Dave Brown

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dave brown
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:02 pm

Thanks Goldie. The same problem we all have when booking a holiday is to judge the Butterfly season correctly. Being that some species can be up to 2 weeks early or 2 weeks later that's a big margin of error to achieve the species at it's best. When we do get it right all the more reason to enjoy it.

01 September 2015.
The day a Long Tailed Blue was seen, and photographed, at Dungeness National Nature Reserve, near the Old Lighthouse. Despite a dozen or so of us searching the area immediately following the sighting it was never found again. Not surprising really as there is no Everlasting Pea within this part of the NNR to hold it. We assume that it was on it's migration into Britain and was part of the general influx recorded at other Southern locations. The search of the area did turn up lots of the migrant moths Vestal and Rush Veneer. We ended the day watching an Osprey fly out to sea in the general direction of France. For some reason Ospreys do not hang around the Dungeness area despite the presence of several large pits and the RSPB Reserve.
02 September 2015.
Following yesterdays sighting of the LTB today we planned to check more locations where the Everlasting Pea is known. The weather turned as soon as we started so our search will be for another day. A Long Eared Owl was very showy at Sandwich Bay.
03 September 2015.
Our visit to Dungeness was very successful with Cattle Egret, 2 Great White Egrets and a Red Backed Shrike seen. Lots of the expected Butterflies were seen with Small Coppers in particular being numerous. Moths were represented by the very impressive CONVOLVULUS HAWKMOTH, 3 Vestals and a Scarce Bordered Straw.
04 September 2015.
Our Butterfly transect was a disappointment in sunny but cool weather. Only Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and a Gatekeeper were noted.
05 September 2015.
We undertook our second Butterfly transect in warmer weather but numbers were still low, with 6 Brimstone, 8 Red Admiral and 7 Speckled Wood.
On to Dungeness where Thursday's Red Backed Shrike and Cattle Egret was still showing. Also 2 Ravens, 3 Hobby's and good numbers of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Whitethroats were present.
08 September 2015.
By way of a change Pett Level was visited. The main feature was the movement of Swallows and Sand Martins all heading North. Later in the day we called in at our friends at Ruckinge to see our second ever MARSH MALLOW Moth. A British Red Data species only known from 2 sites.

Another enjoyable period of wildlife watching.
Attachments
Black Darter.jpg
Black Darter at Ashdown Forest.
Common Emerald Damselfly.jpg
Common Emerald Damselfly at Oare Marshes.
Smal Red Damselfly.jpg
Small Red Damselfly at Ashdown Forest.
Funnel Cloud.jpg
This rare Funnel Cloud was captured from Dungeness just as it was disappearing.
Turtle Dove.jpg
The increasingly rare Turtle Dove at Warehorne. Sorry about the poor quality but the light was really dull.

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David M
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Location: South Wales

Re: Dave Brown

Postby David M » Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:26 pm

I really enjoy your reports, Dave. You've got one hell of a range of wildlife down there.

I don't think I've seen a turtle dove in the UK since I was a kid. Excellent find.

dave brown
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:25 pm

A TRIO OF FLYCATCHERS

Before I undertake the next stage of my diary, and in case anyone is wondering, I do not post any photos of the Small Copper at Dungeness for the time being. Hoggers has that market well and truly tied up :) . I am still seeing good numbers there but now rarely even get he camera out. I can't better his photos of this species so there is no point in trying.

