Today I went to Dungeness in the esteemed company of Phil Sharp (check out his blog Sharp by Nature here, it's a good'un). Mist shrouded West Malling station when we met at 9amish, but as we proceeded down the M20 the skies cleared and it turned into a beautiful sunny day, with a slightly chilly breeze (hey, that's Dungeness) but very warm in sheltered spots.
We stopped in a sunny corner to scan the meadows, which seem to have been freshly flooded and have been bordered with a new electric fence. We were pondering what livestock might be on its way to the meadows when a rustle close at hand alerted us to some activity among the edges of the reeds, and peering in we saw to our surprise a wriggling ball of small Grass Snakes. There were at least three of them but they were so entangled that it was difficult to be sure. Views were too obscured for photos - I was just about to put the macro lens on when they suddenly spotted us and slipped away out of sight.
We continued our walk around the reserve, seeing little of note (Marsh Harriers all over the place though) but enjoying the sunshine. We saw one more Grass Snake, and also a shrew (not IDed to species but probably Common) lurking under a piece of refugia.
There was a crowd of people distantly visible on the access track, so we went to join them but it turned out that they were all failing to see a Garganey on the small roadside pits. We spent a few minutes with them, also failing to see the Garganey, then we carried on to the beach.
Our final destination was the ARC pit. We decided to head for the viewing screen first. It was about 3pm by now and starting to get a little chilly.
We ummed and ahhed about visiting the ARC hide and finally decided that we would. It turned out to be a good move. For a start, on the way there we actually saw (well, Phil saw and I glimpsed) a Cetti's Warbler, after hearing them singing all day.
Then it really was hometime. Well, almost. We nipped back to the visitor centre to use the facilities and I took a look at the feeding station there.