Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Dungeness was doing what Dungeness does when I arrived at the car park this morning, blowing a stiff breeze. It was northerly too, so a bit on the cool side. I stopped in one of the first hides but saw nothing out of the ordinary except for a Common Sandpiper on one of the many exposed islands. I thought I was the first one along the track today and so might find a Grass Snake or two basking in the early sun. Sure enough, in the lee of the bushes and reedbeds I soon spotted one, trouble is it spotted me too and was gone before I could get a picture. I was a bit disappointed and then even more so when two people came round the corner and overtook me, no more Grass Snakes were seen.

With the sun still shining intermittently I made my way along towards Christmas Dell hide, disturbing a Green Woodpecker on the way who flew off low making one hell of a racket. I found a few dragonflies like the Common Darter above and the Ruddy Darter below, the only other species that were seen and identified were Emperors and a couple of Black-Tailed Skimmers

From the Christmas hide I saw and heard plenty of Common Terns who were fishing around the margins and probably making their way to and from the sea. Despite the lack of interest here I stayed for a while in the hope of seeing a Bittern but it didn't happen so time to move on.

Outside the hide I found this lovely Small Tortoiseshell who was busy feeding on the Vipers Bugloss. I think there colours go together very nicely so I spent a bit of time waiting for it to settle on a flower that was sheltered from the breeze so I could get a couple of reasonable pictures.

While I stood there I heard a rustling noise coming from inside a large, dense clump of tangled brambles and gorse. I thought it was a Rabbit, but as I turned and looked I noticed a pair of amber eyes looking at me that certainly didn't belong to Brer Rabbit. It was a Fox, a young one I think, I quickly fired off a shot and got the picture below before it was gone, back into the brambles. There's a bench just opposite, so I thought i'd sit quietly and see if he came out again. But after five minutes some more people came along and lingered in the area near the hide so I reluctantly headed off.

By now the early sun was disappearing behind more and more cloud and the walk to Denge Marsh hide was pretty uneventful save for some Linnets who posed temptingly on the gorse, but too distant for a shot. Also in the distance was the first of just two Marsh Harriers seen today and quite high above me a flock of maybe 150 Swifts were passing over to the south. They were too high to hear their voices but as they wheeled about above me I could imagine them screeching excitedly as they begin their epic journey away from our shores. I couldn't help but feel that I hadn't made the most of their presence here this year, maybe it's been because of the lack of sunny weather this summer. But anyway they're leaving now and in an odd small way, I envied them their adventure, albeit one that's not without considerable danger.

The grassy areas are absolutely teeming with grasshoppers, mostly you just see them flying a couple of yards away from approaching feet but the one above stayed put for a bit longer. I'm not sure if it's a Field or Meadow species, probably the latter, but either way I think they're a bit overlooked really.

The only blue butterfly species seen was this male Common Blue, above and below, who was grounded for a while by the lack of sun and the cool breeze, thus allowing me to get a couple of pics from different angles.

Little Egret, Grey Heron, Oystercatchers and Lapwings were all seen, as was a Sparrowhawk who optimistically tried it's hand at catching a Sand Martin from a passing flock. Needless to say it failed and the Hirundines never seemed to me to be in any great danger, they didn't seem to think so either.

Ten minutes on the ramp still failed to get me a Bittern sighting but I did hear some Bearded Tits pinging in the distance briefly and the young Sedge Warbler above and below was a welcome diversion too.

I know i've already mentioned Small Tortoiseshells but i've posted another shot of one that was seen further along the track because I like the angle of it. Well, like the Swifts they'll be gone all too soon won't they........

.......plus I had to virtually lie down in the undergrowth to get this pose, so I can't waste it can I.

Here's a scruffy LBJ. It had me a bit puzzled for a while, but I think it's a Dunnock. Or maybe not?

The whole site is absolutely swarming with hoverflies, and the most prolific ones at the moment seem to be these little chaps above, Scaeva Pyrastri. They are everywhere and if you want to see what they look like from the front, check out the picture below.

There were two Stonechats seen on the way back to the visitor centre. They wouldn't let me very close and the picture below is the best I could manage. I also had a brief view of the Great White Egret from the boards as it landed in a distant reedbed.

It wouldn't be the same if I didn't show a picture of our friend the Common Lizard, so here he is below, smiling for the camera.

I bumped into Terry Laws and Martin Warburton in the ARC car park, they had just been down to the beach for a bit of sea watching. They'd seen some good stuff so I decided on a quick visit to the hide before driving down to the beach and having a look.

From the Hanson hide I saw, amongst other things a single Whimbrel, a Ruff, a couple of Little Ringed Plovers, good numbers of Golden Plovers and a Pied Wagtail. Half an hour at the patch at Dungeness beach produced a couple of Black Terns, a Little Gull, some distant Gannets and a couple of juvenile Kittiwakes. I couldn't see any Balearic Shearwaters which the others had seen earlier but never mind 62 species in all was a good result.


Alan Pavey said...

Nice account Phil, really like the angle on the Blue could be a different insect altogether! The Tortoiseshell shots are great with the Bugloss too.

Warren Baker said...

Enjoyed your report today Phil. Like Alan says thats a great looking angle on that Com. Blue!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Not the easiest of Dunge days from your post , but 62 is a more than respectable total .
Like the Sedge Warbler shots .
A nice selection of inverts and reptiles too .
Wouldn't argue with you Meadow Grasshopper and Dunnock IDs .