Monday, 21 October 2013

Dungeness & distant birds

There has been some good birds reported from the Dungeness area recently, so with all my DIY jobs completed.

 The call of the wild beckoned.

Dungeness is home to one of the RSBP's oldest nature reserves, created  back in 1931 to protect populations of seabirds, today it supports internationally important populations of wintering wildfowl.

 During spring or autumn the reserve is a good place to see migrating birds of all types, hence the attraction for many bird -watchers

Dungeness is the largest shingle formation in Europe, formed over several thousand years and covers an area of nearly a thousand hectares.

Its also home to one of  the UK's  nuclear power stations.

View from Makepeace hide

First stop was the ARC pit,  a walk up to the screen hide didn't produce anything unusual, but as I walked back from the screen hide towards Hanson hide, a Bittern was flushed, flew for a short distance and then crashed down into the reeds.

View from Hanson hide looking towards water tower.

As I opened up the hide shutter, and made myself comfortable, almost the first bird  I saw was a Great White Egret, one of the birds  I was keen to see, there has been reports of up to seven  Great white Egrets around the reserve, this one didn't stay for long, and flew across the front of the hide towards the reserve.

Great White Egret on ARC pit

Another target bird was also seen from this hide, a Glossy Ibis,
it never came close enough for a decent photograph, which seemed to be the general theme of the day, some good birds to see, 
but always a bit distant.

Glossy Ibis from Hanson hide ARC Pit.

The Bittern revealed itself once again, making a few short flights, 
 a short walkabout , then it was lost to view, hidden in the reed beds.
A couple of distant record shots were obtained only.
Very Distant Bittern.

There was plenty of wildfowl to be seen from here, I noted Teal, Shoveller, Pintail, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard,  Gadwall, Mallard and Wigeon, as well as Canada geese, and Mute swans
Cormorant, Black headed Gulls, Common Gulls, there were also Golden plover, Grey plover, Dunlin, Lapwing and three Greenshank.


A Marsh Harrier flushed the water birds on several occasions, causing panic.
On one of these forays, it located a dead Shoveller on the water line
which it attempted to drag off into the vegetation.

Marsh Harrier

I moved on to the reserve stopping briefly at the entrance farm house, for a view of the Tree sparrow colony that has taken up residence here, once again the birds were too far away for a decent shot, although did manage a couple of record shots of tree sparrows on the roof of the farm house,

Along the entrance track towards the car park, a male Kestrel
was seen, scanning the shingle ridges from its vantage spot.

A  quick look from the Visitor center revealed more Great White Egrets , accompanied by some Little Egrets.

I remember chasing around Kent  several years ago, hoping to catch a  glimpse of a Little Egret, now quite common and sometimes taken for granted, I wonder if this will happen with the Great White Egret.

A walk up the track towards Firth Hide revealed a Wheatear which stayed long enough for a  photograph.


I walked on up to Makepeace hide, several Black Necked Grebes had been previously reported, one of these was pointed out by a fellow bird watcher, but once again never came close for a photograph, just a record shot but you can make out some of the salient features .

Black necked grebe

Another Great white Egret was showing, hard to work out how many actual GWE there were, as they seemed to be moving around the various pools. A large number of Grey Herons also in the area.

Great White egret

Grey Heron

Decided to finish the day with a quick look at the power station, as  a Black Redstart is usually around, but no sign today, just a very tired looking Wheatear contemplating the flight across the channel.


I couldn't  resist a photograph of this Spitfire which was flying around the area, 

Supermarine Spitfire

 Always nice to see.

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