9th September 2015.
Another day at Dungeness and another high point when a White Winged Black Tern was present on the ARC pit.
10th September 2015.
The Siskin invasion continues apace. Today we had a few in the Hamstreet Woods complex. Butterflies included 10 Red Admirals and 7 Brimstone.
11th September 2015.
A visit to Oare Marshes produced the hoped for Clouded Yellow, infact two. Not sure why this North facing coastal reserve is so good for them but we seen them here for years around this time. Also present 4 Small Heath, Common Blue and a Silver Y.
12th September 2015.
A visit to Dungeness was rewarded with a Ni Moth (migrant) and Pearly Underwing. The Ni moth can be very scarce in Britain some years, but this year looks like being a decent one for them. Migrant birds continue to appear with at least 3 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears and 15 Yellow Wagtails around.
13th September 2015.
Another visit to Dungeness. This time the Delicate and 2 Scarce Bordered Straws were trapped overnight. Migrant birds increased with 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps and more Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs.
15th September 2015.
A Cattle Egret flew over us along Dengemarsh (Dungeness) as we walked the area. Can't tell if its one of last years returning birds but just as likely to be a fresh bird as numbers have been appearing elsewhere. Really nice was a scarce Bee, Bombus ruderatus, at the Observatory. A first for us. Apparently it s becoming more regular on Romney Marsh so hopefully we will some more over the coming years.
17th September 2015.
A feature of today was the very high numbers present around Dungeness and Walland Marsh of Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins. The Swallows were numbered in their thousands. Every field seemed to be full of them sweeping across feeding on unseen insects. To add to the more common migrant birds today we saw a Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Grey Wagtail. Every bush seemed to hold Chiffchaffs or Whitethroats.
19th September 2015.
Another day of good migrant activity at Dungeness. Still thousands of Swallows, Sand and House Martins. Chiffchaffs everywhere. The half dozen Pine trees at the ARC pit held 20 plus Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroat and 5 Goldcrests. Over 50 Chiffchaffs were along Dengemarsh Road. Whitthroat, Redstart, Whinchat and Wheatear seen. 7 Common Buzzards and 2 Hobbys plus the Cattle Egret and 2 Great White Egrets enhanced the interest. Butterflies were harding to find but did include Small Copper, Red Admiral and Small White. Moths saw another Scarce Bordered Straw, Blood-vein and Rush Veneer.
20th September 2015.
A bit of a repeat at Dungeness although numbers were lower as some birds appeared to have moved on. A Clouded Yellow was nice as was a Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Feathered Brindle and Lunar Underwing. A feature of today was the high number of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters still on the wing. Many of the Darters were coupled ensuring next years generation.
22nd September 2015.
Today was a day of committed family things including one that could not be missed, or the time changed. A very good neighbour had passed away and today was the celebration of his life. It was not a thing that we would ever consider missing, so when we received a telephone call to say that a mega bird had literally just been found at Dungeness I just shrugged my shoulders and explained the situation to the finder. A few minutes, and a family huddle later, a decision was made to juggle everything else around apart for the one thing we could not miss. This meant we had 3 hours to twitch the bird and get back. Headless Chicken panic was on. Picking up only our binoculars, camera and macs (it was pouring hard), we were off. Getting caught behind every slow moving car and lorry ever on the road did not help but we eventually arrived at the fishing boats to find only about a dozen people walking around aimlessly. It appeared that the bird had flown less than 5 minutes before we arrived. The weather was still drizzle so the bird was unlikely to have flown far and so it proved. 20 minutes later a call went up and we all started walking fast, (or even running :) ). The twitch was back on. And there it was, right in front of us, an American Flycatcher showing well and feeding actively.
It's actual identity has still to be positively confirmed. There are several species that look almost identical but the photographs seem to confirm Acadian Flycatcher, which is a first for Europe. Probably a result of the recent remnants of the Hurricane that crossed the Atlantic. We spent about 20 minutes with the bird before returning to make our commitment in plenty of time.
About 1,000 birders saw it that day, it even made the BBC News and various National papers, but was not seen again.

This sighting meant we had seen Pied, Spotted and Acadian Flycatcher in just over a week, all at Dungeness. Hence, the trio title.
Attachments
Acadian Flycatcher.jpg
Acadian Flycatcher at Dungeness near the fishing boats.
Pied Flycatcher.jpg
Pied Flycatcher at Dungeness.
Spotted Flycatcher2.jpg
Spotted Flycatcher at Dungeness.
Clouded Yellow.JPG
Clouded Yellow
Long Eared Owl.JPG
Long Eared Owl showing well for a change, at Sandwich Bay.
Red Backed Shrike.jpg
Red Backed Shrike on the RSPB Dungeness.
Jersey Tiger.jpg
Jersey Tiger moth at Dungeness.
Rush Veneer.JPG
Rush Veneer moth. This one was photographed on our Butterfly Transect at Hamstreet.

Hoggers
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Hoggers » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:32 pm

Dave, you most certainly should post pictures of Small Coppers!

The more the better!

Congratulations on seeing the rare Flycatcher

Best wishes

Hoggers

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Goldie M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:12 am

Hi! Dave, your selection of different subjects is great and a real change, I love that Long Eared Owl photo, I'd have been really excited to see that and the photo of the Jersey Moth which I've not seen yet and to see that rare bird as well, Great, you've certainly had a really good September up to now. :D Goldie :D

dave brown
Posts: 505
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:02 pm

Thanks Goldie, much appreciated.

After the excitement of the Acadian Flycatcher, which incidentally has been confirmed as that species from an impressive range of photos and DNA analysis of its droppings, thus a first for Europe, it was always going to feel a bit flat. Especially as Butterflies and Moths were getting thin on the ground. Despite much searching by many people no Long Tailed Blues have been seen at Dungeness in October. The Narrow Leaved Everlasting Pea has so far failed to deliver. A few Common Blues still on the wing get the heart beating for a few seconds, but their numbers are dwindling fast.

