Friends of the Forest Nightjar Walk – 29th June 2017

Around 25 members from Friends of the Forest joined members of the Ashdown Bird Group for a Nightjar walk at 8:30pm in Long car park. Once confident everyone had arrived we set out walking down the Airstrip and then turning left and walking through the wooded area to the left of the Airstrip. In this area we heard and saw Tree Pipit and a male Stonechat, further along Chiffchaff and Redstart were heard calling. Both Song Thrush and Blackbird were singing loudly from high perches.

Re-joining the main ride down just beyond the Airstrip, we stopped for a while to listen. A Whitethroat and family party of Stonechats were seen and someone had thought they’d heard a Nightjar churr briefly. There was no further sign after 10 or so minutes so we continued down a short way into some open pine woodland hoping for Woodcock, however, they were conspicuous by their absence.

We walked back up to where the initial Nightjar was thought to have been heard and waited around but no further sign was heard so we started to walk on. At this point the group had split into three with members of the ABG leading each. As the darkness of night fell and time ticked on all groups started to hear Nightjars. One group headed straight up the Airstrip, another around past the pond and to Five-ways and the other eventually coming back up the Airstrip.

Despite the lack of sightings, the birds could be heard calling, singing and wing clapping. I hope everyone enjoyed their evening, thank you all for coming, I would especially like to thank the Ashdown Bird Group members who came along and happily chatted and imparted their knowledge of birds.

ABG Trip Report – RSPB Dungeness – 24th June 2017

In not the best of conditions, Martin Jeffree, Bob and Judy Johnson , Al Nottage  and Sue Phillips, met at the visitor centre.

Whitethroat and reed bunting had been seen along the entrance track and egyyptian goose earlier at Scotney Pit.  From the car park, chaffinch were on the feeders, then a couple of linnet and a pied wagtail went over.

Since we early and the visitor centre was yet to open, we made a start outside Dennis hide overlooking Burrowes Pit.  In an increasing breeze, we saw ringed plover, house and the odd sand martin, pochard, great-crested grebe, cormorant, shelduck, tufted duck, common and sandwich tern, nesting common gull, gadwall, coot, lesser black-backed gull and very briefly from inside, cuckoo too.

After checking in at the Visitor Centre (and an early coffee break!) we walked up to Firth hide.  With reed warbler being heard along the path, we added avocet, little ringed plover and cettis warbler to our list.  Venturing farther on to Makepiece hide didn’t provide anything further, though we did have a better view of the cormorants from here!  With the weather now deteriorating, we took the brave decision to relocate to the beach by the Power Station!

Heading out along the Reserve entrance track we had a nice view of a hunting marsh harrier near the road and mute swan on Hansen ARC as we drove past.  It was pretty windy at The Point, so we didn’t linger, but taking shelter in the lee of the (locked) hide, we gave it a go and though we couldn’t find any auks, we did see several groups of gannets going west.   Brief views of a small bird within the Station enclosure might have been black redstart, but it wasn’t the day for them really.

Re-tracing our steps, we returned, via the Hansen ARC pit, to take lunch and here, walking up to the to the hide, were sedge warbler,  great tit and some evening primrose, with black-tailed godwit, knot, shoveller duck, dunlin, a little egret, moorhen, blackcap, little grebe and black-headed gull  all seen over sandwiches.  A fortuitous fly-by of the presumed earlier cuckoo gave us all better view this time.

Sue and Al headed home via Pett, seeing curlew, fulmar, buzzard and swallow.