Thursday, 26 July 2012

Dungeness heat haze

Dungeness heat haze - a good name for a band, no? Having arranged a trip to Dunge with Phil Sharp (see his ace blog here), I got up super-early to get my run out of the way before it got too hot, and was treated to the sight of a trio of fledgling Kestrels wheeling around the church tower, making a LOT of noise. Back at the cottage, I spent a little time in the garden photographing butterflies.

From the top, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral and Small Skipper. The Gatekeepers are also coming out in force now.

Phil arrived at 8.30 and we set off for Dungeness, kicking off with a look around the main reserve. We weren't expecting much bird-wise but hoped to find plenty of insects enjoying the stillness and heat.

The place is full of flowers which, in turn, are pulling in the insects. Here's a Brown Argus which led us a merry dance before finally deigning to sit still for a few moments.

We were dead right about the birds. Very little on the wing, apart from large parties of mostly juvenile Starlings. A big flock of Lapwings went over at the end of Burrowes Pit and I took photos, focusing on one random bird as they got closer. Unfortunately I picked the scruffiest Lapwing known to man.

This one is an Essex Skipper. Very similar to the Small Skipper above, and you need to see them from this sort of angle to see the difference - look very carefully and you'll see that the Essex Skipper is wearing tiny white stilettos. But if the stilettos have fallen off then check the antennae tip undersides - red-brown in Small, black in Essex. There are other little differences too but the antennae one is probably the easiest/least subjective.

We stayed on the trail to Denge Marsh hide then took a left and followed the public right of way to Springfield Bridge, alongside the river. A lovely walk, this, and it produced a few Six-spot Burnets and this confiding Corn Bunting. At the bridge, we saw a very white-crowned female-type Marsh Harrier over Denge Marsh, and in the river a mini-Pike (the little ones are called 'jack' Pike, as Phil explained).

We retraced our steps from the bridge and were soon back at Denge Marsh hide, noting this Marsh Frog lurking in the ditch beside the hide.

It was lovely and cool in the hide and we made a lengthy stay, entertained by the many Common Terns that were on the rafts or flying about nearby. They were feeling the heat - I saw several taking mid-air dip baths but didn't manage to get any shots of it. On the raft in front of us there were at least two small chicks.

A Black-tailed Godwit flew briskly over the water - one of two seen today.

Linnets were ever-present and as photographically unhelpful as usual. This was the best I managed.

The last stretch of trail between Denge Marsh hide and the car park proved best for dragonflies. There were many Ruddy Darters about, a few of which posed for photos. Less cooperative were the big 'uns -  we saw Emperors, Brown Hawkers and Migrant Hawkers. Common Blue Damselflies were also numerous.

Over the road to the ARC pit. We went to the viewscreen first, and again it was nice and cool here. Not that much to see though. This Little Egret provided a few minutes of diversion, while nearby was a crestless young Lapwing, a few Linnets dropped in, and further out were Pochards, Tufties, gulls and Cormorants.

Heading back, Phil remarked on how the loafing gulls on the shingle bank were quite unworried by our walking past quite close to them. Of course, the moment we stopped, the gulls started looking worried and shuffling away. This Common Gull and Black-headed held their ground and provided a nice size/shape comparison into the bargain.

We finished our very enjoyable though a bit too hot day in the hide on the other side of the ARC pits. Lots to see here, though none of it very close. Ducks included this female-type Garganey, as well as Teals, Gadwalls and Shovelers, and on a shingle spit a Common Sandpiper kept company with a Little Ringed Plover.


Jason K said...

Sounds like you had a great day out Marianne! I love the photo of Brown Argus. They are probably my fave butterfly!

Warren Baker said...

Hi Marianne,
Like the flight photo's :-) Wasn't it a hot one today! Must have been nice at Dunge though :-)

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
I've zoomed in and spent ages looking , but I can't see the stilettoes . I did find the handbag , so the ID must be OK .
All that heat and Phil's jokes , you deserve a medal .
The Gulls had probably heard them all before , hence shuffling off .
I like the flight shots too .

Phil said...

Hi Marianne
Nice account and pictures. It was a bit hot wasn't it, so much for the windy Dungeness reputation.
As for my jokes, here's a kind of wildlife related one. I had a chicken tarka the other day. It was like a chicken tikka, only 'otter...boom, boom! That one's for you Greenie!

Marianne said...

Thanks for the comments fellas :) Here's my favourite wildlife joke. A Ruddy Duck and a Canada Goose go into a pub. The barman says, 'Have you two been introduced?'

Alan Pavey said...

Nice post Marianne, with some lovely shots too. That Meadow Brown is a cracker. I'm not going to attempt any jokes, which is probably for the best :-)

Mike H said...

Great post Marianne and good to be able to read your blog again. Many thanks to Phil for providing "the missing link". Hope that things work out for you just down the road in East Sutton.

Rohrerbot said...

It's so hard right now to focus. Your post is really beautiful with all the critters...birds, butterflies, and insects. It's miserable here in Tucson but some of the most fantastic wildlife shots are to be found right now. The butterflies are out of this world.....and even though I go look for birds, the insect variety(and I'm not a bug person) is incredible and diverse. You have me excited for another hike tomorrow. I love your thorough photo series of finds. That skipper shot is precious! Have a wonderful Friday!

ShySongbird said...

What an enjoyable post! Lovely photos too Marianne. It sounds like you had a great time. I didn't know about the stilletoes on the Essex so will have a closer look at my suspects although I was too busy trying to focus on the rest of the body :-)

I thought I was going to get a really nice, close Linnet on a post yesterday, got very near, started to press the button and it was gone!

Love the Marsh Frog, we don't see them here.

Nice selection of butterflies from the garden too.

Still groaning at the jokes!