Sunday, 12 May 2013

The one that got away!

My love of a full English cost me a Green Winged Teal this morning. As I sat just a couple of minutes from the bird having my breakfast with my phone still on silent missing the calls and texts from AJG and PT about the bird. Hopefully that mistake wont be repeated.
A vain search around the tower pits failed to locate the G W Teal or anything much else, a Cuckoo was calling but not showing.
 From Dennis's Hide the pair of Scaup were showing well, also from here 20+ Swifts, a few Swallows and Martins, a Peregrine, a Hobby, a Merlin and a Marsh Harrier. From Makepiece a Common Sandpiper and Turnstone were of note.
 A lunchtime trip to Scotney was disappointing seeing a few Ringed Plovers and Dunlin and a single Redshank.
This afternoon the Pectoral Sandpiper was showing well on Hayfield 3 with 2 brilliant summer plumage Knot, several Ringed Plovers 2 Redshank and a Whimbrel over, unfortunately my visit was cut short with the arrival of the rain.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Pectoral Sandpiper

 With a strong blustery westerly wind again blasting across the marsh I decided to give the sea a miss this morning. Instead I parked up at Springfield Bridge and had a plod around the reserve. A Marsh Harrier was quartering Dengemarsh and a few Reed and Sedge Warblers were singing. 4 Curlew flew from Hayfield 3 and 3 Whimbrel were in Hayfield 2. From Dengemarsh hide I spent some time watching the comings and goings of up to 26 Common Terns around the rafts. A pair of Oystercatchers appear to have taken up residence among the Terns on the closest raft and a pair of Common Gulls were prospecting another raft. This years rafts are a great improvement on last years with a lot more cover for the youngsters from both predators and weather. However I think all the rafts would benefit from a piece a of timber approx 200mm W x 25mm thick fitted the length of the western edge of each raft. So that as when the wavelets predominantly from west hit the raft, most of the splash would hit the underside of this strip of timber and fall back into the lake father than soak vulnerable chicks or chill exposed eggs. I feel sure that this would cure the splash and save the Terns from a soaking as shown in the photograph below.
 After leaving the hide I carried on round to the viewing ramp where a Cuckoo was skulking in the Sallows, Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers were singing occasionally, a Hobby dashed through and the Marsh Harrier was still hunting.
 Wandering back towards the car I joined up with SB and King Squacco who were checking the fences, reaching Hayfield 3 we all scanned and saw only a Greenshank, Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin. They turned back and I carried on towards the car, reaching the entrance gate to the Hayfield I noticed a wader fairly close, realising that it was a Pectoral Sandpiper I called out to SB and KS who were still close. The bird seemed to stay in its chosen spot all day showing to all who cared to look. I did take some pics this morning but the light was horrible looking straight into the sun. I returned this evening and the Pec was still in the same spot and although the clouds had come over the light was much better. Whilst there a text from SB telling me about a pair of Scaup on Burrowes, so after having my fill of the Pec I drove round to Burrowes to see a gorgeous drake Scaup and its mate, just a pity they were the other side of the lake by the bank of New Diggings.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Little Owl at Last

 Once again the blustery south westerly wind mad birding hard work, even in the relative comfort of the sea watch hide the scope was swaying about. After an hour and a half (07.30-09.00) I gave up the struggle after a poor return for the time invested. Highlights were 2 Manx Shearwaters west, 2 Velvet Scoter E, c10 Fulmar west and c100 Common Scoter east. The male Black Redstart was struggling not to be blown off the power station wall. Another visit 15.00-16.00 (Glutton for punishment) produced 4 Arctic Skuas, 4 Little Terns, 6 Fulmars, 16 Kittiwakes, 5 Guillemots and several Arctic Terns.
At the south end of the ARC c20 Swifts, 2 Dunlin and a Little Egret. Further down the road a Little Owl was posing (thanks Mike) my first on the marsh this year.
Another wander along the footpath at Scotney found the usual Ringed Plovers, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 drake Wigeon and at last my first Common Sandpiper of the year. Once again it was hard work on the reserve, with the Bittern still booming and the Marsh Harriers showing well the highlights.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Breezy Dungeness

