Monday, 1 December 2014

December Gloom!

 Goosander, a terrible pic of todays bird scarce on sea watches at Dungeness.

A cold, damp, dark and dreary day started with a quick look at the 2 Cattle Egrets that seem to have taken up residence in the field opposite Wraxalls Aggregates, Dengemarsh road, Lydd. Next stop The Point where I could sea watch from the relative comfort of the car. 


Teal: 5 up
Comon Scoter: 9 down   3 up
Goosander: 1 up
Red-throated Diver: 11 up   7 down  2 on sea
Gannet: 373 up
Merlin: 1 up
Oystercatcher: 3 up
Great Skua: 1 down
Little Gull: 1 down
Sandwich Tern: 1 up
Kittiwake: 58 up
Guillemot: 2 on sea
Auk sp: 38 down    14 up
A short wander around the sea containers looking for skulking passerines found none.

Another walk along the beach from Romney Sands Caravan Park to the Varne and back, found only 2 Meadow Pipits in the dunes, on the sands large numbers of Oystercatchers.

At Scotney 2 Black-tailed Godwits were new on the sward, joining the Lapwings, Golden Plovers, 4 Redshanks, a Dunlin and 100s of grazing Wigeon. By 15.30 it was dark.

At the south end of the ARC c150 Gadwall, c70 Pochard, c50 Shoveler, 2 Great White Egrets and a Marsh Harrier.

On the New Diggings from The Causeway another 2 Great White Egrets and a little Egret.

From Hanson 3 Goldeneye, another Great White Egret and a Little Egret.

On the reserve from Dennis's Hide 4 more Great white Egrets and a Goosander.

I joined MH in Makepeace where he spotted a Red-crested Pochard, also seen 2 more Goosander, several 100s of Wigeon, c30 Pintail and 2 Marsh Harriers.


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Back to the Murk!

 Late Swallow at Scotney!
A very murky morning started with the Cattle Egrets sitting on the roof of the cow shed viewed from my balcony, then downstairs for a full English.
At Scotney a late Swallow hawking over the main lake and a Kingfisher by the conveyor. From the layby the 2 usual feral Barnacle Geese flocks with c600 Greylags and few each of Golden Plover and Lapwing. 
 Bedraggled in the mist!
On the reserve 4 Great White Egrets on Burrowes and 2 more at Boulderwall. c500 Wigeon on Burrowes, 20+ Pintail but little else of note.
At the ARC 2 Bewick Swans resting on the lake was the highlight. In the Willow Trail 3 Chiffchaffs with the Long-tailed Tit flock.
This afternoon on the beach with Mick and Richard a 1w Caspian Gull, a 2w was seen before I arrived. In the roost an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Long Distance Twitching!

A glorious November day and I spent most of it gardening. A tweet from SM that 2 Cattle Egrets were just 200yds away from me, had me running up the stairs and out on the balcony, I lifted the bins and there by the cattle shed were the 2 Cattle Egrets, the closest I have had them from the house. I then drove the 200 yds down the road, turned the car around and pulled up on the verge, using it as a hide one of the Egrets came very close. From the way they were eating dung flies I'm sure they will hang around a while. Thanks Stephen for the timely tweet.   

Friday, 28 November 2014


This mornings sea watch carried on where yesterdays finished, very slow. DW and BM for an hour between 08.05-09.05.

Gadwall: 5 on sea?
Red-breasted Merganser: 1 down    1 up
Red-throated Diver: 9 down    3 up
Fulmar: 2 down
Gannet: 6 up
Merlin: 1 around
Kittiwake:  9 up  7 down
Guillemot: 2 down    1 on sea
Razorbill:  8 down    5 on sea
Auk sp: 18 down
I have changed the direction of sea passage to up channel and down channel to keep the purists happy. 
 I spent the rest of the day on Walland Marsh plodding along the Green Lanes, where Fieldfare seemed to be in every Hawthorn along with smaller numbers of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, but just 4 Redwing. I came across several flocks of Chaffinches and Goldfinches, also Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings, Tree Sparrows but no Brambling. Several Marsh Harriers were seen, 2 Common Buzzards and 2 Sparrowhawks. In the Kale field immediately south of Old Romney the single Bewick Swan has been joined by 4 more all adults.
Late afternoon at one of the Harrier roosts, 2 Marsh Harriers roosted but no Hen Harriers.

Whoops! an expensive repair 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Snow Bunting!

