Sunday, 18 January 2015

Wet wet webs

The first WEBS count of the year and its pouring with rain, great weather for ducks... Actually it wasn't too bad apart from the access which was problematic to say the least, the roads are passable with care even if you don't have a four wheel drive but the footpaths are another matter entirely. White Dyke is impassable once you get to Mappins' and the access on to Down would involve canoeing to get to Rickney! All in all very muddy underfoot.
Still this suits the birds as there is plenty of water and not as much disturbance. Highlights today as follow:
Down Level - Wigeon 20, Teal 20, Shoveler 3, Gadwall 8, Tufted Duck 9 (a pb for the site), Common Gull 59, Marsh Harrier 2 (including the adult male), Water Rail 1.
Horse-eye Level - Wigeon 10, Teal 25, Gadwall 2, Hen Harrier 2 (both ringtails), Peregrine 2, Marsh Harrier 2, Water Rail 1
In addition the White Dyke Dartford put in an appearance on its usual bramble patch and I managed to get the record shot above in the rain and clag, however the Richards' was not on show and neither was the Lookers' Dartford.
Further afield I decided to take a run out to Dunge on Friday afternoon following on from work in the morning. Scotney proved to be an inspired stopping place since no sooner had I arrived than so did a first year Iceland Gull! Unfortunately the bird only stopped to wash and preen all too briefly before flying off towards Camber. The duo of Black-necked Grebe were easy enough to pick out feeding along the far bank as was the solitary drake Scaup. Long gone are the days when you used to see a regular flock of Scaup at Scotney when the weather was hard - another sign of climate change perhaps...
Moving on to Denge Marsh the field which had earlier contained the 2 Cattle Egret now contained just Cattle. Fortunately not for long as the birds flew in and started feeding at close range allowing the video below. White Heron fever! Having to tear myself away due to the limited daylight I opted for the ARC pits over looking for geese and swans, this turned out to be another good decision as I was treated to a quality Bittern feeding in the open from the Hanson hide in the late evening sunshine. Unfortunately it was too far away to allow a good photo opportunity but the record shot above does at least convey how good it was through the scope! Also at the ARC was a single Great White Egret completing my white heron fix, and on the duck front, 10+ Goldeneye including at least 3 adult males, and a male duck with a bounty on its head, not the best overwintering choice I think. A trip to Dungeness is never complete in winter without a few sawbills and 2 redhead Goosander and a single redhead Smew rounded off a very pleasant whistle stop visit.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Spring it is not...

...yet there are already Lambs off Marshfoot lane and Daffodils and Primroses flowering at White Dyke, the world has gone mad...
An extended morning walk along White Dyke and back via Marshfoot Lane in bright though blustery conditions failed to produce any of the overwintering specials apart from very brief views of the Dartford Warbler on White Dyke. Of note was a male Tufted Duck on Down Level but apart from that it was very much business as usual with 3 Marsh Harrier, 2 Peregrine, 3 Cettis', and not a lot else besides.
As can be seen from the image above the levels are nearly full! Just need some harsh weather up north to get some more wildfowl in.
The new year got off to a good start last weekend with a clean up of all the overwintering goodies possible,  when the weather was half reasonable. The Richards' was down by Lookers' on the 2nd and proved popular both on that and subsequent days, 6 Shorties were present on both the 2nd and 4th, the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen on the 4th, Water Rail was seen well on North Down on the 4th, Barn Owl was seen on the 1st  and 4th, 3 Peregrine were seen together on Horse-eye on the 4th (2 fem), 6 different Marsh Harrier remain in the area, the Lookers' Dartford Warbler was giving itself up on the 2nd and 4th, and a Dabchick was in Hurst Haven ditch on the 1st. Nearby the Rough leg was still at Jevington and seen well on the 1st and 4th, If anything as its plumage becomes more worn it is becoming a more striking bird with a serious black and white contrast going on with the head and belly. The only disappointment at the moment is the apparent absence of any Merlin.