Thursday, 16 May 2013

A Little Sunshine

 The day did not start well, arriving at The Point car park at 07.00 to see the sea watch hide door open and the occupants come out and lock up. They had been there since 05.30 and seen very little of note. A look around the lighthouse found a single Willow Warbler with another in the station gorse and a pair of Wheatears nearby.
 At the south end of the ARC nothing of note. Round the car park the Tree Sparrows were unusually much in evidence. Walking from Boulderwall to the viewing ramp at Hookers Reed Buntings, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Cetti's Warblers singing and enjoying the warm sunshine. From the viewing ramp 4+ Hobby's, 5 Common Buzzards, 2+ Marsh Harriers, a Cuckoo, 4 Bearded Tits, the Bittern booming regularly, all the usual reed bed Warblers but of some concern a Mink swam across to one of the islands. Nearby a Little Owl was sun bathing.
An hours raptor watching late morning from the garden did not produce the hoped for Honey Buzzard, recompense in the form of 4 Common Buzzards, 2 Marsh Harriers a minimum of 5 Hobby's, a Sparrowhawk and plenty of Swifts moving through very high.
This afternoon a cycle ride round the Hayfields to the ramp saw the same as this morning with the added bonus of 9 Whimbrel on Dengemarsh flood, and 2 Lapwing chicks on Hayfield 3. Cycling down Galloways was very unproductive with just a couple of Whitethroats and 2 Red-legged Partridges. Scotney appeared to be virtually devoid of avian life except for the Herring Gull colony and a few Greylag Geese.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Dead Camera

Sea watching this morning 06.30-09.00
Red-throated Diver: 3E
Fulmar: 14W
Gannet: n/c
Manx Shearwater: 2W
Eider: 5E
Common Scoter:
Arctic Skua: 4E
Great Skua: 11E
Sandwich tern: n/c
Common Tern: n/c
Swallow: 4 in
Swift: 13 in
Another watch from 14.00-15.30: Yielded only 1 Arctic Skua and 2 Red-throated Divers of note.
A look across a wind lashed Walland found 2 Turtle Doves at the seed dump that landed just a few feet from me. I carefully raised my camera and pressed the shutter and nothing happened! I checked it was switched on it was, the camera was dead, I changed the batteries and still dead ****!
Driving past Midley a Harrier caught my eye a Ring Tail Monty's no! A Ring Tail Hen Harrier that proceeded to quarter the field right in front of me and my dead camera!
While sulking at home I fiddled about with the camera and took out the tiny lithium battery gave it wipe and hey presto the camera came to life. I have now lashed out the princely sum of £1.49 including postage for new one.
A hour spent in Dennis's hide saw 8 Turnstones, the pair of Scaup and many swifts over Burrowes.
I am pleased to say that this evening the Hobby is back hunting over the field and landing on the same post in front my house.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Green Winged Teal gives the run around again

The elusive and flighty Green Winged Teal an hayfield 1 this morning
Another cold blustery day but mercifully the rain held of until this afternoon. First thing as I was scanning the south end of the ARC for the Green Winged Teal, I got a message that it was on Hayfield 1. I parked at Springfield Bridge and made my way to the hayfield, seeing on the way A Hobby and a Raven. On arrival the the duck was visible among the sedges, while walking up to the top of the field where other observers were watching it the duck for no apparent reason flew off towards Hookers. From the viewpoint 3+ Hobby's were over the reed beds looking for food and the Bittern was booming regularly. I had walk around the back of Hookers with DW looking for the duck but no sign and not a great deal else was seen there or on my walk back to the car.
At Scotney despite walking the length of it the only bird of note was a Whimbrel.
An hour sheltering in the Visitor Centre this afternoon with SB, KS et al was entertaining for the banter, a summer plumage Sanderling on one of the tiny exposed islands and a good number of Swifts over the lake. From Dennis's hide the pair of Scaup were distant and many more Swifts were over the causeway.
The Green Winged Teal was again found on Hayfield 1 late afternoon but flew off as I made my way there. With the rain starting to get heavier I thought better of looking for it, especially as i had no protection for my camera, so I made my back to the car and home.
As I write this a Hobby is still sitting on a fence post opposite my garden in the rain and wind, it has been there for at least 2 hours! I hope I don't find a corpse in the morning as it must be really struggling to find food.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Green Winged Teal and my first Hobby from the garden. Oh and another Red Rumped Swallow!

Record of Green Winged Teal
 I only watched the sea for half an hour this morning as I had arranged for a plumber to come and do some work for me. In that time I saw 2 Black Terns that were feeding off shore with a large group of Common Terns, several Gannets moved west as did a Fulmar and a small party of Common Scoter was off shore.
When I left the hide I drove straight to the south end of ARC and immediately saw the Green Winged Teal I ran off a couple of record shots then alerted all the locals. While I was waiting for the first locals to arrive the duck swam into some vegetation, then the plumber called to say he was waiting for me, I had to leave. I let a couple of locals know where I last saw the bird but it was not seen again today, hopefully it will be there again tomorrow.
 Later on I received a text from SB to say he had found a Red Rumped Swallow on Burrowes (the fourth one this spring he has found), I was unable to go straight away but got there as soon as i could. Within minutes I had seen the R R Swallow all be it distantly the other side of the pit in the company of many Barn Swallows and Swifts which also drew the attention of a couple of Hobby's. While waiting for it show better DW spotted a first summer Common Tern which is unusual, it did not linger but R R Swallow gave a very quick close pass and again showed distantly before seemingly disappearing. With the wind getting stronger and me colder I decided to go home for a cup of tea.
 While enjoying my tea in the sheltered front garden, a Hobby came across the field and landed on the fence posts opposite me giving great views and another tick to my growing garden list.
Early evening I parked at Springfield Bridge and walked round the Hayfield path to Dengemarsh hide. The Pectoral Sandpiper was still present in Hayfield 3 but relatively distant. From the hide the Oystercatcher was sitting tight on the raft despite getting soaked by the constant wavelets breaking over the raft in the strong wind, the terns who presumably have not laid any eggs were constantly flying up to try and avoid getting soaked.
Walking back towards the car I met DW at Hayfield 3 looking for the Pectoral Sandpiper, we were unable to locate it in the now very strong wind, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel flew over and we called it a day.

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.