07.45-08.45 from near the fishing boats: 
Common Scoter: 3 W
Red-breasted Merganser: 1 W
Red-throated Diver: 9 W
Gannet: 11 W
Kittiwake: 4 W
Auk sp: 17 W
Not the most inspiring hours watch, though I have had many poorer ones at Widewater.
A wander along the beach and around the sea containers found only a couple of Pied Wagtails, a glance out to sea saw a smart drake Eider fly by close inshore.
 The superb male Snow Bunting at Greatstone today!
When I left The Point I decided I'd have a walk along the Greatstone Dunes to The Varne and back to see if any Snow Buntings had settled in the dunes. Parking opposite Romney Sands Caravan Park I met OL, after a brief chat I set off NE along the beach. As the tide was out any waders were just dots on the horizon, after walking about a mile seeing just a couple of Pied Wagtails and a couple of Meadow Pipits I spotted a superb male Snow Bunting. It was promptly flushed by lady with a Scottie dog, fortunately it flew around and landed in more or less the same spot. The lady and her Scottie dog walked to a few feet from it, sat down, then started to read a magazine totally unaware the Bunting was only few feet away. She was completely perplexed by my photographing it.  

On the reserve at least 8 Great White Egrets, the 3 red head Goosander an adult Yellow-legged Gull but little else of note.
At Scotney I walked the cycle path the length of the main lake, the 2 feral flocks of Barnacle Geese still present along with 100s each of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Wigeon, 16 Dunlin, 8 Redshank, 7 Little Egrets and a couple of Marsh Harriers of note.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Great White Egrets!

Looking out at another Gloomy but windless day while eating a full English, I decided I'd have long wander around the fields at the back of Scotney GP. I even left the camera at home as the light was poor.
I checked out the main lake first which was covered in the common wildfowl but I could see nothing unusual. Checking the flood from the lay by there was no sign of yesterdays Little Stint or the Dunlin just 5 Redshank in the flood. On the turf 100s of Lapwing and Golden Plover, as well as 100s of grazing Wigeon and 2 flocks of feral Barnacle Geese.
Parking at the entrance to Scotney Farm, as I walked up the road 2 Kingfishers flashed across it and by the conveyor belt a Green Sandpiper flushed from the ditch, which also held 4 Little Egrets.
In the farmyard a mixed flock of 60+ Chaffinches and House Sparrows were feeding on spilt seed but no Bramblings. On the pit behind Scotney main pit 4 more Little Egrets, 36 Shelduck, 100+ Shoveler, 150+ Mallard which seemed strange with amount of shooting here abouts, also 2 Avocet.
In the set aside strips and fields a superb flock of 120+ Corn Buntings, c40 Skylarks and large flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets, with a few Greenfinches also 8 Egyptian Geese including the leucistic individual. As I wandered further out I saw more Corn Buntings, a flock of 100+ Tree Sparrows, also many Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings but not a single Yellowhammer. In the bushes a few Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins 3 Fieldfare and 6 Stonechats. Surprisingly I saw few raptors, a single Common Buzzard, 3 Marsh Harriers and a single Sparrowhawk terrorising the Pied Wagtails in the farm yard. With the amount of passerines in the fields it looks ideal for a Hen Harrier or 2, though considering the parlous state of the British breeding population its not surprising none were present. It makes me angry just thinking about the rogue game keepers and estate owners, I could go into a ranting diatribe but there are plenty more bloggers out there who can do it far more eloquently than I ever could.
This afternoon on the reserve I met DB and family who spotted an adult Caspian Gull on Burrowes also 3 Goosander. Between us we counted a minimum of 11 Great White Egrets before I checked the ARC, where from the screen there was another feeding in its usual spot making a minimum of 12 at Dungeness today. A Cattle Egret was also still present per PB and MH.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Snow Buntings!

