There was a cold easterly wind blowing when a dozen of us met at Dungeness lighthouse on Saturday morning, but not to be deterred we wrapped up warm and headed towards the power station.
We were hoping to see the black redstarts which seem to have taken up residence in that area but unfortunately the strong wind was keeping a lot of the smaller birds hidden. We did manage however to spot the pied wagtails that always seem to be present near the water filtration unit, before we went up on to the beach.
Once there we needed to shelter from the wind by the hide to peer out over the sea. At first sight it appeared sparse of birds but we soon noticed there were red-throated divers flying by and great crested grebes bobbing up and down on the sea. The occasional gannet could be seen in the distance amongst black headed gulls and cormorants. A small group of common scoters were spotted by some, as well as some auks.
Retreating from the beach we tried our luck around the observatory and surrounding area but still no luck with the small birds and hopes of finding firecrest that had been reported, were dashed. Not to be defeated we moved on to look for a glaucous gull which was supposedly present by the fishing boats. Third time lucky, we struck gold and all had good views of this striking bird along with more guillemots, gannets and divers.
Lunch was calling so we moved onto the reserve. Again some of the birds we were hoping to see eluded us, such as slavonian and black-necked grebe but there were plenty of others. Rafts of shoveler, pochard, and gadwall could be seen from the first hide. Goldeneye were present in small numbers and the eagle eyed Cliff spotted two male pintails nestled amongst the teal and tufted ducks. As we looked over the pools a group of long-tailed tits gave us good views as they flitted through a bramble in front of the hide.
Next we thought we would look for the long-eared owls that have been roosting in bushes by the dipping pond. Again thanks to another sharp eyed member of the group, Ian, we all managed a partial view of one bird as it roosted deep in the undergrowth. We then made our way around the reserve calling into the different hides ending up at the Denge Hide where we had some good views of marsh harrier, lapwing, wigeon and curlew.
We retraced our steps back to the centre where some of us had a hot drink before leaving for home.
[thanks to Irene and Terry for leading and to Terry for the photographs – Sue]