Saturday, 16 February 2013

Saturday 16th. February 2013

With some reasonable weather forecasted , I decided on an away day on Friday . Dungeness was my ultimate destination , but with some nice clear sky , I detoured to Barming for another try for the Hawfinches . I arrived at 0800 , but was not the first on site , as a schoolboy , in full uniform and his dad , who was supposed to be taking the boy to school , were already scanning the trees . Later , 'Mr. Hawfinch' / Adam arrived , but he must have forgotten to let the birds out , as the boy had to go off to school without a sighting . Mind you , I did no better , but Adam had a brief sighting in the big Ash , but it few to the back of the churchyard and I couldn't relocate the bird . Adam left , and I gave it a while longer , before continuing my journey .
Heading over Walland Marsh , I was hoping to find some of the good numbers of the species that I have seen reported recently , but I didn't even see a Mute , never mind a Bewick . On arrival at the reserve , I decided to do the ARC pit first , but found very little from the viewing screen , so headed for the Hanson Hide . On the way around , a female Marsh Harrier drifted over the pit , and for once ,
the sun was behind me , and I managed to fire of several shots before it drifted effortlessly down to
 the far end . As I neared the Hanson Hide , I caught up with a group of birders that were just entering , so I knew I would not be able to sit at 'Ken's seat' , and finished up right at the far end . To be honest , there wasn't much to see from there either and what there was , was at a great distance .
Two pairs of Goldeneye , the males displaying to the females was nice , after missing out at New Hythe , and even further away was one drake and a harem of redhead Smew . Apart from the expected species , the only other interest was a calling , unseen , Water Rail , and 3/4 Marsh Harriers tumbling , high above the tower opposite . Crossing onto the main reserve , I stopped at the feeders at Boulderwood Farm , which were devoid of birds , but the constant chattering of Sparrows could be
heard , and sure enough , some were the Tree variety . Three parked cars and lots of scopes said something of interest was in the fields to the right , about 100mtrs. along the track . I pulled over and stopped and one of the birders was good enough to point out 5 Bean Geese in his scope , a first of the species for me . It was very reminiscent of the Cranes at Sheppey , the geese were a long way
off and difficult to find by human eye . I took a few shots , and this was about as good as it got . They are the five birds across the middle of the shot . Not far away and mixing with the Canada Geese ,
were a few Barnacle Geese . Before moving on , I did see the first Swans of the visit , when a pair of
Mutes did a fly past . Also in the fields that side were large numbers of Lapwing and Curlew , together with a large flock of Golden Plover , which were a sight to behold when they lifted off
circled with the sunshine glinting on their undersides , when one of the many Marsh Harriers got too close . After that initial excitement , the track around the reserve was very quiet , as were the hides . At Dengemarsh Hide , I had just settled for a scan around , when the group from Hanson Hide arrived
with all their gear , time I was off . A Kestrel performed an aerial ballet overhead in a sky that was becoming more and more cloudy as I headed towards Hookers Pit . From the viewpoint , white blobs in the distance only turned out to be more Mute Swans , not Bewicks or the Great White Egret . As I passed the large reedbed beyond Hooker's , a whirr of light brown lifted out of the similar coloured reeds , and crash landed again 10 metres away . By the time I got the camera on the bird , the Bittern
was disappearing back into the reeds as this blurred shot shows . A bit further on , another blob of white in the far distance did prove to be the elusive GWE . By now I was almost back where I saw the Been Geese again , and had the walk back along the main track to the car park . There , a quick look at the feeders showed that they were dominated by Chaffinch , Great Tit and Moorhen , but I did get a very brief , rear end , view of a Crest , but couldn't determine whether it was Gold or Fire . I decided to head for the fishing boats to see if I could catch up with the resident Glaucous Gull , but as I approached that point on the track again , a much closer white image appeared from behind a
reedbed , the elusive GWE , for once showing well at last . On the way to the fishing boats , I stopped briefly at the far end of the ARC pit , a point where I have been lucky in the past with drake Smew ,
but it seemed that the Shoveler convention was on , with really good numbers of the species , but not a sign of my hoped for target . When I reached the fishing boats , the tide was fully in , and all the Gulls were roosting in groups on the shingle between the ridge and the road , and were impossible to approach any closer than 100 mtrs. without them all taking off , so the Glaucous Gull could well have
been in one of these groups , who knows ? A look around the lighthouses didn't produce anything , nor did Long Pit , so I decided to call it a day . I decided to return via Camber and the A21 , so a slow drive down Dengemarsh Road on the way produced yet another female Marsh Harrier , but also the
first lamb of this year that I have seen . The pits along the road from Lydd to Camber were very quiet , but with the impending gloom of early evening , I didn't hang around too long .


Phil said...

Well done with the bittern Greenie. Had a brief sighting myself at New Hythe today. I still haven't bagged the Glaucous. I blame Adam and his box!

Ken. said...

Went to Dunge myself on Thursday,couldn't blog it as laptop has been out of action for 2 days.
The best birds that I saw while there was the Tundra Bean Geese, and Barnacle Geese, all in the same area.I also saw the 2 male Goldeneyes displaying to the 2 females.
Cannot see the Glaucous in the photo.
I was lucky enough to sit in you know who's seat, mentioning no names :-)
Great day out.

ShySongbird said...

You had an interesting day out Greenie. Well done with the Bean Geese, Bittern and GWE.

Great shots of the Marsh Harrier and I particularly like the one of the Tree Sparrow. Good to see the year is moving on with the lamb too.