05/06/21 Off-patch Bee-eater

A quick look around the headland in light Northerlies and mizzle held a few hundred Swift East, 2 Red Kites drifting around and a late Whinchat at south foreland lighthouse.

The remainder of the day was spent with friends on the beach at Dungeness, en route to which Amy and I found a Beeeater perched on wires on the road to Lydd just before the golf course. We were running late so I didnt have much time, the bird flew around abit on both sides of the road, catching insects and seemed happy on the wires. It stuck around for Martin C to connect with it 10 mins later. I didn’t look for the Rosy Starling that was present at Dunge all day as I’d used up all my birding allowance on the Bee eater 😉

04/06/21

Low cloud, light drizzle and northerlies in early June wasn’t as bad as i expected; the first birds I put my bins onto as i walked up the cliff path at 06.00 am were a female Marsh Harrier and a Red Kite sharing c100 metres of airspace over the harbour. The Kite flew towards Langdon and the Harrier over Dover Castle and away to the west.

The Kite was later seen feeding on a carcass from Foxhill down surrounded by Corvids, and was one of 3 birds seen this morning.

The most surprising bird of the day was a singing Willow warbler near the radar station, this along with a perched and calling Siskin were the only passerines of note.

The Below Dingy Skipper was noted the day previously but forgotten about in the excitement…

03/06/21 Black Stork!

A colder start to today and some sea fog meant not much to look at so me and Rich Bonser had time to catch up whilst walking east from Langdon Hole first thing. The winds had switched over night to a South Westerly and the only thing of note really was a singing Black Redstart and a displaced Reed Warbler in song too.

The sun eventually burnt through most of the mist at around 09.30 and a few moments later, whilst we stood on lighthouse down, Rich suddenly exclaimed “Fucking Hell!’, looking up I saw the source of his exclamation and shouted “Black Stork!”- as an immaculate Black stork drifted over our heads only about 80 metres up.

The bird drifted south and out to sea from where we stood on light house down and into the mist, We put the news out and it was seen by some of the Bockhill lot as it came back in and moved west (I think).

Another great day on the headland and really nice to share the excitment with a pal.

02/06/21 5 Rose Coloured Starlings and Bee Eater!

A memorable morning for me out on the headland today with a South easterly breeze coming in off the sea. At about 08.40, and Just 10 minutes after discussing the approaching invasion of Rosy Starlings with Lucy and Mark Love I had a flock of 5 fly North over fields just north of SouthForeland lighthouse!

I picked them up as a tight ball of starling sp’s flying across the horizon about half a field away (their commoner congeners have been hard to find at the moment) and as I quickly got my bins on them the SHOCK of seeing 5 Rose coloured Starlings flying together will stay with me for sure.

My camera wasn’t focusing immediately so I lost a few seconds whilst they got further away, although I managed some distant heat hazed shots. They really seemed to be in migration mode and I lost them towards Reach road.

Now hot in pursuit and imagining them perched on and around the sheep or on the fences in that direction I made my way whilst putting out the news only to be interrupted 25 minutes later by the familiar sound of a Bee Eater calling above Langdon Hole to my left, I heard it 3/4 times before picking it up as it came over the Radar station and right over my head as I stood at Reach road, Id imagine it flew over my house just before that too.

A couple of Record shots, A few more calls, and it was gone, headed East over the fields north of the road.

Other birds of note were a Hobby (that Im seeing everyday in a similar place…) and perhaps 20 Swallows East. A really exciting hour or so and a sea swim to celebrate! Im happy we moved here.

Looking back at South foreland lighthouse from near Reach road

1/06/21

Officially the first day of summer and another warm bright day with Easterly winds. Notable birds were my first Crossbill of the year, an immature male that flew over West calling only to appear 5 mins late in a coniferous tree on lighthouse down, fed for a couple of minutes then moved on again. Later on a Hobby flew West over the Castle around mid pm.

I was excited to learn when we moved in that we have Wall lizards in the garden and between our garden, next door and the waste land at the end of the road there seems to be a very healthy population, apparently the Italian subspecies, I havent managed to photograph the largest males which are quite impressive but heres a couple smaller males from today.

