Thursday, 9 September 2010

Dungeness RSPB Thursday 9th Sept

Blue skies and a warm breeze greeted Alan Roman and myself at Dungeness yesterday morning. I wasn't surprised that we ended up logging 48 species of birds during the course of the day but I was surprised at the amount of butterflies on the wing. And given that I didn't manage any decent bird pictures it's just as well there were. Pictured above is one of my favourites, a Small Tortoiseshell.

Hirundines were the most plentiful birds on site today with Swallows and Sand Martins the most numerous and just a few House Martins. A last minute Swift would have been good to see but it didn't happen, A long time now to wait for my next sighting of these enigmatic birds. Although enigmatic was well represented in the shape of a couple of Hobbies who were feasting on an abundant supply of dragonflies, mainly Migrant Hawkers, two of which are pictured below.

The bushes opposite Christmas Dell hide were full of small birds but they were playing hard to get, giving tantalising glimpses but no more. Some of these were Common Whitethroats, Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits and a singing Cetti's Warbler, but surprisingly the majority appeared to be Reed Warblers even though the habitat seemed a bit incongruous.

The walk between Christmas Dell and Denge Marsh hide produced more butterflies. There were quite a few of what I think (and hope) are Small Heaths, pictured below which i've hardly seen any of this year. Below that is a species i'm more sure of, a Small Copper and one of several seen during the day. This one appears to have just laid an egg.......or is it sitting on a piece of lucky Rabbit poo, or maybe it's dung rolling like the beetles I watched in the Lake District last week, either way it gives a good size comparison!

Kestrel, Little Egret, Grey Heron and a fly over flock of Linnets were added to the bird list before we reached Denge, and before going in the hide we turned left along the track and found the almost resident Great White Egret in the distance, hanging out with three or four more Herons and some Mute Swans. This is without doubt still a great bird to see, but it struck me that a couple of years ago seeing this elegant visitor would have been incredibly exciting, how quickly the excitement fades though when the exotic becomes a bit more familiar.

We retraced our steps back towards the viewing mound and came across the two butterflies shown below. I'm going to stick my neck out and say that they are female Common Blues, time (and a certain butterfly expert) will tell if i'm right but either way the colours are fantastic. The third picture I think is probably a Small Skipper but as above, time will tell!

From the mound we saw Marsh Harriers quartering the reed beds in the distance and also quite a long view of a Bittern flying sedately across the reserve before landing in the reed beds somewhere to the East of Denge hide. We couldn't top that so we made our way back to the visitor centre for lunch. After which we decided on a spot of sea watching in front of the power station at Dungeness beach. This would have been a good idea on a calm day but by now the early breeze was considerably stronger making standing upright difficult and holding a scope or binoculars steady downright impossible! So it was back to the car with just a couple of beachside Wheatears as our only consolation.

Last stop was the ARC site and Hanson hide where it was nice to see good numbers of Pochard, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard and a few Wigeon, signs of things to come I think. Waders were represented by Lapwings, a couple of handsome Black-tailed Godwits, a single Dunlin and another single wader which after a lot of discussion and head scratching, which is a pretty common feature of my bird watching, turned out to be a Little Stint, only the second i've seen. Equally pleasing for me was a Black Tern among the two ot three juvenile Common Terns which danced gracefully up and down above the wind blown lake.
I'll end the post with this picture of a Red Admiral, a reminder of the fading glory of the summer.


Warren Baker said...

I visited dunge a few weeks back phil. I also saw the Little stint. Also the bushes you were talking about had a Redstart in them.

Great flutter photo's, and i'm glad you could see the artistic merit in my Redstart photo :-)

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Phil.
Looks like you and Alan had a good trip to Dunge. Some good sightings and photo's of Butterflies and Dragonflies.
most of which I have yet to see.
Well worth the visit, at any time, isn't it?

Marianne said...

Sounds like a good day. I agree with all your butterfly IDs except that I think the skipper is more likely to be an Essex just because they fly a little later than Small - impossible to be sure from this angle IMHO.
Wing colour can be helpful (to my eyes Essex is a little more straw-coloured, Small more orangey) but as it's a bit worn I think you'd need to see the undersides of the antennal clubs to be certain. It is a female though, whatever it is... and I've never seen one this late in the season, they're mostly done by mid-August!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Don't know what's happening with Blogger , but your latest only showed on mine today .
Re. butterfly IDs , no problem with the Small Heath . I personally would say the first of your female Common Blues is a male Brown Argus , the second being as you say .
The Skipper is well past it's ID date , but amazing you found it , I haven't seen one for weeks and they have been short in number this year .
The butterflies seem to be lasting better down by the coast from report I've been reading .
Great Migrant Hawker shots too .