At the Patch this morning in a strong south westerly c150 Commic Terns, the vast majority of which were Common but nothing else of interest there. On the power station wall a Black Redstart. By the new lighthouse 2 Wheatears and 2 Swallows were the only migrants.
My first visit to the south end of the ARC was fruitless, but on the next visit 30+ Swifts were over the causeway, on the next visit they had moved to the water tower and 5 Little Egrets were feeding in the shallows.   
Parking at the entrance to Scotney Court I walked the length of the pit, at the east end a Greenshank, while on the grass a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Wheatears, 2 Wigeon, 8 Ringed Plovers, and a pair of Oystercatchers. Over the pit 3 Little Terns dipping along with c15 Common Terns and on the far bank an Avocet.
A late afternoon watch from the fishing boats and then the hide produced 1 Great Skua, 8 Arctic Skuas, c50 Common Scoter, 8 Whimbrel and Common and Sandwich Terns fishing off shore with a few Gannets.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Rain spoils the day!

2 pictureless days in a row, but hardly surprising as by 07.30 the rain had set in lasting till 12.30. Then the wind started to pick up from the south west (not the best for Dungeness). A Roseate Tern  was seen feeding off the point, so I spent most the afternoon looking for it from The Patch to the fishing boats.
At The Patch c15 Common Terns with 3+ Arctic Terns and 15 Brent Geese flew east. From the sea watch hide a feeding melee of 30-40 Terns could be seen off the boardwalk, by the time I arrived there the Terns had dispersed, while I was there a pale phase Arctic Skua flew east and a few Gannets were fishing way out. Off the fishing boats were 8 Common Terns and 4 Sandwich Terns but little else.
An early evening stroll up to the pines was very disappointing with little waterfowl on the ARC and very little in the bushes. Speaking to those who braved a walk around the reserve found it bereft of avian life. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

All quiet on the migrant front

Another sea watch 06.15-10.15 when passage had dried up:
Red-throated Diver: 3E
Common Scoter: c200E
Bar-tailed Godwit: c250E
Whimbrel: 5+E
Knot: 4+E
Greenshank: 1 in
Little Gull: 1E
Mediterranean Gull: 2 off shore
Little Tern: 39E
Commic Tern: c300E
Arctic Skua: 5E
Great Skua: 1E
Pomarine Skua: 9E (3+2+4 singles all between 06.45-08.25)

Another watch from 13.15-15.00 was bird less, though the 15+ Harbour Porpoises helped to entertain those watching. The land was devoid of birds, even the local breeders were very quiet. At Scotney the Long-tailed Duck and a Wood Sandpiper were reported, but all I saw was a Wheatear, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Redshank. Things were that quiet I did not point my camera at anything.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Jamming in on the Poms!

Singing in the fog. Taken just for Pete!
 As I arrived at the sea watch hide this morning a Pomarine Skua was passing, in the next few minutes 2 groups of Little Terns 8 and a 5 flew east with a few commics then the fog rolled in.
While waiting for the fog to clear a visit to the south enn of the ARC found 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Dunlin. A walk around the bushes produced a Swallow and a Chiffchaff. A Serin was reported and a Purple Heron was flushed from Dengemarsh gully by King Squacco.
1 of 3 at the south end of the ARC
 Just after midday the fog cleared 12.15- 14.30:
Red-throated Diver: 2E
Common Scoter: 79E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 94E
Whimbrel: 7E
Commic Tern: 451E
Sandwich Tern: 27E
Mediterranean Gull: 2 off shore
Arctic Skua: 2E
Great Skua: 1E
Pomarine Skua: 1E
Harbour Porpoise: 6+ off shore
Early Purple Orchid, Dungeness.
Another visit to the sea watch hide this evening and once again as I arrived I lucked in on 3 Pomarine Skuas with another shortly after.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Terns steal the show

