Friday, 4 June 2010

Dungeness RSPB 4th June

I had a day at Dungeness RSPB today with a friend of mine. It's a great place to be in any weather but today was the icing on the cake. First bird to greet us was the Red Legged Partridge below, it was posing on a fence post, I haven't seen one do that before.


Marsh Harriers were active today with four or five at least seen including a couple of very smart males. Hobbys and a Kestrel completed the raptor sightings but a Red Footed Falcon was also present and we're pretty sure we saw it from a distance but ID was difficult and the presence of so many Hobbys made it harder to be 100% certain.


The tiny butterfly above was on the track from the visitor centre and i'm pretty sure it's a Brown Argus but correct me if i'm wrong.

Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Dunnock and Wren represented the LBJ contingent today with good numbers of all these species busily collecting food for hungry chicks.


There's a small water filled ditch near the Denge Marsh hide which has only been there a relatively short time, I think it was dug last year to contain sheep or goats in the small piece of meadow as an alternative to a horrible electric fence. I was amazed to see that it was already alive with Newts, more than I can ever recall seeing anywhere else. Also in the ditch were what I believe to be Great Diving Beetles which were coming up for air periodically. The one above appears to be doing just that, I think they store the oxygen under their wing casings and they are very big, this one was probably an inch and a half long and I think it's a female. They are very aggressive and will attack almost anything that moves including fish and small frogs.


The only Hirundines seen today were a couple of Swallows, probably due to the weather conditions but given the numbers of Hobbys around I think they were better off staying away.

The raft that has been anchored opposite the Denge Marsh hide was home to a pair of Oystercatchers with two chicks and a pair of Common Terns. There was a noisy fight everytime one or other parent returned to the raft with food, I think detached homes would have been more suitable than a pair of semi's. Other birds here were Pochard, Shelduck, GC Grebe, the inevitable Geese and a few Tufties.


Lunch was on a small bench below the small viewing mound during which we were entertained by a couple of Bearded Tits flying to and fro the reed beds and a super Bittern flying sedately in front of us towards Denge Marsh hide area.

On the way back to the car park we had flyovers of Redshank and Ringed Plover and also spotted this excellent baby Pike about 3 or 4 inches long lying motionless in the shallows where the water would be warmest. Note the dorsal fin way down it's back nearer the tail, this is what helps give the adults their explosive burst of speed which makes them so deadly in the pursuit of their prey. These are top predators in the freshwater fish world and I really like them!


A quick visit to the ARC hide over the road didn't produce much in the way of birds, we only added Shoveler to make 40 species for the day, but I did spot this nice Emerald coloured chap which is a Green Tiger Beetle. They, like so many of us like the sun and the sand and they are ambush experts but can also run fast as I found when trying to get a picture. The larvae dig burrows in the sand and pounce on their unsuspecting prey of ants and other creepy crawlies.

Last but not least were these two blues on the side of the track back to the car park. I'm not too good with these chaps but i'm thinking Common Blues?



Greenie said...

Phil ,
Like you have never seen a RLP pose like that .
A watery type post from you too .
Like the GT.Diving Beetle shots .
Spot on with your two butterfly IDs .

ShySongbird said...

Another very nice post, Phil. You had a good day out there.

I believe those Great Diving Beetles even pull damsels and dragons down into the water!

Lovely photos again, I particularly like the partridge!