6am start with Rick doing the driving. Only the 2nd time ever I have been driven for a day's birding as we headed off to the beach near Dungeness Bird Observatory. Coffee at Maidstone before parking near the Old Lighthouse and heading to the Seawatch hide on the shingle beach.
Huge numbers of gulls and literally 1000's of cormorants. 50+ Great crested grebe bobbing on the sea but not too much else of note so we walked to the 2nd hide, overlooking The Patch. This is an area where outflow warm water comes from the power station and attracts gulls in their 1000's everyday. A scan through this lot took time but several kittiwakes and what I thought to be 2 Caspian gulls, later confirmed by warden David Walker whom we met as we wandered back to the lighthouse to check around the Desert, Trapping area, Moat and Long Pits. Renewed my membership to Friends of Dungeness Bird Obs with him.
Not too much here: a female sparrow hawk flew off whilst overhead, a continual stream of cormorants flying west towards the RSPB Reserve.
Back near the Lighthouse I scanned the power station and found a Peregrine high on Dungeness B. This was soon joined by a 2nd one. Huge distance away for some poor quality photos. One of several kestrels was also noted. This flew in trying to take a female chaffinch, which eluded capture by a split second
|Gulls feeding at The Patch|
|Just a few of the 1000's of cormorants|
Back to the car and off towards Lydd in search of Bewicks, Cattle egret and Glossy ibis. We found 6 Cattle egrets in a horse field but they flew off before any decent photos could be found. Another birder said he had not seen the swans or ibis, so a quick search along Dengemarsh Lane as far as the tarmac road ending. From here, the road is gravel and sand, containing far too many potholes for the car. Common gull and Rook were added to the day list.
|Solitary Cattle egret|
|Female chaffinch seconds before a kestrel attack|
|Great white egret|
|Great white egret|
|One of several kestrels. This one near the ARC Pit|
|Pair of very distant peregrines|
|3 female Goldeneye, one just diving.|
Into Lydd for some sandwiches before a trip west to Scotney Pits. Here a redshank, our only wader of the day along with plenty of wigeon and lapwings. A Marsh harrier glided in the distance. By now it was too late for our planned trip across the county to Oare Marshes near Faversham. Another time for this brilliant and compact reserve. We decided to return to get some photos of the cattle egrets which we found after looking in the wrong direction. They were 20 yards away from us! Then back to the Bird Obs to search the power station wall for the reported Black redstarts. No sign until one popped up, posed briefly before dropping out of site. A lifer for Rick and a good way to end a brilliant trip. In total, a slightly disappointing 60 species noted.
The journey home was the best I have ever had: no hold ups and straight through the Dartford tunnel.
|Some of the cormorants at the RSPB Reserve|
|Great Black backed gulls with a smaller Herring gull|
|Herring gull silhoutte|
|Sunset over The Channel|