Harbour Porpoise. They never seem show their heads 
 Apart from a 40 minute period early afternoon most of my day 06.50- 17.20 was spent sitting on the Dungeness beach enjoying the spectacle of 1000s of Commic Terns migrating. The totals below are not the final ones, they will certainly be higher. I would have stayed longer but I was just to cold despite the evening sunshine.
Red-throated Diver: 25+E
Fulmar: 8 around
Gannet: c500 E
Brent Goose: 26E
Common Scoter: 350+ E
Velvet Scoter: 11E
Bar-tailed Godwit: 500+E
Whimbrel: 15+E
Arctic Skua: 50+E
Great Skua: 10+E
Pomarine Skua: 6E
Little Tern: c50E
Black Tern: 7E
Commic Tern: 10,000+E a good proportion of which were being identified as Arctics
Sandwich Tern: c500E
Harbour Porpoise: c15 off shore
Common Seal: 1 off shore
I am sure we missed more Black Terns and some Roseate's. My excuse is the the birds were coming through so thick and fast it was impossible to check them all.
A very poor record of spring sea watchings most enigmatic bird

Friday, 3 May 2013

Sea watching

Hobby coming in by the sea watch hide 
 In 3 sea watches today 05.20-09.50, 11.45-16.20, 18.45-19.45 with AJG, DW, MB, ML,AL, PT, MH et al. the following totals:
Great Northern Diver: 1E
Black Throated Diver: 6E
Red Throated Diver: 32E
Diver sp: 6E
Fulmar: 9E
Gannet: c150E
Brent Geese: 25E
Common Scoter: 291E
Velvet Scoter: 9E
Eider: 2E
Red Breasted Merganser: 5E
Hobby: 1in
Bar Tailed Godwit: 160+ E
Whimbrel: 17E
Curlew: 1E
Knot: 5E
Sanderling: 3E
Great Skua: 11E
Arctic Skua: 27E
Pomarine Skua: 5E
Sandwich Tern: c250E
Common Tern: c2000E
Arctic Tern: 75E
Little Tern: 5E
Little Gull: 5E
Kittiwake: 32E
Guillemot: 4E
Auk sp: 34E
Swallow: 90 in
Sand Martin: 16 in
Swift: 1 in
Yellow Wagtail: 2 in
Serin: 1 west over the sea watch hide.
Fulmar over the sea watch hide
 In the desert at least 1 Ring Ouzel and a Common Redstart in the moat.
At the ARC car park a Nightingale singing as was a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and all the usual warblers with several Hobbys around.
Lesser Whitethroat by ARC car park

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Things can only get better

07.10 May 1st 2013 and only 2 birders at the sea watch hide. By 07.45 I had enough Totals:
Fulmar 1E then W
Gannet: 20+ off shore
Greylag Geese: 2W
Auk sp: 1W
Commic Tern: c30 off shore
Sandwich Tern: c10 off shore
Carrion Crow: 4 in
Harbour Porpoise 3+ off shore

At the south end of the ARC 2 pairs of Herring Gulls, 2 Gadwall and 2 Teal.
MH picked me up and took me down to Dengemarsh Gully, the only birds were Linnets, 1 Peregrine and 1 Raven.
We then went to the screen hide at the ARC where a few warblers were singing as was a Cuckoo and a Marsh Harrier over
A visit to the viewing mound found the Bittern booming, 3 Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits calling, along with several Lesser Whitethroats and the usual reed bed warblers.
From the visitor centre 2 little Egrets and a Greenshank.
An hours BOP watching from the garden saw the usual Marsh Harriers and a single Sparrowhawk.
The Long-tailed Duck was still present at Scotney per DB. Things can only get better.