St Margaret's, South Foreland Valley & Reach Road.
Mike Buckland and I teemed up to see what we could find in Kent on a day that didn't seem to promise much in the light south-westerlies that were forecast.
We decided upon St Margaret's as we drove off from Mike's and arrived at the Dover Patrol Monument around 07.45. Within a few minutes we'd had dozens of Chiffchaff's in the adjacent bushes and small numbers of finches.
Some of the "regulars" then appeared; Brendan Ryan, Phil Chantler & Simon Warry and Mike and I joined them to bird the clifftop down to Hope Point. Before long I kicked out a locustella which I felt was probably a Gropper but as it's always better to check we spent a while relocating it before getting good views in a bramble that left us with no doubt that it was.
A steady stream of Swallows and House Martins passed south along the cliff edge and around us and there were quite a few Chiffs.
At Hope Point we all went our separate ways and Mike and I combed the scrub in the hollow which was quite productive; single Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Turtle Dove and 4 Bullfinches, c20 Blackcap and dozens of Chiffchaff. We flushed a Short-eared Owl which quickly returned to the area and we later learned that it had been present for a couple of weeks.
A single Firecrest was seen just beyond Hope Point but with little to encourage us further north we headed back up towards Bockhill Farm with Brendan. Bockhill was quiet and early afternoon saw us at the beach cafe for a quick snack before we turned our attention to the South Foreland valley.
We parked at the lighthouse and explored the area but it was very quiet with just a few Firecrest and small numbers of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. Peregrine was added to the day list but after an hour or so we drove out to Reach Road to see if the cliff-top fields held anything of note. A thorough scan of the area produced 3 Wheatear, 2 Yellow wags and around 200 Meadow Pipits. It was late afternoon and we called it a day. 64 species seemed a fair haul on what was a pleasant days birding that just lacked that "special" bird.
|St Margarets, looking north towards Hope Point.|
|Looking towards the Dover Patrol monument from the South Foreland.|