Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A long trek

Waking up to a windless grey day I assumed that there would be no sea passage, so I drove the short distance to Northpoint GP parked up and made my way to the riverside footpath. On Northpoint little of note, not that there ever seems to be much there because of windsurfers. I walked the footpath to the harbour entrance seeing a couple of Common Snipe, several Redshanks, a few Turnstones,and little else. On the breakwater at the entrance a Kingfisher fishing very successfully. The bay was flat calm but the only duck I saw were a pair of Mallard.
From the harbour entrance I walked along the beach to Camber and back through the sand dunes. On the beach just a few Oystercatchers, not surprising really as it was like being in a Winalot advert there. The expected Snow Buntings and Shorelarks failed to materialise, but in the Sea Buckthorn many Reed Buntings, Blackbirds and Starlings. By the time I got back to the car I was exhausted, i'd forgotten how tiring walking through sand dunes can be. I don't think I will be in hurry to do it again, i'd rather sit at the fishing boats seeing a few bits and pieces.

Monday, 2 December 2013


This morning at the fishing boats in the company of AJG, a much better sea watch than of late;
Red-throated Diver: 31E
Graet Crested Grebe: n/c
Gannet: 347E
Sooty Shearwater: 1E
Common Scoter: 180E
Velvet Scoter: 9E
Dublin: 2E
Sanderling: 1E
Oystercather: 3E
Great Skua: 4E
Kittiwake: 3 o/s
Guillemot: 5E
Auk sp.: 6E
No sign of any Smew at the south end of the ARC but still c300 Gadwall and 3 Goldeneye.
On the reserve no sign of yesterdays Glaucous Gull, 2 Chiffchaffs by Dennis's hide with another 4 by Firth Hide, walking round the reserve Marsh Harriers were much in evidence, up to 5 individuals. A Great White Egret in the fields north of Dengemarsh, 2 more on Burrowes and another on New Diggings. While in the visitor centre 3 Smew flew into Burrowes Pit.   

This afternoon at Scotney the Long Tailed Duck still at the Kent end, by the track to Scotney Court Farm a Green Sandpiper and Redshank feeding in a puddle.
Late afternoon on Walland, 37 Bewick Swans,  Cetti's Warblers chattering and Water Rails squealing in the reed beds, 11 Marsh Harriers came in to roost at one site, with 2 Common Buzzards over, the afternoon was topped off with a stunning sunset. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

1w Glaucous Gull

A lazy start this morning stopping at the south end of the ARC where 3 Red Head Smew, a Great White Egret, 3 Little Egrets, 3 Goldeneye and c300 Gadwall could be seen.
I had no sooner arrived at The Point when a text from SB alerted me to a 1w Glaucous Gull on Burrowes. I arrived minutes later, watching the bird roosting out on the islands in front the Visitor Centre. After a few minutes I was making my way to Dennis's hide, when all the Gulls went up, the 1w Glaucous Gull appeared to fly off towards the ARC Pit and as far as I know was seen again today, maybe tomorrow. 
A distant image of the 1w Glaucous Gull taken from inside the visitor centre.
The Willow Trail held c10 Long-tailed Tits and several Water Rails were squealing. From Hanson another Great White Egret, 2+ Marsh Harriers were of note.
This afternoon the field in front of Plodland held c300 Lapwing and c200 Golden Plover of note.
At Scotney 10 Dunlin and a Ruff on the short grass but I was unable to locate the Long-tailed Duck.
As there was no firing on the ranges today I had look at Galloways but was once again disappointed as it was bereft of avian activity.
I went back to the Visitor Centre late afternoon in the hope that the 1w Glaucous Gull may come back in to roost but was disappointed, though the a Black necked grebe could be seen and a Chiffchaff flitted along the bank outside the Visitor Centre. 2 Goosanders were on the ARC from The Screen late afternoon per PT.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Caspian Gull makes the day!

Once again the sea was very quiet this morning with a few Gannets and Kittiwakes coming and going, small numbers of Red-throated Divers and Common Scoters moving into Hythe bay.
At the south end of the ARC my first Smew of the winter and 4 Goldeneye along with c200 Gadwall.
On the reserve the Marsh Harriers were much in evidence and on Burrowes another Smew, a Black Necked Grebe, a Great White Egret and many common wildfowl. At Christmas Dell 2 Stonechats by the trail, 4 Curlew over, in the distance 100s of Golden Plover and Lapwing flushed from the fields and more Marsh Harrier activity.
A brief visit to Scotney saw the Long Tailed duck at the Kent end.
This afternoon a call from MS had me hot footing it back to the fishing boats where a 1w Caspian Gull had been attracted to the buckets of fish pieces and loaves of bread put down by him and RS.   Much better images will appear on:
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
Late this afternoon there were 3 Smew at the south end of the ARC and another Great White Egret with 4 Little Egrets.

