Archive for December, 2006

31st December 2006, Sunday

Alexandra Park, Hastings

There didn’t seem much variety in the park today – maybe the weather is just too mild to entice species such as Redwing and Siskin – but there was a Heron at Shornden Res and a Grey Wagtail at Buck’s Hole.

31st December 2006, Sunday

Rye Harbour Sightings

Highlights at Castle Water today included four Smew (one male) and four Scaup  visible from the path along the northern end of the pit. Also present here small numbers of Shoveler, Gadwall. Pochard and Tufted Duck, as well as a leucistic (very pale) Black-headed Gull. On the Beach Reserve, an Eider was present at the river mouth late morning, while small groups of Corn Bunting and two Rock Pipit were visble from Lime Kiln Cottage, the former on Harbour Farm and the latter on the saltmarsh.

30th December 2006, Saturday

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Sightings today include, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Grey Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin along the shore. Merlin, Skylark, Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and Linnet on Harbour Farm. At Castle Water, Smew, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Cettis Warbler and Water Rail.

29th December 2006, Friday

Pett Level

On my third attempt, I finally caught up with the Woodlarks this morning on the westernmost field of the National Trust’s Wickham Manor Farm, where 11 of them were in the company of about 50 Meadow Pipits and a few Skylarks among rough thistly stubble. A permissive footpath runs up from the RM Canal to a clifftop stile from where it should be quite easy to hear their attractive fluting call.

On top of the hill, in the patch of birdfood where they have mostly been seen, there were at least a dozen Yellowhammers. The hedgerows contain plump blue Bullace fruits – sweet enough to eat and a little bit sharp, but not enough to turn your mouth to sandpaper like Sloes do.

bullace 06-12-29.jpg

Other recent birds at Pett have included a flock of 18 White-fronted Geese on 27th and Peregrine, Green Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail & Barn Owl most days.

29th December 2006, Friday

Guestling Wood

A Mistle Thrush, greeting the promised “sunny interval” (duration: 7 minutes) with a burst of song was the only sound this morning, other than quarrelling squirrels and isolated small contact notes from poor numbers of woodland birds.

A consistent background noise, however, came from Church Farm, where a clattering yellow digger dredged root-tangled silt from a neglected old pond, ringed by bright orange alder stumps.

guestling wood view 06-12-29.jpg

At another recently rehabilitated pool, I was most surprised to find a drake Pintail. The habitat seemed much too enclosed, and although the bird was full-winged and cautious, I’m not sure it was truly wild. Apart from that, the only bird of interest was a Water Rail in the old reedbed.

29th December 2006, Friday

Cliff End

Thursday 28th December 2006

Cloud 100%; Wind SW3; drizzle. 30sp

I failed to meet my Targets on this sortie into the sunless, flat and weightless netherworld. In fact, only one of my Success Criteria was fulfilled: that of checking the progress of beach restoration at Fairlight Cove. I had, in addition, hoped to meet up with some of the scarcer winter beach birds – Rock Pipit & Black Redstart – and to explore the long shelves of low-tide sandstone in case a Previously Undiscovered population of Purple Sandpipers was scrabbling about there.

The ledges held only Oystercatchers, Curlews and just 2 Turnstones along with the usual mobs of gulls and lines of Cormorants. I’m not sure that the Rye/Pett Turnstones travel further west – I don’t usually see them from Hastings Country Park. I suspect that these are separate from the ones that scavenge Glyne Gap and the promenade lawns of St Leonards.

Rising and falling on the murky sea, were rafts of GG Grebes– about 40 in all – with 12 Red-throated Divers and small numbers of Guillemots, Common Scoters and Brent Geese flying west.

cliff end 2 06-12-28.jpg

Read the rest of this entry »

29th December 2006, Friday

News from RSPB Dungeness

A red-throated diver was seen from Makepeace hide this morning. Smew are holding steady at three drakes and nine females and five goosanders are still in the Makepeace/Scott hide area.  A female common scoter was seen briefly from the Visitor Centre mid-morning.  A single white-fronted goose is present in the field alongside Christmas Dell.  Also worth a mention – marsh harrier, kingfisher and goldeneye.
28th December 2006, Thursday

News from RSPB Dungeness

A bittern was seen from Christmas Dell hide and a white- fronted goose was seen near the hide.

Once again, goosander (five females) and smew (3 males and nine red heads) were visible from Scott hide.  Two regular marsh harriers a female and a young male were hunting on the new excavations and two merlins were seen at Denge Marsh.

28th December 2006, Thursday

Castle Water

Highlights from Castle Water this morning, at the Viewpoint 49 Little Egret were counted leaving the roost at dawn, a Bittern flew in from the direction of Northpoint pit and 5 Bearded Tit gave good views flitting between the reeds. Good numbers of wildfowl were present on the main pit and the new excavations: 2 Scaup, 88 Shoveler, 59 Teal, 70Tufted Duck, 200+ Wigeon, 62 Gadwall, 150+ Mallard and 172 Canada Geese. A Marsh Harrier was aslo seen from the hide.

27th December 2006, Wednesday

News from RSPB Dungeness

During the last few days, as many as two bitterns were seen from Christmas Dell hide. Smew (three males and five red heads) and goosander (five females) were showing well from Scott hide. As many as seven marsh harriers were seen in one day, five of them were circling in front of Christmas Dell hide whilst two were on Denge Marsh. A goldeneye was seen today from the Visitor Centre and a Slavonian grebe from Scott hide.

Don’t forget about our next evening talk on Tuesday 9 January 2007,
Wardening at RSPB Dungeness in the 1960s – Bob Scott
7.30 pm in the Visitor and Education Centre
(Centre opens 7pm)
Tickets (£3.00 adults, concessions £2, £1.50 juniors) are available from the visitor centre or telephone 01797 320588.  Booking is advisable.
How to find us
The reserve is one mile south of Lydd and is signposted off the Lydd-Dungeness road.