Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Little Gull passage!

Little Gulls Passing the fishing boats this afternoon.

Waking up to rain and gales I had a leisurely breakfast and spent the rest of the morning doing domestic stuff before going to the fishing boats for some sea watching, most the time it was gloomy with some rain but the Little Gull passage made it worth while:
12.30-16.00 from the fishing boats joined by DW:
Red Throated Diver: 12W     8E
Fulmar: 2W
Gannet: 63W
Common Scoter: 72W
Shoverer: 2W
Wigeon: 40W   40E  Probably the same flock
Little Gull: 133W
Mediterranean Gull: 1+ o/s
Kittiwake: 288W
Auks: 2,236W vast majority of which were Guillemots
Red-throated Diver past the fishing boats

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Day trip to Calais!

Snow Buntings Oye Plage

                                               Crested Larks Bleriot Plage, Calais.
 The Joker, PT and CP invited me to join them on laid back day out around Calais, to hopefully find a couple of Crested Larks, Shorelarks, Snow Buntings and possibly a Twite and Lapland Bunting.
We arrived at Bleriot Plage, Calais to the sound of Fog Horns from the harbour and thick fog. Things weren't looking to hopeful as we split up to search the beach and dunes. I had the easy walk along the flat beach in front of 100s of holidays huts, some of which were virtually buried in the sand drifts caused by the recent storms. The others searched the undulating dunes. After c500mts I saw 3 Crested Larks on the beach in the gloom, I moved back and called out to the others. CP was the first to arrive, I pointed out the 3 and we promptly found 4 more. We all had great views of them and CP found yet another one a little further on, 8 Crested Larks a fantastic result as we were doubtful of even finding the 2 that had been reported on the internet. PT also saw and heard a male Black Redstart which I missed around the old gun emplacements. The omens for the day looked good.  
Brent Goose Le Hemmes de Marck
 Next stop Le Hemmes de Marck where by now the sun had come out. A huge vista of fabulous habitat comprised of salt marsh, sand dunes and sandy beach lay before us, on the down side there were also many shooting pools, each with its own bunker for the French Hunters to blow the legs and wings off any passing birds. We spent several hours searching but hardly scratched the surface of this site, we found a flock of 130+ Linnets, c40 Skylarks a few Reed Buntings, a single Brent Goose probably a gun victim and 5 birds that were probably Shorelark but flew off low and carried on.

 Next stop was Oye Plage where once again we split up to cover as much ground as possible, after walking about 500mts I walked into a Slack and immediately saw a snow storm of c50 Snow Buntings. I texted the others and while waiting for them looked out to the distant sea, where a few Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes, Common Scoter and Gannets flew by, on the shore Ringed Plovers, Dunlin and Sanderling. When they arrived we all had excellent views of the Snow Buntings. I wandered on a bit further in the hope of finding something else but failed, while I was away the Snow Bunting flock was joined by another flock of c20 making 70+ birds, its along time since I saw that many.  
 At the Oye Plage reserve we sat in the hide for a while seeing many Shelduck and Mallard, fewer Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler, 2 Common Snipe, a single Greater Whitefronted Goose among some Greylags and Common Buzzard. We looked in another hide that over looks a super looking pool, which in spring sees Black Winged Stilts, Avocets, Garganey, Black Terns and more but not today. Bizarrely immediately behind the hide are several more pools all with shooting bunkers full of plastic lure ducks. Protect the birds one side of the road, but if they stray to the other side shoot them! As we left site 44 Greater Whitefronted Geese flew over, a great end to really good day out in great company.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Short-eared Owls!

07.40-09.40 from the fishing boats with DW:
Red-throated Diver: 196w   2E
Great Crested Grebe: 200+
Gannet: c20 o/s
Cormorant: c350 o/s
Common Scoter: 133w
Wigeon: 120w
Shoveler: 1w
Teal: 5w
Oystercatcher: 6E
Kittiwake: 100+ o/s
Auk: 1,000+ o/s 

 The 2 Black-throated Divers were still on New Diggings this morning, also a Goosander. a red head Smew and 3 Goldeneye. A Great White Egret was posing at the south end of the ARC where c200 Gadwall, c300 Pochard, c200 Tufted Duck, 4 red head Smew and a Marsh Harrier.
2 Tundra Bean Geese with Greylag Geese
 At Scotney the 2 Tundra Bean Geese were still present but the Long-tailed Duck was hiding today.
Sanderling and Dunlin
 On the beach at Littlestone a mixed flock of Sanderling and Dunlin, also 5 Grey Plover and 27 Turnstone.