I joined AJG this morning for a very poor sea watch after half an hour we'd had enough:
Shelduck: 1 W
Red-throated Diver: 2 W  + 1 on sea
Gannet: c12 around
Kittiwake: 2 W
Auk sp: 63 W
As we were getting into our cars 6 finches flew by 3 of which were rather chunky, once in the bins it was obvious they Snow Buntings with 3 Goldfinches. The Buntings alighted on the beach and I snapped a long distance record shot, I turned my back on them because of the strong easterly wind to make a quick call, by the time I looked back they were gone, probably NE towards Greatstone.
A snap shot of the 3 Snow Buntings.
I parked at the ARC and had a quick look from Hanson and the Screen, but the strong easterly wind made viewing very uncomfortable with very little to see apart from a Great White Egret and a few of the commoner wildfowl.
Wandering from the ARC to the back of Hookers and some way up the Lydd footpath to view the Geese, I only found Greylags and Canada's, by the path a couple Stonechats, a Cetti's Warbler and squealing Water Rails. I then wandered out to Springfield Bridge then back down to Makepeace seeing nothing of note, then along to Dennis's where a couple of Great White Egrets were the highlights, then back up the entrance track to the ARC car park, a long plod with very little to show for it, no doubt I'll do it all again in the near future.
This afternoon at Scotney a Little Stint with c 20 Dunlin and a Redshank on the flood, also the feral Barnacle Geese still there.
Late afternoon on Walland in the drizzle I watched 3 Marsh Harriers go to roost, also myriads of Lapwing and Golden Plover (2-3,000 of each) being flushed by shooters. Fieldfare numbers appear to have dropped but they may have already gone to roost before I arrived.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Plodding around!

After scraping the ice off the windscreen for the first time this winter, I drove to the fishing boats arriving the same time as AJG where we spent 08.00-09.00:
Brent Goose: 5 W   1 E
Common Scoter: 7 W
Red-throated Diver: 3 W 4 E 
Great Northern Diver: 1 W
Merlin: 1 over
Kittiwake: 1 W
Sandwich Tern: 1 off shore
Auk sp: 6 W
Stock Dove: 49 W
 Firecrest in trapping area
A mid morning wander around the trapping area found a minimum of 4 Firecrests moving around with a couple Tit flocks, joining them a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, while Water Rails seemed to be calling all around.
On the New Diggings from the causeway 4 Great White Egrets and 3 Little Egrets.
Short-eared Owl back of Lydd airport
From the Screen hide of note a Great White Egret, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Marsh Harriers, 3 Bearded Tits, a Cetti's Warbler, 2 Chiffchaffs and Water Rail .
A late morning early afternoon plod around the Gorse ridges behind Lydd airport was hard work. In the Gorse I only found several Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds, but a Short-eared Owl quartering the rough at the back of the airport made the plod worthwhile, a Common Buzzard sitting on the mirrors and a Marsh Harrier was also seen. By the Water Tower a Black Redstart was feeding around the compound.
This afternoon on the reserve from Makepiece in the company of MH 3 Goosanders, 2 Black-necked Grebes were the highlights among the many wildfowl present.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Not a bad day!

After a lay in I arrived at the fishing boats as AJG and BM were leaving, I quickly joined them when they told me how little they had seen in an hour there. We had a wander around the trapping area seeing a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, but best of all a Woodcock flushed my first this year.
Driving back across the causeway 5 Great White Egrets and 3 Little Egrets could be seen on the New Diggings.
On Walland Marsh a single Bewick Swan with some Mutes at Old Romney, at Hawthorn Corner 200+ Fieldfare, 15+ Tree Sparrows at Midley. 
 Bewick Swan
This afternoon On the ARC from The Screen 4 Goldeneye and 2 Great White Egrets of note, but no sign of any Slavonian Grebes or the Smew.
From the entrance track to the VC, 5 Greater White-fronted Geese with Canada Goose flock, also a Common Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Kingfisher.

 Caspian Gulls
Staring into the gloom from Makepiece I saw 2 adult Caspian Gulls, 2 Goosanders, a Black-necked Grebe of note, also all the usual common wildfowl. No sign tonight of the Cattle Egrets coming to roost.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


A 40 minute watch from the fishing boats this morning was very slow with 2 Great skuas the highlights. A wander around the boats and sea containers was equally unproductive.
On the reserve 3 Goosanders on Burrowes with a minimum of 7 Great White Egrets, 2 Little Egrets, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, a Black-necked Grebe, also many each of the common wildfowl.
From Dengemarsh 2 Cattle Egrets, c50 Golden Plover, 3 Marsh Harriers and 2 Curlew of note. Water Rail and Cetti's Warblers were calling all round the reserve, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was by Scott Hide, 2 Tree Sparrows and a Sparrowhawk by Dennis's. On ARC from the Screen the red head Smew, a Slavonian Grebe, 2 more Great White Egrets and the usual wildfowl.
Late afternoon on Burrowes from makepiece 2 Cattle Egrets were flying into the the Cormorant roost, but veered off at the last moment and flew the length of Burrowes across the New Diggings and into the Sallows at the south end of the ARC to roost.