Saturday, 30 November 2013

Caspian Gull makes the day!

Once again the sea was very quiet this morning with a few Gannets and Kittiwakes coming and going, small numbers of Red-throated Divers and Common Scoters moving into Hythe bay.
At the south end of the ARC my first Smew of the winter and 4 Goldeneye along with c200 Gadwall.
On the reserve the Marsh Harriers were much in evidence and on Burrowes another Smew, a Black Necked Grebe, a Great White Egret and many common wildfowl. At Christmas Dell 2 Stonechats by the trail, 4 Curlew over, in the distance 100s of Golden Plover and Lapwing flushed from the fields and more Marsh Harrier activity.
A brief visit to Scotney saw the Long Tailed duck at the Kent end.
This afternoon a call from MS had me hot footing it back to the fishing boats where a 1w Caspian Gull had been attracted to the buckets of fish pieces and loaves of bread put down by him and RS.   Much better images will appear on:
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
 1W Caspian Gull
Late this afternoon there were 3 Smew at the south end of the ARC and another Great White Egret with 4 Little Egrets.

Friday, 29 November 2013


In a conversation with AJG last week I said that if a Hawk Owl ever turns up in Holland I would have to go and see it, as I missed them in Sweden and Lapland. My surprise on Monday night when I had a look at Surfbirds being confronted with a picture of a stunning Hawk Owl in Holland! (only there 4th record) I just had to go! Next morning while looking at the sea from The Point, the vision of the Owl was nagging at me. I put the location of the bird into my satnav, which told me this stunning bird was just 321 miles away! less than 5hrs drive!! I called AJG and he wanted to go as did BM. We caught the 22.00 ferry to Calais Wednesday night and 6hrs later we were in the centre of Zwolle because I set the satnav incorrectly. Seconds after pulling over to check google maps a Police car pulled up beside us. The Dutch Police were brilliant and didn't just give us the directions to the Owl, they told us to follow them and took us to its location. We tried to have sleep in the car but only one of us managed to sleep. Just after 07.30 to drove the few hundred yards to Owl site where some local birders had already found it. Moments later in the early morning gloom we were watching it munching a rodent high in a tree. It then flew onto a pylon reminiscent of Dungeness. It was a pity that the 3 and half hours we spent watching the bird, the light was absolutely dreadful and most pictures were taken with high iso and consequently dumped. Some hazy sun shone for only a couple of minutes. 
My first images of the Owl taken at 3200 iso (could be Dungeness)

 When we left the Owl we drove a short distance to the Oostervardersplassen Nature Reserve a superb wetland site. We went into the visitor centre where the staff were really helpful as was everyone we met on the trip. We walked through a small wood by the visitor centre seeing 2+ Willow Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers, a Firecrest and more. Coming out of the other side of the wood to an area of reed beds and wet grassland and some old dead trees. A flock of Chaffinches were feeding and among them was the bird below, its back and rump was bright yellow.
Leucistic Chaffinch
 Juv. Rough-legged Buzzard
Further out on the marsh we came across a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard, an very pale Common Buzzard, some Smew on on some of the pools many fly over Geese and the Great Grey Shrike below.
From an observation hide we saw 2 White-tailed Eagles which nest on the reserve, many Great White Egrets, 1000s each of Barnacle Geese, Greater White fronted Geese and Greylag Geese, Ruff, a few Dunlin and many ducks. Driving around the perimeter of the reserve we came across more Smew, Goosanders and many more wildfowl also several Common Buzzards, it also gave us a chance to see the surrounding habitat which looked really good. I think a 2 day visit in May will be in order next year.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

That Time Of Year.

Glossy Ibis hiding in the ditches.
 From The Point this morning the sea was again quiet, not unexpected on a very light north westerly and bright sunshine.
The Black Kite probably flew over me as I chatted to OL on the approach road, as it headed towards the Lifeboat Station and quite possibly out to sea.
A plod out past the Water Tower towards The Mirrors and round the back of the airport was pleasant enough. Avian activity was represented by 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Common Snipe,a few Meadow Pipits and the usual Corvids.
A stop off at Cockles Bridge found the Glossy Ibis in the ditch west of the track also 2 Common Buzzards and another Marsh Harrier.
At Scotney plenty of feral Geese and good numbers of common wildfowl but little of note.
Late afternoon at the ARC from Hanson a Great White Egret, 2 Little Egrets, a very showy Cetti's Warbler (pity it was nearly dark) 7 Goldeneye, a flock of 32 Curlew flew over but little else.
Hopefully sometime tomorrow a Hawk Owl twitch in Holland!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Scanning for a Kite!

