Saturday, 2 February 2013

Pett, Scotney & Dungeness (02 February 2013)

2 February 2013.  John King and I headed east - realising it would be very hard to match the excellent day we'd had in West Sussex last Saturday.  We started well finding the two Pink-footed Geese on Pett Levels but if was freezing standing on the sea wall looking into the wind and watering eyes made telescope focusing difficult.  Despite it being low tide about 150 curlew were in the fields but little else was noted.  We moved on to Scotney stopping just before the pit to check a distant herd of swans.  All but one were Mute, a greyish juvenile with a sharp bill that appeared to be the same size.  Feeling confident it was a Whooper we walked down a muddy track to get better views and were quite surprised (and disappointed) to find it was actually noticeably smaller, a Bewick. Male Hen and Marsh Harriers and a female Merlin were (almost) adequate compensation.  Best thing at Scotney pit was seeing Martin Casemore - just on the Kent side and ready to check out passports!  He gave us some useful information although unfortunately it didn't all pan out, but that's birding.  We saw 3 Tree Sparrows and about 10 Reed Buntings around the feeders at the entrance to the RSPB reserve and 2 Marsh Harriers and 7 distant Barnacle Geese from near there looking back towards Lydd.  The latter were apparently as good as one is likely to get in this part of the world, thanks Martin.  On the ARC and pit opposite we saw 4 Great White Egrets, 3 red-head Smew, a female Red-crested Pochard, about 10 Goldeneye and over 200 Shoveler.  So far very good but things then went of the wires a bit with 90 minutes spend unsuccessfully looking for two Snow Buntings near Greatstone RNLI.  Apparently they were prone to disturbance although there didn't seem to be many people/dogs in evidence either (it was positively deserted compared to say Widewater).  Reluctantly we gave up on the buntings and headed to the point/fishing boats at Dungeness hoping the Glaucous Gull might be loafing around.  Here there was a lot of disturbance and we drew a blank.  A return to Scotney failed to produce the Bean Goose that has been hanging out with Grey Lags, the flock being elsewhere.  We decided to return over Walland Marsh in the hope of seeing the two Whooper Swans that were around, although others we'd spoken to had had no luck.  We didn't either but 210 Bewick's in 3 flocks were nice and black swan was added to the day's plastic wildfowl.  The reappearance of he Prince's Park Bonaparte's Gull at 3.55pm was not the news I wanted, or rather was news I would have been very pleased to receive 45 minutes sooner.  A Barn Owl over the A259 at Pevensey was a nice end to an enjoyable day, but one that left us thinking what more we might have seen.

2 Pink-footed Geese with a Grey Lag at Pett
Pink-feet showing named feature (always reassuring to see)
Canadas, Grey Lag and Pink-foot at Pett
juvenile Bewick's Swan with Mute near Scotney.  From further away it looked the same size and would have caught us out

27 January 2013.  Shoreham area.  Another visit to Widewater clocked up my 10th? failure to see Velvet Scoter although 15 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Red-throated Divers were nice.  3 Purple Sandpipers were seen at Shoreham Harbour where a Buzzard coasted east.  Little was on the Adur (few gulls around generally) while a Brambling was picked out of the reduced finch flock at Cuckoo Corner where 2 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Jays and 20 Reed Buntings were also seen.

28 January 2013.  Peregrine on Southwick Power Station chimney at dawn.

31 January 2013.  Ringed Plover calling from Southwick Beach at dawn, an early attempt to claim a territory?

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