We had a good day out on Tuesday although I did not come back with many pictures. First stop was the Little Common Recreation Ground near Cooden to look for the Black Stork. Research of recent sightings had shown that it often did a flyover of the recreation ground between eleven and eleven thirty in the morning but just to be on the safe side we were in place and waiting before nine o'clock.
This was easy birding, sitting on a park bench exchanging stories whilst having an early lunch and occasionally scanning the sky. Sure enough at about 11.15 the Stork was spotted away in the distance. It did a few circles gaining height and then drifted westward coming right over the top of our park bench.
Some of the locals have had spectacular close ups when it has landed in their gardens or on one of the local roads. That did not happen for us but I was happy to come away with a recognisable record shot and a life tick for this country.
By eleven thirty we were wondering what to do with the rest of the day. As we were halfway to Dungeness we decided to press on and see what it had to offer.
Initially it looked very good. There were Black Terns and White-winged Black Terns reported on the ARC Pit. An Icternine Warbler near the visitors centre and a Black-necked Grebe from the Makepeace Hide.
The Black Tern was easy if a bit distant but we could not get a clear view of the White-winged Black Terns.
A quick check around the visitors centre was also disappointing. There were a number of people looking for the Icterine Warbler and there were various claims for having seen it earlier that morning but I could see nothing that would convince me that it was still there. My second Icterine dipped in a week.
Then I made a bit of a mistake. For some reason I thought that I had already seen a White-winged Black Tern earlier this year so Dave and I split up with Dave going to look for the tern and me chasing a Black-necked Grebe that I needed for a year tick. We both succeeded in our quests but it was only when I got back to the ARC hide, to be told that the Tern had disappeared after having shown well, that the doubts started to creep in. Sure enough when I got home and checked, my sighting had been in the previous year.
It was good to have the Black-necked Grebe but on balance the Tern would have been better. Worse still the Grebe was so far away that it was difficult to get a picture.
|Black-necked Grebe (500mm lens 1.4 converter and 1.6 multiplier in camera)|
|Heavy crop of the above.|
We waited a while, during which we got good views of a Bittern on the far side of the pit, then drove down and checked the southern end, but the Terns were nowhere to be seen, so we headed for home.
It took nearly four hours with road works at Bexhill delaying us for three quarters of an hour, two separate crashes on the A27 causing tailbacks and delays for a single lane at Shoreham caused by the recent air crash. All the way home my doubts on having seen the White-winged Black Tern this year were growing as was the sense of having missed a good bird.
Still I had the Black Stork so it had to be counted as a good day.