An hour at The point this morning produced c70 Red-throated Divers moving into Hythe Bay, a few Gannets tooing and froing and a few Common Scoter.
At the south end of The ARC a Great White Egret and 3 Goldeneye of note.
Arriving at Hanson a text from PT telling that the Black Kite was at Lade had myself and AJG scanning from the hide without success. We made our way to the Water Tower for a better chance of seeing it also without success.
As I had a heating engineer coming to fix my central heating at 10.00 I made my way back to Plodland. The engineer arrived on time and started his work allowing me to spend my time scanning the skies from Plodland. The heating repair was little more complex than first thought, so after c4hrs scanning and seeing 3+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Peregrines, 2 Common Buzzards, a Raven, 100s each of Lapwing and Golden Plover along with all the usual species but still no Black Kite!
News for yesterday that the Glossy Ibis was present in a dyke north of Boulderwall Farm per Paul and Liz. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Black Kite

A visit to The Patch this morning saw a few Common Scoter off shore, a few Red-throated Divers moving into Hythe Bay, a few Starlings arriving and 2 Peregrines greeting them.
At The Point I spent a few minutes with BM where a single Velvet Scoter fling into the bay was the highlight.
I parked at the ARC and had just reached The Willow Trail, when a call from Patrick telling me a large raptor was flying around the lighthouses that was probably not a Marsh Harrier. I went back to the car and drove down to the gantry, where I set up my scope and scanned the lighthouse area, immediately picking up a large raptor being mobbed by a Raven. I was pretty sure it was a Black Kite but the view was very brief as the bird dropped behind the the trapping area bushes. A few minutes later it appeared by the switching station being mobbed by a Peregrine where it showed its self to be a Black Kite. I was joined by MH as it made its way past the power station up towards the reserve, where it flew over the reserve centre then over the New Diggings and the ARC. As it came over New Diggings I drove quickly up the causeway pulling up (my apologies to the lady driving the camper van that I cut up)  just in time to get some shots of it as it crossed the ARC. I drove to the car park where I watched it fly over the water tower towards the airport. Very many thanks to Patrick for the call!
Black Kite over the visitor centre
 Black Kite over the ARC

As the bird disappeared I stopped to chat to SB,MH, MT and PT when I should have dashed back to Plodland and got Black Kite on my garden list.
Later an hour staring out from Plodland I recorded 3 Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, a Little Egret, c1000 Lapwing and c200 Golden Plover of note.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Sea Watch in the rain

Another abysmal day weather wise at Dungeness. I had 2 sessions from the The Point in the relative comfort of my car. 07.05-09.05 with AJG and 09.45-11.15 on my own.

07.05-09.05                                                            09.45-11.15
Red-throated Diver: 21E   3W                                9E       19W
Gannet:  c50 o/s                          
Great Crested Grebe: c100 o/s  
Brent Goose: 6W                                                   2E                                            
Shelduck: 2E                                                         12E
Common Scoter: 112E   7W                                   26E                              
Goosander: 1E
Wigeon: 25W   2E                                                  24W
Gadwall: 2E     2W
Lapwing:                                                                34 in off
Great Skua: 3E
Kittiwake: c20 o/s
Guillemot: 2W                                                        6W
Razorbill: 2W                                                         4W
Auk sp:   4W                                                          12W
Grey Wagtail:                                                         1 out
Starling: 355 in                                                        335 in
Goldfinch: 5 in                                                        15 in
Chaffinch: 8 in                                                        160 in

And with the rain still falling I called it a day.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A reasonable seawatch

A sea watch from The Point this morning being joined by BM:
07.45- 09.30:
Red-throated Diver: 10W    3E
Great Crested Grebe: N/C
Gannet: 87W   42E
Brent Goose: 18W   3E
Mallard: 11W
Gadwall: 6W
Teal: 355W
Wigeon: 186W
Shoveler: 9W
Common Scoter: 18W    9E
Goldeneye: 2W
Red-breasted Merganser: 1W
Goosander: 1W
Dunlin: 45W
Little Gull: 1W
Kittiwake: 26W      19E
Mediterranean Gull: 6W    1E
Guillemot: 2W    3 on sea
Auk sp: 7W
At south end of the ARC 3 Goldeneye, c200 Pochard and Marsh Harrier were of note.
A great White Egret could be seen on New Diggings from the causeway.
In the Willow Trail a Chiffchaff and a couple of Water Rails squealing. From Hanson while sheltering from the rain 4 Little Egrets, a Great White Egret and another Marsh Harrier with very few of the common wildfowl. 
On the reserve from the comfort of the visitor centre another Great White Egret and good numbers of the common wildfowl. 
In a quick look at Scotney I was unable to find the Long-tailed Duck.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Heavy Rain!