Friday, 29 November 2013


In a conversation with AJG last week I said that if a Hawk Owl ever turns up in Holland I would have to go and see it, as I missed them in Sweden and Lapland. My surprise on Monday night when I had a look at Surfbirds being confronted with a picture of a stunning Hawk Owl in Holland! (only there 4th record) I just had to go! Next morning while looking at the sea from The Point, the vision of the Owl was nagging at me. I put the location of the bird into my satnav, which told me this stunning bird was just 321 miles away! less than 5hrs drive!! I called AJG and he wanted to go as did BM. We caught the 22.00 ferry to Calais Wednesday night and 6hrs later we were in the centre of Zwolle because I set the satnav incorrectly. Seconds after pulling over to check google maps a Police car pulled up beside us. The Dutch Police were brilliant and didn't just give us the directions to the Owl, they told us to follow them and took us to its location. We tried to have sleep in the car but only one of us managed to sleep. Just after 07.30 to drove the few hundred yards to Owl site where some local birders had already found it. Moments later in the early morning gloom we were watching it munching a rodent high in a tree. It then flew onto a pylon reminiscent of Dungeness. It was a pity that the 3 and half hours we spent watching the bird, the light was absolutely dreadful and most pictures were taken with high iso and consequently dumped. Some hazy sun shone for only a couple of minutes. 
My first images of the Owl taken at 3200 iso (could be Dungeness)

 When we left the Owl we drove a short distance to the Oostervardersplassen Nature Reserve a superb wetland site. We went into the visitor centre where the staff were really helpful as was everyone we met on the trip. We walked through a small wood by the visitor centre seeing 2+ Willow Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers, a Firecrest and more. Coming out of the other side of the wood to an area of reed beds and wet grassland and some old dead trees. A flock of Chaffinches were feeding and among them was the bird below, its back and rump was bright yellow.
Leucistic Chaffinch
 Juv. Rough-legged Buzzard
Further out on the marsh we came across a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard, an very pale Common Buzzard, some Smew on on some of the pools many fly over Geese and the Great Grey Shrike below.
From an observation hide we saw 2 White-tailed Eagles which nest on the reserve, many Great White Egrets, 1000s each of Barnacle Geese, Greater White fronted Geese and Greylag Geese, Ruff, a few Dunlin and many ducks. Driving around the perimeter of the reserve we came across more Smew, Goosanders and many more wildfowl also several Common Buzzards, it also gave us a chance to see the surrounding habitat which looked really good. I think a 2 day visit in May will be in order next year.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

That Time Of Year.

Glossy Ibis hiding in the ditches.
 From The Point this morning the sea was again quiet, not unexpected on a very light north westerly and bright sunshine.
The Black Kite probably flew over me as I chatted to OL on the approach road, as it headed towards the Lifeboat Station and quite possibly out to sea.
A plod out past the Water Tower towards The Mirrors and round the back of the airport was pleasant enough. Avian activity was represented by 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Snipe,a few Meadow Pipits and the usual Corvids.
A stop off at Cockles Bridge found the Glossy Ibis in the ditch west of the track also 2 Common Buzzards and another Marsh Harrier.
At Scotney plenty of feral Geese and good numbers of common wildfowl but little of note.
Late afternoon at the ARC from Hanson a Great White Egret, 2 Little Egrets, a very showy Cetti's Warbler (pity it was nearly dark) 7 Goldeneye, a flock of 32 Curlew flew over but little else.
Hopefully sometime tomorrow a Hawk Owl twitch in Holland!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Scanning for a Kite!