So onto the current period.
23rd September 2015 to 26th September 2015.
Visits were mainly local but did allow us to catch up with the Pectoral Sandpiper and Ruff on Conningbrook (near Ashford). This is the site of a new Country Park, although I fear it is more for the sports facilities and the general public than the wildlife opportunities. There are currently no wildlife meadows to attract butterflies, or other insects. It's been funded by a proposed large new housing development adjacent to the park. Only time will tell who benefits.
Sunday 27 September 2015.
Back to Dungeness for the day. A few Small Coppers, one Common Blue and a few Small Heaths were still on the wing. A Bittern was watched on Dengemarsh and a total of 7 Whinchats were seen.
Monday 28 September 2015.
I suppose the most memorable event was waking up at the unearthly hour of 03.00 in clear skies to witness the Eclipse of the Moon and the Blood Red act associated with it. I must say that it was most impressive and worth the sleepy eyes the rest of the day. We again visited Conningbrook CP but the Pectoral Sandpiper and Ruff had moved on.
Tuesday 29 September 2015.
The sun was out and Dungeness beckoned. Butterflies were much the same as Sunday although numbers slightly up and this time joined by a few Small Whites, Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters. There had been a small fall of migrant birds including a smashing Yellow Browed Warbler, 4 Firecrests (in my view one of Britains smartest birds), 7 Continental Coal Tits and a Black Redstart.
Wednesday 30 September 2015
Back to Dungeness for a repeat performance. Still many Swallows were around but House Martin numbers were reduced.
Friday 02 October 2015.
Yes, you've guessed. Another trip to Dungeness. The weather was warmer and this time a few Red Admirals joined the Small Coppers. The Yellow Browed Warbler had departed but there was still a few Firecrests on offer. The summer feel was enhanced by the sightings of Hobby and 4 Yellow Wagtails. Migrant Hawker numbers if anything had increased with many Common Darters still paired up.
Saturday 03 October 2015.
We can't keep going to Dungeness so today it was bucket and spade time, well Margate at least. It is possible to get away from the crowds so today saw us watching 8 Speckled Woods and 6 Red Admirals for a change. A quite spot in the local cemetery found another Yellow Browed Warbler and Firecrest, together with a 100 plus Goldcrests.
Monday 05 October 2015.
What a change weather wise. Heavy rain, wind and cold. It therefore came as quite a surprise when a good friend at Hythe let it be known that he had trapped a SOMBRE BROCADE moth. Wow, with just a few records for Dorset, Cornwall and one in Hampshire, this was not a moth on our radar for Kent. To be confirmed, but it appears to be the first record for Kent, so only one thing for it. Out into the rain and cold. Looking a bit like a Green Brindled Beauty, but without the Green, it was well worth the drive and well deserved by the finder who puts a lot of effort into his local area.

Not quite catch up, especially as I have yet to download the photos, but later in the week brings a few more surprises.

dave brown
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Thu Oct 22, 2015 4:44 pm

Autumn is here.

It's no surprise that insect activity is winding down, especially with the periods of cold and wet weather we have had. We have still managed a decent selection of Butterflies and Moths but in general the moth trap has been very quiet. We have had to rely on others to provide a good variety of interesting moths.
On the Butterfly front we are still seeing Small Coppers, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Speckled Woods, but it's getting harder.

The main Butterfly highlights have been, Small Heath (6th Oct), Clouded Yellow (8th at Dungeness), 3 Small Heaths (8th).
The following are still being seen most days, Red Admiral, Small Copper (Dungeness visits), Small White, with Large White and Peacock less regular.

On the moth front we saw a Hummingbird Hawkmoth (8th Oct at Dungeness), Four Spotted Footman (8th at Dungeness), Mallow Moth (13th Oct at Dungeness), Bloxworth Snout (16th Oct at Dungeness), and finally an usual record of Feathered Brindle well inland at our good friends at Ruckinge. This latter species is scarce and normally restricted to the Coastal areas of the South East so a good find indeed in a well wooded and grassland area.

Dragonflies have been down to two species for a little while with only Common Darter and Migrant Hawker being seen.

Bird activity has been interesting. A general lack of scarce and rare species but some common migrants have been in very good numbers. In particular Siskins, Redpolls and Goldfinches have been seen in very high numbers. House Martins and Swallows are also in good numbers. Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs seem to be in every bush and even Reed Bunting numbers seem higher than most years.
A few other highlights have been Pied Flycatcher (6th Oct at Dungeness), 2 Whinchats (9th Oct at Dungeness), 7 Ring Ouzels (12th Oct at Folkestone), 2 Crossbills (16th Oct at Dungeness).

The only scarce bird seen was on the 9th October. Whilst scanning the skies at Dungeness for Common Buzzard passage (17 seen), our son picked up a very large bird flying in off the sea and over the Power Station. It turned out to be a Common Crane which circled around for about 20 minutes before landing on the RSPB reserve. Just about an annual visitor to Kent it is still a special bird to see. There was no rings present so we all assume it was a genuine migrant from the Continent and not one of the introduced ones from the West Country. Another special day.

