Thursday, 28 February 2013

All on The Marsh

At The Point this morning no change in the weather or birds. Still 100s of Grebes, Auks and Red-throated Divers tooing and froing with the tides along with a few Gannets and Kittiwakes. The 3w Glaucous Gull made a fly by as I left. 
The Patch held 100s each of Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Common Gulls but nothing of note.
At the south end of the ARC 3 red head Smew among c200 Shoveller and a Great White Egret.
Dengemarsh Gully was again very quiet apart from a raucous Raven.
Once again at Scotney nothing of note.
On Walland opposite the flying club the flock 200+ Bewick Swans with a single Whooper but all distant.
The Goose flock at the Woolpack were flushed by farm machinery. I relocated the flock further out on the marsh which requires a 15 minute walk out on the public footpath that runs south from the Woolpack. The flock contained the 5 Tundra Bean Geese and 74 Eurasian Greater White-fronts among c200 Greylags. Also out on the marsh c200 Fieldfare, c500 Golden Plover, 5+ Marsh Harriers, 3 Common Buzzards and a Great White Egret. Tickners Lane seed dump held the usual finches Corn Buntings, Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Local movement

Another bitingly cold grey morning at The Point, at least the fishing boats gave some shelter from the NE wind.
From the fishing boats 08.20-10.15:
In the first hour c1500 Great Crested Grebes moved east into the bay, along with c2000 Auks (vast majority of which were Guillemots), c 300 Red Thoated Divers, c 150 Gannets and c50 Kittiwakes. In the second hour this local movement slowed to a trickle, with the addition of 32 Common Scoter, 2 Fulmars and a drake Goosander which brightened the sea watch. Also a Common Seal.
At the south end of the ARC 4 Smew(1 drake) and a Great white Egret among the common wildfowl. From Hanson 2 Smew, 3 Goldeneye and 4 Marsh Harriers of note. The Willow Trail held 12 Long-tailed Tits, a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff. At the car park another Great white Egret over and c25 Tree Sparrows.
At Scotney nothing of note. A wander down Dengemarsh Gulley produced just a single Marsh Harrier of note. 
A single Whooper with the Bewicks
 Opposite the model aircraft club on Walland the 200+ Bewick Swans could be seen distantly and using the public footpath opposite allowed me to locate the Whooper Swan, the usual Sparrows and Finches at Bayland Farm and from the Woolpack the 5 Tundra Bean Geese and 6 Greater Whitefronts among the Greylags, also a single drake Pintail feeding in the field with the Geese. The Tickners Lane seed dump held the usual finches with 8 Yellowhammers, 7 Corn Buntings, 10+ Reed Buntings and a Common Buzzard.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Cold and Grey

 A biting NE wind making another cold gloomy day at Dungeness.
At The Point 08.00-09.00: On the sea still 100s of Great Crested Grebes with lesser numbers of Guillemots, Razorbills and Red Throated Divers. Off shore no passage just many Auks, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Red Throated Divers moving in and out of the bay. The only different birds seen were 2 Mallard.
At the Varne 6 species of waders and no sign of the Snow Buntings, but there were lots of dogs off the lead.
A wander round Lade Pits was uneventful with 6 Goldeneye the best of note.  
On the ARC from Hanson hide 5 Smew(1 drake) and 5 Goldeneye among the common wildfowl, the Willow Trail appeared devoid of life. A plod from the ARC car park around the reserve found c30 Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall Farm also a Great White Egret there, a Stonechat at the  sheep corral, from the track to Lydd a flock of c40 Linnets, c100 Golden Plover, another Great White Egret, 7 Barnacle Geese, 1+ Bearded Tit and 3+ Marsh Harriers of note.
Dengemarsh held 7 Ruff of note, at Christmas Dell nothing of note. The track from Scott to Makepiece held another Bearded Tit, from Makepiece 6 Smew (1 drake) among the common wildfowl.
P1BT still on the beach

Sunday, 24 February 2013

More Wind Turbines

 An application for 4 more to built close to the existing Wind Farm on Walland Marsh!

