Dungeness, Kent ... Friday 26th November 2010

We started an extremely cold day at the East Sussex end of Scotney Gravel Pit and soon picked out 53 feral Barnacle Geese grazing on the bank. Amongst them were at least four other geese, which looked similar to either Blue Snow Geese or Emperor Geese, or maybe they are hybrids. Whatever they were, they were certainly not wild. On the far bank was a Little Egret.

Feral BARNACLE GEESE at Scotney GP (Graham)

We then headed to the Kent end of the pit where a female GOLDENEYE and another Little Egret was present, but that was it - time to move on.
We parked up at the ARC Pit at Dungeness reserve and headed for the Hanson-ARC hide. On the way we saw a BITTERN fly towards the vegetation near the viewing screen but we decided to carry on to the hide. A Chiffchaff was calling and flitting amongst the bushes by the path and, after installing ourselves in the relative warmth of the hide, the Bittern flew a few yards and dropped again into reeds near the viewing screen. We could see its head peering out above the vegetation. It showed again briefly a while later but was too distant for a photo. A female GOLDENEYE was on the ARC Pit but, apart from plenty of Wigeon and a few Shoveler, there was not much else of note.


Parking at the southern end of the ARC Pit, we viewed the New Diggings pit across the road. One male and 3 female GOLDENEYE were present but little else of note.
Back at the main reserve, we noted 5 Common Snipe, a Dunlin, 9 Pintail and 2 female GOOSANDERS on Burrowes Pit and a Water Rail was heard squealing by the Firth Hide. Another Water Rail was seen right in front of the Scott Hide.

DUNLIN and SNIPE at Burrowes Pit (Paul)

WIGEON and SHOVELER at Burrowes Pit (Graham)

Female GOOSANDER at Burrowes Pit (Graham)

A male and at least two female MARSH HARRIERS were around the reserve and, at the Dengemarsh Hide, we picked out a BLACK-NECKED GREBE. Near the return trail, a female MERLIN was perched on telegraph wires.

from Dengemarsh Hide (Graham)

BLACK-NECKED GREBE from Dengemarsh Hide (Paul)

BLACK-NECKED GREBE from Dengemarsh Hide (Graham)

MERLIN near the start of the Return Trail (Paul)

MERLIN near the start of the Return Trail (Graham)

We then headed to the fishing boats at Dungeness beach as it was about high tide. The wind was not favourable for a seawatch but, as it turned out, it was fairly rewarding with 9 Turnstones, 60+ Kittiwakes, many of which were on the sea, 33 Common Scoters, 2 Guillemots on the sea, a Red-throated Diver on the sea, with two more unidentified divers flying west, and a male and two female Eiders flying east.

Female COMMON SCOTERS passing the fishing boats (Graham)

We headed for home about half an hour before sunset and, on the way at Brenzett, a Common Buzzard flew low over the road.
Not surprisingly, considering the cold conditions, there were few other birders about at Dungeness today but plenty of birds to keep our spirits up.

Paul & Graham

Bough Beech Reservoir, West Kent ... Thursday 25th November 2010

Paul ventured to Bough Beech Reservoir in West Kent this afternoon hoping to connect with the Great Northern Diver that had been reported there yesterday. Unfortunately, it was not be but he did note a male and three female GOOSANDERS, a Marsh Tit on the feeders in the orchard near the oast house, ten MANDARINS and a Common Buzzard, so it was not a wasted journey.



Waxwings ... 23rd November 2010

After an early morning visit to our local patch at Holmethorpe Sand Pits, we headed to Shawley Crescent, Epsom in Surrey where eleven WAXWINGS had been showing intermittently over the past few days.
We parked up and spent about an hour staring at the tree where the birds had been reported previously and, at 10.55 am, all eleven birds flew in, perched up, and began preening. Several other birders were present and we all got good views of the birds for ten minutes or so before they flew off and settled in a high tree behind the houses.



