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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Kumlien's and then a White Out !!!

The parents managed to see the Kumlien's Gull in Dover Harbour on Friday (3rd) along with a Shag, 1 Knot, several Razorbills, a Guillemot, Turnstones, 1 Rock Pipit and some Kittiwakes. They then paid a visit to the east end of Folkestone between the Harbour and The Warren where they saw several Mediterranean Gulls. Their final stop was a frozen Aldington Flood Gap where they added Kestrel, Jay & Lapwing to their day list.

Saturday morning (4th) was fairly overcast early on but, together with Angela, we made our way from Ashford along the M20/A20 to Dover Harbour hoping to connect with the Gull. On arrival at c10:50am the sun broke through and, once parked in one of the £4 Marina car parks, we took a walk along the slightly snowy Prince of Wales pier with a backdrop of  Dover Town, Castle and the White Cliffs.

Dover Castle

A group of 3 Gadwall (1 drake) and around 10 Great-crested Grebes were east of the pier along with a Common Seal. The old hovercraft pad held several Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin and Turnstone amongst the loafing Gulls, none of which were Kumlien's. Reaching the cafe at the end of the pier a couple of groups of Razorbills were noted feeding along with many Kittiwakes and a single Shag. Looking towards the Admiralty Pier a number of birders could be seen looking for the Gull and through the telescope I managed to pick up the Kumlien's in poor light. At one stage it flew past an airborne Mediterranean Gull before disappearing without Angela getting on the bird. For the next five minutes we couldn't locate it, before I suddenly spotted it right in front of us. It headed off back to the Admiralty before Angela picked it up again right by the cafe, now really close and feeding off of scraps thrown in by the nearby fisherman. The camera was hastily readied and for the next 10-20 minutes the bird showed brilliantly in very good light. A call was made to AF & BF who I could see on the other pier and then the birders started to arrive, MC, PP and A# arriving first.

Kumlien's Gull head-on

Kumlien's Gull having spotted the fisherman's scraps

Kumlien's Gull against the background of the cliffs

Kumlien's Gull against the blue sky

By now our fingers and toes were starting to get cold so we left the others to the bird and headed back to the car. Just past the shelters, Angela called out that there was a small bird perched on top of a metal fence that surrounded the hoverpad. Expecting it to be a Rock Pipit that Mum and Dad had seen the day before, I was shocked to find that, through bins, it was a Snow Bunting, a top find by Angela. Quickly putting the news out on the information services, we were soon joined again by MC, PP, A# and at various stages; BF & AF, KP, DB, GH, MO and other Kent Birders. Nice to see you all again. The Bunting showed well but could be elusive at times as it fed around the fence, barriers and the short vegetation.
Male Snow Bunting on the hoverpad fence
Snow Bunting - with snow

After warming up in the car and having a snack and a drink, we headed for Samphire Hoe Country Park, a place that Angela had never visited before. During a circular walk around, we noted: singles of Snipe, Curlew and Lapwing, 2 Shelduck heading east, 3 Robins and 3+ Green Woodpeckers along the railway line and 3 Stonechats (a pair and a single female). On departure we had a female Black Redstart while we were waiting for the tunnel lights to change.

Final stop of the day was Folkestone - the cliff top between the harbour and The Warren. Here there were a number of Mediterranean Gulls, flying around and perching on the street lights and buildings - ideal for the camera to make another appearance. We then made our way back to Ashford for a spot of shopping, eating and DIY !!!

Mediterranean Gull with a metal leg ring

The parents were out too, birding the Marsh and Dungeness, seeing the following:

Warehorne - Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Bullfinch (male).
Fairfield - Common Buzzard, several Teal & Gadwall.
Walland Marsh - Sparrowhawk, c53 Bewick's Swans, Marsh Harrier.
Lydd Airport - Black Redstart again.
ARC Pit - 5 Bewick's Swans flying over, Marsh Harrier, Snipe.
New Diggings - Little Egret.
Dungeness RSPB - 2 Marsh Harriers, Smew (drake on Burrowes), 4 Goosander (including a drake on Burrowes), several Tree Sparrows.
Dengemarsh - 3 Marsh Harriers.

Overall another fantastic day. Until the snow arrived at about 10 pm !!!

1 comment:

  1. Top photos Neil,much ,much better than I managed to get!I would be really grateful if you could send me a copy of your header pic, it's the best picture I have seen of the bird. I'm at Thanks Phil