Thursday, 29 March 2012


There seems to be a lot of bumblebees about this year. Most seen in early Spring are queens prospecting for homes to start new colonies in, usually in holes in the ground. This one was one of many I saw at Dungeness yesterday (Wednesday) and I think it might be Bombus hortorum, I wait with trepidation, to hear from those more in the know, that i'm a bumbling fool!

If you like Reed Buntings you'll like Dungeness. Most of the small birds I saw were these. A smattering of Cetti's Warblers, two of which I actually saw, the ever so obliging Wrens, plus Chaffinches, Great Tits and a few Linnets were all seen as well. The Tree Sparrows at Boulderwall were also present as usual but seemed to be in smaller numbers. Maybe they have other things to do at the moment.

The first butterfly seen was this Peacock, and yes, there was a picture of one in the previous post. But they were in short supply last year so i'm making up for that. Anyway, it would be a sin to leave such a beauty on the cutting room floor.

This is the face a Coot uses to ward off aggressors and interlopers, me on this occasion and very effective it looks too. This bird was loitering in the reeds in a small ditch just before the Denge marsh hide, all alone. I wondered if it was sick, but it looked OK.

Maybe it was hiding from the Marsh Harriers, there were plenty about.

There were roughly equal amounts of Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells seen. This one was along the track that runs to the west of Denge marsh hide. I checked the water filled ditch that runs adjacent to it for newts. I found a couple but the slightly murky water spoilt my attempt at pictures. The shallow, island dotted water at the end of the track has recently been home to a drake Gargeney. He wasn't there yesterday but I did see a single Redshank and a Ringed Plover among the sleeping Shovelers and Mallards.

From the mound I counted seven Harriers in the air at the same time, plus a Buzzard. They were all pretty much together and the Harriers were often vocal, calling to each other as they circled overhead. A Sparrowhawk also chose to fly by adding to what was already a real raptor fest. One pair seemed to have chosen a nest site in the reeds not too far from the mound. They made several landings in the same spot and I saw what I think was the same male fly past a few minutes later carrying prey. I hoped for a mid air food pass but it didn't happen.

This Greylag was looking a bit forlorn, standing alone in the reeds. Maybe it was an unpaired male, left on the shelf (or bank). It took to the water later on and made a few pathetic sounding, half hearted honks, but got no reply from other passing geese. Faint heart never won fair goose.

I told you there were lots of Reed Buntings. This one defended his territory vigorously against another male, eventually seeing him off and thereby earning himself a moment of internet fame.

It wouldn't be the same if I didn't find any lizards. I found half a dozen, plus a single Grass snake along the track back to the visitor centre. I'll try not to post another lizard picture for at least a couple of weeks now. It'll be difficult though, they always seem to smile for the camera.

It was getting late and I decided on a quick visit to the Hanson hide on the ARC site. Several flocks of Wigeons flew over as I walked to the hide, all heading towards the reserve for the evening I guess. I was amazed to find the hide empty, even the coveted corner seat. When I sat in front of the open window I found out why. It was freezing cold and apart from a couple of distant Goldeneye, pretty uninspiring. So with 47 species under my belt, but no new migrants to speak of except a couple of Chiffchaffs, I called it a day.


Warren Baker said...

That second Coot photo is a cracker Phil!!

Marianne said...

The lizard is indeed smiling and looks like it's about to give a friendly wave too :) things slowly hotting up at Dunge!

Marc Heath said...

Lovely butterfly shots and a very nice read.

Kieron Palmer said...

hi Phil, I went to Dungeness yesterday and actually wondered if you might be there as I have read your blogs of previous visits. It sounds as if you were a bit later in the day than us but other than that your account pretty much mirrors mine -except that I missed the small tortoise shells. great photos!

Greenie said...

Phil ,
By no means being ' more in the know ' , but looking in the book B.hortorum has a very white back end , but difficult to be sure from the angle of your shot .
Great colours on the Marsh Harrier , and I too like the 2nd . Coot shot . Migrants seem very few all round , surprising with the good weather .
Most enjoyable read .

ShySongbird said...

Another great read and lovely photos, Phil. You can never post too many Lizard photos as far as I'm concerned. They never appear for my camera let alone smile!

I too particularly like the second Coot photo.