Friday, 9 September 2011


I noticed that the Cattle Egret had been seen again at Dungeness this week so I thought i'd have a look for it. It's usual haunt is in the fields to the back of Boulderwall farm, but a quick scan as I entered the reserve failed to turn it up. But it did turn up a Wheatear, a Green Woodpecker and a flock of about 70 or 80 Linnets, a nice start to the day.
As usual the first three hides produced an assortment of Gulls, a Little Grebe, Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall and Little Egret. There were also Lapwings, Oystercatchers, a couple of Dunlins, Sand Martins by the bucket load and a surprise Greenshank who dropped in for a brief visit.
While walking to Christmas Dell hide I saw two Grass Snakes but both saw me too quickly and were gone before I could get a picture. The area around the hide was pretty much deserted and apart from calling Cetti's Warblers and a passing Kestrel there was nothing to keep me here.

I turned left at Dengemarsh hide and I was glad I did as I spotted the Gt White Egret in the reed bed that backs on to the Dengemarsh road, it was a bit distant as you can see by the shot above.

But as I watched, a couple of birdwatchers with scopes walked across the field between the reeds and the road and promptly flushed it into the air, closely followed by a Little Egret which nicely shows the size comparison between the two species in the picture above.

It's a pity it flew across in front of the power lines but never mind, it's better than nothing.

As I turned to go back to Dengemarsh hide I spotted a small butterfly resting in the undergrowth, it turned out to be a Small Heath, a species I've hardly seen this year, I found one more later on the return trail.

I was surprised to find the Denge hide empty, so I made myself comfortable and waited for something to happen. I didn't have to wait long. I was watching a Marsh Harrier patrolling the reed beds when suddenly it swung out across the lake and put the fear of God into a large flock of Coots, below. Pandemonium broke out!

Left click the picture to get a slightly better look at the Harrier who dropped into the flock, talons outstretched and caused utter mayhem. I'm not sure what it's tactics were, maybe to give one of the petrified Coots a heart attack or just to grab any unfortunate one that ventured too close. This happened a couple of times before the Harrier gave up and the Coots dispersed, all in a day's aggravation for them I suppose.

Although the sun hardly shone at all, it was very mild, and the weather suited the Lizards who were basking in numbers all around the site. The pictures above and below highlight the diversity of their colouring, which is one of the things I like about them really, that and the fact that they always look as if they're smiling.

Stonechats, Whinchat, Willow Warbler and Reed Bunting were all seen on the way back to the visitor centre but I failed to find the Spotted Flycatcher or Redstart, both of which had been reported earlier.

I had lunch near the bushes by the car park and managed to see the Migrant Hawker pictured above and what I think is an immature male pictured below. Better still I saw my first Clouded Yellow butterfly of the year flutter by as well.

After lunch I headed for the Hanson hide on the ARC site, stopping on the way to get some nice but fairly distant views of the Cattle Egret, my first in the UK, which had taken up it's usual residency at Boulderwall.

The Hanson hide was very busy, as expected as there's been some good birds here recently, and there was today as it turned out. Goosander, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, a superb female Ruff, Godwits, Reed Warbler, Swallows, Golden Plover, Black Tern and two fantastic Arctic Terns, a new Kent tick for me, who 'floated' in so delicately and landed on one of the islands for a wash and brush up.
I just had time for a quick scoot round the boardwalk before heading for home and in a small sunlit clearing I found a couple of Common Darters, one of which is pictured below, I just can't resist a dragonfly.

And lastly, I found these caterpillars below, munching their way through some sort of Willow leaves I think. I'm not 100% sure but they might be the caterpillars of the Buff Tip moth.............. or they might not!


Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant Phil, the Great White Egret was a star, but, it was broken by couple of birdwatchers, bah humbug. The Lizards were great, but, the second pic was amazing.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Glad you managed to get the Cattle Egret in the end . Great shot of the Marsh Harrier v Coots . Wouldn't argue with your imm. MH and Buff Tail caterpillar IDs .
Interesting re. the Sm.Heath , I've had some good counts of them on the Downs , tailing off now though .

Jason K said...

Cracking photos phil but the one I like the best is the comparison shot between the two egrets...nice one

Warren Baker said...

You did well at Dunge Phil, lots to keep you - and us interested :-)

chris said...

The harrier jump into the flock is incredible... Nice post, I love the lizard too, quite funny attitude!

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
What a good day for a visit to Dunge, it never fails to throw up something. You did well with seeing the 3 Egret species.
Nice shot of the juv Marsh harrier, I am surprised the coots let it get so near before they dispersed.Seeing the unusual Terns drop in was a bonus.
Nice dragonfly shots as usual, something I like to take shots of, when they let me LOL.