A quiet hour and bit until the rain set in at the Fishing boats this morning, being joined by PT and Barney. 
A few Gannets, Kittiwakes and Auks tooing and froing, 2 Red-throated Divers east, 17 Common Scoter, 15 Brent Geese, a Red-breasted Merganser and 39 Dunlin west.
The Lighthouse garden seemed devoid of avian life in the now heavy rain.
A Great White Egret could be seen on New Diggings from the causeway.
At Scotney the Long-tailed Duck could be seen from the double bends at the Sussex end of the lake.  
On the reserve I made the dash from the visitor centre to Makepiece getting another soaking but it was definitely worth it.
A Black-necked Grebe riding the wavelets, a Raven flew over the lake, a party of c30 Pintail and 12 Shelduck was good. While scanning the dabblers a party of c50 Coot started to scoot across my vision, looking up from my scope to see what caused this commotion I could see a Marsh Harrier that appeared to sitting on the lake. I fired off a couple of shots through the closed window, then quickly opened it to record what happened next. (See below)
Black-necked Grebe surfing on Burrowes!

Pounce and Grab! (Taken from Makepiece through a rain spattered window)

Lift out by the head (a now open window)

Heavier than expected?

Slip from grasp!

A lucky escape!

What just Happened to me?

A few ruffled feathers!

Head for the bank and safety.
On the ARC from Hanson, a Goldeneye was the only bird of note. A wander around the Willow Trail found 2 Water Rails and a Chiffchaff, while trying to get a better look at the Chiffy a Jack Snipe flushed from under my feet.
Another visit to the ARC late afternoon when the rain had stopped found a Great White Egret and a couple of Little Egrets of note.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Out and About

Common Buzzard Walland

A walk this morning from the fishing boats to the lifeboat station and back produced little of note. A few Gannets and Kittiwakes off shore, 8 Turnstone on the beach and a flock of 12 Dunlin flew west.
The lighthouse garden held just a Robin and a couple of Dunnocks. At The Patch several 100s of Black-headed Gulls with a few Common Gulls and Herring Gulls.
 A Great White Egret could be seen from the causeway on the New Diggings.
On the ARC from Hanson 1 Great White Egret, 5 Little Egrets, a Merlin bathing on the far bank, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 of which was determinedly hovering low over the lake harrying the Coots, 3 Goldeneye including the first smart drake I have seen this winter, Pochard numbers seem to be increasing very quickly with several hundred on the lake.
In the Willow Trail a couple of squealing Water Rails and 2 Chiffchaffs.
In Lydd Wood just a couple of Blue Tits.
Early afternoon at Scotney 1000+ Wigeon and 300+ Golden Plover were of note.
 A plod around the lanes of Walland Marsh found 5 Bewick Swans, several flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing, 3 Common Buzzards, 6+ Marsh Harriers, a Merlin, a flock of c50 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrushes, a few each of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes and several Tree Sparrows.

Sunset at Walland

Monday, 18 November 2013

To gloomy for pics!

Another dull damp day at Dungeness. First thing at the fishing boats a few Gannets and Kittiwakes tooing and froing, 2 Red-throated Divers east, 52 Great Crested Grebes and a Guillemot on the sea, half an hour of that much excitement was enough for me. Next stop the observatory where Patrick was ringing a Goldcrest only my second one this Autumn, where are they all!
A slow plod around the reserve getting very for my troubles saw 2 Great White Egrets and 3 Marsh Harriers as the highlights, Cetti's Warblers shouting from the scrub and Water Rails squealing in every reed bed. On the lakes growing numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler and Gadwall but no sawbills yet.
After a spot of lunch and drying out I went to the ARC where another Great White Egret was strutting around, along with 3 Little Egrets. 2 Marsh harriers were constantly flushing the Coot and Dabblers. I walked out past the Water Tower towards The Mirrors cutting back towards the airport checking every Sallow, clumps of Gorse and Reed beds flushing 4 Common Snipe and 2 Song Thrushes, plenty of Wrens, Robins and Dunnocks were seen but precious little else. As it was getting dark when I returned to the car park I thought I would sit in Hanson and see if anything came in to roost, apart from a female Goldeneye nothing new appeared. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Redpolls and Grey Ghost!

