A dilemma faced me this morning , the weather was good for once , I had already put off my visit to Rye and Dungeness once , but I haven't got my 100-400mm. lens back yet . I decided the weather was too good to miss , so I set off with the 100mm. lens and my old camera . Managed to get to Rye in reasonable time , and set off for the hide on Castle Water . Arriving at the hide at the same time as two others , both with 500 or 600mm. cannons attached to their cameras , To say the least , I felt inadequate . On the way , I did manage to get a female Stonechat , but she didn't let me get too near . It was great to hear and see Skylarks rising into the blue sky , and proclaiming their territories . Immediately on opening the flaps on the hide , a flock of Long Tailed Tits arrived and started feeding in the reeds . After about 30 minutes , a very brief sighting of a flying Bittern , and after another 30 minutes , a very distant sighting of another , some 200 metres + away . I pointed the 100mm. lens and of three shots , this is the least bad . The Bittern is on the bank , just left of the Coot in the water . Two other sightings followed , but they were very quick and distant . A pleasant interlude from Bittern searching came when a male Marsh
Harrier headed towards the hide , before veering off to one side . I gave it till lunchtime , when the wind had started to get up , then made a move to Dungeness . The track from the road was very quiet , with just Kestrel and the odd wildfowl seen . A quick look at the pits showed that the wind was causing quite a ripple on the water , and birds were very few . As part of the tracks were flooded , I decided to have a look at the ARC pit across the road . From the ARC hide , a very confiding Little Grebe was feeding , and posing in between dives . I must admit that I didn't find them , but whilst in the hide , another birder spotted the first Summer visitor of the year , a pair of Garganey . Once again , a poor shot , but I think you can make out the eye stripe of the male , with the female behind , centre of picture , amongst the Shoveler . Also on the water were large numbers of Wigeon , wheeling around and whistling , but also very alert when a female Marsh Harrier came over looking for a meal . Someone had seen a female Scaup around the other side of the pit , but I didn't make contact with it .
All in all , a very nice day out , with 53 species recorded , which probably would have been higher , had I not spent the morning in the hide , but it was worth it for the Bittern and the close encounter with the Marsh Harrier .
18 hours ago