Dave Brown

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dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:15 pm

26th December 2014 to 14th January 2015.

Despite a few warm days, and the fact that others have seen a few moths, we are yet to encounter such a welcome sight. Looking at the long term weather forecast it seems we must wait a while. In the meantime we have undertaken some birdwatching, but with not much changing here in Kent our opportunities are limited.
The long staying Great Grey Shrike at Chilham is still present and has shown well on the few occasions that we have been back. The 2 Cattle Egrets remain in their chosen field at Lydd with a herd of cattle. The Bewick Swan flock on Walland Marsh remains and has increased to 90 plus birds, together with one adult Whooper Swan. They are sometimes joined by up to 4 Bean Geese.

A tour around the Dungeness peninsular, including Walland and Scotney, will normally allow up to 6 Great White Egrets, 2 Cattle Egrets and 5 Little Egrets to be seen. At least 8 Bitterns are present but take a bit of luck to see, late afternoons on the ARC pit appear best. Smew, Goldeneye and Goosander can all be seen on the RSPB reserve. Nearby Scotney should allow 1 Scaup and 3 Black Necked Grebes. 2 Ravens are regular, as are Peregrine and Marsh Harrier.

There has been 2 bits of exictment in this period. The first was when a Lesser Yellowlegs was found on Pett Level. It can be elusive, but sometimes shows from the road down to 25 metres. This bird has proved very popular allowing many to catch up with this particualr species. The 2nd bit of news would have been even more exicting had it stayed but the LIttle Bustard, which was only seen for a few minutes and photgraphed, has never been refound. This is despite a small band of us searching for a few days across all the likely habitat between Lydd and Rye. Had we refound it it's likely that the bird would have attracted a large crowd as many in the South East still need this species for Britain.

Yesterday, the 14th, ended this period with a sighting of a 1st winter Night Heron on a private pit at Hythe. The bird can be seen at times from a public footpath, from which we enjoyed resonable views, but it also disappears at times. Night Herons in Britain are more associated with Spring and early Summer but winter records are also known. Its been present for at least a month with the fisermen reporting it as a Bittern. Luckily a local birder checked it out and immediately found the Night Heron. Hopefully it will stay a while and become more viewable.

We did manage to see the Comet Lovejoy using our binoculars but to be honest found it a little disappointing. Even with bins it was just a haze and not the very bright thing we was hoping for. I suppose being that far away means that it was good as it gets.

Following a horrible night of rain and strong winds all we can say is role on Spring.
Lesser Yellowlegs.jpg
The Lesser Yellowlegs at Pett Level pools. Sorry about the photo but taken through a fence to avoid flushing the feeding bird.
Cattle Egret2.JPG
The 2 Cattle Egrets remain near Lydd (Kent).
Great Grey Shrike2.jpg
The Great Grey Shrike remains at Chilham.
Barnacle Geese.jpg
This large flock (100) of Barnacle Geese is present on Scotney pits. Although annual in winter we presume are of feral origin.

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Thu Feb 05, 2015 4:01 pm

14th January 2015 to 05th February 2015.

Not one winter moth or butterfly, despite a few searches. Can't blame them mind you as the night time temperatures have made me hide under the covers. So that only leaves birds and they have been thin on the ground around here. Despite my optimism on the last blog update the Juvenile Night Heron only stayed another week, possibly moved by the cold weather. Another, or the same, Night Heron was reported near Steyning (East Sussex) for a day. Despite searching I don't think that it has been refound there.

The Lesser Yellowlegs has moved from Pett Pools to the Winchelsea end of Rye Harbour. This makes it much harder and distant to see. The Great Grey Shrike at Chilham continues to welcome all visitors although it has taken to wandering more lately but always returns to the same bush eventually. Dungeness has been very quite lately with no real influx of winter migrants. 2 Bean Geese and a few Whitefronted Geese have taken up residence on Scotney gravel pits.

One of the Dungeness highlights has been the finding of a flock of Tree Sparrows numbering well over 40. This is in addition to the regular flock of 12 on Walland Marsh. Tree Sparrow numbers are in serious decline and any additional flocks are most welcome. The number of Bewick Swans on Walland Marsh has reached 85, which is well down on most years. It does however contain 9 Juveniles and one yellow coloured neck band individual, numbered 053E. I am sure its history will follow shortly.

This lack of birds does at least mean we look forward to spring with even more eagerness. It can't be long before the first moth stirs and shows itself to us.

PS. I look out of the window to see sleet and snow falling. Perhaps my optimism is misplaced.
The only male Smew currently wintering at Dungeness. A stunning bird.
The only male Smew currently wintering at Dungeness. A stunning bird.
Cattle Egret3.jpg
Another photo of one of the wintering Cattle Egrets at Lydd. Still a pleasure to watch.
This Bittern was hiding in the reeds at Dungeness. We could see him, just.
Juv Night Heron.jpg
The Juvenile Night Heron near Hythe. Well hidden in the bushes but still a welcome sight.
Bewick Swans3.jpg
Two of the distant flock of 85 Bewick Swans.
BewicK Swan2.jpg
The coloured neck and legged ringed Bewick Swan on Walland Marsh.

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Re: Dave Brown

Postby trevor » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:20 pm

HI Dave,

No more sightings have been reported of the Snowy Owl i'm afraid, but the chap with the horses has been
keeping his eyes open. He told me that he had a good long view of the bird,as the area where it was seen is
a flat wide open space .

All the best,

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:53 am

Thanks Trevor.

6th February 2015 to 12th February 2015.

