It's been a bit of a struggle to get out of late. Partly because of lack of time but also down to a lack of enthusiasm at times to be honest.
But a trip to Dungeness on thursday with a long lost uncle was a nice day out, although for once Dungie kept it's best birds under wraps. It was cool, grey, damp and quite windy on the reserve, no surprise there then. But there had been a string of good sightings of late so we had high hopes, and a pair of Stonechats on the track was at least a good start. From the Firth hide we saw a couple of Grey Plovers, a Common Sandpiper, three Snipes, Tufties, plenty of Shovelers and Teal, a couple of Little Egrets and a single Meadow Pipit. I think the next hide was Makepeace, but either way the birds were pretty similar, although a sprinkling of Pintails, Grey Herons, a few Gadwall and a couple of fairly distant Marsh Harriers kept up the interest.
Away from the hides the sky was pretty empty, apart from the now thicker clouds and a bit of drizzle. Birds seen included lots of Green Woodpeckers, or the same ones constantly flying in front of us, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a handful of calling Cetti's Warblers and a single Kestrel, but not much else of note really. Our woes were further added to when volunteer work on the islands at the ARC site meant that very few birds were in the vicinity. Only the Wigeon seemed reasonably happy to tolerate the human intrusion, but they were joined later by about fifty Mute Swans who all came in together in one serene and graceful flock for their afternoon wash and brush up.
So, no Ring Ousel, although I think the last bird I raised my binoculars to as we walked back to the ARC car park may have fitted the description. No Penduline Tit, I miss this bird every time. No Spoonbill, there had been one the day before I think. No Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, again recent sightings near the Willow Trail, the first ever for the site I believe. And disappointingly, no photos, it was just too dull. Lastly, no Great White Egret which would have been a first for my uncle, sorry John!
Talking of Great White Egrets, Carol and I were on our way down to Hythe for a walk along the seafront this morning when I received a text from Martin Warburton to say that there was a Great White Egret on the river adjacent to the sunken marsh at New Hythe. Fantastic, except that I had a previous appointment as I said.
I got back from Hythe at about 2.15pm and went straight down to the river and along to the creek opposite the northern end of Abbey Mead where it was last seen. I didn't really expect to find it, especially as the tide was high by then and that proved to be the case. I did find a Little Egret resting in a tree on the opposite bank but no Gt White unfortunately. Small consolation came in the shape of a single Wigeon, pictured above, trying to remain incognito among a flock of at least 61 Mallards and a Little Grebe. Their peace and quiet, as well as mine, was shattered though, when a moron in a motor boat came down the river at about 20-25 knots causing absolute mayhem. I only wish that plank had hit one of the planks i'd seen floating upriver on the tide earlier, that would have slowed him down!
I'm hoping to get out first thing in the morning to continue the Great White hunt, I'll keep you posted!