After spending yesterday making some preparations for the house move, I was looking forward to getting out and about today. Peering out the bedroom window and seeing the car with a covering of snow the enthusiasm started to wane. After a full English I made my way to the Marsh.
From the Woolpack Inn several 100s of Greylag Geese with 6 Tundra Bean Geese and 75 Greater White-fronted Geese in the fields with a Common Buzzard and 2 Marsh Harriers over. From the triangle the Bewick Swan herd could be seen distantly, 2 more Marsh Harriers over and of note a Jay.
As I parked the car at the fishing boats the 3w Glaucous Gull flew in and landed beside the car (more pictures of the beast) On the sea 100s of Great Crested Grebes feeding still with much smaller numbers of Guillemots, but still many Auks tooing and froing off shore along with some Gannets and Kittiwakes, but no sign of passage.
A wander round the Lade Pits which are a little more sheltered from the easterly blast found 6 Goldeneye, 1 Great White Egret and several squealing Water Rails.
From the causeway 2 more Great White Egrets on the New Diggings and a red head Smew of note, on the ARC 5 red head Smew among the common wildfowl.
Coming home across Walland some of the Geese had relocated to the triangle but I was to cold to go through them.  

Friday, 22 February 2013

Droopy still around

At The Point this morning the blasting east wind made sea watching very difficult and uncomfortable again even from the car. However 08.30-09.00 saw once again plenty of Guillemots, Razorbills and Great Crested Grebes on the sea, c60 Red-throated Divers flew east, being joined by a handful each of Gannets and Kittiwakes.
On the beach the 3w Glaucous Gull, also droopy the Great Black Backed Gull, which is unable to close its wings tightly to its body but is able to fly perfectly well, consequently in today's wind its wings were flopping about.
 Another visit to the Church Lane pond found the Grey Wagtail a little more obliging, even the sun came out briefly, also there 12 Redwing, 4 Mistle Thrushes and 10 Goldfinches of note.
!0 Smew (2 drakes) could be seen from the causeway on the ARC along with 6 Goldeneye.
From the entrance track to the reserve just 2 Marsh Harriers after everything was flushed yesterday.
On a wind blasted Scotney nothing of note in the waves or on the grass.
Walland Marsh still holds the 200+ Bewick swan herd also a few Fieldfare, the Water Rail put in an appearance opposite the feeders, at Tickners Lane seed dump 18 Yellowhammers and 7 Corn Buntings among the Chaffinches and Reed Buntings.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Freezing Dungeness

 A biting east wind at The Point made sea watching uncomfortable even from the car. In a short watch there were still 100s of Auks and Great Crested Grebes on a very choppy sea, Red-throated Divers were tooing and froing off shore as were Gannets and Kittiwakes and a single adult Mediterranean Gull. The 3w Glaucous Gull was loafing in the puddles behind the fishing boat allowing close approach from the car.

While watching the Glaucous Gull BH texted me to say a Grey Wagtail, (which is a surprisingly difficult bird to find on the ground at Dungeness, they are usually autumn fly overs) was at the Church Lane pond. After a successful twitch (species number 132 on the marsh this year) which also found c15 Redwing and 6 Mistle Thrushes, a warm up at the Meehan Road coffee shop courtesy of MH.
A very quick look at the Varne Sailing Club found a single Snow Bunting on the strand (PT had 2 this afternoon so maybe all 3 are still present).
The track to the RSPB reserve was good until just about everything was flushed by Shepherds.
4 Great White Egrets were present, with up to 5 Marsh Harriers, 200+ Golden Plover, 5 Tundra Bean Geese, 7 Barnacle Geese, 2 Egyptian Geese and 2 Ravens over.