Of non nature interest was a sighting of the Vulcan Bomber on the 11th October. It flew along the coast between Medway and Sandwich as part of its farewell display before being retired. Impressive to say the least. Judging by the large crowds it will be badly missed.
Attachments
Sombre Brocade.JPG
Sombre Brocade. A very welcome surprise (and lifer) at Hythe. Caught in a private garden moth trap.
Yellow Browed Warbler.JPG
Yellow Browed Warbler at the Old Lighthouse, Dungeness
Comma.jpg
Comma at Dungeness
Four Spotted Footman.jpg
Four Spotted Footman moth at Dungeness
Crane.jpg
A distant photo of the flying Common Crane at Dungeness (just left of the Water Tower).
Coal Tit.jpg
Coal Tit of the Continental race at Dungeness

dave brown
Posts: 505
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:44 pm

Warm, Sunny and unseasonal.

I realise that some parts of the Country have not had it so good but here in Kent the weather has been unusually warm. I can't remember a November when we have seen so many wild flowers at Dungeness still in bloom, or on a second bloom. Not just one or two flowers but large numbers. Sea Campion, Thrift and Nottingham Catchfly to name a few. A Botanist staying at the Observatory has so far recorded 129 species in flower during November. This is unheard of and is a interesting talking point. Although Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers are still on the wing, as are Red Admirals and Peacocks, insects have not responded to the warm weather in the same way. Indeed Moth numbers are distinctly down in actual numbers although variety of species is still good.
The warm weather has also brought mixed fortunes to the bird migration. Winter species like the Short Eared Owl are in very good numbers but Fieldfares, Redwings and Woodcock are still in low numbers compared to most years.

So what have we been doing in addition to enjoying the sunshine. Well mixed fortunes really. We have seen some good things, missed others and occasionally wished we had travelled for rarer things. Like the Pallid Harrier in West Sussex and Pallid Swift at Margate. The very recent Craig Martin at Chesterfield is probably a little too far for us although it is still there today and will surely draw a big crowd tomorrow (Saturday).
On the 18th October we did look for a Pallas's Warbler at Seasalter but dipped. Also no luck with the Great Grey Shrike at Herne Bay, but we did connect with a Dartford Warbler at the same site. Dartford Warbler in Kent is a good bird. We do not have the habitat of Hamsphire and Dorest so rely on migrants in the Autumn and Winter months. On the 19th we saw another 4 Short Eared Owls at Dungeness and surely fresh migrants as the others had not been seen for a few days. The Observatory Warden had found a Rough Legged Buzzard at Scotney late on the 19th, so thew 20th found us at the site. After a few hours the bird hunted and showed very well to the assembled crowd of 3 increasing to 8 when we broadcast the news. Not many birders for what remains a good Kent bird.
The next good day was the 23rd October when, looking for the Rough Legged Buzzard, news came through of a Barred Warbler trapped at the Observatory. I thought we were quick to arrive but about a dozen others beat us to it. A very nice bird and even better to see in the hand rather than skulking in a bush, which is the way of this particular species. Arriving back at Scotney not only did we see the Rough Legged Buzzard but also another Short Eared Owl.
Next day, the 24th October, we managed to see a Great Grey Shrike on the RSPB Reserve and a Brindle Green moth at the Obs.
The 25th produced a 2nd winter Caspian Gull, 2 Black Necked Grebes, 2 Ravens and another Dartford Warbler on the Reserve. This was also the last day that we saw the Rough Legged Buzzard on Scotney as it appears to have now moved on. This was also the day we saw our last Meadow Brown of the year and was actually in decent condition.
Thanks to the locals a highly mobile, but very welcome, Dusky Warbler was found near the Power Station on the 26th. It showed on and off for a few hours before disappearing into a private area. A feature of the day was an amazing fall of Black Redstarts. It was estimated up to 40 present of which we saw 12. This is a species that was fairly scarce until the nineties but is now much more frequent in Kent. Today was the day we saw our last Painted Lady of 2015.
The 28th October was a good day for Red Admirals with at least 8 different individuals being seen. Another sighting of the Dusky Warbler, now in a public area, and a new Yellow Barred Warbler in the Lighthouse garden.
The 29th was good for sea watching, with a Sooty Shearwater passing close in being the best. A 3rd winter Yellow Legged Gull was in the roost.
A Red Flanked Bluetail had been present at Sandwich Bay for over a week. It was generally very elusive with many spending hours there and not seeing it. Every now and again it would be retrapped and shown to those present, much to the relief of many birders. Some days it was not seen at all. So the 31st October found us arriving with low expectations and fearing a very long wait. We parked up, walked to the area and there was a ringer with the bird in his hand. Talk about jam in on something. No long wait, no boring looking in every bare bush, no false alarms as some little brown job moved a few hundred metres away. No missing a brief glimpse of the bird as some giant of a person with a telephoto camera and telescope stands in everyone's way . Quite understandably the Ringer did not hold the bird up for photographs as it had been retrapped a few times, but we still managed a photograph as he opened his hand to release the bird.
The 1st November saw another Dartford Warbler along Dengemarsh. Our last Large White and Small Tortoiseshell of the year. Best of all though was 2 late Clouded Yellows enjoying the sunshine in Dengemarsh Gully.