Not a lot happening really although we have seen our first moths of the season, thanks to our friends at Ruckinge. Only Early Moth, Dark Chestnut, March Moth and a Pale Brindled Beauty, but none the less a pleasant start to the year. This was on the 10th.
Another Cattle Egret has turned up. This time at Hamstreet along the Military Canal near the Garden Centre. Bit of a surprise this one but arrived as the Little Egret numbers increased to 5. I doubt whether it is fresh into the country, but with the Great White Egret numbers at Dungeness suddenly increasing to 12 recently you never know. The 2 Cattle Egrets remain in the Lydd area although they have become more mobile recently. This is because the herd of cows have been moved. Incidentally, the Hamstreet bird remains with a flock of sheep and not the more expected cows.
The Great Grey Shrike remains faithful to it's Chilham site. The numbers of Bitterns being seen at Dungeness seems to have fallen off lately. Just in time for the guided annual walks this weekend around Dungeness RSPB for members and public alike. We have been seeing 5 or 6 birds regularly but just lately this has fallen to one or two and some days none at all. All's not lost though as the roosting number of Egrets on the Reserve has increased at the same time. It is now possible to see up to 12 Great White, 2 Cattle and 15 Little Egrets all come in from 16.30 hours onwards. An exceptional number and unheard of only 5 years ago.

The number of Raven sightings in Kent slowly increases. In addition to the 2 at Dungeness and 2 near Dover a new bird is being reported near Seasalter and another at Cliffe. Not so long ago this was a mega bird in Kent. It's increase coincides with the increase in Peregrine numbers.

The oddest event of this period was the Eagle Owl photographed near Dover, but not seen again (yet). Most likely an escape, but with the nearest birds on the continent now breeding on the Belgium coast you never can tell. They do not like to cross water but we said that about Short Toed Eagle and look what happened last year.

Not long to go before the Butterfly season commences, although I am sure that we have not seen the last of the cold weather.
Early Moth.JPG
Early Moth. An appropriate name for our first moth of the season.
Cattle Egret4.JPG
A newly arrived Cattle Egret. This time at Hamstreet.

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Goldie M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:57 pm

Hi! Dave, you've just solved a picture puzzle for me. I took a photo of a bird in a tree whilst I was at Penn Flash, the shot was very blurred and I could make out the shape but that's all. when I saw your photo of the the night Heron, I'm convinced it was the bird I saw. So thanks for solving my puzzle :D
I like your shots, I saw a Bittern only once that was at Mere Sands near Southport that was a real experience ,I hope to visit Dungeness when I come to Kent this Summer Goldie :D

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:58 pm

Hello Goldie, very glad to help. The Night Heron in Britain is quite a scarce bird but very easily overlooked because of their camouflaged plumage. The low number reported is probably not helped by many some books only showing the bird in Adult Summer plumage, which is is a lot brighter and more obvious to see. Pennington Flash is a typical habitat for them with lots of water to feed and bushes to hide in.

Our Butterfly season is up and running :) On Sunday the 15th February we saw both Red Admiral and Peacock in reasonably sunny conditions at Ashdown Forest. The long wait is over, the spirits are lifted, summer is on its way.

Back to winter birding. The reason we were at Ashdown was to try and see the very elusive Little Bunting that is hanging around the Forest Lodge area. We heard of some people visiting the site five or six times before connecting with the bird so our hopes were not too high. In the event we did manage about 2 minutes worth in a 2.5 hour wait. No time for photography just a quick look, admire, and it was gone, not to be seen again all day. Luckily we have seen several in Britain so today was just about enjoying the winter sunshine, and the view. We never tire of Ashdown Forest, especially when 2 Woodlarks were seen and 2 Ravens flew over calling.
Tuesday 17th February saw our 2nd attempt for the wintering Richards Pipit at Shellness (Isle of Sheppy). This time we were luckily with several views of the bird on the ground and in flight. Also seen, female Hen Harrier, Merlin, 4 White Fronted Geese. Nearby Capel Fleet produced 16 Pink Footed Geese, Peregrine and 11 Marsh Harriers.
Wednesday 18th February was another fine sunny day producing lots of mums trying to keep hoards of school kids amused for the day visiting all the same sites we had selected. First was Pett Level where a raft of 33 Velvet Scoters was reasonably close to the shore, with a flock 30 White Fronted Geese and 3 Ruff on the actual levels. Camber Sands was too crowded so next was Scotney Pits. 14 White Fronted Geese landed in front of us and one of the Black Necked Grebes showed well. We ended the day crossing Walland Marsh to see the Whooper Swan and 83 Bewick Swans.

Not a bad few days, made better by our butterfly sightings.

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Sun Mar 15, 2015 3:49 pm


So far this year we have caught up with Red Admiral, Peacock, Brimstone and now Comma. We can't complain with that as its still not mid March but will have to wait until the next mild spell to move our sightings forward.
On the Plant front things are also moving along nicely with sightings of Primrose, Snowdrop and Lesser Celandine in the sunny spots.

Whilst waiting for Summer to arrive we have carried on our birding activities in a mix of all types of weather and wind strengths. The main talking point in this area has been the lack of bird numbers and variety. It seems some species have just failed to arrive. No Waxwings this year, very few Brambling, Siskin or Redpolls. No influx of Crossbills. Redwings and Fieldfares are in much smaller numbers, as are winter ducks such as Smew, Goosanders and Scaup. We used to get 200 plus Scaup winter on Scotney about 20 years ago. This year one. Finally, Bittern numbers are down from last year.

On the plus side the 2 Cattle Egrets remain near Lydd, Great White Egrets are still present in reasonable numbers and the number of Little Egrets roosting at Dungeness often numbers in excess of 20. The Great Grey Shrike remains for all comers at Branch Road, Chilham.

