Thursday, 24 June 2010

Dungeness RSPB Reserve 24th June

Carol and I visited Dungeness RSPB today, apart from anything else I was keen to catch up with the Purple Herons, whether I did or not is a moot point.

The first bird to be seen was this juvenile Kestrel posing at his front door doing an impression of a rather sinister Cuckoo Clock.


As we drove along the access track towards the visitor centre we added Pied Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, one of many Hobby's and a Marsh Harrier which floated effortlessly as it hunted on the warm breeze.


The first thing that struck us as we left the visitor centre was the Viper's Bugloss that currently adorns the whole site with it's spikes of bright blue flowers.

Some birds soon noted included Linnets with the male birds looking superb in their crimson livery and Oystercatchers over flying us, piping excitedly into the distance. Here also we watched four Little Egrets fly sedately by looking even whiter against the blue sky and Reed Buntings still seemed to occupy every other bush, taking advantage of the best perches to sing their unremarkable song.


I spotted the caterpillar above on a bramble leaf, I couldn't miss it really with colours that bright. It's the caterpillar of The Lackey moth and so will soon turn into a rather drab brownish moth that flies during July and August. I think I like the caterpillar phase best! Also close by was the Five Spot Burnet, a day flying moth pictured below.

A quick look from Christmas Dell hide, (I feel I can use the Christmas word now seeing as the longest day is behind us) revealed little apart from Tufties a few sleeping Pochards and a flock of Lapwings put up by something probably imaginary, they always seem to be the first to panic.


Turning left at Denge marsh hide I soon spotted this Grass snake patrolling the margins of the lake. I got as close as I could for a picture but he soon spotted me and glided quickly and quietly into the reeds.
It was here that I thought I saw the Purple Heron in the distance but it was such a fleeting glimpse that I can't be sure. I did however spot Dennis and Doreen walking along the track so now we had four pairs of eyes to search for a better view of it.

There still didn't seem to be too many dragonflies about and the only one I managed to picture (again) was this Black Tailed Skimmer which I think had just emerged as it's wings still had that tell tale sheen to them and probably that's why I was able to get close to it.


From Denge marsh hide we had further distant views of Herons which may or may not have been the quarry, the opinion of the watchers in the hide was split I think. Our attention was grabbed here by the Common Tern family on the raft, Mum, Dad and two chicks which were sheltering from predators under a piece of plastic tubing. Earlier we had watched in amazement as the parent birds chased off a huge Great Black Backed Gull. It was like David and Goliath and the outcome was one nil to the Terns thankfully.
Lunchtime entertainment near the viewing mound came in the shape of a couple of Hobby's, a superb male Marsh Harrier, a Stoat running back and forth the path and the booming of a Bittern in the reeds nearby. It certainly beats watching the football.
The final track back towards the car park revealed a Cuckoo, small parties of Swifts and Sand Martins and a moment of excitement when a Grey Heron flew directly over our heads......................or was it the Purple one?!



ShySongbird said...

Another lovely post Phil, with lovely photos throughout. I enjoyed accompanying you and Carol on your visit. I do like the gentle humour which pervades your posts and you were spot on with the 'sinister Cuckoo clock' analogy :)

That is a very striking caterpillar!

Being absolutely no expert I am hesitant to suggest this but I did wonder if the Five Spot Burnet could actually be a Six Spot? I am probably totally wrong :)

ShySongbird said...

Hi again Phil :) Looking at Google images I think I should have kept my mouth shut as I think I WAS totally wrong...sorrrry!!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
I'm keeping out of the Burnet moth ID , as they can be so variable in merged markings .
Dunge came up trumps again for wildlife , and you got a great set of shots .
I agree with your Odonata comment , very patchy so far , as have been the butterflies .
Thanks for the moth ID .
Hope Dennis and Doreen didn't mind being ID'd !

Phil said...

I've had a look at the other shots of the Burnet and I think it is a 5 spot although I can see why you might think it's a sixer Songbird. I do of course welcome your question as it keeps me on my toes! I also welcome your very kind comments as always.

Warren Baker said...

Another good set of photo's Phil, I like that snake best :-)