Saving the best to last. We can now report that we saw 2 Long Tailed Blues at an undisclosed site in Kent on the 2nd September 2015. We were asked by locals not to disclose the location because of what happened at Kingsdown in 2013. Sorry team. As it happens I don't think they were seen again after this date so releasing the news would not have benefited others and would have resulted in wasted journeys. Hopefully 2016 will bring a lot more sightings and the opportunity to share in the good news with others.
Attachments
Long Tailed Blue.jpg
Long Tailed Blue at undisclosed location in Kent.
Red Flanked Bluetail.jpg
Red Flanked Bluetail about to be released at Sandwich Bay.
Barred Warbler.jpg
Barred Warbler at Dungeness Observatory.
Barred Warbler2.jpg
Barred Warbler at Dungeness Observatory.
Clouded Yellow.jpg
Clouded Yellow at Dungeness.
Yellow Legged Gull.jpg
Yellow Legged Gull Dungeness Beach.
Great White Egret.jpg
Great White Egret on Dungeness RSPB.
Teal.jpg
This Teal was one of many on Oare Marshes.
Foxglove.jpg
A late flowering Foxglove (Nov 11th) on Dungeness RSPB.

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David M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby David M » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:04 pm

Some surprising images there, Dave. As you say, autumn has been ridiculously mild and I'm not sure this does our native species many favours.

For me, a nice week long cold snap would be welcome.

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Goldie M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:19 pm

Great shots Dave, I envy the Long Tailed Blue :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Goldie :D

CJB
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby CJB » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:23 am

Hi Dave,

I love reading your reports of birding alongside butterflies; keep them coming!

Flutter on!

CJB

dave brown
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:17 pm

One Swallow does not make a Summer

When seen in December though it certainly makes you think of Summer. What a crazy month weather wise here in Kent. Whilst many elsewhere have suffered with wind and heavy rain we have mainly basked in warmth and sunshine. So far in December we have seen a Common Swift (7th December at Margate), a Swallow (4th December at Dungeness) and a Mega moth in the form of STRIPPED HAWKMOTH (19th December at Dungeness). On the 19th December, whilst walking in shirt sleeves at Dungeness, the temperature reached 16 degrees. It felt more like a June day, especially when the Hawkmoth was trapped. It seemed weird basking in summer like sunshine while watching Smew, Goldeneye, Caspian Gull and eating mince pieces (mulled wine was also available but we were driving). Even more strange is the sight of large numbers of Brent Geese heading north up channel in December. Normally this happens in late February/ early March. If it carries on like this we will be seeing large numbers of butterflies by February.
There is a down side to this warm weather. Bird numbers here in Kent are way down. Very few Fieldfares, Redwings or Waxwings have arrived from the Continent. The number of species we see each day is way down on a normal December. As they say, things can only get better.
The highlights so far have been adult Caspian Gull (7th Nov), 7 Brambling (8th Nov), a superb male Hen Harrier (10th Nov near Stodmarsh), Yellow Legged Gull (17th Nov), Red Admiral (17th Nov). A brilliant seawatch on the 21 November in gale force winds near Minnis Bay produced Sooty Shearwater, Great Skua, Little Auk and Pomarine Skua. Black Necked Grebe (23rd Nov), Caspian Gull (28th Nov), Taiga Bean Goose (5th Dec), Glossy Ibis (26th Nov at Pett Level).
Throughout most of this period a Long Eared Owl has been showing most days very close to the Visitors Centre on the RSPB at Dungeness.

Despite the warm weather the only other moths we have seen are Scarce Umber, Mottled Umber and Feathered Thorn. All at our good friends at Ruckinge.

Not much more to add to this update although I will add a few photos over Xmas.

Happy Christmas to all. Best wishes.
Dave

dave brown
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:05 pm

Then the Weather Turns.

Of course it had to happen. No sooner had I said how good the weather was then it changed. Still mild, but now wet and windy. One thing it has not done is changed the birds and other wildlife we are seeing. Still no big influxes of anything. Still the same birds and amazingly, plants. Daffodils are common at the moment along sheltered banks.
Highlights have been few since our last update. A Glossy Ibis has appeared at Pett Level and can be seen most days with a bit of patience. 2 Short Eared Owls have taken up residence at Seasalter and another 2 at Swalecliffe. A Raven is also becoming regular at Seasalter and on Christmas Eve we saw a superb male Hen Harrier. I know we should have been Christmas Shopping but a male Hen Harrier is about the best Christmas present you can get when your into nature watching. We visited Oare Marshes on Christmas Day morning and much to our surprise a number of other families were also present, either bird watching or just walking. We even saw a Shop and a Garage that were open. Bird wise we have very little to add really although a flock of 100 plus Whitefronted Geese has arrived on the Isle Of Sheppey and a few on Walland Marsh, so maybe the cold weather movement has just started.

