At long last a break in the weather coincided with me being able to get out for the day. Dungeness had been calling me for some time and with Eddie Denson also available and eager for some sea air, we headed due south.
First stop was the beach, no not for a sunbathe, but for a bit of a sea watch, where we very soon seeing the dorsal fins and dark backs of lots of Harbour Porpoises as they broke the surface of the flat calm sea. Closer in, dozens of Common Terns and Sandwich Terns were taking advantage of the plentiful supply of whitebait and further out, where the blue sky joined the blue sea a few Gannets gleamed white in the sun.
A local birder drew our attention to an assortment of terns loafing on the pebbles further along. He thought he could see a couple of Roseate Terns among them and with the help of Eddie's scope they were duly confirmed, a life tick for me. We failed to find a possible Arctic Tern seen earlier but a Black Tern, spotted by Eddie as it fished further out made up for it.
There's been a Purple Heron at Dungeness during the week so we drove round to the bridge on the Dengemarsh road to see if we could find it. We couldn't, but four or five Hobbies hawking for insects and occasionally landing on nearby fence posts certainly made up for it. A Sedge Warbler carrying food, Reed Buntings, Grey Herons (examined closely), and Oystercatchers were also seen. By now the sun was quite warm, warm enough to heat the bricks and bring the Common Lizards out to bask. The brambles were covered in the caterpillars, below, of Brown-tail moths, they're best left alone, their hairs can cause a nasty rash.
After a traditionally slightly greasy fish and chip lunch we headed for the RSPB reserve in the hope of locating the Purple one. This time we did, although it was long distance and fleeting. The stars once again were the Hobbies, at least eight in the air together over the Dengemarsh hide. Here too the sky was full of Common Terns fishing in the lake, sometimes plunging into the reeds right in front of the hide. On the far side of the lake the Marsh Harriers, resplendent in their summer plumage, quartered the reedbeds searching for prey and two Gt Crested Grebes gave us a short display of their courtship dance. I got a phone call while in the hide and stepped outside to take it. I was only gone two minutes, but that two minutes was time enough for Eddie and another birder to watch a Bittern fly low across the lake and land in some reeds. Bloody typical! I think the moth pictured below, fluttering up against the window of the hide is a Small Magpie. If i'm wrong please let me know, I won't be offended, i'm used to it!
Along the return trail we saw a few Linnets, the picture above is from a distance but i've posted it simply because his scarlet breast and forehead are absolutely lovely.
We found the Bank Vole above under a piece of refugia, needless to say he didn't pose for long. The grass snake below stayed a bit longer and I noticed he seemed to have slightly milky eyes, like Adders do before they slough their skin, I presume Grass snakes do the same.
Last stop was the Hanson hide on the ARC site across the road from the reserve. Water levels were understandably quite high, and Lapwings, Shovelers, Shelducks, a probable Black-tailed Godwit, a couple of Gadwall and a few Pochards were the mainstays apart from the Mute Swans. Which reminds me, we saw a pair of young cygnets earlier and one of them was white instead of the usual browny grey colour, not seen that before.
Very few dragonflies were about but I did manage to get a shot of this Four Spotted Chaser, one of my favourite species, not least because they will at least stop and pose for you. As did the butterfly below which I think is a Common Blue, one of very few blues that i've seen during this disastrous Spring.