Butterflys are becoming more obvious this past day or two but this Mother Shipton, day flying moth, was nice.

20/05/21 Woodchat Shrike

This morning I learned that a Woodchat Shrike had been photographed on Tuesday near the top of the stairs leading to Langdon Hole. News reached me via Phil S who’d ID’d the bird from a photo taken by a birder who was unsure of what he’d seen 2 days previously. An excellent bird for the area and somewhat heartbreaking ! Images were posted on the Kent FB page this evening – A smart male!

A Shame the house is currently an inhabitable building site and I’ve been working in London all week and all next week too. Well done to the finder and photographer of the above image – Adrian H.

09/05/21 Golden Oriole

Wide awake at 04.50 this am with the promise of southerlies and some rain. The headland was fairly quiet but a few hours into my morning’s birding (at around 08.15) I heard a Golden Oriole singing from the old windmill garden just East of South Foreland Lighthouse.

Moments before hearing it I was sheltering from a heavy rain, thunder and lightening, evocative stuff and A much anticipated find for me on the patch. The bird moved closer towards me and the volume increased. A few minutes later Lucy L joined me, she had heard the bird too from her house nearby. I glimpsed it moving through the canopy briefly; a bright male and heard it once again after that, then nothing.

Other birds of note were 5 Yellow Wagtails over, a Summer Plumage Black throated diver that flew East high above the horizon, c25 Swallows, 10 House Martins, a Firecrest was calling in top wood, 2 Wheatear a Red Kite East over the castle and 2 Lesser Redpolls were flying around together first thing.

07/05/21

Another fairly still start to the day with light NW winds increasing in strength and turning West. Another 5.30 am start with most of the good birding limited to the first part of the day.

A Tree pipit was heard calling, and located perched in a hedge at the top of the stairs up the cliff. I watched it in the dawn light untill it flew off North, a Garden Warbler was also singing along the same path. c12 Willow Warblers (below) were scattered around, A single female Wheatear, c50 Swallows flew mostly West, single Sand and House martin, Single Yellow Wagtail North, 2 White Wagtail East, 11 Swifts in off the Sea.

5 Common Buzzards and 3 Sparrowhawks were all counted from a skywatch on the farm however whilst walking just west of Fan Bay; I picked up a Marsh Harrier low down out at sea being harassed by a Herring Gull, before too long it had gained height and was above the cliffs heading NW inland.

The Bird had what looked like orange Wing tags but the heat hazed photographs do not reveal any colour or codes unfortunately. A 2cy female I think.

I bumped into local birder Lucy L who told me she had a singing Serin in her garden on lighthouse down the previous evening. Sadly there was no sign today.

03/05/21

Light SW winds and abit of a sea fog produced one of the better days for me here so far this spring.

A 5.30 am start up top produced a male Ring Ouzel (in a similar place to y’day’s female) my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, which was perched in Langdon hole briefly before vanishing, 2 Male Black Redstarts, 7 Wheatears, c15 Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler, c30 Swallow mostly East and a Lesser Redpoll feeding with Linnets on the deck was nice.

Winds got up and the place was blown out so no Skywatching etc. Im only down on weekends untill the end of the month so might miss some decent weather, it seems to get windy for weekends only at the moment!

02/05/21

The 2nd of May and still temperatures are struggling to get into double figures but a 5.45 am start and a long day out and about was enjoyed. Highlights were a female Ring Ouzel that flew over my head, perhced briefly before carrying on toward Foxhill down first thing, a smart male Common Redstart on Lighthouse down, 2 Tree pipits over N, 3 or 4 Yellow Wagtails, a Siskin flew East and a Garden Warbler was an added to the year list near the NT Car park.

Many Whitethroats and Lesser whitethroats were in song and perhaps 15-20 Swallows flew East over the day plus a single House martin. I also saw a pair of White Wagtails on lighthouse down, which could be the pair that bred there last year retuning. A Black Redstart was also heard singing out on my wanderings in Dover this evening.