Notable sightings over the last few days on the Beach Reserve and Harbour Farm have included two immature scaup on the Quarry, black-necked grebe on Ternery Pool, red-breasted merganser and little stint on Flat Beach Level and goldeneye on the pools to the south of Harbour Farm Barns. At Castle Water the highlights have been great white egret, buzzard, marsh harrier and today a pink-footed goose on Castle Farm (with Canada Geese) and at least 11 bullfinch near the hide. The most surprising sighting was a peacock butterfly near Harbour Farm Barns!
An outstanding sunrise again yesterday morning, clear and frosty-proper winter weather. With a slow-but-sure walk planned I only had 10 minutes to look at the sea, but noted 7 Great Crested Grebes below the cliffs, and 29 Red throated Divers flew E-a return to form ?
Our walk was one of my favourites-behind Scotney GPs-about 7 miles , starting from Dennes Lane carpark Lydd. Almost immediately 7 Bewick's Swans flew over calling, with two more later on; 2 Great White Egrets were in a remote ditch. We always try and find Tree Sparrows on this walk and have had three figure counts in the past. We struggled today, but spotted a group of Corn Buntings sitting in bushes, and on walking over to these-which were in Sussex-found at least 100-and heard a Tree Sparrow.
Returning, a Merlin flew past Scotney Court Farm, and we admired the lingering Black-throated Diver on the eastern Brett's Pit. In the afternoon we visited Kerton Road at Dungeness and found a single Dartford Warbler with 3 Stonechats. These included the grey bird, apparently a dropping from this has been sent for DNA analysis....
The glorious winter weather this morning encouraged me to take a trip around the reserve today rather than sitting indoors and staring down a microscope. Good numbers of ducks at Castle Water, mainly wigeon and teal with smaller numbers of shoveler, gadwall and tufted duck, as well as great white egret, fieldfare, egyptian goose and a few ruff on Castle Farm, all kept on their toes by a couple of marsh harrier and a persistent male sparrowhawk. A visit to Long Pit early in the afternoon turned up a pair of red-crested pochard, bittern and a couple of goldeneye, my first of the year. Marvellous.
This annual survey of small fish is available to download from the bottom of this Sussex IFCA webpage
It's important information for stocks of commercial fish and for the food of the breeding terns. Three of the 16 key findings were:
- There was a total of 27 fish species and a total abundance of 1966
- In 2015, Sandwich and little terns had their most successful year out of the last four. This was the year with the greatest June abundance of herring and sprat.
- Three species were new to this survey; horse mackerel, scaldfish and short spined seahorse.
A calm day yesterday, all spent in the garden, resulting in flyover records of Raven, Siskin, and the second Crossbill of the year, a couple of Goldfinches finally found our feeders, which have been up for 10 days.
On Friday, early morning seawatching produced a variety of seabirds in small numbers heading east-Brents, Wigeon, Red Throated Divers , Shelducks, Auks, Common Scoter, Gannet and GC Grebe. Nice to see a pair of Eiders going west, [see entry below] and a Grey Seal.