Monday, 9 May 2011


Alan Roman and I went to one of my favourite places today, Dungeness. We decided to have a quick sea watch first and parked in the car park between the old lighthouse and the Romney. Hythe and Dymchurch railway cafe. It was here that Alan discovered that he had left his binoculars on the kitchen table. Never mind he said, i'll use my scope today, except that he then found that he'd left the fixing plate for his tripod at home. Memory span of a, um, .......what do you call it?

Anyway, the sea watch was a bit quiet, just a couple of GC Grebes, some Common Terns, a small flock of about ten Common Scoters and the usual gull species, so quick march to the RSPB reserve, where we found news of a Red-Backed Shrike over on the ARC site. We gambled that this would stay a while and headed off to see what was on offer.

It was a good day for lizards, with quite a few found basking in the sunny verges, i've chosen this one to show because I like it's slightly green markings. There was little to see from the first couple of hides, just the Shelducks at the top of the post and the usual residents.

But we were accompanied by the constant chatter of Reed Warblers along the lakeside margins, as ever, difficult to see,with just fleeting glimpses like the one above. On the other side of the track we were barracked by a couple of Oystercatchers, below, who had claimed the top of the raised shingle as their own and were intent on repelling trespassers.

There were Common Whitethroats singing and parachuting from just about every bush around the site, so the discovery of a lesser Whitethroat near Christmas Dell hide made a nice change. From the hide we managed to spot a Peregrine, which headed towards the power station, a couple of Pochards and some Common Terns.

Also in this area we found the Four Spotted Chaser below, one of only a couple of dragons seen all day surprisingly.

I was hoping for a Sedge Warbler fest, but I think we were a couple of weeks late for that. Last year, in April, the place was full of them, all singing from the top of the brambles and I got some very nice pictures. Today, all I could manage was the one below, but at least there were some to look at, unlike New Hythe this year.

Considering the weather, butterflies were also hard to come by. We did find a couple on a small patch of Thrift though and i'm going to stick my neck out and say that based on the clear white wing margins, the specimen below is a male Common Blue.........

And of course the next couple are Small Coppers.

There was a female Stonechat on the fence post as we approached the Denge Marsh hide, the only one seen today. It was again quiet inside the hide, apart from the rustle of mine and Alan's crisp packets and sandwich wrappers. In fact it was so loud we nearly didn't hear the Bittern Boom a couple of times. We finally got to see a Marsh Harrier here, a spectacular male, and also the first of three or four Hobby's. No sign of the Purple Heron, which hasn't been seen since friday I believe.

We called in at the lodge on our return to check out the status of the Red-Backed Shrike, but the person we spoke to didn't even know one had been seen, don't they read their own sightings board? While we made some purchases, Alan some seed and me a very nice book entitled British Birds of Prey, a man came in and said he'd just seen a Killdeer, yes, a Killdeer! The lady in the lodge was very upset because she thought he meant road kill, 'and they're such lovely creatures' . We of course went zooming off but feeling understandably pessimistic as all we found was a Little Ringed Plover and a very nice Sandwich Tern, but who knows.

We had more luck though with the Shrike and were lucky enough to see a couple of short sightings of it, albeit through shared binoculars. I think a court martial is in order Mr Roman!


Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, the Red Backed Shrike was a stunner, I saw it around 5.30pm, now we could with one at New Hythe or Sissinghurst maybe :-)

ShySongbird said...

Well done with the Red Backed Shrike Phil, you really do have some great birds drop in there!

Lovely Small Copper photos. One of my favourite butterflies :)

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Nice one with the RBS . Was it by any chance on the small track back to the boardwalk ?
I remember getting one there a few years ago .
Good deduction on the male CB .
Nearly went to Dunge myself Monday .

Phil said...

Hi Greenie.
No, it was on the ARC side just in front of the water tower, by the pine trees.

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
Nice Dunge visit, along with some great sightings. It is a shame you wasn't able to get a record photo of the R/B/Shrike, still it is always good to see one, all the same.
Good photo's to go with the blog Phil.