Friday saw Phil and I travelling to Dungeness, in some trepidation because, although we were in a nice warm car and the sun was (mostly) beaming down, we knew that there was some serious windchill going on outside, and if there's one thing Dungeness does well, it's windchill. We arrived at the warden's cottage at about 10.45am, just as a female Kestrel zipped low across the track in front of us.
Some of the trails were closed because of flooding. But the gen was that there were several Smews on Burrowes Pit. The water on view from here was very choppy indeed and the only birds braving it were a small fleet of Coots, but we thought there might be some sheltered bits further along, so walked down to the Makepeace hide.
Further out we could see a redhead Smew, and thought that it might be more readily viewable from the next hide along, so we opted to continue.
We went back to the visitor centre, walking into the wind now so were obliged to adopt a ridiculous bent-double posture to make any headway. After a look at the board and a bit of debate, we decided to try the ARC next.
The ARC car park was empty, a worrying sign which was borne out when we reached the hide and from it could see nothing but Coots and two very distant Goldeneyes. Because we are nothing if not optimistic, we walked around the other side to the viewscreen, seeing a couple of Marsh Harriers on the way.
So, we headed for the beach next. I had hoped there might be some seabirds around besides the usual, but this was not to be, though down at the Patch there was a phenomenal number of gulls on view.
It was by now about 2pm, very sunny, and still windy as heck. We returned to the car, and decided to drive on to Hythe and have a look for Purple Sandpipers, as has become something of a winter tradition. The drive is always enjoyable, through a string of coastal villages - all of which I'd like to live in - before you get to Hythe, a very nice coastal town which I'd REALLY like to live in.
We parked near the first breakwater, and while Phil made a phone call I went down onto the beach and looked for waders among the big rocks. There was some work going on nearby, with diggers shifting the shingle about, which I thought might be why I could find no Purps, but then Phil joined me and instantly located a lone Purp. However, it was distant and we couldn't get closer. The next breakwater we checked, at the far end of Hythe, was Purp City, though, with at least six of the chubby little waders pottering about on its rocks, along with two Turnstones.