I arrived at the Dungeness ARC car park at 09.20 this morning. The outside temperature was 4 degrees without the chill factor, the gale force wind was rocking the car and the rain was hitting the windscreen horizontally. I sat there for 5 or 10 minutes and asked myself a few serious questions, none of which I could answer so it was boots on, coat on, and go for it.
Once again I failed to locate the Penduline Tits which have been seen around the Willow walk so I went in the hide and had a quick scan of the lake. I didn't stay too long as the waves were making me feel sea sick, just long enough to see three female Goldeneye and a couple of brave Swallows who had just arrived and were no doubt asking themselves the same questions as I had asked myself earlier! I felt sorry for the Cormorants sitting on their nests in the middle of the lake but I guess they are used to it.
By the time I got to the visitor centre conditions had deteriorated even more, so having checked the status of the RSPB search and rescue facility I headed off towards the first hide. I soon noticed good numbers of Wagtails on the main path, mainly Pied, probably some White thrown in and good numbers of Yellow. I tried to watch them through the binoculars but the wind was so strong I couldn't focus on them. I made my way slowly to the Makepeace hide where there were at least half a dozen Yellow Wagtails and numerous Reed Buntings, one of which was trying to shelter at the side of the hide (see above and below) I took these photo's through a rain streaked window, so they look a bit soft.
Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Little Egret, Wigeon, Slavonian Grebe and Lapwing all made the notebook on the way to Denge Marsh hide where I had to shelter for some time due to more heavy rain and strong winds. While there Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Gt Crested Grebe and Teal also joined the list, as did three Marsh Harriers, I didn't know they could fly backwards! I made my way back to the visitor centre as quickly as I could and only added Curlew, and a Chiffchaff in the car park.
I decided to try once more for the Pendulines so it was back over to the ARC site for the last twenty minutes. As I walked towards the hide I happened to glance up and there was a Great White Egret flying overhead, what a surprise! I grabbed my camera out of the bag and just managed to get a record shot before it was gone. I didn't find the Penduline but I didn't mind. I was more than happy with the Egret.
This was one of the most challenging days birding i've had for a long time but I was pleased to end up with 40 species by the end of play. I often say how Dungeness always seems to surprise and impress me, well today, it blew me away...........................!