We met as usual at Nigel's house and had a one-hour vigil in his back room, watching the garden and feeders while Nige provided tea and breakfast like a superstar. Besides the commoner garden birds we added Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker, but failed to find Treecreeper or Goldcrest. While waiting for Jim to show up, we walked down the lanes to have a look at the fields, and added Redwing.
Then it was on to Fairlight. An uneventful drive saw one of our three cars add Jay. We walked to the cliff and noted (with some alarm in my case) that quite a large chunk of it had fallen down since the last time we were here, though our 'viewing platform' remained intact. This is big enough to accommodate the eight of us (just about) and we scanned the sea and cliffs. It was veeeeeeeery quiet. The usual rafts of Great Crested Grebes were on the sea, with one or two Red-throated Divers, and a lone Guillemot showed briefly before diving and apparently never surfacing again. We also had some distant Fulmars, plus Oystercatchers on the beach.
On to Pett Pools, and we passed a 'herd' of Curlews on the way, before stopping just short of the first pool to examine some geese.
We went onto the beach, where the tide was well in and there was little to see, but further down the beach we could see what appeared to be a sizeable flock of small waders flying in anxious circles near the shore. We decided we'd try to get closer, and returned to the car to drive along to the furthest pool.
On this pool were armies of Wigeons, phalanxes of Teals, and platoons of Mallards. More unexpected were a distant quartet of Ruddy Ducks, and a Snipe (or maybe several Snipes) played hide-and-seek with us in a nearby ditch.
We decided to stay out while the weather remained lovely, and went on to Dungeness, with a trip down the Dengemarsh road for starters. We paused en route to scrutinise the flocks of swans in the fields, but found only Mutes. However, we did score a pair of Red-legged Partridges.
We went to the beach next, pausing on the way to pick up a distant Great White Egret on the new diggings, and had a look for the Glaucous Gull that we failed to see last time. It's been there for more than a year now, and I've looked for it several times and not seen it. Today was a repeat performance - in fact we didn't even manage to find a gull flock in which to fail to find it. We did have a few Gannets offshore though. From here we phoned through our lunch orders to the Pilot, even though it was about twenty past three.
We ate our lunch while the light slowly faded outside, and debated what, if anything, to do next. Nigel added up the list and found it was a reasonable 86, not nearly as bad as it had seemed, to be honest. But by the time we finished lunch it was getting rather dark. We went onto the beach - a bit further down than before but still no gulls. Then on to the reserve, where the board told us there was a Long-tailed Duck, but it was too dark by this point to make out much of anything. So we called it a day - but a really good day :)