Late afternoon at Littlestone Golf Course 2+ Short-eared Owls hunting the roughs but always distant, also an adult male Merlin chasing Meadow Pipits and Skylarks.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Harriers, Barn Owls and some Geese!

 Driving across the causeway this morning the 2 Black Throated Divers on New Diggings could be seen, also 2 Great White Egrets at the south end of the ARC.
 As the beach was packed fisherman and OL had seen the Hume's Leaf Warbler first thing, I opted to go into the trapping area and try to get some shots of it. After 3 hours of not hearing or seeing it I gave up. However a Red Admiral there was some compensation, my first Raven of the year flew over as did a Marsh Harrier.  

 This afternoon from Caldecott Lane 41 Bewick Swans were still in the usual fields, at Baynham farm 20+ Tree Sparrows and 2 Yellowhammers at the feeding station.
At last a beautiful sunny afternoon in which to do the Harrier roost count, as is normal no Harriers actually roosted in the reed bed I watch, but at least 11 Marsh Harriers overflew the reed bed and a superb male Hen Harrier teased me by dropping in as if to roost, but then changed its mind and headed elsewhere. Also seen while waiting were 2 Barn Owls, 3 Common Buzzards, a Merlin and flock of 58 Greater Whitefronted Geese which spent half an hour flying around the whole area before settling in a field at Cheyne for a few minutes before heading off east.
58 Greater White Fronted Geese over Walland

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The grass is greener on the other side!

An hour this morning and another this afternoon sea watching from the fishing boats was a almost a re run of yesterday with 100s  of Guillemots and Kittiwakes, lesser numbers of Razorbills, Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes, Gannets, Common Scoters, 2 Teal, 74 Brent Geese, a couple of Fulmars, a Mediterranean Gull, a Little Gull and the addition of 5 Great Skuas. As I left I was asked by a couple of birders if I'd seen much, my reply was oh the usual Gillies, Kits and Divers. For 50 years I lived Shoreham, West Sussex, how soon I forgot the hours I used to spend at Widewater and Selsey Bill in West Sussex, where my sightings at Dungenesss today would have been really memorable, in fact I cant remember ever seeing 5 Great Skuas at Widewater in one day let alone a couple of hours!
On reading Owen Mitchells blog (a real Selsey sea watching stalwart) tonight, I realise how lucky I am now to live just a 5 minute drive from the fishing boats at Dungeness let alone the reserve, the ARC, Scotney, Walland and all the avian treats they produce.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Still Raining!

07.30-09.30 from the fishing boats being joined by DW:
Red-throated Diver:  11w  3E
Fulmar: 7w
Gannet: 27w  2E
Brent Goose: 38E
Common Scoter: 226w
Little Gull: 4w
Kittiwake: several 100s feeding off shore and moving west 
Auks: 100s probably 1,000s maily Guillemots tooing and froing off shore with some westward movement especially the first half hour. 
The 2 Black-throated Divers still on New Diggings also a Great White Egret.
The ARC from the causeway another Great White Egret, 100+ Gadwall, 200+ Pochard, 50+ Tufted Duck, 6 Goldeneye, 1 red head Smew and a Marsh Harrier.
Rainbow from Plodland this afternoon.
With a rapid deterioration in the weather this afternoon I spent a while scoping the fields in front of Plodland. Highlights were a Peregrine buzzing 200+Lapwing and c20 Golden Plover, Common Buzzard on its usual bush, 3+ Marsh Harriers, a Great White Egret, a little Egret, 3 Grey Herons and 100+Greylag Geese.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


On my way to The Point this morning, I could see the 2 Black-throated divers on the New Diggings and 2 Great White Egrets at the south end of the ARC.
I spent half an hour looking at the sea where plenty of Guillemots and a few Razorbills were tooing and froing, along the colour change 100s of Black-headed Gulls feeding with smaller numbers of Kittiwakes, a few Gannets further out and 4 Red-throated Divers flew west. Very few of the bigger Gulls on the beach or in the roosts. Fairlight rung Herring Gull A3BJ was by the fish hut. 
 A look around the Scotney complex was disappointing with no wild Geese being seen around the main pit, but the Long-tailed Duck was still present and a flock of 40 Linnet was notable. The usual feral Geese, Dabblers, Lapwing and a few Golden Plover and Dunlin were insitu. Pigwell and the wash pit were virtually birdless apart from Black-headed Gulls and Starlings. 17 Pied Wagtails at the Lydd sewage works was notable.
This afternoon from Hanson 3 Smew, 5 Goldeneye, 2 Great White Egrets, 3 Marsh Harriers, a Bittern and good numbers of wildfowl.
Late this afternoon from Firth hide this Goosander which was joined by 3 more at dusk and 2 red head Smew. Once again I did not see the Glossy Ibis come in to roost(maybe its moved to Sandwich) a Red-throated Diver flew through as I left.  