I include a few photos of recent birds to see out the old year. In the meantime best wishes to everyone for the year ahead. I hope that it is kind to you all.
Dave
Attachments
Glossy Ibis.jpg
This Glossy Ibis appeared at Pett Level (roadside pools) in December and is till present (29th)
Taiga Bean Goose.jpg
Taiga Bean Goose is less than annual in Kent so this one attracted some attention.
Shoveler.jpg
Shoveler is a common enough winter bird but this one showed well at Stodmarsh.
Goosander.jpg
This female Goosander is being seen at various locations around Dungeness RSPB.

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Goldie M
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Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:05 pm

Weathers awful here too Dave, it was lovely this morning but as since reverted back to the usual, we have no flowers here to cheer us up either. It's supped to be better tomorrow, I'll believe it when I see it :( Goldie :)

dave brown
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Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:09 pm

Our Butterfly year commences.

Our first butterfly of 2016 was a Red Admiral at Dungeness on the 20th Jan closely followed by a Peacock today (25th), also at Dungeness. Both seen during warm sunny spells and in sheltered spots. Not sure winter is really over yet but none the less still very nice to see. We have also seen a few Bumblebees the last few days although I am not sure of what they were finding to feed on.

Birding wise it has been fairly quiet here in Kent with little changing at Dungeness. There appears to have been a small influx of Bitterns of late with as many as 5 being seen on one day. We managed one on the 19th Jan and 3 the next day. Duck numbers have increased but no big numbers of Smew have arrived. We have only seen one male but up to 7 females. Goldeneye numbers remain around 10, don't the males look very smart.
An obliging Long Eared Owl near the RSPB Visitor centre attracted many visitors over the Christmas period, although it could go missing on wet and windy days.
There are a number of Short Eared Owls wintering in Kent and we have been fortunate to see two regularly at Seasalter most late afternoons in suitable weather. A bit like us, they don't like the wet and wind.
The sea at Dungeness continues to provide a regular and well watched 1W Caspian Gull. It spends long periods just loafing around the fishing boats but has taken a fancy to bread rolls, fish left overs from the fishermen and other goodies. On the 14th January it was joined by a superb 1W Glaucous Gull. This bird is a brute and very white in plumage. When present it shines like a beacon but does go missing for long periods, wandering between the fishing boats and the Patch.
We have also been lucky to connect with one of at 3 Dartford Warblers around the Dungeness Peninsular. Where as our luck so far has failed to connect with either of the 2 Penduline Tits that have been present around the viewing ramp area over the last week or so. Despite many hours looking these beautiful, but tiny, birds have managed to evade many birders. They have such a big area to get lost in. Raven numbers we have seen at Dungeness this winter increased to 3 on the 15th Jan.
Other birds of note are Glossy Ibis still at Pett Level near the roadside pool. A group of 25 Bewick Swans around Walland Marsh, a regular Tundra Bean Goose in with a small flock of White Fronted Geese around the Scotney GP area. Varying numbers of Great White Egrets around Dungeness with a maximum of 7 being seen. A Slavonian Grebe seen occasionally around Dungeness but Black Necked Grebe more often with 6 being seen this past weekend.
The most unexpected record on Dungeness RSPB during the period was the sight of 2 Shags on the 5th Jan during a period of very heavy rain. In nearly 30 years of watching the Dungeness area these are the first that we have seen away from the sea and actually on the RSPB. It just shows that you never know what will turn up.
I attach a few photos of the 1w Caspian Gull. They hopefully highlight the features that enable you to pick the bird out among the many gulls. The main features are the very white head, the long legs, the Black eye and the longer thinner bill. This particular bird is a bully and will easily see off the numerous Herring Gulls when scraps are on offer.

Enjoy.
Attachments
1stW Caspian gull.JPG
The 1st Winter Caspian Gull at Dungeness Point.
1W Caspian Gull2.JPG
The 1st Winter Caspian Gull at Dungeness Point.
1stW Caspian Gull3.JPG
The 1st Winter Caspian Gull at Dungeness Point.
Shags.JPG
Record photo of the 2 Shags at Dungeness RSPB in an absolute downpour.
Long Eared Owl2.JPG
The Long Eared Owl at Dungeness RSPB.
Egyptian Geese.JPG
A pair of Egyptian Geese in a flooded field at Dungeness.

dave brown
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:34 pm

Another bully turns up as The Tropics send us a surprise

On the last update I mentioned the fact that a bully of a bird turned up at Dungeness in the form of a brute of a Caspian Gull, well another far larger bully also arrived, this time a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. Even the Greater Black Backs stay clear of this bird at feeding time as it can certainly look after itself. Glaucous Gulls can vary a lot in size with this one being on the large size. It is very white and easy to pick out if it's in the area. It seems to have no mates, for it has a habit of resting on it's own or on the fringes of groups of gulls.