A very early and unusual winter record was of a Wood Sandpiper photographed at Elmley on the 20th February. The following day found us visiting the site to see the bird ourselves but it had departed early that morning. Still it was nice to see a female Merlin and Peregrine amongst the 7 Marsh Harriers. Next stop was Capel Fleet. Not the Raptor hot spot it once was but we still managed one Short Eared Owl, a female Hen Harrier and 11 Marsh Harriers. Careful scanning of the Goose flock found a minimum of 50 Whitefronted Geese and 30 Pink Footed Geese.
The 22nd February found us at Dungeness looking at a fine male Red Crested Pochard, the male Smew, 2 Cattle Egrets and 2 Goldeneye. Scotney produced just one Scaup and a Little Stint.
A quick visit to Dover Harbour on the 23 February found us looking at a Juvenile Glaucous Gull. Unfortunately too far for photos. Still, a monster of a bird that defineatly ruled the feeding table when people fed scraps to the gulls.
The 24th -26th February remained quiet although a Raven at Dungeness and another at Pett Level added interest. A Bittern flying along the RSPB entrance track at Dungeness was one of our few sightings of this species so far this year. A Short Eared Owl at Seasalter on the 27th was really nice to see.
On one of our many visits to Dungeness the 1st March produced a Badger out feeding in broad daylight.
The 7th March found us at Sandwich Bay looking at 4 Goosanders, a lone Pink Footed Goose and a Black Redstart.
Tuesday the 10th March was a good day at Dungeness with 2 Small Tortoiseshells flying around in the sun, 3 Firecrests in the Lighthouse Garden, 5 Chiffchaffs in the Gully and 3 Egyptian Geese on Scotney.
On the 12th, whilst looking for any spring passage Red Kites, which we failed to see, we found a field near Oare containing 28 adult Mediterranean Gulls looking really smart in their summer plumnage of all Black Heads and pure white bodies and wings.
Finally, Friday the 13th yielded our first Wheatear of the year with a fine male at Dungeness, along with 3 Black Redstarts and a stunning male Stonechat most likely of the race rubicola.

Not a bad period of wildlife watching considering the weather, but hopefully just a taster of all the goodies yet to arrive.

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:04 pm

14 March 2015 to 14th April 2015.
Its been a month since I updated our diary. Does this mean we have not been doing much wildlife watching? I am pleased to say we have been out and about as much as ever, including enjoying a few good butterfly days. Our year list gradually creeps up with Brimstone, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Large White, Small White and Orange Tip. Notice it does not include Scarce Tortoiseshell (Purlborough). We were tempted, but resisted, in the hope that it would become more reliable. It only showed for about 2-3 Hours on each of the 2 days that it showed. It did not show on the day between the 2 viewable dates, but when it did show it was very obliging by all accounts.

Firstly news about the long stayers. The Chilham (Kent) Great Grey Shrike seems to have departed, with our last sighting on the 27th March. I understand that there was a sighting on the 28th March, but no reported sightings since. We have checked 3 times since then but have failed to see it, so assume that it has commenced its return journey. The 2 Cattle Egrets at Lydd still remain although have become a lot more elusive of late. The Great White Egrets at Dungeness have reduced in numbers significantly, with now only 2-3 present from the maximum Winter count of 12. As usual Little Egrets are everywhere. We even get them over our garden. No one seems to take much notice of them these days as there are hundreds now in the country. Only 30 years ago they were a twitcher's dream. Pity, as they are a delightful bird with a feeding action that entertains.

A feature in Kent of the period in question is the annual passage of Red Kites. Of the dozens that pass through very few, if any, are wing tagged. It is believed that some are returning Scottish birds but I don't think anyone is sure. Anyway, of the 30 or so seen so far this year we have only managed one. Not a good return for our many hours sky watching. Fellow member Marc Heath has seen 10 over his garden on the North Kent coast. The most reported together that I know of is 6 near Folkestone. A most majestic bird and one we look forward to each year. One day they will expand their territory and became a regular Kent bird. They have done that in West Sussex, so hopefully East Sussex and Kent is next.

Finally onto the returning migrants. We have seen many Swallows, but only one each of Sand Martin and House Martin. Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps have returned in good numbers. Also seen, Gargeney, Willow Warblers, Firecrests, Black Redstarts, Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails, Little Ringed Plovers, Greenshanks, Whimbrel and Common Tern. Summer really has arrived.

Whilst searching for migrant birds and resident butterflies we have noticed what we believe is an explosion in Cetti's Warbler numbers. Another bird that has increased in numbers over the years, apart from the odd blip because of a cold winter. Whilst walking around Stodmarsh the other day we heard a minimum of 30 calling birds. Dungeness has at least 12 calling on the ARC pit alone. We have even encountered birds around the Warehorne / Appledore area. In the Eighties the sum population for Kent was below 10. For all it's loud explosive call it remains a most difficult bird to get a good, out in the open, view. One of Britain's skulkers.

With reports of Green Hairstreak and Duke of Burgundy emerging the next month will be most exciting. Hopefully a Scarce Tortoiseshell will also make itself available to all-comers.


Some photos to follow when time allows.

dave brown
Posts: 506
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:57 pm

15th April 2015 to 25th April 2015.

We have suffered here with some really cold days and even colder nights. Moth trapping for most in East Kent has been non existent. The only moths we have seen have been real goodies. Both on the 25th. Firstly, a Northern Drab was caught at DBO and available to visitors. This is normally a moth of Northern England and Scotland but a few have been seen and caught on the Dungeness Peninsular over the last few years. Only the second we have seen ourselves. The second moth was actually 2 male Emperors at Oare Marshes. A fresh female was seen in a bramble bush and despite the rather windy conditions we watched as 2 males homed in over a considerable distance (250 metres plus). It was absolutely fascinating to watch how they followed her scent trail in, moving from side to side, up and down, until they located her. Having made the effort to get to her one male showed little interest in mating, but the other male was active within minutes. We no other males appearing we left them alone to enjoy themselves. A wonderful moment.

