On Saturday thirteen of us met at the Old Lighthouse for our usual visit to the “patch” and Dungeness reserve. The weather was overcast and, although the temperature had gone up by a few degrees, it still felt very cold with a stronger wind than of late. We made our way out onto the beach where there were the usual herring and black headed gulls in profusion. Further out we could see lines of auks flying low over the water, the consensus being that they were more likely to be guillemonts than razorbills. John spotted a gannet much further out, and some of the group were lucky to see a lone eider.
Deciding against trying to find a black redstart, we drove to the fishing huts in the hope that the rest of us might see the eider, as when first seen it appeared to be moving in that general direction. Alas no eider, but more guillemots, lesser and greater black backed gulls, a single turnstone, and kittiwake which were spotted by Malcolm.
By now it was midday and stomachs were rumbling, so it was off to the reserve for lunch. Some of the group stopped at Boulderwall Farm to see the tree sparrows, while a few of us went to the visitor centre where it was much warmer. From there we had a grey plover sharing one of the very small island with a lapwing, and long tailed tits flying past the window. Lunch was taken in Dennis’s hide from where we saw a number of shovelers, gadwall, coot, shelduck and the odd pochard or two, plus a knot fly past.
From the hide, we walked along the path hoping to see the two long eared owls which had been seen in the trees behind the dipping pool, and we were not disappointed, with a brilliant view of both. Moving on to the next hide we added goldeneye to our list, then smew and two little grebes on the water to the left of the path. The weather was now becoming very overcast and rain was in the air, so we finished up at Scott Hide where in addition to many cormorants and shovelers, a chiffchaff was spotted just outside the window.
As it was now beginning to rain we decided to try our luck at Hanson Hide rather than carry on round the rest of the reserve. Unfortunately, no bittern or marsh harrier, but a nice close view of a great white egret, a little egret and stock doves. As it was now raining steadily, we decided to call it a day. All in all, a good day with 48 species seen.
Thanks to Sally, Terry and Norman for the photos.
Thanks to Sue and Cliff for leading. Sally took the nice photograph of the group on the beach – but something is wrong! Can you spot it?