We were greeted with a fine sunny morning (remember those?) at the old Dungeness lighthouse. In fact the weather was too good – we could make out the coastline of France across the Channel and hence so could migrant birds so there weren’t many around the bushes in the immediate vicinity. Hence we made our way directly to the “patch”.
The patch was alive with many gulls and terns swooping in and out. In amongst the black-headed and herring gulls and common terns there were two black terns. These were more “dusky” in appearance than the other terns, as well as smaller with a less forked tail. Nevertheless they were difficult to ‘get on’ and took some discussion before we were convinced on the id. Loafing on the beach were also some sandwich terns and a great black-backed gull and out at sea some of us saw a party of scoter flying rapidly over the waves.
Returning back to the car park, one migrant was picked up – a wheatear – recognisable by its white rump. And later over the ARC lake – sand martins and for some a black-necked grebe.
We lunched at the RSPB reserve and we were in for some real treats in the afternoon.
From the first hide, Firth hide, we were able to watch curlew sandpiper next to dunlin, little gull against black-headed, ruff and greenshank, ringed plover, golden plover, lapwing and snipe, and in the next hide little stint against dunlin, common sandpiper and knot. There was also redshank and black-tailed godwit.
At Denge hide there were two great white egrets, marsh harrier, gadwell, teal, tufted duck, pochard, great-crested grebe, greylag geese, and a single red-crested pochard. One of us spotted a peregrine flying across and followed it up to a telegraph post were we could see it was eating a small bird. It turned out there were two peregrines. And when the larger one, presumably the female, flew off with her prey to some distant pylons the smaller (male?) bird followed.
Our final walk back to the car park was accompanied with the chirping of crickets – and eventually Alan found the source – a great green bush cricket which is a true green hulk of a cricket. Unfortunately, our attempts to photograph it this time were thwarted as it sneakily dropped off its perch when we approached too close. (So I’ve include my rather blury photos of the egret and a distance peregrine!)