The real surprise these past weeks has been the influx of a creature all the way from the Tropics following periods of very strong SW winds, of gale force strength at times. I am referring to the Goose Barnacle. It has reached our shores not under its own steam but by the usual habit of attaching itself to flotsam, usually plastic bottles or containers. This is one animal that makes use of the junk we dispose of in the sea. Dungeness has recorded about a dozen bunches of the Goose Barnacle this year, which has also been recorded at other Southern locations. Recorded most years in Britain this particular year has seen an usually large influx.

It's nice to report that we have seen our first moths of the year. Spring Usher, Dark Chestnut and March Moth. All at Ruckinge. Our own garden has failed to produce a single one. Also pleasing was our first Small Tortoiseshell on the 11th February at Pett Level.

Bird wise it has been another period of hard toil. There are very few scarce ducks at Dungeness this winter with just one male and a few female Smew. The only Scaup found has been one in the Oare Marsh area although even this has been elusive. Dungeness has seen a few Black Necked Grebes, but so far only one Slavionan Grebe. Wild geese have been restricted to a few flocks of Whitefronts on Sheppey and Dungeness.
Not mentioned on our last update was our visit to the Isle of Sheppey on the 21st January where we connected with the long staying Shorelark and Richards Pipit. Both unusual birds in Kent and worth the effort and wait. Another treat was the flock of Brambling wintering in the Teynham Church area. We managed to see 6 of this most delightful winter finch. The males in particular look very smart in their full breeding plumage.
The long staying Glossy Ibis remains at Pett Level. It took us a few visits before we connected with it although we now manage to see it on most visits with a little patience. Bitterns and Great White Egrets are still putting on a regular show at Dungeness but the only other decent bird we have seen recently has been a Cattle Egret found at Biddenden. It disappears for days on end before finally appearing for the odd day, or rather late afternoon.
Probably the smartest bird we have seen during this period was the stunning male Hen Harrier seen yesterday at Scotney Gravel Pits. This bird has the Wow factor, which makes it even more baffling when certain estates in the North of Britain go to great lengths to deter this species.

By the time of my next update there is an outside possibility of an early summer migrant, or there was until I saw this weeks cold weather forecast.
Dave
Attachments
Goose Barnacles.JPG
Goose Barnacles at Dungeness. An almost annual visitor to Britain but very rare at Dungeness.
Glaucous Gull.jpg
1st Winter Glaucous Gull at Dungeness
Glaucous Gull2.jpg
1st Winter Glaucous Gull at Dungeness
Glaucous Gull3.jpg
1st Winter Glaucous Gull at Dungeness
Glossy Ibis2.JPG
Glossy Ibis still lingers on Pett Level by the roadside pool.
Tree Sparrow.jpg
Tree Sparrow on Walland Marsh. A declining species in Britain.

User avatar
Goldie M
Posts: 3134
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:05 pm

Re: Dave Brown

Postby Goldie M » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:28 am

Great photos Dave, ages since we've seen Sparrows round here. Goldie :D

dave brown
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:22 pm

The Butterflies and Migrant Birds arrive.

It took a while but Good Friday 25th March 2016 produced the first decent day of butterflies and migrant birds. Butterflies were 4 Small Tortoiseshells (1 at Dungeness & 3 at Hamstreet), Peacock (Hamstreet) and a Small White at Dungeness. Not big numbers but a teaser for what is to come. Bird wise the same and following day produced excellent numbers of Firecrests, we saw 20 plus but the whole area produced a record 101. The Firecrest does winter in Britain but is also a common spring migrant. This bird is one of my favourite British birds and is always a joy to watch. Also seen were a few Black Redstarts and good numbers of Chiffchaffs. Disappointingly we have only seen 1 Wheatear and that took until yesterday, our latest record for many years. Others have seen the first Sandwich Terns, Common Terns, Swallows, Sand Martins and Garganey. Safe to say the Summer has arrived, if only the weather would agree.
We have even seen a decent haul of moths thanks to our friends at Ruckinge. Yellow Horned being the best, but Oak Beauty takes some beating for good looks. Also present were Red Chestnut, Lead Coloured Drab, Twin Spotted Quaker, Early Grey, Common Quaker and Small Quaker.

