The first of this month’s outings was to be at Dungeness on Sunday 9th February. Unfortunately storm Ciara had other ideas, heading for us on the same day. Having decided to bring the meeting forward a day we hoped that anyone who wanted to come would see the email – many apologies if you didn’t.
Eight of us met by the lighthouse on an overcast and slightly damp morning. Dungeness is a National Nature Reserve with a rich and diverse wildlife. It is one of the best examples of a shingle beach in the world and is home to many uncommon species of flora and fauna.
Scanning the bushes in the area adjacent to the car park, dunnock were spotted sitting up and singing alongside the resident house sparrow of which there appeared to be quite a number. Herring gull and wood pigeon flew overhead and a kestrel was hunting from the telegraph poles.
We headed to the beach in search of sea birds. There was a continuous stream of cormorants flying along just off the beach which appeared in the hundreds. Some black-headed gull and greater black-backs were also either on the beach, in the sea or flying by. The usual pied wagtail around the sewage containers was spied but unfortunately not a lot else.
On the return walk a couple of male stonechat were seen sitting atop the vegetation, always nice to see. We continued up towards the Observatory along the road. Good views of a kestrel sitting on some posts and pouncing on unseen prey on the ground were had. Some thought it was practicing it’s technique as there did not appear to be anything there. We made a circuit of the desert area but nothing much more was added to our list.
Next was the ARC hide for lunch. Blue, great and long-tailed tit were seen on the way to the hide. Once inside and lunch devoured and we could concentrate on our birding. Coot, tufted duck, shoveler, pochard, great-crested grebe and goldeneye were all present in varying numbers. I think that shoveler were probably the most numerous duck of the day. Cetti’s warbler could be heard starting to sing though not seen and a very quick fly past of a kingfisher was only just caught. Great white egret were present on the ARC, at least three individuals were noted, and of course hunting marsh harriers.
We then moved over the road to the main RSPB reserve, briefly stopping to check for tree sparrows at the house, but no luck only the usual suspects of chaffinch, great and blue tit and one reed bunting. On the fields behind the house there appeared to be a large flock of lapwing mixed in with wigeon which were being disturbed by a buzzard.
At the main car park the feeders had plenty of activity, with greenfinch, chaffinch and great tit all busily feeding. We were also joined by two more members of the group so that made ten. On Burrow’s pits any islands above the waterline were occupied almost exclusively by many cormorants. We added teal and gadwall to our duck list and in the bushes that are to the side of one of the hides some had glimpses of a firecrest, chiffchaff and wren. Further on a group of about 10 black-tailed godwit were spotted flying into a shallow area.
We visited all the next hides not really adding any new birds other than some pheasants and a possible high flying flock of golden plover in amongst the lapwings. Due to flooding we had a longer route than normal back to the car park but arrived back by 4.30 ish.
Thanks to those who came and made it an enjoyable day out. Definitely a better day weather wise than the Sunday!
Irene and Terry
Ed: Thanks to Irene and Terry for leading the trip and Terry for the great photographs.