Four of us set off from my house at 7am, destination, Langdon Hole near Dover. I've always liked this area since Stephen and I went there in the early 90's. A sign of things to come was the first flock of birds that went over, 20 or so GOLDFINCHES, now, and probably have been for a long time, a feature at this time of year. Walking through the car park area we picked up a couple of GOLDCREST and a briefly calling CHIFFCHAFF, heard by Mary. Towards Langdon Hole itself we had more birds going over, SISKINS, CHAFFINCHES, MEADOW PIPIT and REDPOLL. Numbers soon rose and within an hour or so 200+ Goldfinches had gone over, we also gradually added a few more species PIED WAGTAIL, maybe 20 over in all, BULLFINCH, 3 went over with about 5 Goldfinches and female hung around for a short time in the shelter of the bushes. A BRAMBLING was picked up going north and the briefest of highlights was a SHORT EARED OWL that David and I glimpsed coming in off the sea and disappearing behind the white cliffs, there was also a taste of summer with two singles of HOUSE MARTIN. Another highlight came when two flocks of CROSSBILLS came over, one of 12 and one of 17, in quick succession. Add to that 3 YELLOWHAMMERS several SKYLARK and a flock of around 30 LAPWING in off the sea it was a good 3 hour visit. Totals are roughly as follows Goldfinch 720, Siskin 130, Redpoll 100+, Linnet 100+, Chaffinch 150, Crossbill 29, Redwing 1, Brambling 1, Yellowhammer 3, House Martin 2, Skylark 15.
We moved on to Bockhill with the rain and wind increasing!! The wood and the farmyard held a BLACK REDSTART, CHIFFCHAFF and 3 SWALLOWS flew over. In the paddock there were a couple of GOLDCREST and several LONG TAILED TITS. A bit of lunch then a drive along the Ancient Highway from Deal added a few more species for the day BRENT GEESE and GANNETS could be seen above the seawall and 3 STONECHAT and 10 GREY PARTRIDGE were nice additions to the day. Another stop at Restharrow gave us the CURLEW SANDPIPER, 1 DUNLIN and around 20 COMMON SNIPE. We had a quick look for the Firecrests that were around on Friday but to no avail, the light was fading fast and a stop at Pegwell Bay added a few common waders that we hadn't picked up anywhere else during the day.
Once again we were on our way soon after 7am, this time 8 of us took to the road, headed to Sheppey. A drive along the entrance track to Elmley started the day, MARSH HARRIER, COMMON BUZZARD and KESTREL were our first few raptors one Kestrel hovering just in front of the car moving from one side of the track to the other so everybody had a great view. There were, as ever, good numbers of LAPWING and several showed well next to the cars, always nice when you can study a bird so closely. A CURLEW was equally as obliging as we neared Kingshill Farm. With our main quarry along the road at Shellness or Capel Fleet, we only had a quick stop at Elmley and the highlight was a PEREGRINE dive bombing a Marsh Harrier that was sat on the ground, there were also 6 BLACK TAILED GODWIT, 3 LITTLE EGRET a flock of around 50 GOLDEN PLOVER and numerous WIGEON and TEAL below the farmhouse.
We continued on to Shellness and walked to the point, there were good numbers of waders and a lone COMMON SCOTER sitting on the sea, the KNOTS put on a bit of show as they wheeled over edge of the receding tide. With the wind being a little stronger than I would have liked the hoped for raptor fest was stuttering slightly but the odd MARSH HARRIER was putting in an appearance and a distant HEN HARRIER added to our tally. We weren't well equipped for a sea watch but talking to Barry (Highs and Lows of Birding Blog) and seeing later reports it had been pretty productive. Unfortunately we also just missed the 4 Snow Bunting that were on the point. Back along the sea wall the fields were almost birdless a few MEADOW PIPITS and REED BUNTING were the return for our efforts as well as a HARE disappearing and reappearing at various points across the salt marsh! lunch beckoned. The Ferry House Inn provided the sustenance and a nice surprise meet up with Derek Faulkner (Letters from Sheppey Blog). With time and light starting go against us, we made a couple of quick stops along the Harty Road at the View point and the Fleet, the consensus among the other birders, was that the wind was indeed keeping the raptors down. All in all it was two really enjoyable days, with fantastic company and a really good range of birds. I didn't manage any photos, both days were pretty grey.