Saturday, 17 December 2016


 1w Caspian Gull
An interesting hour this morning at The Point once the fog had cleared, the highlights being 3 long-tailed Ducks that flew up channel, as did 40 Brent Geese, 110 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler also 2 Great Skua's were noted. Fair numbers of Red-throated Divers and Guillemots were tooing and froing.
This afternoon at the fishing boats 3+ 1w Caspian Gulls  were coming to Mick and Richards offerings, one of the Caspian Gulls was very vocal a video of it giving it's very distinctive call can be seen HERE
2 x 1w Caspian Gulls
 1w Caspian Gull
F3XT Herring Gull

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The One That Got Away!

 3 Velvet Scoter past this morning
08.05-09.35 from the fishing boats:
Brent Goose:  373 up
Velvet Scoter: 3 down
Red-throated Diver:  52 down
Black-throated Diver: 1 down
Great-crested Grebe: 17 around
Gannet: 56 down      23 up
Cormorant: many present n/c
Turnstone:  3 around
Black-headed Gull: many present n/c
Herring Gull: many present n/c
1w Caspian Gull: 1 on beach
G.B.B.Gull: present n/c
L.B.B.Gull: present n/c
Kittiwake: 12 down    6 around
Guillemot:  32 down       18 on sea
Razorbill:   1 down  1 on sea
News of a Red-necked Grebe at Scotney curtailed my sea watch, but by the time I arrived it had disappeared. 
I joined AJG in walk out to the back of Scotney to the barns. Myriads of Lapwing and Golden Plover gave spectacular flying displays each time they were flushed by machinery, 1,000+ Greylag Geese were also present, a Ring-tail Hen Harrier gave good scope views, 2 Marsh Harriers were  seen. Passerines were thin on the ground with just a handful each of Corn Bunting, Skylark and Meadow Pipits.
Stonechat at the caravan park
Another hour spent early afternoon looking for the Red-necked Grebe drew a blank, a posing Stonechat was  some compensation. 
I had just arrived at the turning circle on the beach and was scanning through the Gulls on the beach with my binoculars when a large diver with a lumpy head and very pale bill flew through my vision in the background. What followed was akin to the keystone Cops, I leaped out of the car and grabbed my scope off the back seat, the scope came out but the tripod didn't as its legs were tangled in the seat belt and I ended up on my backside on the pebbles. Getting my act together I eventually got the scope on to the bird, my suspicions about the bird being undiminished by the scope view, realising I needed a photograph I leaned into the car and grabbed my camera off the passenger seat, nearly pulling my shoulder out of its socket, as the camera was snatched out of my hand by the strap being wrapped around the hand brake lever, by the time it and I were untangled the Diver was disappearing around The Point. The one that got away!!!
Brent Goose: 78 up
Red-throated Diver: 15 down
Gannet: 21 down
Kittiwake: 9 down
Guillemot: 28 down      5 up
Razorbill: 1 down
Late afternoon on the reserve the Ring-necked Duck still present and a red head Smew was seen from the VC. Elsewhere 6 Goosander were seen at the southern end of the ARC early morning per SO. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


1w Caspian Gull on the beach early morning
The sea was fairly quiet first thing this morning, a few each of Red-throated Diver, Gannet and Kittiwake all making their way down channel, while on the sea a few Great-crested Grebes and Guillemots. The highlight being a 1w Caspian Gull that has been around for a few days near the fishing boats.
On the reserve the Ring-necked Duck was still showing well on Cooks Pool, but the Long-eared Owl was missing again today. On Burrowes 2 red head Smew were of note as was a Chiffchaff at Makepiece. Between Scott and Denge Marsh at least 6 Song Thrushes were nice to see also a Great Spotted and 2 Green Woodpeckers, a Stonechat and a couple of unseen Cetti's Warblers calling.
Behind Denge Marsh the usual Lapwings, Golden Plover, Stock Doves and Linnets, also 3 Great White Egrets, a Common Buzzard, 2+ Marsh harriers and a Peregrine. At the back of Hookers Bearded Tits, Cetti's Warblers, a Bittern, Reed Buntings, 2 Stonechats and a Common Snipe were all noted.
At Scotney I was unable to locate the Black-throated Diver. Around the main pit the usual feral Geese, 100s of Wigeon along with usual diving ducks, Cormorants and Herring Gulls littered the islands and a ring tail Hen Harrier cruised along the bank at the back of the pit. In the distance by the wind turbines countless Lapwing, Golden Plover and Starlings filled the sky.
On Walland 100s each of Fieldfare, Redwing and Blackbirds, a few more Song Thrushes, 4 Mistle Thrushes and 4 Common Buzzards. At the feeding station 20+ Tree Sparrows and a Yellowhammer of note. 
17 Bewick Swans at Horesesbones Farm (What3words App:  blackouts.shades.narrowest)
Back at the beach this afternoon 135 Brent Geese flew up channel and a new 1w Caspian Gull was by the Fish Hut.
 The new 1w Caspian Gull