On the Butterfly front we have added Green Hairstreak, with 5 at Wye NNR, and Small Copper, with 10 at Dungeness. Green Veined White and Holly Blue has also made the list. Brimstone and Orange Tip numbers this year are encouraging so far. We have looked for, but not seen so far, Dingy Skipper. The visit to Wye NNR also produced a few Early Purple Orchids.

Finally, on the bird front we have lucky with a really good view of a Hoope at Hythe on the 18th April. Followed later that day by a Ring Ouzel near Dungeness Observatory. Summer migrants such as Hobby, Lesser Whitethroat, Sandwich Tern and Cuckoo have all been noted.

With large numbers of Painted Lady's and Striped Hawkmoths reported on the Continent all we need now is the sun, a Southerly or South East wind, and we will all be enjoying this bumper bonanza. Happy butterflying.
Emperor Moth female.jpg
This stunningly beautiful female Emperor moth was irresistible to two males. Pity the light was not too good to capture the full beauty.
Emperor Moth pair.jpg
The male and female Emperor moth. Having located her the pair spent some time together.
Hoopoe near Hythe Ranges.
Small Cooper.jpg
Small Cooper near Dungeness Observatory.
Peacock Butterfly.
Comma near Ashford Kent.
Green Sandpipers.jpg
A small party of Green Sandpipers at Grove Ferry NR.
Early Purple Orchid.jpg
Early Purple Orchid, Wye NNR.

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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Pauline » Tue Apr 28, 2015 2:42 pm

Some great sightings there Dave - love the photos. A few years back a neighbour claimed he'd had a Hoopoe in his garden - didn't realise they looked so exotic!

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Goldie M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Tue Apr 28, 2015 4:07 pm

Your photo's are very impressive Dave especially the Hoopoe never seen that bird before although I've heard of itGoldie :D

dave brown
Posts: 506
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:35 pm

26th April 2015 to 26 May 2015.
Sorry about the lack of updates recently. The reasons include a two week period without internet connection, or at best a limited intermittent service. BT have provided a replacement Hub which has now got me back online.

I suppose the real disappointment was our Butterfly Transect walks. On the 21st May, in decent weather, we undertook two walks and managed a total of 28 butterflies in 4 hours and 21 of those were Brimstones. This is well down on expectations for this time of the year.

We have seen some good Butterflies during this period including a maximum day count of 5 Duke of Burgundy, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers, Orange Tips, Brimstones, Peacocks, Painted Lady (11th May), a maximum day count of 10 Wall Brown, Common Blues, Small Heaths, Small Coppers, Green Veined, Small, Large Whites and Speckled Woods. We must not complain but it has been very hard work on some days.

Probably more rewarding from a personal point of view was seeing a STRIPED HAWKMOTH on the 18 May at Lydd. This beauty had been trapped overnight by one of the local mothers and was made available to all who wished to see thanks to a kind gesture by the very friendly lady. This moth was on our much wanted list and with the news of large numbers being seen in Spain our eager anticipation was much rewarded. Strangely there was less than 10 other moths in the trap so someone smiled on us all. Our own moth trap has been a bit of a disaster really with very few moths being caught. Our best has been Poplar Hawkmoth (11th May), and White Point (10th May). Other good moths seen have been the Ni Moth and Chamomile Shark (Dungeness 13th May), Least Black Arches and Great Prominent (Hamstreet 22nd May).

Dates for Orchids to come into flower seem to have been delayed for some species. However, we have now got up with Early Purple, Green Winged, Lady, Fly, Monkey, Man, Greater Butterfly Orchids, White Helleborine and Common Twayblade. I am sure that many were not far off normal flowering dates, it's just that we have been become used to mild winters and early emergence.

Finally the birds. Not really that good apart from two exceptional days. The first, was the 02 May, when we actually went out of the county to twitch the very popular, and very rare, HUDSONIAN GODWIT. This bird had set up temporary home on the flood at Meare Heath. Not much to look at really but made up for by its rare status. Only the second or third for Britain, with the last sighting being over 30 years ago. It associated with a flock of Black Tailed Godwits of the Icelandic race who were presumably all returning north of their spring migration.
The second good bird day was the 16th May. We had been touring East Kent when we came across a Red KIte. For some Red Kite is a every day occurrence and probably don't get a second glance. However, for Kent birders its a good bird. Whats more it has the wow factor as it majestically flies over you. Feeling the the weather was suitable for raptor migration we headed to a high spot just south of Stodmarsh. What a good move. I picked up another Red Kite flying over a wood in a South West direction. Our son, searching for it suddenly said there's four more up there, wrong there's seven. They kept on coming. Over two hours we had a total 32 Red KItes. Even better, a Black Kite was amongst them. Probably our best ever Kent raptor day. Another local birder also saw the birds and we kept in constant touch via the power of Twitter. So twitter does have it's uses with immediate news updates.
Days like that make up for all the quiet days most of us suffer from.

With good butterflies still to emerge that's hope this year is a good one.

