Sunday, 1 February 2009

Saturday 31st January

I escaped down to Dunge with James first thing this morning while my wife had a few friends (and their kids) round. Crossing Walland Marsh a couple of Marsh Harriers were easily picked out and a Barn Owl was hunting close to the road in the morning sunshine. Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammer were all seen around the barn just west of Midley Cottages - but no Berwick Swans. Onto the 'patch', lots of auks flying west, a couple of Red-throated Diver and a lovely adult Little Gull but no Iceland or Glaucous amongst the huddled flocks on the beach. Going to the fishing boats the adult Glaucous Gull was pointed out to us, nestled into the shingle ridge south of the turning circle. A frustrating 20 minutes followed where we tried to pick out Razorbills amongst the mass of auks just offshore - 3 or so were picked out by others but the cold get the better of us and we left for the ARC pit.

A couple of redhead Smew were at the eastern end of the ARC pit mixed in with the Shoveler. From the hide a male Goldeneye, 3x Goosander (inc 1 drake) and a 3rd redhead Smew were seen. A couple of raptors in the form of Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk put in appearances. As we left the hide we were told the Iceland Gull had reappeared on the beach by the fishing boats, so we made the trip back to the beach - and guess what, it had flown! Retracing our steps (and again looking for Razorbills without success) we visited the RSPB Reserve. Highlights were a Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe and a small flotilla of Ruddy Duck that had obviously survived stage 1 of the cull! We were told that a couple of very confiding Firecrests had shown well mid-morning on the Willow Trail next to the ARC hide. So back we went, but no luck in 40 minutes of searching.

With Dunge done we set back to East Malling via Walland Marsh again, but picking out 40-50 Berwick Swans opposite the Woolpack Inn en route. A quick scan of the church orchard in East Malling failed to produce any Waxwings or Bramblings, but 3x Green Woodpeckers showed, as did a single Goldcrest. Taking in Bradbourne House and Lake the Barnacle Goose was rediscovered amongst the Canada Geese, three more Green Woodpeckers darted across the lawns, the Tawny Owl was found roosting in it's favourite tree, a Little Grebe bobbed around the island and a new site tick for me in the form of a drake Gadwall. Last port of call was New Hythe for Steve's Bitterns. A GS Woodpecker swept across us as we turned off the A228 towards the sewage farm. Quite a crowd greeted us at the 'Bittern watchpoint', including Eddie, looking rather cold! A Water Rail crept in front of the reeds and at 17:15, just after most people had left, a single Bittern pushed it's way to the front of the reeds...turned it's back to us and sat there partly obscured. Not a fantastic view but a lovely bird to end a rather windy, cold day's birding in Kent.


Greenie said...

Adam ,
I was huffing and puffing just reading about your day , never mind doing it .
Sounds like a cracking day , with a great finish .

Steve said...

What a day! must tell me where your Tawny Owl is...