Saturday, 14 February 2015

More Egrets!

08.50-09.50 from the fishing boats:
Brent: 11 up
Red-throated Diver: 10 down    4 up
Fulmar: 1 down
Gannet: 129 down
Oystercatcher:  3 up   3 down
Kittiwake:   129 down
Auk:  3 up
The rest of the morning taken up with domestic stuff.
This afternoon the Cattle Egrets were still in the fields south of Brickwall Farm.
At Scotney the drake Scaup still but no wild geese, I was unable to find the 3 Black-necked Grebes but there were at least 2 on New Excavations,
On Walland all the wild Swans present and correct.
Late afternoon at the reserve in the company of DW and GH watching the Egrets come in to roost.
9 Great-white Egrets and a minimum of 23 Little Egrets roosted, a party of 3 Cattle Egrets came in and a few minutes later another 2. It was very dark and they did come in quickly so we may have made a mistake, so it looks like my early evenings are going to be booked for the near future.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

February Gloom lifted by late afternoon Pinkfeet!

07.20 at the ARC car park and the wild Swans are already leaving the lake, 2 Great White Egrets flew over. By 07.30 they have all gone and its still more or less dark.
At the south end of the ARC the 2 Goosanders and 2 red head Smew, a Black-necked Grebe could be seen over the road on the New Excavations.
At The Point absolutely no off shore movement on a flat calm sea, the highlight being a Harbour Porpoise.
The 2 Cattle Egrets were in the fields south of Brickwall Farm but little else seen in the gloom.
At Scotney with the road being blocked at the double bends by what looked liked a serious accident, I parked at the farm entrance and walked the path by the lake. The 3 Black-necked Grebes and the Scaup showed well but no sign of any wild geese. Around the farm 13 Corn Buntings, 2 Little Egrets and a drake Goldeneye on the back lake was unusual.
A call from OL this afternoon to say he had counted 1240 Great Crested Grebes between The Varne and and The Pilot, would I be able to count the Grebes between The Pilot and The Point, no problem and a few minutes later I was at the fishing boats counting all 8 of them! My time was definitely not wasted, as I scanned the sea I picked up a flock of c35 Pinkfeet resting on the colour change, which were slowly drifting south east. I tried to tweet them, but there was no phone signal let alone Internet. It seems that mobile signal was very patchy on the peninsular today.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Wonderful Swans!

06.30 at the ARC car park in the gloom before dawn, the Bewick Swans could be heard calling to one another on the lake, in the bushes Tree Sparrows chattered along with Chaffinches and Reed Buntings, 3+ Chiffchaffs in the willows and reeds by the track to Hanson, also a couple of Squealing Water Rails, a loud Cetti's Warbler and flyover Green Woodpecker. From the hide all 86 Bewick Swans and the lone Whooper Swan were milling around, 2 red head Goosanders fishing in front the hide with 3 red head Smew, in quick succession 2 Bitterns vacated there roost and flew across the lake. As all the Swans had left the lake by 06.45 yesterday, I quickly made my way back to the track to the screen hide to be in a position to get some images of the Swans leaving and waited and waited. This morning they had obviously decided to have a lay in. It was not until 07.55 when the Whooper Swan led the way, with all leaving in the next few minutes, except one juvenile which flew out towards Lydd then returned, doing this several times calling all the while and finally settling back on the lake. It does not bode well for this youngster if it cannot even find its way to Walland, let alone Russia. While waiting for the Swans to leave 7 Great White Egrets flew out towards the marsh, a Merlin, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and 3 Marsh Harriers flew over. 
 Whooper Swan leads the way!
 Superb views of the Bewick Swans!

Stunning views as they leave the ARC!
At the fishing boats the sea was mirror calm, nothing was moving off shore so I took the opportunity to count the Great-crested Grebes on the sea, in the one sweep I counted 710 Grebes, 8 Red-throated Divers and a Grey Seal.
From the causeway the Goosanders had moved to the south end of the ARC and a Black-necked grebe could be seen on New Excavations.
At Scotney the Scaup and a single Black-necked Grebe of note.
I parked at Springfield Bridge where the 2 Cattle Egrets could be seen in the field opposite, walking from the bridge to Scott Hide was largely avian free, although work was being done in the hay fields, which certainly look in great condition for migrant spring waders. From Scott the showy Smew was still doing its stuff despite the amount of noise made by visitors slamming the door, dropping the shutters, flasks scopes and just about everything else.
drake Smew still performing for the camera!
Late this afternoon 8 Great White Egrets and 17 Little Egrets roosted. c2,000 Starlings put on another brilliant aerial display, especially when attacked by a Sparrowhawk. 

