Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Dungeness

Dungeness was today's destinations with the objective of adding a few year ticks before the winter visitors start to disappear. The day got off to a slow start when a stop at Scotney Pits gave us plenty of ducks and Lapwings to look at but very few geese and other than a couple of Egyptian none of the rarer species we were looking for.


Goldeneye


The ARC hide at Dungeness was a little better. A Marsh Harrier flyby as we arrived, Golden Eye displaying, a Great White Egret, and whilst there were no male Smew we did see lots of redheads spread out over the lake. We also had a brief view of a Bittern from the viewing screen as it disappeared into the reedbed.


Great White Egret

The Tree Sparrows were on the feeders and around the garden at Boulderwood Farm as were a number of House Sparrows and Reed Buntings.


Tree Sparrow

I think we were both a little disappointed by the end of the morning. Birds like the Marsh Harrier and the Great White Egret are unusual in Sussex but in Dungeness they are quite common. We had four or five sightings of each during the day. The water levels were also very high and there were no waders around.

The afternoon livened up a bit. We spotted a female Goosander on the far side of the lake and could not believe our luck when she swam all the way over to perform just in front of the hide.


Female Goosander



After much searching of the thousands of ducks and gulls present we also found a Black-necked Grebe. As you can see below they do not always come close enough to give a good picture opportunity.

Black-necked Grebe

A local birder also put us onto a a pair of Black-throated Divers on the New Diggings Pit. We missed them in the morning but they proved a lot easier to find when we returned in the afternoon.

Black-throated Diver

We tried Scotney again on the way home. The geese were there but were on the fields on the far side of the pits so even with the scope we could not see any detail. All we saw were more ducks and Lapwings and a few Golden Plover. We also tried Pett Level . Even more ducks, a couple more Marsh Harrier sightings, and plenty of Curlew.

We have often looked over the sea wall here and seen a vast expanse of sea with nothing on it so we had no great expectations as we climbed the slope. It's always worth a look though and this time there were hundreds of birds. They were mostly Wigeon but we did manage to pick out Red and Black-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes, and a few Auk species.

With the mist  rolling in and the sun beginning to go down the opportunity for more sightings disappeared and we headed for home. Over fifty species seen on the day and eight year ticks, it had proved to be a good day out.

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