PS. Heath Fritillaries are out at East Blean Woods.

dave brown
Posts: 506
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:00 pm

27 May 2015 to 27 June 2015.

The biggest news during this period is the chaos brought to this part of Kent by Operation Stack. What has closing the M20 to stack lorries got to do with butterflies. Well got a lot actually because it means we have to abandon plans to visit good butterfly hotspots because of traffic issues. With the M20 being closed for a number of days over a distance of some 30 miles it brings the rest of the road network around here to a standstill. I have heard tales of journeys that normally take 30 - 40 minutes taking up to 4 hours. People being late for work and children being late for school (although they are probably enjoying the experience even if the mums on the school run are not). The road we live on is badly affected as people use it as a alternative to the official diversion route of the A20. In the last week or so we have abandoned plans to travel for the Large Blues, and nearer to home, the Dark Green Fritillary and Purple Emperor.

Enough of the moaning. The good news is that we are still managing to see wildlife locally even if the journey is extended. The end of May we continued to see Green Hairstreaks, Duke of Burgundy and Wall Browns. Marden Meadows was awash with 1,000's of Green Winged Orchids. What a sight and just a hint of what some parts of the countryside must have looked like before development. The Late Spider Orchid was earlier this year at the WYe NNR but was in lower numbers.
A visit of the 4th June to Samphire Hoe produced 2 Clouded Yellows with a few Early Spider Orchids still in flower.
Visiting East Blean on the 5th June proved a good move for not only was 16 Heath Fritillaries on show but also our first Hummingbird Hawkmoth and Norfolk Hawker of the year. This is the 3rd year running that Norfolk Hawker has breed in Kent, with a decent and easy accessible colony at Westbere available by a public footpath. The maximum count I have heard of here is 25. The next day we visited Kingsdown to see the colony of Small Blues. We managed only 7 but did see 9 Painted Ladies, 7 Silver Y's and Bordered Straw moths following a few warm days of South Easterly airflow. The same day (6th June) also produced a Dusky Hook-tip moth at our good friends at Ruckinge. Thursday saw our first Black Veined moth of the year at Wye NNR but little else was happening until the 13th June when Ruckinge again produced the goods with 2 Small Mottled Willow and Bordered Straw moths.
The 14th June was a real treat for we visited an undisclosed site in Norfolk at the invitation of the RSPB. What a day. At least 40 Fen orchids on show at one of their few remaining British sites. These were supported by many Early Marsh and Southern Marsh Orchids. This visit was topped when we found a Swallowtail butterfly low down in the reeds seeking shelter from the cold winds and falling drizzle. To end the day we visited the public part of the Rex Graham Reserve to see 90 plus Military Orchids on display.
Tuesday the 16 June we saw our first Large Skipper of the year, with our count of Black Veined Moths reaching two. Thursday the 18 June was a moth day with Ruckinge producing Lilac Beauty, Beautiful Hook-tip and Orange moth. The 20th produced our maximum count of 9 Black Veined moths at Wye with 2 Painted Ladys being a bit of a surprise. We also saw our first Marbled White of the year at the same location.
A visit to Sandwich Bay on the 21st June was rewarded with 80 plus Lizard Orchids, 3 Marbled Whites and a good count of 40 Large Skippers. We also manged to track down our first ever Oblique Stripped and Bright Wave moths. These are very rare day flying moths of this particular area of Britain. It was also very nice to see at least 8 Small Tortoiseshells. The 23rd saw us catching up with the returning Adult Bonapartes Gull at Oare Marshes.
The 24th June turned out to be a memorable day for after seeing a Clouded Yellow and 5 Bee Orchids at Monkton NR we visited Pegwell Bay Country Park. It was more a late lunch break than anything but whilst eating our snacks we were amazed when 3 Bee-eaters flew low over us, showing off their brilliant colours and calling all the time. We managed to get 3 other birders onto them before they disappeared low towards Sandwich. As we walked slowly south, to check in case they had landed, we met another couple who said they saw them and knew what they were immediately because of their many European holidays.
Our Butterfly transect on the 26 June in Hamstreet found 9 Ringlets, first of the year, and still 3 Brimstones flying.
The 27th June saw us visiting Ashdown Forest where we saw Silver Studded Blue, Painted Lady, Grass Wave (moth), Golden Ringed Dragonfly, Brilliant Emerald, Small Red Damselfly and Keeled Skimmer amongst the more common species. The day ended with a Red Kite flying over and Woodlark, Tree Pipit and Redstart on show.

Not a bad period of wildlife watching, but as I type this report today Operation Stack has been reinstated after being lifted for 24 hours. Not because of the French strike this time but because of illegal migrants forcing the Channel Tunnel to close. Luckily this time the closure is only for 18 miles so hopefully not so much traffic congestion.

PS. Lots of photos to follow.

dave brown
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:50 pm

28th JUNE 2015 TO 24TH JULY 2015

Sorry to bore you again, although Operation Stack rarely makes the headlines these days, it has actually been instigated on 19 of the last 30 days. The minimum length of motorway closed is 18 miles, but often 30 miles. Unless you live in this area most will not understand the chaos that brings. People struggle to go about their daily lives in a normal way, including work, school, shopping but probably most important of all, medical appointments. The local roads often end up with gridlock. The worst journey reported so far has been one of 60 miles, normally taking 2 hours, actually taking 7 hours.
Why do I mention this again. Well on Wednesday of this week, with 30 miles of Motorway closed, news broke of a Large Tortoiseshell being present near St Margaret's feeding on a buddleia bush. The normal route would take me down the now closed Motorway. The obvious diversionary route of the A20 was already being reported as stationary in places. With such a good butterfly for the UK on offer it was a case of go man go. We took a lot of country lanes but eventually arrived some one and half hours later, (normally takes 40 minutes so not too bad), to enjoy reasonable views of this Kent rarity. It was on show all of the one hour that we were present, but always at the top of the tall bush. It had blackish legs so ruled out Yellow Legged. It also showed signs of wear but none the less was very enjoyable. The finder and other locals had put news out via the Bird Information services and various Butterfly groups on Twitter so many enjoyed its arrival. I understand that it was not present the next day, Thursday, although the weather was not so good.

