Sunday, 4 September 2016

Dungeness delights

On Friday, Phil and I went to Dungeness, arriving in fairly bright and breezy conditions at about 10am. The first bird we found, from the access track to the main reserve, was a Cattle Egret, and it was gratifying to see other birders watching 'our' bird later on. Actually it was Phil's really, he found it.

Cattle Egret hanging out with its bovine chums. Sadly very distant.

A couple of first-winter Wheatears bounded off the track as we continued, this one pausing briefly on a stump by the track to eyeball us.

The first hides - Frith and Makepeace - proved quite productive. We started slowly with a couple of Pied Wagtails...

... but then on the more distant islands we started to find waders, including this Ruff, and also a few Ringed Plovers and Knots, a Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper.

There were Common Terns going back and forth and also a small dark tern way out across the water which was, of course, a Black Tern but I couldn't get any worthwhile flight pics of it - all were blurred.

Eventually it went to an island to rest, alongside its bigger cousins, and I was able to take some photos (still distant but at least in focus).

A big gang of Cormorants came steaming along, clearly following a fish shoal. They were keeping close together and diving repeatedly, surfacing with small fish.

There were a fair few Greylags on the water too, including a creamy leucistic one. Other Anatidae included Tufties, Teals and Shovelers.

The walk round to Dengemarsh hide was insect-filled, with lots of Common Blue Damselflies among the bushes, and dragons including Common Darter, Emperor and Migrant Hawker.

There were also a few butterflies about, including Gatekeepers and this Small Copper.

At Dengemarsh hide, there were still Common Terns with well-grown young on the rafts. This young Black-headed Gull showed up and started haranguing one of the adult terns.

A Great White Egret flew across the back of the lake, keeping its distance (alas).

A bit closer to hand were these two Mute Swans.

We walked on, back to the visitor centre. We were nearly there, walking along the short and as far as I can see pointless bit of boardwalk just by the main track, when Phil exclaimed 'Stop!' and I looked down to see that I'd been about to step on a truly immense and stunning Great Green Bush-cricket.

I lay down flat for these pics. After we'd both taken plenty, I picked it up to ensure no-one actually did step on it, and also so that Phil could take pics of it on my hand (to show how enormous it was). But it wasn't keen on this idea and clumsily leapt/flew off into the shingle.

The weather started to turn gloomy after this, and so did the birding, a bit. We found another GWE from the small hide by the visitor centre, and then went over to the ARC pit where we met Phil's friends Terry and Martin, who informed us we'd just missed a flyover Honey-buzzard. D'oh.

From the ARC hide we could see many sleeping eclipse-plumaged ducks, one of which was allegedly a Garganey but neither of us could pick it out. However, this beautiful leucistic Pintail stood out like an anaemic thumb.

The viewscreen offered nothing new, though we did have a fly-by Hobby on our way there. We decided to go to the sea, despite news from Terry and Martin that there wasn't much going on there, and as we drove along the coast path it began to rain.

We took shelter in the lea of the seawatching hide, and had a look out over a very grey and grumpy sea. A few Sandwich Terns were heading west, all at quite a distance. Some gulls, including this juv Herring, went by closer. The rain got heavier and we decided to call it a day.

1 comment:

Phil said...

A very nice day despite the somewhat damp finale Marianne, pity the Cricket didn't play ball :-) and declined to sit on your hand to give a bit of perspective to the pics.
Look forward to an Autumn trip somewhere soon.