 Squaring up to a Great Black-Backed Gull

J6XT Herring Gull at the Fish Hut today.
Late afternoon at the ARC a couple of Marsh harriers flew through as I arrived flushing the Gulls and Duck leaving a single Great White Egret.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Another thoroughly miserable day on the peninsula, with a chilly wind, leaden skies, drizzle and the fog horn blasting out, making me wonder what I was doing standing out in it at the fishing boats.
A very poor photograph of a Kittiwake feeding along the shoreline
08.30-09.30 from the fishing boats:

Brent Goose:                                                1 up
Red-throated Diver:    8 down
Great-crested Grebe:                      9 on
Gannet:                      39 down                      8 up
Turnstone:                                       2 on beach
Kittiwake:                  12  down       4 around
Guillemot:                119 down      13 on      14 up
Razorbill:                     3 down        2 on
The up side to the poor visibility ensured that all the Auks seen were close enough to identify.
This afternoon on the reserve, the Ring-necked Duck still on Cooks Pool. At Denge Marsh a Great White Egret, 1,000+ Lapwing, 200+ Golden Plover, 400+ Stock Doves and c50 Linnets. A quick look at the Dipping Pool in yet another down pour saw the Long-eared Owl back on its chosen perch after going missing for a couple of days. From the comfort of the VC 2 Smew, Goldeneye, a Merlin, a Peregrine and Marsh Harrier.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Gloomy Dungeness!

08.15-09.15 from the fishing boats:

All down channel unless stated otherwise:

Shoveler:                     5
Common Scoter:       61        2 up
Velvet Scoter:              2
Red-throated Diver:    2        8 up
Great-crested Grebe:           12 around
Fulmar:                                  1 up
Gannet:                      57    106 up
Cormorant:                  c300 around
Turnstone:                             2 around
B.H.Gull:                     c500 on beach
Common Gull:              Present  n/c
Herring Gull:               c500 on beach
L.B.B.Gull:                   Present  n/c
G.B.B.Gull:                   Present  n/c

Kittiwake:                 18        4 around
Guillemot:    12 around       38 up
Auk sp:                                59 up

The Ring-necked duck was still on Cooks Pool with a great White Egret and Little Egret, in the field behind 100s of Wigeon, Lapwing and Golden Plover, also a Common Buzzard and 2 Marsh Harriers,
On Burrowes 3 Caspian Gulls (adult+3w+2w), 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 red head Smew of note. As the weather deteriorated I did some domestic stuff. With the drizzle still falling this afternoon I joined MH in the comfort of the VC where we saw another 2w Caspian Gull, another red head Smew and a gorgeous drake Goosander. Late afternoon on the ARC from Hanson an adult Yellow-legged Gull could just about be made out in the gloom but little else of note as darkness fell early today.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Kittiwake at the Puddles this morning
08.00-09.00 from the fishing boats:
All down channel unless stated otherwise.

Common Scoter:  5
Red-throated Diver:  6            2 up
Great-crested Grebe:  27 around
Gannet:          64
Cormorant:       Present n/c
Turnstone:        3 around
Great Skua:      1
B.H.Gull:          Present  n/c
Common Gull:  Present  n/c
Herring Gull:    Present  n/c
L.B.B.Gull:       Present  n/c
G.B.B.Gull:       Present  n/c
Kittiwake:      12      1 on beach
Guillemot:      48
Razorbill:         2
Auk sp:           18
On the way home for breakfast I had a quick look at Cook's Pool where the Ring-necked Duck was  still present along with a Great White Egret, the field behind was carpeted with Lapwing and Wigeon, also a small party of Golden Plover, nearby at Boulderwall Farm the ever present Tree Sparrows were much in evidence.
After breakfast at Scotney the Black-throated Diver is still present by the caravan park, by the main lake the usual feral geese and many Wigeon but no sign of the Black-necked Grebe. 
Ring-necked Duck in the afternoon sunshine
This afternoon a visit to the beach found no Gull roosts to go through. At the Kerton Road triangle 2 Common Stonechat and 2 Dartford Warblers but no sign of the grey Stonechat. On the reserve the Ring-necked Duck still showing well as was the Long-eared Owl behind the dipping pool, From Makepiece an adult Caspian Gull and Yellow-legged Gull.
Late afternoon at the ARC from Hanson A Kingfisher, a Water Rail still feeding out in the open though it was to dark for images, Cetti's Warblers calling, 4 Great White and 9 Little Egrets flew past on their way to roost, 2 Marsh Harriers over and c600 Jackdaws over to roost, at last light (16.25) 4 Bewick Swans Came into roost presumably part of the group of 17 that seem to spend all day at Horsesbones Farm feeding.

