Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dungeness 23rd March

A change of plan saw me heading through the mist to Dungeness on tuesday morning. As I turned into the reserve the first bird I saw was this handsome male Kestrel perched as if on gate duty, on a small bush opposite the farm buildings. The gloomy, slightly misty weather was a feature of the day and this made picture taking even more of a challenge for me than usual, so apologies for the poor shots to follow. The Kestrel picture was also taken on totally wrong settings in my haste for a quick snap before it departed, a case of look before you leap I think.


As I parked the car I looked at the feeding station and saw two Tree Sparrows going to and fro the seed feeder, only the second time I've seen these in the last year or so. They were also accompanied by a couple of Reed Buntings and a pair of Gt Tits. While putting my boots on Dennis and Doreen arrived just in time to see a small flock of Swallows hawking over the visitor centre. A good start to the day despite the weather.
Three Goldeneye were seen from the first hide, two females and a male but the predominant species was Shoveler, dozens of them with a scattering of Shelduck, Gt Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Pochard, Cormorants and of course the usual Gull species.


The footpath from the Firth hide was absolutely swarming with small black gnats. I'm used to these things, living alongside a lake, but I've never seen them on this epic scale, you couldn't walk and talk at the same time without ruining your appetite if you get my drift, although the high numbers of Pied Wagtails and a few White Wagtails didn't mind, you could almost hear them licking their lips.

Slavonian Grebes and Oystercatcher caught our attention on the way to Christmas Dell where a very quiet call from deep inside the undergrowth eventually betrayed the presence of the first of two male Firecrests found. Denge Marsh hide was still the place to see Black Necked Grebe with flyby Marsh Harriers putting up good numbers of Wigeon still and a single Redshank, followed soon after by a lone Fieldfare and a Green Woodpecker which flew across the track. Cetti's Warblers were calling all around the site but were not seen, ditto a Water Rail which squealed from deep inside the undergrowth of a small pool. Small glimpses were had of Bearded Tits but in general they remained vocal but unwilling to show themselves, unlike the Reed Buntings who were present in good numbers all over the site and very happy to be seen. In the fields to the East several Curlew could be seen feeding and a flock of 10 were seen flying over the reserve to the South later on. On arrival back at the visitor centre we were first greeted with a singing Chiffchaff in the small wet wood adjacent to the car park and then I noticed the unmistakable song that for me proclaims the true arrival of Spring, a Willow Warbler!


Over the road the ARC Hanson hide was very quiet as was the (very) wet woods which surround it, not a single bird was seen on this trail if my memory serves me right but back at the car park a small flock of House Sparrows chattered noisily in the Hawthorns and among them were several more Tree Sparrows which was a good way to end a day which had produced 54 species in all and Dungeness as ever provided some really nice, quality birds.


Warren Baker said...

Firecrest must be bird of the day Phil. I love 'em!

Simon said...

Sounds like you had a great day! I was at Dunge on Monday morning and saw Firecrest and Willow Warbler, but didn't see the Tree Sparrows.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil. Some really good birds seen . Some I didn't see today. Love the photo of the Firecrest. I seem to be struggling with camera settings,thought I had it but, well I don't know. Anyway well done on a great day out.You are right it always turns up something. Love it there.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Dunge turned up trumps again then .
Great day count with some good species .
Even though Warren want's it , I haven't banned you - YET .