Saturday, 10 December 2011


I went back to Dungeness on friday morning. I arrived fairly early and went straight to the Hanson hide on the ARC site with the intention of finding Long-tailed Duck and Penduline Tit. Both of these species have been reported recently, the LTD more frequently than the Penduline, but my luck wasn't in with either bird today.
I stayed at the hide for a while watching Marsh Harriers harry the wildfowl and the Gt White Egret harry the fish on the east side of the pit, shoulder to shoulder with a Grey Heron. I couldn't help thinking how quickly the rare and exotic start to become the norm though. Don't get me wrong, I think the GWE is a stunning and elegant bird however often I see it, but already it seems to be losing a bit of it's cachet, it's presence yesterday morning hardly getting a mention in the hide.
Last time I was at Dungie I missed out on the Tree Sparrows, this time I made sure I didn't.

There were quite a few of these charming little brown jobs in the bushes around the ARC car park but I couldn't get close enough for a decent look at them. So I drove over the road to the reserve, parked by Boulderwall farm and waited.

I didn't have to wait long before they started to arrive near the large feeder at the front of the building. They seemed quite nervous, more nervous I think than their cousins the House Sparrows. They never seemed to be feeding for very long before bolting back to cover en masse, there was no obvious sign of predators so I presume this was their normal highly strung behaviour.

Around the visitor centre, Chaffinches, Reed Buntings, Great and Blue Tits and Moorhens all shared the feeder, yes I did say Moorhens, as witnessed and pictured by Ken Browne last week. A couple of Goldcrests were also seen in the bushes adjacent to the car park.

As for the rest of the reserve, well it wasn't buzzing, or tweeting much for that matter. Just the usual species and a second Gt White Egret, this time from Christmas Dell hide and despite the bright and breezy weather I didn't manage to photograph anything else.

A second visit to the ARC site before leaving for home resulted in a few distant Goldeneye, including a couple of drakes, a lovely Pintail or two, a pair of Chiffchaffs from the Willow walk and an unusually good but fleeting view of a Cetti's Warbler on the way back to the car.

It's not very often I leave Dungie feeling a bit disappointed but you can't win them all. And anyway I did see not one, but two, rare and exotic, stunningly elegant Great White Egrets. Which were almost as good as the Tree Sparrows!


Bob Bushell said...

Brillliant, we don't get any Tree Sparrows where I live, I love yours. Beautiful photos.

Warren Baker said...

Those Tree Sparrows are brilliant birds, to think I used to see flocks of them when I was a kid, and got fed up with putting my hand in a nest cavity and saying '' oh not another Tree Sparrow nest'' !

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Shame you didn't get your two targets , but as you say , the GWEs and TSs compensated well .
You can always get the LTD at the Trout Fishery , but no chance of the PT there !

Alan Pavey said...

Shame you didn't get the target birds Phil but the Tree Sparrow photos and a couple of GWE's is still a nice return said...

One of the birding best things is the surprise expect to see a certain bird and another one appears!