17 of us met at the Lighthouse car park for our trip to Dungeness. The day started off dull, cloudy and with a cold wind, but by lunchtime the sky had cleared and there was a clear blue sky, but still a bitterly cold wind. We started off at the shingle beach and walked along to the patch. There were a huge number of great crested grebes on the sea, along with masses of herring and black headed gulls, with a few common gulls and kittiwakes mixed in. Some of us saw common scoter, guillimots and divers flying past out at sea, and there were also many spectacular gannets. Two song thrushes were spotted by the power station fence. We started to get cold, so decided to head off to the ARC. From the hide we had superb views of male and female smew and goldeneye – the drakes looked particularly impressive showing off their white bits in the sunshine! There were also many varieties of duck, including pochard, tufted and shovelar. A goldcrest was seen in the trees outside the hide, and some of us saw tree sparrows, chiff chaff and buzzard.
Lunch called, so we decided to go across to the reserve, where only the brave amongst us ate theirs at the picnic tables – watched on by the sensible (if somewhat unsociable) of us who sat and ate in the comfort of their warm cars! On the reserve, where the water levels were very high, we had great views of very smart wigeon from the Christmas Dell hide, and the great white egret and little egret from Dengemarsh hide. We also saw marsh harrier and many curlew. On the grass beyond the water were canada, greylag and barnacle geese. Malcolm then spotted some bean geese amongst the greylags, and Alan also noticed some fieldfare which had flown in near the geese.
We saw a grand total of 54 species, and had a great (if rather cold) day. Thank you to all who turned up and we hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did.
Sue & Ian Griffin