Last Sunday 18 of us met in the Old Lighthouse car park at Dungeness with 3 more members of the group joining us later in the morning. The weather was beautifully sunny and clear if a little breezy. We decided to try and get a glimpse of the elusive Wryneck which had been seen on several occasions in the bushes at the southern end of the trapping area since the 16 September. Unfortunately, despite spending a fair amount of time looking we had no luck, so we moved on from there towards the beach along the path next to the observatory and the perimeter fence of the power station hoping to see black redstart. Once again, no luck, although we did get 4 goldfinch perched on the fence.
We walked up to the “patch” which was as busy as ever with a profusion of herring and black headed gull. Amongst the gulls a few common tern were spotted, and then further out to sea on the horizon, gannets could be seen gliding and swooping. Four cormorants flying in a line skirted the patch, and then Malcolm sighted some Brent Geese. As it was a bit early for lunch, we moved on to the ARC pit. On the way to the hide a Cettis warbler was heard but, as ever, not seen. From the hide we had good views of little egret, grey heron, great crested grebe, and a variety of ducks including coots, tufty and a few shovelers on the very choppy water. We did manage to find one wader but despite all the experts amongst us couldn’t manage an identification. The standout spot was, however, made by Teresa. It was a peregrine, standing motionless on the shingle across the pit.
It was now time for lunch, so we moved on to the main reserve. From the visitor centre we could see 5 great white egrets surrounded by 7 grey herons. Once refreshed we set off visiting the various hides. Again, there were more little egret and grey heron, and a multitude of greylag geese and cormorants. Flying overhead we had a couple of flocks of wigeon, several marsh harriers, and at Denge Marsh Hide we had a good view of the Great White Egret. Sand martins and swallows were still in evidence all over the reserve. On our way back to the visitor centre we sighted a single snipe in a field, a little egret in one of the pits and lots of golden plover and lapwing sitting on the shingle.
Sightings of the non-bird variety included a speckled wood, a common blue butterfly sunning itself on a 5 pence piece, a migrant hawker, and for some the most exciting of all, a great green bush cricket.
So, from a disappointing start with the elusive wryneck remaining elusive, the day turned out really well with over 30 species seen.
Sue & Cliff
Who pocketed the 5p?