Saturday, 30 April 2016
Saturday 30th April
Early Saturday morning after a comfortable night in a bed for a change at the excellent Dungeness Bird Observatory. The sun is shining and there is a light northerly breeze; very different to yesterday's south westerly gale.
So a bit of time to catch up with the last few day's birding......
Tuesday 26th April
Still feeling very tired, I managed to cycle to Grove End and Stodmarsh nature reserve. I spend the day pushing the bike along the many paths with the hope of hearing a grasshopper warbler in the evening. There are occasional heavy showers and a cool north-westerly.
Common terns are over the largest pool and a few sedge and reed warblers are along the pathways.
The highlights of the day do occur in the evening when a hobby, 221, flies past and a hen harrier, ring-tail, comes down to roost in the reed bed.
Wednesday 27th April
A cycle down to Dungeness is relatively straight forward. Arriving at the RSPB reserve in mid afternoon, I spend the time searching Denge Marsh for the bean goose reported to be there on the previous day. A dip. Can't find it.
Thursday 28th April
With the wind only alight westerly early morning I head off for Pett Levels in East Sussex to look for two velvet scoter reported there.
A flock of thirty-plus whimbrel and very obliging yellow wagtails delay me at scotney Gravel Pits on the way to Rye.
Taking the Rye Harbour roadway I soon reach Pett and with the help of Steve, a Kent birder who I had met at Grove End two days earlier, have velvet scoter to add to the year list, 222. The long present glossy ibis puts in an appearance too.
Back to Rye Harbour I take time to enjoy its birds as by now the westerly has freshened up and a lunch break there is rewarded with views of nesting Mediterranean gulls and sandwich terns.
Friday 29th April
Back at Dungeness, I head for the seawatching hides by the nuclear power station, seeing a ghostly barn owl and a couple of whimbrel on the way.
At 'The Patch' there are a good number of common terns, around 75. Once in the shelter of the hide, the birders present say that one arctic skua went past at about ten to 6 and a few manx shearwaters. It is now 6:30am and only common scoter are going past in any numbers and even they aren't too numerous.
Seawatch finished, I go to the Dungeness Bird Observatory and book in for the night. I love staying at observatories. One, they are so cheap! More importantly birders stay at them and therefore the evening conversation is guaranteed to be birdy. Dave Walker, the long-standing warden of the Obs, takes my money and I decide not to use the bike for the day, instead I will walk to Lydd to get some food and bird on the way there and back.
Into the willow bushes near to the observatory and an almost tailless fox stands on the path not thirty yards away and looks back at me with disinterest.
Bumblebees take my own interest and there seems to be two varieties out in the cold, hazy sunshine. Garden and red-tailed.
Lesser and common whitethroats are vocal and on reaching the ARC pit a superb summer-plumaged black-necked grebe is sheltering from the fresh westerly breeze.
In fact the wind is gathering strength and after looking around the Cathedral in the Marsh, All Saints in Lydd; where a poem from the First World war is accompanied by two original WW1 crosses, it is strong and cold.
Back to Dungeness RSPB reserve via the back bridleway, only greylags and Canada geese are on Denge Marsh.
Back to seawatch the evening away, Andy, a birder who I had last met at Sumburgh Lighthouse last Autumn, immediately sees a distant passing bonxie, great skua and passes me his telescope to add it to the year list, 223.
Two manx shearwaters pass and the operation with Andy's 'scope is repeated; 224. Finally two arctic skuas pass, jokingly they seem closer to France than England! 225, onto the list due to the telescope of a birder from Norfolk, Matthew. What a fabulous evening.
The Green Year list now stands at 225, still 25 birds ahead of this time last year.
Tuesday 26th April
It is now early on Tuesday morning and I am in Margate, Kent. After a day of rest yesterday it is time for me to get back on the bike and head for Dungeness forty five miles to the south west. A Bean goose has been there recently and pomarine skuas have gone past the headland.
The rest is due to the previous three days efforts, 168 miles from Minsmere to Margate, cycling. Why Margate? An Iberian chiff chaff in a local park had been seen and luckily, very luckily, I turn up there on Sunday evening and not only hear it but get close views of a chiff chaff with a funny, squeaky, repeated call.
Bird number 220 onto the Green list and one I had not thought I would get.
So 85 to go in order to get the European record and around fifty 'regulars' still needed.
The Green Year list now stands at 220, still 27 birds ahead of this time last year.
59.76 miles 2022 feet elevation up 1998 elevation down