The period from mid February to today has been fairly quiet with little turn over in variety of birds. The Dungeness 1w Glaucous Gull was regular until the end of Feb, as was the Glossy Ibis at Pett Level. Other than that it has been the same Great White and Little Egrets, Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzards, Slavonion and Black Grebes, Smew, Goldeneye, Long Eared Ow and Ravens. A Red Kite near Oare on the 23 February was a treat, as was the 2 Rock Pipits of the Scandinavian race (Littoralis) at Dungeness on the 20 March.

Our daily excursions have been brightened by the good numbers of Primroses, Lesser Celandine, Cuckoo Flower and Bluebells seen. Hopefully a good sign for the coming months.

I have included a few photographs of moths taken last year for a change. Well, they look almost like Butterflies.
Dave
Attachments
Striped Hawkmoth.jpg
Striped Hawkmoth at Dungeness. A really late record on the 19 December. An early Xmas present.
Sombre Brocade.JPG
Sombre Brocade at Hythe. A most unexpected record for Kent with less than 20 British records. Although now increasing in the South West.
Porters Rustic.JPG
Porters Rustic at Hythe. A rather dull looking moth but a great rarity. Hence left in the tube.
Feathered Brindle.JPG
Feathered Brindle. Fairly regular at Dungeness but this was an usual inland record at Ruckinge.
Red Chestnut.jpg
Red Chestnut. A reasonably common enough moth.

Pauline
Posts: 1964
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:49 pm
Location: Liphook, Hants

Re: Dave Brown

Postby Pauline » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:58 pm

Interesting report as usual Dave and some smashing moth shots - a spur to get my moth trap out again :D

dave brown
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Kent

Re: Dave Brown

Postby dave brown » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:15 pm

Is it really Spring?

In our area it seems as if Spring starts and then suddenly stops. Really warm days have been few and the winds are mainly in the wrong direction for migration. At least most days have been dry but a cold Northerly or Easterly wind persists. Consequently nature watching has been hard work with many days of not much.
The 30 March was a teaser with Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock, whilst the next day gave us Dark Edged Beefly. There was also some movement of Buzzards with 35 being seen, including one flock of 14.
The 1st April produced 5 Peacocks at Hamstreet with 3 Brimstones on the 3rd. This date also gave us an inland record at Hamstreet of Raven. This species is definitely on the increase in Kent. The 4th saw a few moths in the form of Square Spot, Pale Pinon, Coloured Drab and Lead Coloured Drab. The 5th saw a decent fall of migrants at Dungeness with our first Sedge Warblers of the year, together with Redstart, 2 Firecrests and 40 plus Willow Warblers. Moths were looking up with Early Thorn, Twin Spotted Quaker and Clouded Drab. A Wheatear and Black Redstart on the 7th at Dungeness was interesting but it took until the 9th to add another Swallow. The 10th was warm and sunny leading to 10 Peacocks, Comma, 5 Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Yellow Underwing (moth) at Hamstreet. The local woods were covered in Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Wood Anemones,
The 12th produced an unexpected record of Glossy Ibis at Oare Marshes, 2 Green Veined Whites, with 5 Wheatears at nearby Seasalter. The next day was slightly better at Dungeness with our first Whimbrel of the year, 4 Wheatears, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroat, 16 Sandwich Terns, 5 Common Terns and a Peacock. Also the Grey Backed Mining Bee Andrena vaga seemed to be in reasonable numbers.I believe that this colony is the first recorded in Britain of this species, although it was first reported late last year. The RSPB have now put a sign up advertising its presence, safe in the knowledge that it's right by a footpath so can easily been seen near the main car park.
We heard and saw our first Nightingales at Hamstreet on the 14th April. Quite an early date for this beautiful songster. Very easy to hear, seeing them is another matter.
We end this update with a special trip for us. On the 17th we visited Thetford Forest with the prime objective being plants. With information of their presence, and directions, we called at a roadside nature reserve adjacent to a housing estate in Thetford to see Breckland and Fingered Speedwell. Not the tallest of plants, about 75mm, but some of the rarest in Britain. A strange setting for such a rare plant. Even with directions they were not easy to find as many Wall and Ivy Leaved Speedwells were also present. Eventually though we found 2 Breckland and 4 Fingered. Next on the agenda was Grape Hyacinth at Tuddenham. Being a lot taller they were more obvious, we found 16 plants, again on a road side nature reserve. Nearby we found another 3 Breckland Speedwells in a field margin. During the day we called in at an undisclosed site to see 3 Goshawks displaying, a Red Kite drifting around and a Stone Curlew sitting in a field.
The feature of our successful day was the sighting of 6 Muntjac Deer at different locations. A new species for us although I imagine not one that is welcomed in all areas as they can do some crop damage.
We look forward to a rise in temperature and the increase in species that will bring, including the Grizzled Skipper and Green Hairstreak.
I will add some photos later.

Almost forgot. Speckled Wood in our garden on the 11th April and Small Copper at Dungeness on the 19th.
Dave


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