Thursday, 14 June 2012


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!

We stopped at the mound for a while and watched a single Bearded Tit in the reeds, Cetti's Warblers and a Cuckoo were heard, as were Reed Warblers and overhead of course the Hobbies continued their hawking.

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.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Well , at least I've proved I'm not going mad . I've clicked on your 'new' post several times since it showed on the side bar , to find your Puffin post , until this morning .
Sounds like a good mixed Dunge day , well done with the Roseate Tern and the Purple Heron .
Wouldn't agrue with your moth ID , and yes , Grass Snakes along with Smooth , Slow Worms and Com. Lizards all slough their skins .
Like the Bank Vole shot , not easy . Finally a yes for your Common Blue .

ShySongbird said...

Hi Phil. Like Greenie I found your new post link wasn't working (perhaps you temporarily withdrew it?) until today. I do hope it doesn't mean anyone misses your latest excellent contribution. Congratulations on the Roseate Terns and also 'the Purple one'!

Lovely photos, the little Bank Vole and the dragonfly particularly caught my eye. Your moth definitely looked like the Small Magpie I had in my dining room a while ago. I too think Linnets are a beautiful colour, I have only ever managed distant photos of them. Butterflies and Odonata are in shockingly short supply here....'disastrous Spring' indeed!!

Phil said...


I actually posted this on thursday evening, then noticed it had disappeared completely. In the end I started from scratch again and posted the second version on friday.
I'm not keen on the new version of blogger and as for Google Chrome.....!

Warren Baker said...

Another enjoyable post, I know what you mean about those Linets - their red bits are spectacular.

PS I use Mozilla firefox for my blog posting/viewing - it works well for me :-)

Ken. said...

Looks like you had a really good day at Dunge, you also chose the best day of the week.
You certainly made the most of it and found some great species, well done.
Last year I too had a Small magpie Moth over near the Hanson Hide, mine was around the board walk.
as for your Puffins shots well i would rather not comment, because I am green with envy, what a great friendly bird.

Marianne said...

Sounds a fab day out, well done with the Roseate Tern. White Mute cygnets are known as 'Polish' swans - it's a genetic trait, though rather more difficult to detect when the birds reach adulthoood!