Friday, 10 August 2012


 It was about 21 degrees C under blue skies when I left home at 08.30 to drive to Dungeness yesterday. Ten miles down the motorway and it was 16 degrees, grey and murky. It was supposed to clear by mid didn't.
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.

 Other species seen were a single, slightly dull Small Copper above.

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'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.


Warren Baker said...

Good day out in the end Phil. Ive been trying to photograph a Brown hawker for weeks now, with no luck!

Better get back to New hythe phil, the Migrants are coming through :-)

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Phil!!!.. How are you??? Beautiful pictures!!!.. Have a nice weekend.. Regards..

Ken. said...

You left out the Pilot Pub, and fish and chips, by the way, they was just as good a always today.
Nice selection of photo's. Have a good weekend.

Bob Bushell said...

You had it right on, the birds, the butterflies and the Brown Hawker. Great collection.

JRandSue said...

Love the Brown Hawker,only seen one in flight,love your Header.

Jason K said...

Sounds like agood away day Phil. Cracking Lizard photo. As for the Brown Hawker shot...I'm with Warren, haven't managed one as yet

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Spot on with the BA and CB butterfly IDs .
Second brood Holly Blues are showing well now with the better weather .
Nice shot of the male BH , don't get many chances with them .
Watched a Leaf-cutter Bee in our garden the other day , but wasn't quick enough with the camera .

Chris said...

Love the dunnock Phil and that bird on the alst picture is really strange ;-)

ShySongbird said...

A great read again Phil and lovely photos especially the colourful flutters. So glad I'm not the only one who is not too confident with identifying blues!

Lovely to see the Common Lizard. I never see them here so always a pleasure to see them on your posts. I do hope the little tern manages to get back on board.

Sounds like you and Carol had a good time at the Olympics. Anyone being disappointed not to see the feathered variety of diver won't, I suspect, be half as disappointed as several visitors to my blog over the years who, according to my blog stats, after entering some very dodgy search terms into google, found themselves looking at photos of Parus major ;-)