Sunday, 23 June 2013


Apart from those generated by Lydd airport, flights were few and far between at Dungeness last wednesday when Alan and I visited the RSPB reserve.
Unsurprisingly given the time of year there was little on Burrowes pit to set the pulse racing and apart from stopping to listen to Reed Warblers chuntering away in the reeds there was little to hold our attention as we made our way towards Denge marsh hide.  

As we approached Christmas Dell hide the sun began  to break through the clouds and we did start to see one or two birds in the adjacent Gorse and scrub. Common Whitethroats, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch and a few Linnets, pictured above, livened up the otherwise quiet proceedings.

Perhaps the best sighting here was the juvenile Sedge Warbler above and below. This was one of possibly four sitting on top of the brambles, who preened and waited patiently for the next food delivery from their hard pressed parents. They took considerably less notice of me than I did them!

Before Denge marsh we turned left and followed the water filled ditch that leads up to the lake. I hoped to find a Grass Snake along here but no luck on this occasion.

But I did spot this fearsome creature climbing slowly up a reed stem. It's a Water Scorpion, the first one i've ever seen. Although it looks fierce it's actually harmless and the apparent sting in the tail is in fact a hollow tube through which it breathes, by pushing it through the surface of the water while submerged. Clever stuff. It also apparently has a habit of playing dead if handled.......I didn't try it.

From Denge marsh hide we watched a small flock of nine Black-tailed Godwits circle the lakes before heading off towards Burrowes pit. There were numerous, noisy, Common Terns flying to and fro the nesting  rafts with small fish to feed their chicks. A Hobby performed spectacular manoeuvres overhead, catching unseen insects and a couple of very smart male Marsh Harriers patrolled the reed beds. Presumably looking for meals for their own young. It was here too that I blinked and missed a Bittern which popped up momentarily on the far side of the lake.  
Common Lizards have always been a favourite of mine and the lack of avian activity gave me good reason to keep my eyes down looking for them. There's no shortage at Dungeness and I probably saw at least a couple of dozen around the reserve and the ARC site. They seem to come in various shades but I particularly like the green colouring of the two pictured.

And finally, another caterpillar. This beauty was seen meandering across the boardwalk along the Willow trail. At the risk of making another wrong ID (see my humble apology on the previous post), i'm going for the caterpillar of the Garden Tiger moth, aka the woolly bear, for obvious reasons. Fingers crossed!!

Nearly forgot (in truth I did forget), we also saw a Clouded Yellow butterfly as we made our way back to the visitor centre. This is a rare treat, my first for this year and none at all last year. 


Warren Baker said...

Seems quiet everywhere just now Phil, mind you, it is June after all :-)

No good seeking advice about caterpillars from me, i'm worse than you at IDing them!

Marc Heath said...

Nice sighting, a Clouded Yellow. Been a rare sight for a few years now in East Kent.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Great to see the young Sedgies .
As for the Water Scorpion , I've only seen one myself , but that was in water . I read they are winged but rely on crawling , and climbing from your shot . With those long front legs , they even take small fish .
Nothing wrong with your 'Wooly bear' ID to my mind .

Frank said...

Good to see there were other creatures to keep you occupied.

Ken. said...

I may have beenn along the road at Rye , but you certainly had the best of the wildlife in general. Love the pic of the Water Scorpian, like you I have never seen one.
The Clouded Yellow Butterfly was a good find. Nice variety of photo's.

alan roman said...

Nice picture of theWater Scorpian. A good day out.

Chris said...

Nothing I will see over here unfortunately ;-) Beautiful set of pictures Phil!

ShySongbird said...

Great post and photos Phil, love the ones of the lizard. I'm very envious about the Clouded Yellow sighting, I've never seen one.

Fascinating info about the Water Scorpion, I've never seen one of those either, I don't think I'd even heard of them!

Jason K said...

That water Scorpion is an interesting looking critter and a new one on me...nice post mate