Friday, 15 February 2013

Dungeness RSPB 14-2-2013

On Thursday 14th February Wendy had a course at Dungeness RSPB reserve, so I took the opportunity to accompany her, the weather-lady had promised lovely sunshine all day so I went fully kitted out with camera and scope, the only downside was limited time as we arrived in early afternoon.
Mallard - ARC Hide - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
On arrival the car park bird feeder although almost empty was being visited by numerous Blue Tits, whilst several Moorhens were around its base along with a solitary Rabbit. Instead of the walk I decided to start at the ARC, this gave me the opportunity to drive slowly back down the drive scouring the various flocks of geese for the visiting Bean and Barnacle Geese but was only rewarded with Canada and Greylag.
Coot - ARC Hide - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The ARC was a lot quieter than in previous visits probably because the water level was quite high, none the less a couple of Herring Gulls  were accompanying the Cormorants on the little island, whilst a quick scan round of the ducks revealed Coots and Tufted Ducks aplenty with a few Mallard (the sun giving the male Mallards a metallic sheen to their heads), Shoveler, Teal and Pochard dotted around.
Goldeneye - ARC Hide - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
A slower look at the ducks revealed a couple of Goldeneye and several female Smew, whilst tucked away in the reeds to the East was a male Smew, also asleep but a little more prominent was a Great Crested Grebe. Overhead flew a Marsh Harrier whilst 2 Great White Egrets flew into and were lost in the reeds to the North.
Female Smew - ARC Screen - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
I went round to the viewing screen where one of the Great White Egrets showed for a brief time before flying off towards the power station and beyond. From the screen were improved views of a Great Crested Grebe, and the female Smews. A couple of additional visitors were a Carrion Crow who hopped across the screen roof and a Green Woodpecker flying past. On the walk back to the Car Park I added Mute Swan to the list, a pair of which were swimming in a pit to my right.

Great White Egret - ARC Screen - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
On the drive to the main reserve I saw three Reed Buntings near the farm, another scouring of the geese flocks revealed Barnacle Geese sadly they were some distance away and only visible with the scope, there were also a large number of Wigeon grazing.
Great White Egret over Dungeness Power Station - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Sadly the light was dropping rapidly as dark clouds rolled in (hence most photos from ARC). My first stop in the reserve was Makepeace Hide from which large numbers of various duck could be seen, I added Shelduck and Gadwall to the list, a Dabchick dove briefly in front of the hide before disappearing into the reeds and a Heron flew into the reeds to my right.

Great Crested Grebe - ARC Screen - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
On the walk to Denge Marsh Hide I was accompanied by several Stonechats which were showing nicely against the darkening sky, sadly the best poses were also out of focus. Over to the south of the footpath was an amazing sight, a large flock of Fieldfare were on the ground feeding, along the right hand fringe of this flock were a few lapwing and to their right were large numbers of Curlew also feeding, several hundred birds in all, I love seeing birds in large numbers and get a larger thrill from that than I do seeing the odd rarity.

Stonechats - Dungeness RSPB - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
I was running late and forwent Denge Marsh hide, however I then found that the footpath back to the centre was closed and with the diversion I suddenly found my return journey doubled in length and although this did afford me a wonderful view of a large mixed flock of lapwing and Golden Plover I was in danger of getting locked in and 4.45pm saw me still about15 minutes from the car park. I Marched briskly in the drizzle (thank you BBC local Weather forecast) when a very nice lady leaving the reserve,stopped her car and kindly offered me a lift back to the centre which I gratefully received and am very very thankful for.

Pochard - ARC Screen - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
Missed off the day list are Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Robin, Starling, Great Tit and long Tailed Tit who were dotted around the reserve. Two spots on the drive to the reserve were a Sparrowhawk which flew in front of the car across the road no more than 4 feet off the ground just South of Ashford and a hovering Kestrel just before Lydd. The count for the day was 41, not terrific, but not bad.
Rainbow - Dungeness - Canon 400D + 100-400mm