Thursday, 3 September 2015
SURPRISE SURPRISE AT DUNGENESS
A Hobby flew overhead as I walked from the ARC car park to the Hanson Hide. In the small reedbeds either side of the path Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers churred and ticked as they climbed the reeds, sometimes showing briefly before disappearing back down the stems and out of sight. In the Brambles, lots of chubby looking Whitethroats, Great Tits and Wrens were seen while Cetti's Warblers called but were unseen.
Around the Willow Trail myriads of small birds chased insects through the tops of the small trees. Goldcrests, brightly coloured Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher and Pied Flycatcher all fed earnestly and took little notice of me as they moved through.
The hide was a bit busy, an array of scopes and bins drawn by the presence of at least one, maybe two White-winged Black Terns who, like the hundreds of Swallows and Sand Martins, enjoyed what must have been a huge hatch of insects on and above the water. I didn't stop long, but promised myself a return vsit later in the day when I hoped it would be quieter and the WWB Terns might be nearer the hide.
I drove slowly up the track to the visitor centre. Last time I spotted a Little Owl perching briefly on the Gorse. I didn't see it this time but a casual scan of some Brambles did reveal a small, upright bird which caught my interest. A closer look revealed it to be a Red-backed Shrike! I was more than a bit chuffed to have found this bird and I watched it for several minutes as it caught small dragonflies, probably Common Darters. This is only my second ever RB Shrike, made all the better for finding it myself. In the visitor centre I reported it to two bemused ladies, so they could write it on the sightings board. A Red-backed what was it? asked the writer. Well, I suppose they don't get them that often..........
The reserve was quieter than the ARC, the highlights being Common Lizards, which i've struggled to find in any numbers this year, Common Sandpipers, Oystercatchers, the ever present Marsh Harriers, Kingfisher, Bearded Tits and two Great White Egrets from Denge Marsh hide.
After another short view of the Shrike I left for the lighthouse area where the earlier reported Wryneck was nowhere to be seen. While photographing this fine looking Common Darter I noticed a small butterfly settling on some gorse a short distance away. I checked it out with the bins and saw purply blue upperwings, it then closed its wings and revealed light coloured wavy bands. It was a Long-tailed Blue! My second big surprise of the day. It flew almost immediately and I lost sight of it and despite a long search I couldn't relocate it. It was only when I got home that I was told of a previous sighting of one the day before, not 200yds away from my sighting.
After this excitement I left for the ARC again, pausing only to stop at the excellent Dungeness fish hut to purchase a couple of Plaice for dinner by way of celebration. I know how to push the boat out! Always a handy skill to have at Dungie.
Butterflies were at a premium but I did find a couple of Small Coppers, slightly worse for wear, but still nice to see at the back end of a very average (at best) Summer.
And this Dark Bush Cricket was a welcome target for the camera alongside the ARC car park.
Back inside the Hanson hide again and during a lively thunderstorm, the Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Shovelers and a couple of Black Terns completed a great line up at Dungeness with a total of 57 species and two very nice surprises