I met Eddie by the power station at 09.30, after flushing a Wheatear from the side of the Dungeness road on the way, and we spent the next couple of hours watching an area of turbulent water, discharged from the power station about 150 yards off shore. I used to fish here years ago for Bass, fishermen have always called it the boil, it resembles a cauldron of boiling water, but birders like to call it the patch for some reason. Anyway, it was a very pleasant couple of hours during which we saw dozens ans dozens of Common Terns, and a few Sandwich Terns, some standing idly together on the shingle and others plunging headlong into the sea to catch small fish. Similarly, in the (misty) distance, Gannets dived in their own spectacular fashion to catch larger prey, maybe Mackerel. Other highlights included a Skua species, possibly Arctic, briefly chasing gulls around the patch and a Little Gull in the same area. Further out, the Porpoises scythed through the water revealing only a brief glimpse of their backs, although one leapt completely out of the water and seemed big enough to be a Dolphin, who knows.The usual flotilla of Cormorants were interspersed with smaller Gt. Crested Grebes, a Kestrel flew in from the south and Oystercatchers and a probable Ringed Plover passed by following the shoreline.
We moved on to the ARC site where this very friendly Common Lizard was basking on the boardwalk despite the lack of sun. From the hide we watched a family of Sedge Warblers in the reeds to the front, along with a few Reed Warblers. Common Sandpipers, a handful of Dunlins, Gadwalls, Pochards, Teal, Tufted Duck, Lapwings, a single Black-tailed Godwit and a distant Garganey were all seen. But probably the best bird was a Curlew Sandpiper still in impressive breeding plumage, spotted by Eddie alongside one of the small islands.
The reserve itself was disappointing bird wise, but at least there were a few butterflies and a couple of Grass snakes to keep me amused. Just outside the visitor centre were a handful of small individuals like the one pictured above which I think were Brown Argus, in this case a male probably, given that the orange markings on the forewings fade before the tip of the wing.
A handful of very fresh, unmistakeable Red Admirals.
Lots of stunning, but very mistakeable blues. In this case, above and below, I think they are Common Blues. As you can guess the sun had finally emerged.
Last but certainly not least were the Small Tortoiseshells, above, a superb butterfly, possibly only surpassed by the Peacocks which were seen today but I didn't get a shot.
From Christmas Dell hide we saw Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Heron, three Green Sandpipers and a possible distant pair of Peregrines.
The tern rafts seen from the Dengemarsh hide were busy with adult birds feeding growing chicks. They are a bit too far out for my lens but i've posted the pics above and below anyway. The top one (if you click on it) shows four adult Common Terns and two chicks. One chick is on the raft and the second one is in the water alongside the raft. It seemed a bit waterlogged and the parents appeared to be trying to tempt it back on dry land with small fish, but it didn't seem able to get back on board. In the picture below it had clambered on to the tethering rope and just previously one of the adult birds sat on the post alongside it. Eddie and I were fearful for it, I hope it got back OK. By the way, you can just make out three eggs on the right of the top picture, duds I presume.
In all we saw 48 species of birds and the sun did eventually shine on us, albeit a bit late. One common species we didn't see at Dungeness was a Dunnock. So here's a couple of pics I took earlier of one sunbathing and preening in the back garden recently.
The Holly Blue butterfly above visited the garden a couple of days ago too, it's sitting on an Acer plant and you can see something has been munching its leaves.
This is the culprit, a Leafcutter Bee cutting small discs which it carries off to a rotting cherry tree in the garden. It lays its eggs in the piece of leaf and deposits it inside the decaying tree. They have been using this particular plant for quite a few years now, it obviously suits their purpose somehow. This morning we were treated to a Brown Hawker dragonfly in the garden and luckily it 'hung around' for a bit, dragonflies have been difficult to see this year so I seized the moment and grabbed a quick shot.
And finally...........................here's the diver I mentioned in the title. Apologies if you were expecting something feathered like a Great Northern or something. Carol and I went to the Olympics on tuesday, we had a great day and watched the semi finals of the men's springboard diving. It's probably the greatest show on earth, so I thought it was worth a mention. This is Chris Mears the GB competitor, he was very good and made it to the finals the same evening. No medals but he did a great job.