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Best Till Last!

06.45 walking along the track to Hanson I could hear the Bewick Swans calling softly to one another, by the time I opened the shutter in the hide they had all departed to Walland. (must get up earlier). From the hide 18 Little Egrets and 4 Great white Egrets lined up along the far bank, 2 red head Smew on the lake and 2 Marsh Harriers over, but nothing else of note.
07.40-08.40 from the fishing boats was not exactly riveting!
Shelduck: 2 up
Common Scoter: 3 up
Red-throated Diver: 11 up
Gannet: 203  up
Oystercatcher: 2 up
Kittiwake: 3 up
Auk: 2 up  (Where are all the Auks this winter?)
Grey Seal: 1 o/s
Drake Scaup Scotney!
A drive down Dengemarsh Road filed to find the Whitefront among the Greylags, but did locate the Cattle Egrets at Brickwall Farm.
I spent 3hrs wandering around the paths of Scotney, although enjoyable it was not very rewarding ornithologically. The Scaup still present as was a single Black-necked Grebe, a Green Sandpiper, a few each of Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow, the usual feral geese including 5 Egyptian Geese and the common wildfowl no sign of any wild geese.
This afternoon from the Screen Hide 14.50-17.00 saw just 3 red head Smew of any note. 
17.00-17.35 saw 2 Bitterns drop into the reeds in front the hide, 13 small Egrets flew through, it was to dark and they were to distant to be sure if the Cattle Egrets were among them, 8 probably 9 and maybe more Great White Egrets came in, c3,000 Starlings put on a superb display, especially when a Peregrine paid them some attention, finally  just as I was about to leave the screen and I think best moment of the day the evocative sound of Bewick Swans coming back into roost!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Harrier Roost!

After a lay in I made my way to Scotney, from the double bends a single Black-necked Grebe, the Scaup but no sign of any wild geese. At Brickwall Farm the 2 Cattle Egrets happily feeding by the chicken sheds, a few hundred yards up the road from them a single Greater White-fronted Goose was associating with a flock of c100 Greylags.
Cattle Egrets Brickwall Farm
After lunch back at Scotney the 2 Tundra Bean Geese popped into view and a flock of 20 Corn Buntings. The Spotted Redshank was seen again this afternoon JC,DC,BK.
It was the Harrier roost count today, instead of looking at my usual Reed bed which has drawn a blank for the last couple of years, I looked at another closer to home near the airport, where I joined Martin and Sussana and were fortunate enough to have 1 adult male come into roost.
On the way back to the car a couple of flocks of calling Bewick Swans flew over to roost at the ARC.   

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Egret Roost!

A little better today, as at least you could get out of the car without the icy wind cutting you in half like yesterday.
In 3 visits to Scotney the highlights were 2 Tundra Bean Geese, 5 Greater White-fronted Geese, a Green Sandpiper my first of the year, 3 Black-necked Grebes, the drake Scaup, a Great White Egret, 5 Little Egrets, a party of c30 Corn Buntings, 2 Marsh Harriers, 11+ Little Grebes and the first Lambs of the year there, but no sign of the Cattle Egrets probably because there was no ditch clearance going on today. They were relocated back at Lydd per DB.
Walland Marsh still holds the wild Swan herd and still plenty of winter thrushes to be seen there.
An early afternoon visit to the fishing boats saw no change on the sea, also no sign of any Caspian Gulls in the roost.
Late afternoon 16.45-17.35: 12 Great White Egrets, 2 Cattle Egrets and 15 Little Egrets came in to roost on the reserve and 5 Marsh Harriers flew through, also 1,000+ Starlings which attracted a Merlin, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel.

Thursday, 5 February 2015


First thing this morning at Scotney GP 5 Greater White-fronted Geese, (10 seen later) and 2 Tundra Bean Geese among the 100s of feral Greylags and Barnacle Geese present. The 2 Cattle Egrets could be seen following the digger on north bank of the lake, the 3 Black-necked Grebes were in the pool at the Kent end and the Scaup was hiding among c1,000 Wigeon on the lake. At the farm 8 Corn Buntings a little Egret and 2 Marsh harriers over.
2 of the 5 Greater White-fronted Geese today!
09.20-10.00 from the comfort of the car near the fishing boats:
Pintail: 3 up
Red-throated Diver:  14 up   3 down
Great-crested Grebe: c100 on sea
Fulmar: 1 down
Gannet: 54 up       9 down
Cormoant: present n/c
Kittiwake:  6 on sea
Auks: 9 up   4 down
A stroll around the sheltered north end of the Long Pits found nothing of note.
I spent most the afternoon around Walland Marsh in the warmth of the car watching the Wild Swans and winter Thrushes, but still went home early when heavy snow showers started.
Bewick Swan coming in to the flooded field!
It took me weeks to read this neck collar, now it shows well virtually every visit!
Whooper Swan stretching its wings!
This image was taken only minutes after the one above.Time to call it a day as another snow shower sweeps in!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