An hour at The point this morning produced c70 Red-throated Divers moving into Hythe Bay, a few Gannets tooing and froing and a few Common Scoter.
At the south end of The ARC a Great White Egret and 3 Goldeneye of note.
Arriving at Hanson a text from PT telling that the Black Kite was at Lade had myself and AJG scanning from the hide without success. We made our way to the Water Tower for a better chance of seeing it also without success.
As I had a heating engineer coming to fix my central heating at 10.00 I made my way back to Plodland. The engineer arrived on time and started his work allowing me to spend my time scanning the skies from Plodland. The heating repair was little more complex than first thought, so after c4hrs scanning and seeing 3+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Peregrines, 2 Common Buzzards, a Raven, 100s each of Lapwing and Golden Plover along with all the usual species but still no Black Kite!
News for yesterday that the Glossy Ibis was present in a dyke north of Boulderwall Farm per Paul and Liz. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Black Kite

A visit to The Patch this morning saw a few Common Scoter off shore, a few Red-throated Divers moving into Hythe Bay, a few Starlings arriving and 2 Peregrines greeting them.
At The Point I spent a few minutes with BM where a single Velvet Scoter fling into the bay was the highlight.
I parked at the ARC and had just reached The Willow Trail, when a call from Patrick telling me a large raptor was flying around the lighthouses that was probably not a Marsh Harrier. I went back to the car and drove down to the gantry, where I set up my scope and scanned the lighthouse area, immediately picking up a large raptor being mobbed by a Raven. I was pretty sure it was a Black Kite but the view was very brief as the bird dropped behind the the trapping area bushes. A few minutes later it appeared by the switching station being mobbed by a Peregrine where it showed its self to be a Black Kite. I was joined by MH as it made its way past the power station up towards the reserve, where it flew over the reserve centre then over the New Diggings and the ARC. As it came over New Diggings I drove quickly up the causeway pulling up (my apologies to the lady driving the camper van that I cut up)  just in time to get some shots of it as it crossed the ARC. I drove to the car park where I watched it fly over the water tower towards the airport. Very many thanks to Patrick for the call!
Black Kite over the visitor centre
 Black Kite over the ARC

As the bird disappeared I stopped to chat to SB,MH, MT and PT when I should have dashed back to Plodland and got Black Kite on my garden list.
Later an hour staring out from Plodland I recorded 3 Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, a Little Egret, c1000 Lapwing and c200 Golden Plover of note.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Sea Watch in the rain

Another abysmal day weather wise at Dungeness. I had 2 sessions from the The Point in the relative comfort of my car. 07.05-09.05 with AJG and 09.45-11.15 on my own.

07.05-09.05                                                            09.45-11.15
Red-throated Diver: 21E   3W                                9E       19W
Gannet:  c50 o/s                          
Great Crested Grebe: c100 o/s  
Brent Goose: 6W                                                   2E                                            
Shelduck: 2E                                                         12E
Common Scoter: 112E   7W                                   26E                              
Goosander: 1E
Wigeon: 25W   2E                                                  24W
Gadwall: 2E     2W
Lapwing:                                                                34 in off
Great Skua: 3E
Kittiwake: c20 o/s
Guillemot: 2W                                                        6W
Razorbill: 2W                                                         4W
Auk sp:   4W                                                          12W
Grey Wagtail:                                                         1 out
Starling: 355 in                                                        335 in
Goldfinch: 5 in                                                        15 in
Chaffinch: 8 in                                                        160 in

And with the rain still falling I called it a day.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A reasonable seawatch

A sea watch from The Point this morning being joined by BM:
07.45- 09.30:
Red-throated Diver: 10W    3E
Great Crested Grebe: N/C
Gannet: 87W   42E
Brent Goose: 18W   3E
Mallard: 11W
Gadwall: 6W
Teal: 355W
Wigeon: 186W
Shoveler: 9W
Common Scoter: 18W    9E
Goldeneye: 2W
Red-breasted Merganser: 1W
Goosander: 1W
Dunlin: 45W
Little Gull: 1W
Kittiwake: 26W      19E
Mediterranean Gull: 6W    1E
Guillemot: 2W    3 on sea
Auk sp: 7W
At south end of the ARC 3 Goldeneye, c200 Pochard and Marsh Harrier were of note.
A great White Egret could be seen on New Diggings from the causeway.
In the Willow Trail a Chiffchaff and a couple of Water Rails squealing. From Hanson while sheltering from the rain 4 Little Egrets, a Great White Egret and another Marsh Harrier with very few of the common wildfowl. 
On the reserve from the comfort of the visitor centre another Great White Egret and good numbers of the common wildfowl. 
In a quick look at Scotney I was unable to find the Long-tailed Duck.