Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Point

Today I went to the point (for those who don't know Sandwich Bay just walk north along the beach till you can't go any further).
I parked up at Newdowns checking the Newdowns Farm and Princes Reservoirs for ducks. Lots of coots(20), tufties (31) and pochard (12)but no winter ducks. 2 grebes were found, a great crested on Newdowns and a little grebe (a year tick!) on Princes.
From there to the beach and along the beach north to the nature reserve was very quiet with next to nothing seen. Part of the problem, I’m sure, was the dog walkers – there was a posse of 5 people with 11 dogs on the beach. They did however flush 5 sandling and 2 dunlin in my direction with 2 of the sandling landing close by then running towards me. I lay on the shingle and managed to get the camera out in time though only managed a few shots before they sprinted past heading south.
Common Seal
From there to the edge of the restricted area the beach was deserted but there were 6 common seals just off shore watching my progress.
From the edge of the restricted area/nature reserve I could see a large flock of waders – dunlin, knot, grey plover, barwit – numbering possibly 2000 but I left them to it and headed for the 100 acre field where I searched the marshy area for jack snipe. I had no luck today though I did flush 7 common snipe.
On several occasions the 200 or so curlew feeding further inland took to the air but I never found the source of their concern.
On the northern fence of the field I spotted 3 green woodpeckers together with another one on the eastern boundary fence and a 5 flew inland. They are obviously finding something to eat out there but what it is on the flooded pasture I have no idea.
Around 10 o’clock 8 skylark took to the air singing and chasing each other around for ~10 minutes then they landed and went quiet and weren’t seen again. The only other birds seen whilst I was there were a few mippits and a lone male reed bunting that dropped out of the sky quite close and allowed some pictures to be taken.
Reed Bunting
After that I returned to the beach and immediately put up 5 larks – 3 skylarks and the 2 shore larks. My suspicion is the shore larks had been pushed onto the golf course by the dog walkers (Pete Forest and I have both found them there previously). As normal they wouldn’t let me got close so only some record shots were obtained though I didn’t try very hard.

Shore Lark (with fishing line)
The waders were still roosting further north though a small (~40 strong) roost of grey plovers was on the foreshore close by the shore larks.
Grey Plover
The fact that the last 2 pictures have littler in them is not because I think the litter adds to the picture but because it is everywhere. The whole area could really do with a beach clean but it would need a fleet of  lorries to move it all.

On the way back I looked for but failed to find the Dartford warbler and a little later I failed to locate the northern long-tailed tits at Kingsdown though Steve Raynaert saw them down towards the houses at Oldstairs Bay but lost them (very careless really) when they flew up the cliff towards the old scout camp.
No year ticks today but the little grebe, green woodpeckers and sandling lifted my Bay list to 99.

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