Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Wednesday 15th. January 2014

With the hope of a sunny , rain free day yesterday , I was undecided between Dungeness and Rye Harbour as to being my destination , so en route a split decision was made , the morning at Dungeness and the afternoon at Rye Harbour . The sun was still half hidden by cloud and mist still hugged the ground as I made my first stop , hoping to see the Berwick Swan flock in a field just
outside Lydd . Well , I did see the 40+ flock , but they were way in the distance , white shapes in the early morning murk . Pushing on , I arrived at ARC car park with just one other car already there and headed for the hide , seeing at least two Great White Egrets and 2/3 Little Egret over towards the viewing screen on my way . Two birders were already enthroned in 'Ken's seat' , so after a quick look down the pit to the right , settled to their left , looking across to the screen area . Lots of Coots immediately in front of the hide , entertaining the three of us as they leapt out of the water to grab the seed heads from the Bullrushes , made easier for them by the high water level in the pit . When one bird was successful in grabbing a head , it then had the problem of keeping it from the rest . The
entertainment was interrupted by a Bittern that flew over the hide from behind , and headed for the reedbed in front of the screen on the far bank , and disappearing into it . Duck numbers weren't high ,
but along with the usual Mallards , Tufted and a few Gadwall , Wigeon were the most dominant species . At distance , both male and female Goldeneye were seen briefly , in between their constant

dives , but eventually they came a bit closer , enabling a few shots . Three redhead Smew were also
seen , but unfortunately no sign of a male . The duck spotting came to a sudden halt when the Bittern
appeared again from the reedbed , heading straight towards the hide . Just before the hide , it veered to the left and landed in the back if the small reedbed to the left of the hide , almost disappearing
from view almost immediately , but before doing so , taking up it's classic 'bill to the sky' pose for just a few seconds . I waited hoping that it would work it's way to the front of the reedbed where a Grey Heron was fishing , but unfortunately it didn't and wasn't seen again . Shortly afterwards ,
everything went up from the surface as a female and juvenile Marsh Harrier arrived looking for breakfast . After they moved on , it was difficult to relocate the rarer ducks , but after a while I found two of the Goldeneye , a male and female , and the MH's appearance didn't seem to have worried the
male , as every time she surfaced , he started displaying to her . The other two birders had moved on some time earlier and things were quietening down , so I headed back to the car and across the road to the RSPB Reserve . The feeders at Boulderwood Farm were busy , even though a new post and rail
fence was being erected close by , and the Tree Sparrow colony were tucking in , along with a few Reed Buntings . Along the track several birders were scanning the distant geese hoping to see the Bean or White-fronted that have been recorded recently . I stopped for a while , but only saw Greylags and Canadas . Arriving at the car park , I had a look in Denis's Hide , to find it full to overflowing with a group . They were talking about seeing a Goosander , but it was over on the new diggings , a long way away , also the favoured area for the Black-throated
Diver recently . To get closer it would be necessary to view from the main road , meaning looking straight into the low Winter sun , apart from taking your life in your hands to do so . A look from the
picnic area found a Great White Egret lapping up the sunshine whilst preening . With not much else reported on the Reserve , it was time to move on to Rye Harbour , but not before running in to Phil / Sharp by Nature , who , like myself , had contracted 'cabin fever' over the last couple of weeks . After a catch up we parted company and I headed towards Scotney Pits , hoping that the Barnacle Goose flock , with the Emperor Geese that Ken / Focusing on Wildlife , found with them on his visit , were still around , but sadly there was no sign . The fact that the local farmer/shepherd and his dog were rounding up his sheep on a quadbike , that was the farmer not the dog Warren , meant the grass banks by the road were almost devoid of any birds , but there was a flock of 75/100 Coot feeding down by
the water at one point . A picture for those excited by the species . Also found on the way , a small flock of wary Rooks , especially if anything was pointed at them like a camera . Managed to get this
shot just as they spotted the lens , but before they flew off . The car park at Rye Harbour was incredibly busy with walkers and dog walkers making the most of the sunny weather , although the wind had a chill . As the majority were heading up the road towards Lime Kiln Cottage and the river mouth , I cut through the caravan park and entered the Reserve over the small bridge . Almost immediately something put up every roosting bird and the sky was full of black dots , this being just
one part of the picture , but no reason could be found . It took many minutes before things got back to normal . Little was seen from the two hides out in the middle apart from a very confiding Little Grebe
that carried on diving and feeding within metres from the front of one hide . The hide along the beach road near the old lifeboat station held the most birds , with a large Oystercatcher roost to the right  and space on what was left of the small islands was at a premium , this one occupied mainly by Knot
with a sprinkling of Dunlin . Other waders seen on other islands included Common Snipe , Ruff and the usual hoards of Lapwing , commuting between the edges of the islands to bathe and the shingle
banks to preen and dry . Returning down the road alongside the river , although the sun was still out , clouds were building on the horizon , but the local Rabbit population were still out feeding and
chasing about between burrows , and amongst them , moving and feeding very quietly , was this
Stock Dove . Very little was close in to the last hide , but further out Avocet , Shellduck , Godwit , Ring Plover , Little Egret , several Gull species and a very large roost of Curlew could be seen , the latter starting to return to feed on the mud on the receding tide . As I left the car park , a spur of the moment decision to stop at the footpath between the industrial units and walk out to Castle Water . I was only 200 metres along the very muddy track when I met two birders returning from the same trek . I asked if they had been successful , but they said that it had been very disappointing , and very wet and muddy underfoot . My boots were already caked in mud , so decided on just a look around a large reedbed before heading off home . Whilst doing so , I had a very quick glimpse of a small Grebe that immediately dived into the reedbed , not to be seen again . To my mind it was a possible Slavonian , but didn't see it for long enough to be sure .


Alan Pavey said...

Sounds like a good days birding Greenie, like the Bittern shots and always a treat to see.

Warren Baker said...

Worth the trip out Greenie, plenty to keep you happy there :-)

When are you going to increase the dimensions of the photo's on your blog mate, reckon they would look better enlarged :-)

Phil said...

Glad you had a successful day Greenie. Some great shots, especially the Bittern and the Little Grebe.

Greenie said...

Warren ,
If I increase the picture size to the next - 'Extra large' , it throws all the text all over the place .
I think I would need to change the template and that throws other things out of kilter .
Perhaps I'll take the plunge one wet day , maybe !

Ken. said...

Was your day to Dunge a Bloggers day out? Always nice meeting one when out.I see that you was kept amused by the Coots in front of the of the Hanson Hide like I did last week (Wednesday 6th)
You had a really good day out seeing plenty of the great bird species that are there at the moment, although once there they do seem to hang around for a while. I am just waiting for the male Smew to arrive (my favourite drake)
I like the pics of the Bittern that you managed to get.

Warren Baker said...

Greenie, you'll have to increase the margins.
To do this - click on DESIGN at the top right of your blog page, then click on TEMPLATES on the list of options on that page. Next click on CUSTOMISE, which is in an orange box on my blog, then on the list of options click ADJUST WIDTHS.

Two sets of sliders come up at the top of the page and you can adjust the widths of the columns. Of interest I have set mine to 1310 on the''whole Blog'' slider and 390 to the ''side bar'' slider :-) click the ''APPLY TO BLOG'' when you've done :-)

Sounds a lot to do but it takes a minute or two only :-)