A perfect winter’s day, clear and cold with just a gentle NW breeze. First stop was Pett Level where there were several rafts of Great Crested Grebes offshore and Red-throated Divers heading both up and down-Channel plus a Scoter flock 45 strong that held at least 3 Velvets. Out on the marsh were 7 White-fronted Geese (with Greylags) that later flew on to the largest pool next to the road, 3 distant Great White Egrets side-by-side and a Marsh Harrier, while on the outskirts of Rye there were 2 Black Swans seen from the car with a large herd of Mutes. Other birds noted at Pett included 650+ Lapwing, 60 Curlew, 50 Dunlin and singles of Reed Bunting and Stonechat.
With it being a mild winter so far, Smew have been in very short supply with none at Dungeness up until yesterday when a drake turned up. Fortunately it was still there today showing nicely on one of the New Excavations pits near the viewing ramp from where we saw a couple of Marsh Harriers (including an adult male) and a brief Cetti’s Warbler and heard Bearded Tit.
|Drake Smew, RSPB Dungeness, Kent|
The remainder of the reserve was quiet bar a pair of Goldeneye and innumerable Cormorants packed in on Burrowes Pit and a total of 4 Great White Egrets. News from MC of a Tundra Bean Goose prompted a quick detour to Scotney Pit where the bird was still present with a large flocks of Greylags (and 5 White-fronts) on the greensward but definitely in Kent by about 100m.
|Tundra Bean Goose, Scotney GP's, Kent|
At Lydd Camp, the Little Owl was sunning itself in its usual bush at the base of one of the watchtowers while across the road on Brett’s Marina there were 3 Goosanders (2 drakes & a redhead).
|Little Owl, Lydd Camp, Kent|
At Cockle’s Bridge the 2 adult Whooper Swans were still present with Mutes, albeit distantly, plus a Buzzard and a Stonechat.
|1 of 2 Whooper Swans, Cockles Bridge, Lydd, Kent|
Lunch was had at the fishing boats where there were many Guillemots offshore (some already in breeding plumage), a handful of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Red-throated Divers and two Great Skuas, one of which gave good views as it headed down-Channel. The water levels on the ARC pit were too high, the only birds of note there being 4 Goldeneye, Marsh Harrier, Water Rail (h) and Chiffchaff, so rather than linger we headed out on to Walland Marsh where there were 34 Bewick’s Swans in their usual field at Horse Bones Farm and a few Fieldfares and Redwings. A final stop at Jury’s Gap turned up the smart male Black Redstart reported there earlier in the day. A total of 87 species seen or heard.
|Male Black Redstart, Jury's Gap, East Sussex|