Warbler per PT.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Playing catch up!

                                             Presumed Leucistic Herring Gull

Another good day seawatching at Dungeness with AJG, MH : 05.45-11.30, 12.20-14.20, 15.45-16.30 totals:

Red throated Diver: 501E
Black Throated Diver: 2E
Fulmar: 5E
Gannet: 278E
Brent Goose: 2131E
Barnacle Goose: 1E
Shelduck: 11E
Common Scoter: 2103E
Velvet Scoter: 5E
Eider: 5E
Red Breasted Merganser: 50E
Pochard: 4E
Mallard: 8E
Garganey: 2E
Pintail: 118E
Wigeon: 11E
Teal:     99E
Gadwall: 14E
Shoveller: 111E
Oystercatcher: 23E
Grey Plover: 1E
Curlew: 15E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1E
Knot: 6E
Dunlin: 22E
Sanderling: 1E
Arctic Skua: 1E
Little Gull: 2E
Kittiwake: 13E
Mediterranean Gull: 8E
Leucistic Herring Gull: around
Sandwich Tern: 101E
Common Tern: 3E
Meadow Pipit: 9 in
Carrion Crow: 3 in
Harbour Porpoise: 6+ off shore
 At the south end of the ARC a Yellow Wagtail with 5 Pied Wagtails, 1 White Wagtail, 6 Meadow Pipits, 1 Great White Egret, 1 Little Egret, 1 Curlew, 1 Black tailed Godwit and 12 Smew 2 drakes.
 From the screen hide the Spoonbill was showing quite well.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Law of Sod!!!!!

As I predicted with me in Portsmouth this weekend the spring sea migration at Dungeness kicked off big time. Yesterday was good but today was exceptional.
Today's totals below: 05.50-15.20 with thanks to AJG for the info.

Red throated Diver 3171 up   A record day total for Dungeness!
Black-throated Diver 9 up
Great Northern Diver 1 up
Fulmar 55 up
Gannet 443 up
Brent Goose 5612 up
Scoter 1166 up
Velvet Scoter 13 up
Eider 24 up
Merganser 18 up, 2 down
Shelduck 18 up
Wigeon 8 up
Pintail 8 up
Shovellor 8 up
Teal 5 up
Gadwall 1 up
Marsh Harrier 2 in
Common Buzzard 1 in
Peregrine 1 about
Curlew 159 up
Whimbrel 1 up
Oystercatcher 41 up
Sanderling 3 up
Knot 9 up
Auk sp113 up
Little Gull118 up
Kittiwake 202 up
Med Gull c25 around?????
Sandwich tern 455 up
Meadow Pipit 6 in
Carrion Crow 2 in
Herring Gull 1 albino
Black Headed Gull and Herring Gull: many 1000s feeding off shore and on the beach.

No doubt tomorrow when I am back at Dungeness things will be back to normal. Hey ho!!!!!!!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Another thoroughly miserable day!!

08-15-10.00 from an empty sea watch hide in rain/sleet and snow and strong north easterly winds:
Red Throated Divers: 204E
Great Crested Grebe: 76 on sea
Fulmar: 9E
Common Scoter: 11E
Red Breasted Merganser: 4E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1E
Sandwich Tern: 1E
Kittiwake: 65E
Auks: 19E
Harbour Porpoise: 2+
It was still raining hard when I left the hide, by the time I reached the car I was very wet and some what fed up with this thoroughly miserable weather.
From the comfort of a warm car on the causeway 14 Smew(1 drake) was the only birds of note on the ARC. 2 Great White Egrets still on New Diggings.

Driving back across the marsh still plenty of Winter Thrushes and on the fields opposite Midley Barn 27 Ruff with c100 Golden Plover and c100 Lapwing.
As I will be in Portsmouth for the weekend for family stuff I have no doubt that the sea watching at Dungeness will be brilliant and the reserve will be full of rare and scarce migrants.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Winter Continues

Arriving at the sea watch hide at 08.30 in another snow/sleet shower and a fierce north easterly. I had the hide all to my self, not surprising considering how cold it was in the hide, by 09'30 I'd had enough.

