Dungeness rarely disappoints and today as we arrived to warm sunshine – a delight after the grey skies of the last few days – the prospect of a few new birds raised our spirits. (sorry, Malcolm, getting far too poetical!).
At the first hide we saw the usual collection of birds, including snipe, cormorant, pochard, teal, wigeon, shoveler, herring gull, black-headed gull, and great black-backed gull. A water rail came out of the undergrowth nearby and gave us a good chance to compare it with moorhen. We continued round the reserve and added pintail, golden plover and dunlin. Beyond the Scott hide a group of birdwatchers were gazing hopefully at a bush willing a pallas’ warbler to show itself. We watched for a while and then moved on as a family of great tit, a few blue tit and several robin moved ahead of us. Wren, dunnock and chaffinch added to our day’s list and a cetti’s warbler sang from a nearby bush.
At Denge Marsh hide a kingfisher flew across in front of us as we arrived, a marsh harrier hunted over the reeds opposite, and great white and little egret were feeding. More dunlin were sheltering in the protection of a lapwing flock. We decided to move on to the ARC pits and the Hanson hide, giving the pallas’ warbler one last chance to see us – it chose to decline our offer. A family of long-tailed tit were far more obliging, as was a juvenile newt which almost tripped Sally up as it moved just in front of her. Near the car park we saw a short-eared owl, and entertained us with a fly past as we drove away.
At the Hanson hide we added smew, goosander and goldeneye, and along the road we spotted a long-tailed duck diving at the base of reeds. Soon it was time for us to leave with our eyes peeled on the fields for swans.