Back to the period in question.
30th June 2015. Noted our first 2 White Admirals of the year in Longrope Wood (Hamstreet).
01st July 2015. After a long wait we managed several brief views of a Icterine Warbler at Bishopstone, whilst our Garden moth trap produced a new one in the form of Broad-barred White.
02 July 2015. The 2 White Admirals were still present and Dungeness produced a Bittern.
03 July 2015. A nice warm sunny day produced 9 Silver Washed Fritillary at Bourne Wood, Hamstreet, together with 3 White Admirals and a Purple Hairstreak. Our good friends at Ruckinge had caught Waved Black and Clouded Brindle overnight and were now available for us to enjoy.
04 July 2015. Still warm and sunny so it was off to Warehorne and 3 White Letter Hairstreaks. As usual, they would not come down low enough for photos. Still really pleased that this small colony is still hanging on.
05 July 2015. The highlight of a very windy day was a majestic and very large Cranefly. Tipula maxima Cranefly. I understand that this is Britain's largest Cranefly and indeed was impressive.
06 July 2015. The Adult Bonapartes Gull had returned to Oare Marshes for it's 3rd year. Nearby a Red KIte fly over us at Doddington.
08 July 2015. It's not just Hoggers who can find Small Coppers at Dungeness. We found lots, but I will leave the photo's to Hoggers.
10 July 2015. This was a very good day. Some Moffers were trapping in Kent at various authorised sites, so today we joined them to see Suspected (Folkestone) and Marbled Grass Veneer (Hamstreet) amongst a good range of other moths. There is a tale to this event which meant we missed a very rare moth for Britain. We left the main team to go home around midnight. Another moffer was trapping about a mile away but knew we were about. He caught a 5th for Britain called the Latin. He tried to ring us several times but the Hamstreet area is notorious for no, or limited, mobile signal. Therefore he was unable to contact us before we went home. He carried on moffing for a while before he then travelled round and eventually found the main team, who were still moffing at 4am. So about half a dozen people saw this major rarity whilst the rest of us can only dream of seeing one another time.
12 July 2015. Our good friends at Ruckinge had caught a Splendid Brocade. Would we like to see it. You bet we would. We had seen one before during the most recent influx of about 7 years. But, this our second, was just as welcome.
13 July 2015. A few of the moffers from Friday night met up and this time we saw Ruddy Carpet, Red Necked Footman, Purple Clay and Olive Crescent. I didn't realise moffing could be so addictive, enjoyable and exciting. It can also be very tiring staying out until the wee small hours.
14 July 2015. Wiping the sleep out of our hours it was up and away to Dungeness to enjoy Small Mottled Willow (migrant moth), True Lovers Knot (sounds romantic) and another Purple Clay.
15 July 2015. A Red Letter day for the garden moth trap. We caught our first ever garden Kent Black Arches.
17 July 2015. A trip to Oare and a Painted Lady, together with the first returning Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper.
18 July 2015. Thanks to the Dungeness regulars we caught up with a fine adult White Winged Black Tern. 2 Painted Ladys and a Brown Argus were the best of a poor showing of butterflies.
19 July 2015. The Ruckinge team had done it again. This time it was Small Marbled (scarce migrant moth) on show. A late phone call had us going to Oare Marshes where 2 Temmincks Stints and 2 Curlew Sandpipers were on show. Excellent numbers of Gatekeepers and 31 Common Emerald Damselfies bought the day to a most enjoyable conclusion.
20 July 2015. A twitter message from the Observatory Warden had us heading to Dungeness where a Orache Moth, Brussels Lace and and another Splendid Brocade were on show. What a good period of moth watching/ trapping we were enjoying. Still lots of Small Coppers around.
22 July 2015. Our best butterfly day this year with the Large Tortiseshell at St. Margarets. Supported by 40 Marbled Whites, many Chalkhill Blues, Common Blues, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns. Also a few Large Skippers, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma.

So despite the traffic problems we have managed to get out and about, or be it sometimes slowing, and seen some wonderful wildlife. Most enjoyable.
Large Tortoiseshell.jpg
Large Tortoiseshell at St. Margarets Kent.
Large Tortoiseshell2.jpg
Large Tortoiseshell at St. Margarets Kent.
Swallowtail at undisclosed site in Norfolk. We found this low down in vegetation seeking shelter from the wind and showers.
Stripped Hawkmoth.JPG
Stripped Hawkmoth at Dungeness. A rare migrant moth, although reasonable numbers seen this year.
Bordered Straw.JPG
Bordered Straw. One of many migrants we have seen this year.
Painted Lady.JPG
Painted Lady. There seems to be good numbers around this year.
Norfolk Hawker.jpg
Norfolk Hawker, but actually in Kent at Westbere.
Fen Orchid.jpg
Fen Orchid. A beautiful Orchid and one of Britains rarest orchids.
Musk Orchid.jpg
Musk Orchid in Kent
Swallowtail at undisclosed site in Norfolk. We found this low down in vegetation seeking shelter from the wind and showers.
Last edited by dave brown on Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Location: Liphook, Hants

Re: Dave Brown

Postby Pauline » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:24 am

Really interesting report Dave and smashing shots to accompany. Thanks for sharing - hope traffic situation improves soon.

