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Clipboard World

All the photos on this post were taken from the atmospheric Trektellen archive.

I've been taking part in the BTO Winter Thrushes Survey. I've volunteered for a few 1km squares on which I have to work out a route, which I map online then print out. Then I print a survey sheet, which I found off-puttingly complicated until I actually read the instructions, and dig around for a battered clip-board held together with insulating tape. Then it's off out into the field trying to flip the pages back and forth and struggle to write with either slippery gloves or numb fingers.

On your map you have to mark each point at which you encounter thrushes of any description (in addition to the usual B,ST,M,RE,FF you can record Black-throated, White's etc should you be so very lucky) then enter onto a table the species, number and codes (I love codes) to describe what they're up to and where. Apart from thrushes, you can record Starlings and Waxwings (currently massed just over the border) as well as a slightly puzzling selection of other species.

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Dungeness Bird Observatory

Most of the day's interest was again offshore where three Pomarine Skuas and a Little Auk passing west were of note along with lots of Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Kittiwakes and over a thousand Guillemots. In addition, a drake Ring-necked Duck was seen on the New Excavations on the RSPB Reserve. A party of 35 Waxwings were also seen for their second day at Hammond's Corner just to the west of New Romney. From the DBO website.


East Guldeford Levels

A slow start to my walk around the levels this morning, with no  Tree Sparrows near the road, and no Barn Owls in the dawn gloom, in fact not much all for the first 30 minutes. However this is a great place for hearing bird calls as it's so remote and quiet, and I  was delighted to hear, several times, the distinctive "rattle and teu" call of a Lapland Bunting which got up from a wet stubble field.  The Levels are  one of the better  places in Sussex to look for [or listen for] this rare bird, this being the third consecutive winter I've recorded them here.

There were few birds around in the middle of the levels, about 20 Redwings, 30 Fieldfares and 10 Song Thrushes in the few hawthorn bushes, and just 8 Skylarks flew up.However this is a good place for raptors, and Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Peregrine appeared, also a very confiding Barn Owl hunting ditch banks near the wind farm. There were no sparrows at the regular spot here either.

The farmland bird situation improved dramatically as I returned, with the best  stubble fields near the pond holding 25 Corn Buntings and an impressive flock of at least 150 Skylarks, the biggest feeding  flock I've seen for years.

A final check of sparrows near the road again drew a blank-perhaps they all on feeders elsewhere ?


Castle Water

At the hide today lots of ducks in the sunshine including several hundred Teal with lots of displaying and calling. But the highlight was a Great White Egret seen briefly in flight.                        


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Beach Reserve

The run of good birds continued today with a Lapland Bunting in amongst a small flock of Skylarks feeding on the short grassy area along the footpath at the back of ternrey pool.