The 5 Tundra Bean Geese do nothing for there credentials consorting with Egyptian, Canada and Greylag Geese. 
The Bean geese after being flushed
At Scotney nothing of note and on Walland the 200+ Bewick Swans with a single Whooper Swan. The Water Rail put in a brief appearance at the feeding station and at The Tickners Lane seed dump, 14 Corn Buntings, 6 Yellowhammers and a Common Buzzard. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Marsh Rarity

A rare windless and warm day at Dungeness. The sea was calm and from the fishing boats many Guillemots, Great Crested Grebes and smaller numbers of Razorbills, Gannets and Red Throated Divers could be seen on the sea.  6 Common Scoter flew east and this afternoon DW had the first Sandwich Tern of the year. At The Patch plenty of Black headed and Herring Gulls and a single 1st winter Mediterranean Gull. At Lade Pits no sign of the Black-throated Diver(I have over looked it before). The North Pit was virtually devoid of birds. A local dog walker told me a couple of eastern European gentleman had been camping there for a couple of days!
From the RSPB reserve entrance track the 5 Tundra Bean Geese and 7 Barnacle Geese with c200 Golden Plover, c150 Curlew, 3 + Marsh Harriers and a Stonechat of note. Best of all was meeting Pete and Mim for the first time this year.
On the ARC from Hanson 4 Smew and 4 Goldeneye were the pick of the bunch. In the Willow Trail a Chiffchaff was singing and 3 Goldcrests were with 4 long-tailed Tits.
A poor image of a marsh rarity 
 While scanning the fields for wild geese near Hawthorn Corner a call alerted me to a movement in the bushes, I was surprised to see a Treecreeper a rarity on the marsh. From the Triangle the Bewick swan flock could just about be seen in the distance. Tickners Lane seed dump still holds Corn buntings, Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings and the Common Buzzard .
Wandering round Fairfield Church I at last came upon the wintering Green Sandpiper but little else there. 

Monday, 18 February 2013


Myself, DW, GH and TG all wanted to go back to Thetford to try and see the Otters that we missed last week. This morning we drove to Thetford arriving mid morning. As we walked down the path towards the town centre I spotted an Otter under the bridge, which gave us great views all be it in very poor light. We followed it for c100mts when it disappeared into an ivy covered fallen tree where it started to play with another Otter. The light was so bad I have ditched all those images. As the Otters appeared to have gone and the Dipper had not shown either, we made our way back to the car park and walked down to the Nunnery Lakes. On the walk we saw several Muntjac and a Kingfisher were the highlights. Arriving back near the car park the Dipper had appeared and about a dozen photographers were busy snapping so we joined them. After a few minutes a birder arrived asking if the Dipper was present, we duly pointed to it 15 foot away, thanking us he casually asked if we had seen the Otters that were playing by the bridge 50mts away. In seconds he had the Dipper to himself. The Otters gave us a superb performance, it just a shame the light was so bad.   

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Another Blank count

 Another mid morning start with a slow drive across Walland. At the Tickners Lane seed dump the Yellowhammers, Corn Buntings and Reed buntings still present with a Common Buzzard, Green Woodpecker and c30 Chaffinches. Opposite the feeders the bushes held both makes of Sparrows, 3 Yellowhammers, Greenfinches and Chaffinches with the Water rail darting in and out the bushes.
From Hawthorn Corner 200+ Bewick Swans can be seen but very distant.
The 5 Tundra Bean Geese still present on the reserve from entrance track at Boulderwall farm, also  6 Ruff, c150 Curlew, 2 Ravens and a Great white Egret.
From the fishing boats a few Guillemots on the sea, with more Auks, Red-throated Divers, Common Scoters and  Kittiwakes tooing and froing, also a few Brent Geese moved east. On the beach a couple of Skylarks and Ringed Plovers.
At the ARC from Hanson 6+ Smew(2 drakes) and 4 Goldeneye among the common wildfowl.
                                                    Harrier Roost Count 
In a bitterly cold ESE wind at my designated reed bed no Harriers came in, though c14 flew over. A Merlin sat on a post and 3 Common Buzzards were seen, 100+ Fieldfare went to roost.   