First thing this morning at the ARC no sign of any wild swans roosting. The lake was very quiet in a bitter NE wind.
Things weren't much better at the fishing boats where a just a handful of Red-throated Divers and Gannets were recorded in a very cold 30 minute watch 
Cattle Egret Scotney still just in Kent 
At Scotney the 2 Cattle Egrets could be seen distantly following the digger, careful scanning of the Greylag flock eventually picked out the 2 Tundra Bean Geese heads down asleep as usual.The 3 Black-necked Grebes were huddled together under the northern bank as was the drake Scaup.
This afternoon from the screen hide a Bittern, Great White Egret, 2 Smew and Kingfisher.
Late afternoon 9 Great White Egrets, 2 Cattle Egrets and 14 Little Egrets came in to roost, also c1500 Starlings put on a superb flying display harassed by a Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk, before they dropped into roost.  

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


As some Bewick Swans flew over Plodland last night, I thought I'd go to the ARC to see if they roosted there. Walking up the track to Hanson at 07.20 in very gloomy conditions I could here the Bewick Swans calling. I entered the hide and quietly opened the shutter to see the Swans on the lake quite close in to the hide. A quick count came to 86 Bewick Swans and a single Whooper Swan. Just to confirm that they were the Walland Marsh herd the neck collared bird was present, by 08.10 all the Swans had left the lake heading out over Plodland to Walland. While I was in the hide 2 Goosanders were fishing in the reed margins in front the hide, 2 Bitterns flew out of the adjacent reed bed. 2 Great White Egrets dropped in front of the screen, 2 Marsh Harriers flew over and 3 Goldeneye could be seen.  
 Bewick Swans
 Whooper Swan
 Whooper Swan
 One of the two Goosanders in front of Hanson early morning
 An artistic shot (rubbish) of one of the Bitterns in the early morning gloom
08.30-09.00 from the fishing boats
Brent Goose: 9 up
Shelduck: 1 up
Red-throated Diver: 11 up
Fulmar: 1 up
Gannet:   17 up
Cormorant: 656 up  it was such an exciting watch!
Kittiwake:  5 around
In a wander around the north end of the Long Pits I stumbled across a Little Owl my first of the year on the patch, but little else of note was seen.
A stop at Cockles Bridge found 2 more Great White Egrets, c200 Golden Plover, c400 Lapwing and another 2 Marsh Harriers.
The 2 headless Tundra Bean Geese on Herring Gull Island
At Scotney the usual 3 Black-necked Grebes, the drake Scaup and the 2 Tundra Bean Geese along with the feral geese.
Another visit to Walland this afternoon with MH added the 2 Cattle Egrets that were following the drainage digger in front of Scotney farm. We then went out to Walland and at various sites saw up to 30 Corn Buntings, 20 Yellowhammers, some Tree Sparrows and plenty of winter thrushes, also the wild swan herd at Horsebones Farm.  

Monday, 2 February 2015

An Excellent Day!

The car thermometer this morning was showing -3 as I arrived at the fishing boats for today's very slow sea watch 7.40-08.20:
Brent Goose: 10 up
Red-breasted Merganser: 1 up
Red-throated Diver: 13 up
Gannet: c100 fishing on the horizon
Kittiwake: 15 up  27 down
Grey Seal: 1 o/s
Red Fox: 1 on beach
Brown Hare: 1 Jarmans
This Robin was the only bird to pose in the trapping area!
A stroll around the trapping area and Long Pits found of note 2 Firecrests, 5 Goldcrests, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Woodcock and a Water Rail.
From the causeway the 2 Goosander on the ARC and 2 Great White Egrets.
Mid morning at Scotney 3 Black-necked Grebes and the Scaup, another visit later this afternoon found the 2 Tundra Bean Geese.
Neck collared Bewick Swan 053E!
On Walland late morning the 86 Bewick Swans and single Whooper Swan showing well.
The Whooper Swan
Moorhen getting in on the Perch action
An hour in Scott Hide with the Smew still performing!
Late afternoon from the screen hide at least 7 Great White Egrets came in to roost along with 4 Little Egrets. A Bittern gave a fly by view and a Kingfisher caught caught at least 6 small fish by the hide. 4+ Marsh Harriers crossed the lake towards the Oppen Pits.

20+ Bewick Swans flew over Plodland this evening towards the ARC presumably to roost.