Paul & Graham

Reculver, North Kent ... Wednesday 10th November 2010

A return visit to Reculver as we felt we had not, as yet, witnessed the full potential of this area. Arriving just after 7 a.m. we parked up and headed for the towers, our intention being a prolonged seawatch in the strong NNW winds. There were several other birders already seawatching in the shelter of the towers and it wasn’t too long before we saw our first notable bird, a juvenile POMARINE SKUA heading west, not that far out and easily identifiable. A Peregrine flew close past the towers being mobbed by Carrion Crows and, a while later, 17 Eider flew east. We picked out 10 more Eider on the sea including at least one male. A Red-throated Diver flew west and two more diver species passed distantly.
One of the other birders present called out that he had a Leach’s Petrel but it was distant. Paul eventually managed to picked it out, which is more than I managed, but he said it was just a black dot in the distance and, although it was obviously a petrel by its behaviour, he felt it was not a good enough sighting to add this species to his year list.
Nine Avocets flew west followed later by a first-winter LITTLE GULL also flying west and a Little Egret passing west close in.
We decided to search for the SNOW BUNTINGS along the beach and headed off east along the seawall towards Coldharbour Lagoon. Just had just passed the Oyster Farm when we found a flock of around 12 birds flying up from the beach, they flew west past us so we followed them back. We managed to get a few shakey shots in the strong wind before they flew off east along the beach. We refound them again a bit later but they were very flighty.



We also spotted the HOODED CROW that has been in the area for some time, on the beach but it soon flew off inland. The local Carrion Crows don’t seem to be too friendly towards this bird.
A Stonechat was on the landward side of the seawall and around 150 Brent Geese were in a single flock out on the fields.


Fourteen Eider flew close by not far from Coldharbour Lagoon, the flock included a single drake.

EIDER (Graham)

We then headed inland along the Green Wall and crossed the railway line and along the track by the River Wantsum. The hawthorns along this path are laden with berries but the best we found were a few Fieldfares, Redwings and Blackbirds, all very wary and diving into cover as we approached.
We stopped for lunch and then headed back towards the Oyster Farm where 5 Little Egrets were noted. A flock of around 100 Golden Plovers flew overhead heading north-east.

We ended the day with another seawatch at the towers, the tide being pretty high by now but the wind was decreasing slightly.

Looking east from Reculver Towers (Graham)

The best we could do was a Red-throated Diver and a Shelduck flying west and a flock of 18 swans flew overhead heading out across the sea on a north-westerly direction, possibly heading for Sheppey. Apart from thinking that we had only noted two Mute Swans out on the fields, we didn’t give these birds much more thought until a friendly gentleman arrived at the towers a short while later and asked if we had seen the flock of 18 Whooper Swans! He showed us the shots he had taken with his DSLR camera and, they looked to be Whoopers but this has since been considerd by the local birders at Reculver not to be the case, and were in fact BEWICK'S SWANS.


A Little Egret passed close to the towers but there was little else of note.


We eventually gave up just after sunset and headed home with a few more ticks on our year lists.

Paul & Graham

Reculver & Oare Marshes, North Kent ... Thursday 4th November 2010

Arriving at Reculver Towers, we headed along the seawall toward Coldharbour Lagoon.


We were soon watching our target bird for the day - a HOODED CROW that had been present there over the past few days. It gave good views on the beach for a while before flying off over the fields.




Other birds of note included 3 Little Egrets, a female MARSH HARRIER, a female MERLIN, around 10 Redshanks, 14 Turnstones, 2 Oystercatchers, 4 Grey Plovers, about 20 Ringed Plovers, a pair of Stonechats and around 25 Golden Plovers out on the fields. A couple of largish flocks of Linnets and many Meadow Pipits were in the area. Large rafts of Mallards were out on the sea.



Looking back towards Reculver Towers from Coldharbour Lagoon (Graham)

We failed to locate the Snow Bunting that had also been reported in the area so we headed to Oare Marshes NR.

A juvenile SPOONBILL was on the East Flood along with 200+ Black-tailed Godwits, around 30 Avocets, about 100 Redshanks, 7 Pintails and many Teal and Wigeon. Three Bearded Tits flew up from beside the road and dropped back into the reeds. A Water Rail was heard squealing and 2 Cetti's Warblers were also heard.

Juvenile SPOONBILL (Graham)

Juvenile SPOONBILL (Paul)

Juvenile SPOONBILL (Paul)

TEAL (Graham)



AVOCETS (Graham)

Out on The Swale, at least 300 Brent Geese were present and, at low tide, plenty of Dunlin were seen along with a few Curlew. The Avocets and many of the Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks had flown from the East Flood and were now feeding along the mouth of the creek.
We visited the hide at the West Flood but, apart from 2 males and a female Pheasant and a Green Woodpecker, little else was present.

We walked west along the seawall to Dan's Dock and noted 4 Little Egrets. Earlier, a Common Seal was in Faversham Creek and we noted another on Horse Sands as the light began to fade.


COMMON SEAL on Horse Sands (Graham)

A difficult day's birding in the strong south-westerly wind but at least it was a mild day.

Paul & Graham