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Waiting for the Ibis!

Chiffchaff from Firth hide this afternoon
As the weather was so miserable this morning I spent the time doing a bit of decorating. By 13.00 i'd had enough and headed for the reserve.
North of the entrance track which was being repaired again, 2 Great White Egrets could be seen in the fields along with c20 Curlew. 
From Dennis's hide a Black-throated Diver could be seen distantly on New Diggings. A Black-necked Grebe was feeding by the far bank of Burrowes Pit.
From Makepiece several 100s each of Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal, lesser numbers of Tufted Duck and Pochard, also c25 Pintail and 5 Shelduck.
From Firth Hide 2 Chichaffs and a single red head Goosander when arrived, which was joined by 2 more flying in along with 2 red head Smew, a Red-throated Diver flew through Burrowes towards Dengemarsh and 2 Marsh Harriers were over the Open Pits. Despite staying till 16.15 the Glossy Ibis failed to materialise. As I made my way back to the car park a Merlin dashed over the track towards the Open Pits.   

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

No Show!

I was joined at The Patch hide at first light by AJG, OL, PT and Barney, in the vain hope that yesterdays Ross's Gull may have roosted there. When I arrived the beach was white with several 1,000 Black Headed Gulls with many more feeding around the boil. Despite intensive searching we could only find a single 1w Little Gull and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black Headed Gulls. Further off shore a flock of c160 Common Scoter and few each of Red-throated Divers and Auks.
At Scotney the Long-tailed Duck was in its usual place, but I failed to located the Tundra Bean Geese though 2 were reported at Boulderwall farm.
From Plodland 3 Great White Egrets, a Common Buzzard, 1,000+ Lapwing, c200 Golden Plover were the coffee break highlights.
A walk along the beach from the fishing boats to the lifeboat station was quiet seeing 12 Turnstone, a very tame Kittiwake and few Auks and divers off shore and no sign of any Caspian Gulls.
A plod around the Tower Pits saw a Chiffchaff and a Marsh Harrier of note.
The 2 Black-throated Divers and another Great White Egret were still on New diggings.
Mid afternoon I Joined DW, The Joker, OL, PT and Barney at the fishing boats hoping for re run of the Ross's Gull, there were appeared to be many more Auks, Kittiwakes and Divers off shore than this morning with a few Gannets and Common Scoters but no Ross's Gull.
The Hume's Leaf Warbler was still present in the trapping area per DW and OL. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

A Mega past Dungeness!

After yesterdays sea watching extravaganza, today was a return to normality at the fishing boats.
Myself and AJG 07.30-08.30 totals collated by AJG.
Red-throated Diver: 37w
Gannet: 6w
Teal: 10w
Common Scoter: 103w
Mediterranean Gull: 1w
Kittiwake: 3w
Guillemot: 289w

In just under an hour spent in the trapping area I was unable to locate the Hume's Leaf Warbler but did see a Chiffchaff and a Redpoll.
On the ARC 3 Bewick Swans, 2 Great White Egrets, an Avocet, 4 red head Smew, 2 Goosanders, 2 Peregrines and several each of Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail calling.
On New Diggings a Great White Egret and the 2 Black-throated Divers still present.
Bewick Swans on the ARC Pit.
At Scotney the 2 Tundra Bean Geese and the Long-tailed Duck were still present today.
From Plodland 7 Whitefronted Geese, 2 Great White Egrets, a Common Buzzard and the usual Marsh Harriers.
This afternoon while sitting in Makepiece Hide with The Joker news came through of a Ross's Gull past the point seen by David Walker. A few minutes later we joined him at the fishing boats in the hopes that the gull would come back, but that was not to be. Large numbers of Black-headed Gulls were moving along the shoreline westwards also a 1w Little Gull and a couple of Mediterranean Gulls. AJG went to The Patch as the light was fading hoping to see the Gull and reported 5-6,000 Black headed Gulls there making searching for the Ross's Gull difficult. I am sure we will be there first thing tomorrow with our fingers crossed. The Ross's Gull is a just reward for David, for the many long hours he has spent at the fishing boats in all weathers having good, bad and indifferent days. I guess today was one of the best and one he will long remember, congratulations David.