Thursday, 8 December 2016


An excellent trip across the channel to the Dunkirk area with MH, AJG and CP who did the driving. The train was slightly delayed this morning but not enough to make a difference to us. First stop was the Dunkirk Canal, not the most attractive area with flames burning gases from high heavy industrial chimneys smelling very sulphurous. In the canal a Red-necked Grebe showed well in the windy conditions and very poor early morning light, also a distant Slavonian Grebe and Shag. The area looks to have loads of potential for birds and easily accessible and little disturbance, with the canal one side and the beach the other, you can drive along the sea wall for about 2 miles to Dunkirk harbour entrance. If this site were in the UK the health and safety brigade would prevent public access or the National Trust would charge you an arm and leg use it. The harbour entrance held 2 Grey Seals and a Common Seal, a few Linnets and Reed Buntings, though we failed to connect with the wintering Snow Buntings. Along the shore Sanderling, Oystercatchers, Turnstones and Gulls. MH showed his love of Gulls by finding an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the shore
 Red-necked Grebe in the windy gloom
 Our nest stop was Grande Fort Phillipe where we quickly located 10 Shorelarks, my images do not do them justice as they gave excellent scope views but I couldn't get near them, however the the local dog walkers were able to walk right up to them, maybe I should get a dog. We new some Twite had been seen at this site recently so we spent quite a time wandering the salt marsh looking for them, in the process seeing more Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits, Little Egrets, 4 Spoonbill, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew. We had just got back to the car when we spotted a party of passerines c500mts away flying around which we felt sure were Twite, we pin pointed where they landed and moved closer. When we got nearer and trained our scopes on them the gleaming yellow bills were  a give away and there were 8 Twite picking up seeds from the edge of the salt marsh, the icing on the cake was the 10 Shorelarks flying in and joining them, I certainly cannot remember ever seeing Shorelark and Twite in the same scope view feeding together a superb experience, unfortunately to distant for any satisfactory images.
Next stop was Oye Plage which was surprisingly birdy considering the amount of shooting that goes on here. I have never seen so many Snipe 150+ counted, also 200+Shelduck, lots of Mallard and Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Little Grebe, Greylag and Canada Geese Egyptian Goose, Barnacle Goose, a ring tail Hen Harrier and Common Buzzards. The light was fading when we left abut we still managed a Kingfisher and 2 more Buzzards along The Digue. A thoroughly enjoyable day out in excellent company and a renditions of songs I cannot repeat in writing though thoroughly amusing. Many thanks again to MH for providing the transport and CP for the driving, not forgetting AJG for giving us loads of laughs. Retirement Rocks!!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Red-necked Grebe!

08.00-09.00 from the fishing boats:

                               Up Channel             Down Channel
Brent Goose:                  1
Shelduck:                                                          6
Teal:                               1
Wigeon:                         4
Red-throated Diver:     13                                25
Red-necked Grebe:                                          1
Great-crested Grebe:           122 around
Fulmar:                          1
Gannet:                                                              2
Cormorant:                         250+ around
Merlin:                                      1 around
Oystercatcher:              2
Turnstone:                                 2 around
Kittiwake:                                                          2
Guillemot:                               12 around
The Red-necked Grebe was the first I have seen this year a real rarity in the last few years. The Merlin gave a superb aerial display c400mts off shore, where it spent about a minute chasing what looked like an incoming Meadow Pipit, both birds dived and jinked in unison until I'm guessing the Pipit tired and the Merlin claimed it's prize. The Merlin was then chased by 2 Herring Gulls but was never in danger of being caught as it easily evaded attack after attack from the Herring Gulls.
At Boulderwall plenty of Tree Sparrows were seen and heard, nearby on Cook's Pool the Ring-necked Duck was still present along with a Great White Egret. No sign of the Long-eared Owl this morning though I'm sure it will be back. From Makepiece I could only find 1 Smew but the light was awful looking straight into the low sun, all the usual wildfowl appeared to be present.
At Scotney the Black-throated Diver was  still present, also at least 2 Great White Egrets, 2 Marsh Harriers, a Common Buzzard and the usual wildfowl.
Another short sea watch this afternoon saw apart from Gulls, the ever present Great-crested Grebes and  Cormorants nothing of note.
I stopped to look at the Gulls at The Fish Hut and spotted this 1w Caspian Gull
At the Kerton Road triangle I couldn't find the grey Stonechat but at least 2 Dartford Warblers were still present.
Driving down the entrance track on my way to the VC for afternoon tea I glimpsed a Harrier over Christmas Dell heading towards Makepiece, I stopped and saw it as it flew over the car park showing a gleaming white rump, then it headed off towards the ARC where I lost it from view.
Whilst having tea with the regulars 3 Smew flew across Burrowes. Late afternoon at the ARC from Hanson a Chiffchaff and a Cetti's Warbler, also the Water Rail was showing well but it was already to dark for images, 2 Bewick Swans were asleep on an island, a Bittern flew across the lake, 2 red head Smew flew in, finally at last light 11 more Bewick Swans came in but no sign of the juvenile that is usually with them.  