Red Throated Diver: 120+ on the sea 38E
Great Crested Grebe: 60+ on sea
Gannet: 117E
Brent Geese: 4E
Common Scoter: 33E
Shoveler: 7E
Wigeon: 2E
Oystercatcher: 3E
Bar Tailed Godwit: 1E
Knot: 9E
Kittiwake: 21E
Sandwich Tern: 1E
Common Tern: 1E  my first of the year
Auks sp: 26E
Harbour Porpoise: 4+ off shore

After a warm up I had look around the bushes on The Point and finding just 1 Black Redstart and a Raven overhead of any note.
The south end of the ARC from the causeway 5 red head Smew still but little else. 2 Great White Egrets still on New diggings,
Scotney G P was virtually bird less apart from the Herring Gulls on there nesting island. As another snow shower swept in and my house move to the coast imminent I called it a day to get some domestic stuff done.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Last of the Summer Wine Crew in Northern France

Myself, MH,CP,AJG and PT our driver for the day had a superb day in Northern France today in search of Black Woodpeckers and Middle spotted Woodpeckers. We went over early via Eurotunnel and drove straight to Crecy Forest seeing several pairs of Grey Partridges on the way and my first Swallow of the year over the motorway.
In the forest we parked up and wandered along one of the tracks having brief views of Red Kite and Hawfinch. Nuthatches were calling all around and several Marsh Tits were seen. It was not long before we heard a Woodpecker calling which then flew over us, as soon it landed CP got onto it immediately identifying it as a Middle Spotted Woodpecker. It eventually showed well to all of us along with its mate. Being buoyed with our success we drove onto another part of the forest for Black Woodpecker. As we got out the car the forest floor appeared to rise up as 100s possibly 1000s of Redwing took off moving to the canopy. For a few minutes the cacophony of sound from calling Redwing, something which I have never experienced and recalled a large Starling roost resounded through the forest. While watching and listening to this we heard another pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers which also showed well Fantastic! While in the forest we also had good views of several Short-toed Treecreepers which were busy calling and chasing one another, Firecrests and more Marsh Tits. Although we did not achieve our prize of Black Woodpecker we had a truly amazing time in the forest. 
                                   Middle Spotted Woodpeckers Crecy forest
                                   c50 miles as the Woodpecker flies from Dungeness!!!!
 We move on to Sailly Bray, on arrival the wind had increased so the chances of seeing the Bluethroats were not good and weren't surprised not to see any. However at the entrance a fine male Black Redstart, a White Wagtail, several Chiffchaffs, a Sand Martin and 12 Swallows greeted us. 2 Stonechats were along the fence line, 2 Great White Egrets, 2+ Marsh Harriers, a ringtail Hen Harrier, 2+ Common Buzzards were over the marsh, as we leaving another Red Kite and Goshawk gave us brief views.

 Next stop was Le Crotoy ponds which can be viewed easily from the road or if you are feeling lazy you need not leave the warmth of the car.
 At Le Crotoy we saw a pair of Garganey, 2 Spoonbills, 2 more Great White Egrets, 5 White Storks flew over, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 2 more superb White Wagtails, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 7 Common Snipe and at least 2 stunning Water Pipits. More about our day out can be seen HERE

Our last stop of the day was at Sangatte where AJG picked out a Stone Curlew despite the freezing and now blasting wind. A superb end to a brilliant day in Northern France with 87 species seen without really trying. I am sure the The Last of the Summer Wine Crew will be back in Northern France a few more times this year having loads more laughs and superb birding.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Black Day

An hour at the sea watch hide this morning was not particularly  productive with c60 Red-throated Divers Divers east, c40 Gannets feeding off shore and very small numbers of Common Scoter, Sandwich Terns and Auks.
A walk around The Point in increasingly strong winds produced a male Black Redstart, a Stonechat and 4 Meadow Pipits a very poor total for April.
The south end of the ARC there were 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Smew (2 drakes) and 3 Goldeneye. New Diggings held 2 Great White Egrets and a red head Smew.
From Hanson and the Screen another Great White Egret and a Chiffchaff  by the track.   
 By lunch time the NE wind had strengthened further making the land virtually unbirdable. In Dengemarsh Gulley a Black Restart and a Wheatear were struggling to perch in the wind, overhead a Peregrine and a Raven made light of the wind. Parking at Springfield Bridge I plodded around the hayfields seeing little of note. Round Hookers 3 Marsh Harriers put on a marvellous aerial display and the Black-necked Grebe shone in the sun.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Lazy Day

Waking up at 05.30 and seeing the trees swaying in the the easterly gale I went back to bed. When I finally surfaced I made my way to Dungeness seeing a new bird for the year in the form of 2 Mandarin Ducks chasing round over some gardens near Shadoxhurst. (Were you looking up Pete and Pam). On the Lydd road at Belgar Farm the Barn Owl was hunting, this time away from the road  with no photo opportunities.   
An earlier shot of the same bird as today 
As I am a year older today I had family things to do so couldn't stay at Dunge to long, so decided to park at the ARC and wander out to the back of Hookers to look for yesterdays Bluethroat.
I joined the Burt family on the walk there seeing Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall, at least 3 different Marsh Harriers, Curlews, Wigeon and Stock Doves of note. At Hookers the Black Necked Grebe was still present, 2+ Bearded Tits, Cetti's Warblers shouted, Water Rails squealed but no sign of the Bluethroat.