Myself, Alan Roman and his mate Paul arrived at Dungeness at 10am and headed straight for the shingle to do a short sea watch. The offshore wind made for a pretty calm sea close in and the small hide made a nice wind break. And from this relatively comfortable vantage point we managed to find three or four Gannets which I think are fantastic birds. Other notables were a couple of Terns, which were almost certainly the Sandwich variety, a Seal, a single Oystercatcher, a Sparrowhawk and a Razorbill which was regularly diving to feed about 200yds offshore. I've only ever seen these in Scotland before so the one and a half hours spent on my first seawatch was well spent I think.
And so to the RSPB reserve where we headed straight to the first hide adjacent to the car park to have lunch. The first bird I saw here was a solitary Coot, other than that the area was deserted. Apart from the bird pictured distantly below which was the second bird I spotted, a superb Peregrine Falcon! Maybe that's why the area was deserted. But what a strange place to see it, i've never seen one perched in the middle of a lake and so close to the water, where it stayed for some time only moving onto another branch when a Marsh Harrier cruised overhead.
Left click for a better view.
The walk to Christmas Dell held few surprises but we did find a smart Wheatear on the track which flew short distances ahead of us, keeping us at arms length but inviting photographs. Chest out, head high, this is my over the shoulder look, this is my back view, does my bum look all white in this one? They are such posers. I like Wheatears.
The tangled undergrowth and bushes opposite the Christmas Dell hide held an assortment of small birds as usual. We managed to see Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Goldfinches and two, possibly three Chiffchaffs which popped in and out catching flies. The hide itself was a disappointment and held little to keep our attention with only a few sleepy Pochards on the far bank, the odd Gadwall and Teal and the usual array of Coots and Mallards.
As we made our way to Denge marsh hide one of several Kestrels was hunting and this was our fourth raptor species of the day. A late Hobby would have been nice to add to the tally but we didn't see one. Neither did we see the long staying Great White Egret despite best efforts from the hide. I also walked up the track towards the gate to see if it was visible from there but it wasn't. The walk wasn't wasted though because on the way back I found a female Stonechat perched up in the bushes in usual Chat fashion and in the company of a small flock of Meadow Pipits. The last bird to make it on my list today was a Green Woodpecker, two in fact, and this brought the total to 44 species, if time had allowed a visit to the ARC site I'm sure it would have been higher but I was happy with that.