Monday, 27 January 2014

Dungeness - 26.1.14

Great White Egret
Staying up late to watch the film probably wasn't the best idea as I had to be up at 6am for the Watford RSPB coach trip down to the Kent coast. The weather forecast looked pretty crap but I went anyway. The journey down was traffic free and we arrived just after 10am. First stop was the beach with the wonderful nuclear power station in the background. The wind was annoyingly strong and made seawatching almost impossible. However I had a go and managed to pick out 6 year ticks. A few Gannet were either close in or far out and auks numbers were huge with both Razorbill and Guillemot seen tho mainly the latter. A few Kittiwake were seen including some heart racing juvenile birds that almost always make you think Sabine's! Just beyond the patch a small group of Common Scoter were riding the waves and in the 20 minutes I gave it 8 Red-Throated Diver flew past with one stopping on the sea briefly. Lots of gulls were around the patch but I didn't pick out any Little Gull. Along with Ken Miller we had a quick look around the moat for the Hume's Warbler but by now the rain had started and only Blackbird, Robin and a Rabbit were seen.

Next stop was the ARC pit. While everyone else headed for the dry hide or screen I felt a bit mad and decided to walk down the main road to have a look over the New Diggings (which are probably quite old now). It turned out to be a good idea for as soon as I scanned over the water I picked out the 2 Black-Throated Diver swimming close together and just behind them was a female Goosander. Happy with that I went back to the ARC and plonked myself down in the screen hide. Just before I arrived 2 Great White Egret had flown in but only one was on view along with a Little Egret. At the far south end I noted 2 more Great White's but I could not find anymore of the 7 reported the day before. My first male Goldeneye of the year was the only other bird of note. It was then time to leave but I had another moment of madness and decided to walk up the entrance track rather than try to remove wet clothing to get on the coach only to have to put it back on again in a few minutes. I scanned the garden of the farm for Tree Sparrow but only found a Great Tit and on my walk I noted a flock of around 40 Curlew and a female Marsh Harrier that looked rather sorry for itself in the rain. The rest of the reserve was a blur of wind and stinging the face horizontal rain but from the different hides I had cracking views of two female Smew and my first Teal of the year while out on Denge Marsh a single Shelduck looked out of place and a fly over Turnstone. But just as the weather forecast had predicted no sooner as I sat on the coach out popped the sun! 15 year ticks in all taking the tally to 89 for the year. Bloody rain!

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