A bright, dry day for the Group trip to one of our favourite RSPB reserves, Dungeness. This large shingle spit is a very special place, with plants and animals adapted to a habitat that is dry, warm, stony and very exposed. At ‘the patch’, in front of the power station, we looked out for Sabines Gull, Black Terns and Little Gulls but saw only the usual Herring Gulls, Cormorants and, today, Common Terns, dashing to and fro. A treat to see lots of bird activity nevertheless. Some of us spotted distant Gannets and a Skua but the wind was very strong. On our walk back we saw two Black Redstart and a Wheatear on the perimeter wall of the Power Station. The Wheatear will be migrating south, along with the Martins and Swallows whizzing around us. The Black Redstarts though will probably stay at Dungeness over winter. At the Observatory we saw only a couple of ‘wiff-waffs’ caught in the new net cages, apparently unable to find a way out. I do hope they were released before becoming too exhausted.
Large numbers of birds were loafing at the ARC pit. Golden Plovers, Lapwing, Pintails, Teal, and a Garganey that we didn’t see…. On the reserve we stopped at the entrance to watch the 30+ Tree Sparrows sitting patiently in a dead Elder, hoping the warden would notice them and fill up the empty feeder. On the main reserve a Great Crested Grebe fishing in front of the hide was caught on camera by Ian. It was swallowing an enormous fish.
The many Bramble bushes attracted a number of Great Green Bush-Crickets which we were only able to locate because some of us had exceptionally good hearing. We saw a male stridulating on top of the bushes and a female below. This is Britain’s biggest bush-cricket and is most common in the south and along the coast. It can continue calling well into October.
Dengemarsh appeared to have the world’s population of Coots, but not a lot else today, though as we walked back to the Centre the Great White Egret flew into that pool, close to the hide!
Thanks to Malcolm for leading today, though I still say we should have called at the cafe too…