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Marsh Rarity

Guessing that Dungeness would be busy today I was in no hurry to get there. A slow drive across Walland found 200+ Bewick Swans and a single Whooper Swan with some Mutes, scanning the windmills 5 Marsh harriers could be seen.  Midday at Scotney the Scaup was still present but little else of note.
The track from Boulderwall to the reserve was like a car park, with lots of birders wanting to see the 5 Tundra Bean Geese with the 7 Barnacle Geese. Also present there 3+ Great White Egrets, 3+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Buzzards and brief view s of a Bittern.
 Over the road at the ARC from Hanson some Smew were just starting to perform, when other people came banging and thumping into the hide! I left. They did me a favour for as I came out 2 Firecrests were in the bushes.

 On Walland at the feeding station a Water Rail with dozens of Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Tree and House Sparrows and a couple of Yellowhammers.
 Driving along Caldicott Lane looking for the Little Owl I flushed 2 Grey Partridges from the verge, thankfully they landed in the field allowing me watch this rarity the first I have seen on the marsh this year. No little Owls but a Barn Owl at the triangle.

Spiders webs glistening it the late afternoon sun

Friday, 15 February 2013

A spin round the Marsh

Met TG at The Point this morning. The sea was flat calm and smothered in sea birds.
Guillemots/Razorbills: 1,560 (TG counted them), Great Crested Grebes 2,000+, smaller numbers of  Gannets, Kittiwakes and Red Throated Divers but no passage. Behind the sea watching hide 2 Black Redstarts but a little camera shy. 

 Had a spin around the marsh with TG and DW. First stop the reserve entrance track at Boulderwall Farm where 5 Tundra Bean Geese and 7 Barnacle Geese were spoiling there credentials by associating with some Canada Geese, 5 Marsh Harriers in the air together with some display behaviour, 3 Common Buzzards, 2 Ravens, c100 Golden Plover, c50 Curlew, a Cetti's Warbler shouting and 2 Bearded Tits hidden in the reed bed. A drive down Dengemarsh road found another Black Redstart on the farm house.  At Scotney the female Scaup was showing on the far side of the pit with Tufties and pochard, much smaller numbers of Wigeon present than recently, 3 Pintail dropped into the new pit behind and a Marsh Harrier quartered the fields behind. On the grassy areas several 100s of Lapwing a few Golden Plover and Dunlin.
On Walland still 200+ Bewick Swans present though very distant, a distinct lack of winter Thrushes(No Fieldfares or Redwings seen)  opposite the feeders dozens of House and Tree Sparrows, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and a Yellowhammer. The Tickners Lane seed dump held several Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and a Corn Bunting. At the Varne Sailing Club where there are now 3 Snow Buntings present on the beach. On Lade north pit the Black-throated Diver still present also 3+ Goldeneye.
 The ARC Pit from Hanson had 10 Smew showing quite well, 4+ Goldeneye, 2 Firecrests in the bushes beside the hide, 2 Bitterns 1 quite close but in dense reeds. Another good day on the marsh with 86 species seen today.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A different day!

Mid morning the rain cleared as I made my way across Walland Marsh. The Tickners Lane seed dump was alive with Finches and Buntings, the Common buzzard perched on its usual bush. 
From the Triangle no sign of the Whitefronts but 2 Marsh Harrriers, further on the bushes opposite the feeders were teaming with Finches and House/Tree Sparrows and the Water Rail.
From Hawthorn Corner the 200+ Bewick swans could be seen but very distant.
At Scotney a female Scaup among the Tufties and Pochard was the highlight, though OL saw a male Hen Harrier earlier. 
 As a 1st winter Glaucous Gull was seen west of The Patch, I wrapped up and made my way along the sea wall, but it had moved on before I arrived feeling positively over dressed in such mild conditions. An adult Mediterranean Gull over The Patch was the highlight. At sea a dramatic decrease in the numbers of Auks and Divers and just a few Gannets and Kittiwakes. A brilliant male Black Redstart was by one of the beach properties.
At the fishing boats the 3w Glaucous Gull did a couple of fly bys. The Snow Bunting found last night by DW reappeared but was elusive, probably due to its camouflage as I very nearly ran it over and only saw it because it flew onto the beach.   