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:57 pm

Thanks Pauline, the traffic situation has improved considerably. Since David Cameron banged the table at the last Cobra meeting no further instances of Operation Stack has occurred. I am sure that is a coincidence but others may argue a leader taking charge. Just wish he had done it sooner rather than the residents of Kent having to suffer 23 days of traffic hell. Either way no more traffic chaos for this area, at least until the schools recommence.

25th July 2015 to 31st July 2015.
A quiet period during which time we undertook our usual Butterfly transect at Hamstreet. The only really notable feature was the high number of Peacocks (44) and Painted Lady's (6). Otherwise it was pretty much the expected species A juvenile Yellow Legged Gull and Wood Sandpiper at Dungeness on the 31st added a spark to proceedings.

01 August 2015 to 6th August 2015.
With good weather forecast it was into Beckley Woods for our annual fix of Silver Washed Fritillary. We were not disappointed with a stunning 24 being seen on our walk, supported by a White Admiral and a Painted Lady.
The, by now Adult, Bonapartes Gull has returned to Oare Marshes and the 4th produced a good sighting on the East Flood. It was joined by a returning Little Stint and 3 Curlew Sandpipers. Autumn is now here.
A search of the previously reliable site of Chislet Marshes only found 1 Willow Emerald Damselfly on the 02 August. This time two years ago we found 102.
The 5th August produced a fine Oak Hook-tip, 2 Great White Egrets and a Bittern at Dungeness.

I have added a few photos from previous periods in my effort to catch up.
Heath Fritillary2.JPG
Heath Fritillary at East Blean Woods
Heath Fritillary.JPG
Heath Fritillary at East Blean Woods.
Large Skipper.JPG
Large Skipper at Hamstreet Woods.
Greater Butterfly Orchid.JPG
Greater Butterfly Orchid near Ashford, Kent
White Admiral.jpg
White Admiral at Hamstreet.
Temmincks Stint.jpg
Temminck's Stint at Oare Marshes.
One of many Gatekeepers in this area.
Silver Studded Blue.jpg
Silver Studded Blue at Ashdown Forest (East Sussex).

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:25 pm

It's big. It's Black and it's special.

Friday 7th August 2015.
This was a special day for us, unexpected and one that we thoroughly enjoyed. We had gone to Dungeness to look for Clouded Yellows, of which we only saw one. As we arrived we received a message to say that a BLACK STORK had been seen at Hythe coming in off the sea and was last seen heading West. That would mean that if it carried on in that direction it could end up at Dungeness or Rye. Along with a few other Dungeness regulars we scanned the skies from a number of vantage points. Over one and a quarter hours later there was still no sign. Being that as birds fly, especially big birds, it should have only taken 30-40 minutes at most, it was therefore assumed to have bypassed Dungeness. We got in the car and was about to carry on birding/ butterflying when we caught a glimpse of a very distant bird which could only have been a Stork. It was really distant and disappeared almost immediately. I made a call to the nearest person and we met minutes later looking towards Rye. It was indeed a Black Stork. To our surprise, and delight it then headed back across Lydd Ranges and eventually passed right over our head. We managed to contact others nearby and about 15 people managed to connect. We have been birding for 30 years and this is only the second one we have seen in Kent. It stayed on view for about 35 minutes before appearing to head back north west.

Saturday 8th August 2015.
To counter the excitement of yesterday, today we visited Chislet Marshes and only found 4 Willow Emerald Damselflies. Two years ago we found 102 at the site of what was then a recent colonist. Not sure of the reason for this dramatic fall in numbers. Hopefully it's just a temporary blip.

We ended the day at Kingsdown near Deal seeing 22 second brood Small Blues. This is a charming butterfly and gave us great enjoyment. Worryingly planning permission has been given for some house building at this location. Mitigation measures have been put in place following lobbying by several Conservation groups and individuals. We shall see if these are successful in helping the colony survive.

Sunday 9th August 2015.
Wall to wall sunshine and Wall to Wall butterflies. Infact 5 and 11 respectively, Wall Browns at two locations at Wye NNR. Supported by decent numbers of Chalkhill Blues, Common Blues, Brown Argus, Small Skippers, Red Admirals, Small Heaths, Peacocks, Holly Blues and a Comma. We also saw a Clouded Yellow and 3 Painted Lady's.

Wednesday 12th August 2105.
Oare marshes produced a very good wader in the form of a WHITE RUMPED SANDPIPER, supported by 2 Little Stints, Curlew Sandpiper and a Whimbrel. Butterflies were very thin on the ground with nothing of note.

Friday 14th August 2015.
A much better day for butterflies at Dungeness. In addition to the many Small Coppers, Small Heaths and Meadow Browns we found a late Marbled White, still in decent condition, and a Clouded Yellow. Moths at the Observatory included Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Small Mottled Willow, Blood Vein and 2 Langmaids.

Attached are a few of our moth photographs taken this summer.
Black Stork2.jpg
The Black Stork which flew over our heads at Dungeness. (Photo kindly taken by Ploddingbirder standing alongside us).
Splendid Brocade.jpg
Splendid Brocade at Dungeness. A good year for this species here in Kent. With an inland one at Ruckinge.
Bordered Straw.jpg
Our very own Bordered Straw. The first we have ever caught in our garden.
Dusky Hooktip.JPG
Dusky Hooktip at Ruckinge.
Orange Moth.jpg
Orange Moth taken at Ruckinge. A most butterfly like moth.
Tipula maxima Crane Fly.jpg
The photo does not do justice to the large size of this crane fly, taken at Dungeness.

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Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:49 pm
Location: Liphook, Hants

Re: Dave Brown

Postby Pauline » Mon Aug 31, 2015 6:11 am

Reading your post I can feel your excitement Dave and having seen the photo (well done to Ploddingbirder) I can understand why. Always a wide range of interesting sightings from you which makes for great reading.

dave brown
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:36 pm

Thanks Pauline for your kind comments.