Scotney first thing this morning, the light was superb and the air was crystal clear. A young Merlin spooked the Lapwings on the spit and another adult male was chasing a Meadow Pipit over the ranges. A ring tail Hen Harrier hunted the north bank of the lake and 2 Marsh Harriers were by the wind turbines. On the lake numbers of wildfowl appear to be increasing and on the grass field the usual feral Barnacle Geese and c200 Golden Plover.
                                                    Male Common Redpoll
At the observatory Lesser and Common Redpolls were being trapped as well as some showing characteristics of both also a couple of Chiffchaffs.
                                         Probably a female Common Redpoll
A walk along the beach failed to find any Purple Sandpipers and little of note on the sea.
While at Scotney early afternoon the Long-tailed Duck flew in, flushed from the far bank by workmen.
On Walland the first 14 Bewick Swans of the winter flew over Coldharbour Lane to the fields SE of Wheelgate Farm.
                                                Grey Ghost coming to roost!

On Walland Marsh late afternoon 6 Marsh Harriers and a superb male Hen Harrier came to roost, a Water Rail was squealing, Bearded Tits were calling and Common Buzzard was seen. The sunset was amazing.
                                      A superb sunset over wind turbines on Walland.

Friday, 15 November 2013


I spent the day in Shoreham, West Sussex today visiting mum. While there had a quick look at Widewater a site I used to visit several times a week for many years. The confiding Goosander was just that and the first I have ever seen on Widewater. Though I have seen them quite regularly in severe weather on the nearby River Adur and Shoreham Harbour. Even the Grey Herons and Little Egrets were confiding the 9+ Little Grebes not so. Staring out to sea there was no change from when I regularly used to  do it, nothing to be seen. On the rock groynes 2 Rock Pipits.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cap Gris Nez

I visited Cap Gris Nez again today with AJG and SO. We spent most the time sea watching, with superb light there that as usual lets you see the birds in there true colours.  It was shame that most the birds weren't as close as they usually are, had it been anywhere on Although not the best sea watch we have had there,the English south coast it would have been very good.
Common Scoter in light that we on the South coast rarely see them.
 07.30 - 13.30:
Red-throated Diver: 37
Black-throated Diver: 19
Great Northern Diver: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 7
Balearic Shearwater: 1
Gannet: 1,815
Spoonbill: 4
Common Scoter: c300
Velvet Scoter: 1
Brent Goose: 5
Shelduck: 2
Pintail: c25
Wigeon: c50
Gadwall: 4
Merlin: 1
Curlew: 3
Bar-tailed Godwit: 1
Dunlin: c500
Great Skua: 35
Arctic Skua: 1
Sandwich Tern: 2
Little Gull: 18 (Many more very distant)
Mediterranean Gull: c40
Kittiwake: c750
Auks: 715
Grey Seal: 2
In the wood above Cap Gris Nez very little, but a Short-toed Treecreeper showed well and a Goldcrest and a Common Buzzard. In the surrounding fields small flocks of Fieldfare and good numbers of Skylarks.
A distant Black-throated Diver but easily identified because of the superb light at Cap Gris Nez.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Crab Banquet for a Purple Sandpiper

07.30 and very murky at the fishing boats this morning, with very little passage. Highlights were:
Brent Goose: 330W
Common Scoter: 234W
Eider: 3W
Great Skua: 2W
Little Gull: 13W
Sandwich Tern: 2W
As the rain got heavier passage came to a full stop.
At the ARC from Hanson the highlights were a Great White Egret, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Goldeneye and 2 Marsh Harriers. In the Willow Trail 2+ Water Rails squealing still no Goldcrests.(I have seen more Yellow-browed Warblers than Goldcrests so far this Autumn)
At Scotney the Long-tailed Duck could be seen from the double bends sheltering under the far bank, plenty of the usual feral geese still but little else.
This afternoon on my way back to the beach 2 Great White Egrets at the southern end of the ARC. It was very nice to see a Woodcock that had found its way into the Heligoland Trap being ringed at the observatory its cryptic plumage and huge eyes are superb.
Late afternoon back at the beach near the fishing boats a Purple Sandpiper was cleaning out some of the many crab claws that the storms washed up, its a shame the light was so bad, I was using 1000 iso most the time. While sitting on the beach waiting for the Sandpiper to come to me a Great Skua, an Arctic Skua and a Red Throated Diver flew west