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Bring on the Spring

Another bitterly cold day with a biting SE wind. As I drove across Walland this morning the Tickners Lane seed dump had attracted several each of Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and c40 Chaffinches with a couple of Greenfinches, 2 Common Buzzards present there this afternoon. From the triangle c70 Greater White-fronted Geese with some Mute Swans, Greylags and 5 Bewick Swans . Opposite the feeders several each of Tree Sparrows, Greenfinches,Yellowhammers and a Water Rail, also 2 Marsh Harriers over. 200+ Bewick Swans showing distantly from Hawthorn corner. All across the marsh 100s of winter thrushes maily Fieldfares with a few Redwing and Mistle Thrushes.
From the causeway a Great White Egret could be seen on New Diggings but little wildfowl.
From the fishing boats still the same Guillemots, Razorbills, Great Crested Grebes and Red-throated Divers tooing and froing with a few Gannets and Kittiwakes but no movement yet.  
 While driving past West Beach I spotted a male Sparrowhawk walking and running among the Broom and Brambles, after a couple of minutes it flew out and landed on the power station perimeter fence about 60mts ahead of me, very slowly I drove along the track towards it, it allowed me pull up beside it and spend a few seconds photographing it.

 At the Varne Sailing Club the 2 Snow buntings performed admirably again as did 1 of c40 Sanderling, 12 Redshank and c30 Turnstone.

A wander round Lade south and north pit failed to locate the Black-throated Diver, but a Bittern was flushed from the central causeway, 2+ Water Rail were squealing and 4 Goldeneye among the common wildfowl.
At Scotney a Barn Owl hunting the north bank and a Marsh Harrier but little else of note.
The fields at Galloways and Dengemarsh held 100s of winter thrushes but little else of note.
At the ARC a wander up to the pines was disappointing and very cold with 5 Smew (1 drake) being the best sighting.
Boulderwall Farm held the usual Tree sparrow flock and little way down the track the 7 Barnacles could still be seen along c300 Lapwing and c200 Curlew. Despite the best efforts of the weather 82 species seen on the marsh today.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Colour Ringed Herring Gulls

50 minutes sea watching at The Point this morning was rather poor today with TG and myself recording only: c50 Auks, 43 Red-throated Divers E, 1 Fulmar E, 63 Wigeon W, 1 Pintail E, 2 Mediterranean gulls off shore with a few Kittiwakes and Gannets.
As things were so quiet we decided we would like to go to Stodmarsh and see some Water Pipits which is a very scarce bird at Dungeness.
In the Stodmarsh car park MG was there and informed us that the Water Pipits were best seen at Marsh Hide. After a very brief look for the Penduline Tit we made our down to the Marsh hide. (I take my hat off to those who walk around the glutinous footpaths there day in day out). Apart from a nice Siskin flock, we saw very little on our way down to the hide, as we to busy looking at the ground making sure we didn't slip over. Once in the hide a Little Egret could be seen and some distant Lapwings, while looking at the Konic horses some 200mts away we spotted a Pipit among them and then some more. We managed to get some reasonable scope views of c10 Water Pipits but they were always distant. As we made our way back along the glutinous footpaths a Bearded Tit flew past and we were told that the Penduline Tit had still not been seen, but as we had seen the Water Pipits out main target for the day,(probably rarer than Penduline Tits at Dungeness) we decided to head back to Dungeness via Hythe as it was nearly high tide, to hopefully see some Purple Sandpipers. At the Imperial hotel breakwater we were royally rewarded with brilliant views of 6 Purple Sandpipers and an adult Mediterranean Gull further along the beach.

 Back at Dungeness scanning the Gull roosts found at least 8 colour ringed Herring gulls 2 of which I was unable to read.
From the causeway 2 Great White Egrets on New Diggings with another from the reserve entrance track, also c200 Curlew and the 7 Barnacle Geese there.