Monday, 5 December 2016

A very slow and uninspiring hour this morning from the fishing boats:
07.45-08.45:              ESE 2
                                Up Channel                      Down Channel
Common Scoter:            7
Red-throated Diver:       6                                         3
Great-crested Grebe:                  50+ around
Gannet:                          18                                      14
Cormorant:                               300+ around
Turnstone:                                      2 around
B.H.Gull:                                   Present  n/c
Common Gull:                           Present  n/c
Herring Gull:                             Present  n/c
L.B.B.Gull:                                Present  n/c
G.B.B.Gull:                               Present  n/c
Guillemot:                      6
Auk Sp:                        12
Grey Seal:         1
I thought about going to Norman's Bay to see the Desert Wheatear but only got as far as Scotney. The Black-throated Diver was still on the lake immediately west of Lydd caravan park. As the lakes were all like mill ponds in the windless glorious morning sunshine, I took the opportunity of taking a stroll out the wind farm, seeing a few each of Corn Bunting, Skylark and Reed Bunting, 2 Stonechats,3 Marsh Harriers, a Common Buzzard and 1,000+ Greylag Geese. 
 At the ARC from Hanson hide a very showy Water Rail has been entertaining visitors recently, also there a Common Snipe and a Dunlin of note.

 Mid afternoon at The Kerton Road triangle the grey Stonechat was still present along with at least 2 Dartford Warblers.

 I didn't make it to Burrowes today but there was  at least 3 Smew present per PB, the usual Great White Egrets were around and the Ring-necked Duck is still on Cook's Pool, also the Cattle Egret has returned per SC.
While unloading my car late afternoon 5 Bewick Swans flew over my house heading for the ARC, where apparently 14 roosted per DG.
As I didn't get to the Desert Wheatear today, I'll console myself with the image above which is one I took on 2nd November 2006 at Cooden.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Herring Gull, VOWT at the fishing boats this morning
 08.15-09.45 joined by OL & AJG,

                              Up Channel        Down Channel
Common Scoter:         21                         3
Red-throated Diver:    51                         4
Black-throated Diver:           1 on sea
Great crested Grebe:          c60 around
Gannet:                       65
Cormorant:                        c400 around
Oystercatcher:             6
B.H.Gull:                           Present  n/c
Common Gull:                   Present  n/c
Herring Gull:                      Present  n/c
L.B.B.Gull:                         Present  n/c
G.B.B.Gull:                        Present  n/c
Kittiwake:                          10 around
Guillemot:                   7
Auk Sp:                       5
Grey Seal:           1
Mid morning myself and AJG had look around the Kerton Road Triangle but found no sign of any Stonechats or Dartford Warblers.
On the reserve the Ring-necked Duck was at the far end of Cook's Pool, though this afternoon it had moved down to the track and was showing well, also Great White Egret there and a Merlin flew through. The Long-eared Owl was back on its chosen perch at the Dipping Pool. On Burrowes 3 red head Smew, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, several Goldeneye among the usual wildfowl. 2 Mediterranean Gulls were among the Gulls in front of Firth.
At Scotney the Black-throated Diver was still on the lake to the west of Lydd caravan park but little else of note there.
 Late afternoon at the ARC from Hanson a Water Rail was giving superb prolonged views, 12 Bewick Swans came into roost, 2 Marsh Harriers were over the tower pits and a couple of Cetti's Warblers were calling from the Sallows.

2 of the 12 Bewick Swans roosting on the ARC