I am well behind again in my Diary updates. I think its because I would rather be out in the field than stuck on a keyboard. I do consider stopping them for a while but then again feel that they are a record of our wildlife exploits and I do find it interesting writing them, bringing back often fond memories Whoever can invent a eight day week will be a multi-millionaire.

15th August 2015.
A warm day spent around the Hamstreet / Kennardington area found a returning migrant Pied Flycatcher, a local Turtle Dove and good numbers of Butterflies and Damselflies, including 5 Red Eyed Damselflies.
16th August 2105.
Another warm day spent covering the same ground. This time the Pied Flycatcher had moved on to be replaced by 3 Greenshanks. The Royal Military Canal produced 2 Small Red Damselflies in addition to the usual Red Eyes. It was nice to see a flock of 65 House Martins feeding over the Canal.
The strings of Dungeness were pulling again and did not disappoint with good numbers of returning Sand Martins, a Raven, Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Whinchats. The area around the Observatory gave Painted Lady, Red Admiral, 4 Common Blue, Small Heath and the regular Small Coppers.
17th August 2015.
By way of a change we visited Oare Marshes where the WHITE RUMPED SANDPIPER was still on show, joined by 2 Little Stints, Greenshank and 4 Curlew Sandpipers. Butterflies were disappointing with only Meadow Brown, Large White and Small Heath noted.
19th August 2015.
Back to Dungeness where the place was alive with Sand Martins (many hundreds). 2 Spoonbills and 5 Wood Sandpipers were enjoyable but insects were hard work with only Common Blues and Small Coppers making the note book.
20th August 2015.
A Mega moth day at Dungeness. On show was a Bedstraw Hawkmoth. What a stunner, what a delightful insect and one that attracted a number of admirers. It was a good day for insects with a Clouded Yellow, 2 Hummingbird Hawkmoths, Pine Hawkmoth, 10 plus Common Blues, 25 plus Meadow Browns and numerous Small Coppers. Our first Merlin of the Autumn was noted.
21st August 2015.
The sun was shining and Lydden beckoned. On show was a stunning display of butterflies. 21 Silver Spotted Skippers was the icing on the cake but the cake also contained 3 Clouded Yellows, 3 Wall Browns,17 Adonis Blues, 150 plus Chalkhill Blues, numerous Common Blues and Meadow Browns. The best showing of Autumn Gentian I have noted for some time and 2 Autumn Ladies Tresses coming into flower.
We also caught our first ever Bordered Straw int he garden moth trap.
22nd August 2015.
Our Autumn visit to Ashdown Forest was a pleasing one with 5 Black Darters, 3 Golden Ringed Dragonflies, 4 Small Red Damselflies and 5 Keeled Skimmers of note. A Clouded Yellow, 20 Common Blues and dozens of Meadow Browns were a delight in the warm sunshine, as was the Ice Cream bought in the car park.
23rd - 27th August 2015.
The highlight of the next few days was the finding by the ever vigilant Observatory Warden who not only found a new species of insect to Britain but followed it with a second sighting of one only seen a couple of times before. He skillfully identified a first for Britain based on call. That is the TREE CRICKET. Not only that but further searches have revealed a small breeding colony. Such has been the interest that he has led evening walks to listen to the singing Crickets and even had a visit by BBC film crew. The second find was also a Cricket. This time the Sickle-bearing Bush Cricket. The numbers of the latter are much lower and I believe the maximum number found is 6. Well done to DW who again finds something really good when you think it could not get better.
During the same period the following were also seen Speckled Bush Cricket, Jersey Tiger, Scarce Bordered Straw, Vestral and Hummingbird Hawkmoth.
The sea was not neglected with us noting 6 Balearic Shearwaters, Pomarine Skua, 6 Black Terns and 7 Arctic Skuas.
The stuff of dreams.

28th - 31st August 2015.
Continued sightings of the Crickets occurred whenever the weather was suitable. It was also about Birds now as migration got underway. Good numbers of Whinchats, Wheatears, Willow Warblers, Whitethroats and Yellow Wagtails seen. A White Winged Black Tern was seen on the ARC pit, together with 8 Black Terns, Gargeney, Whimbrel and Raven. For the second time this month we were in the right place when 4 Honey Buzzards passed over Dengemarsh together with a few Common Buzzards. Butterflies were not neglected with another Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady seen. You can't always see everything as we missed an Osprey fly over the ARC pit despite us being nearby.
The good moths continued with more Scarce Bordered Straws, Dusky Hook-tip and best of all, PORTERS RUSTIC. A non-descript, but very rare moth to the British Isles (thanks IR).

That concludes another thoroughly enjoyable period of wildlife watching and one that makes our hobby so interesting and exciting.
Silver Washed Fritillary.JPG
Silver Washed Fritillary at Beckley Woods (East Sussex)
Silver Washed Fritillary2.jpg
Silver Washed Fritillary at Beckley Woods (East Sussex).
Wall Brown.JPG
Wall Brown.
Chalkhill Blue.jpg
Chalkhill Blue at Lydden
White Rumped Sandpiper.JPG
Distant photo of the White Rumped Sandpiper at Oare Marshes.
Spotted Redshank.jpg
Spotted Redshank at Sandwich Bay.
Sand Martin.JPG
One of many Sand Martins at Dungeness this past month.

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Goldie M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:32 pm

Great photos Dave, it looks like I left Kent too soon, I went to Lydden loads of times for SSS and Adonis, no luck, I'll have to try a later date next time to leave :D Goldie :D

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