Trip Report – Dungeness, 31st May 2014

Bob P, Al, Martin and Sue met at the Reserve car park, to be greeted by a pair of very noisy common gulls on the roof of the Centre, behaving in a natural, if unseemly, manner. We were lucky to see a tree sparrow and a recently fledged young bird on the feeders, and while we drank our first cup of coffee, a Mediterranean gull flew over, calling. We’d seen lesser and greater black-backed gulls at Scotney Pit, and black headed there, too. There were a couple of avocets there, and the usual geese. It was from here at the car park that we saw a single swift; it was at Hanson ARC that we saw swallows.

We walked round to the hides, hearing plenty of Cetti’s warblers on the way. Water rails were squealing out of sight. Duck species were in rather short supply, with only tufted, pochard, mallard, gadwall and shoveler on the water, and a couple of shelducks on the shingle banks.

There were plenty of reed buntings, a few reed warblers, and many sedge warblers, the latter very visible, feeding their young. On the way to the Dengemarsh hide, Al alerted us to the first of a couple of lesser whitethroats – later he found us another one, which showed well on the top of a dead bit of scrub, singing loudly. A lone chiffchaff was heard calling, and there was plenty of common whitethroat activity, too. Along the way, Bob photographed a few caterpillars (Garden Tiger Moth and Drinker Moth). He also took all the photographs which accompany this report (thanks again, Bob).

Around the Dengemarsh area, we saw six hobbys flying, and three marsh harriers, the male harrier looking spectacularly brightly coloured. Two or three buzzards were floating about (none of them the honey buzzards reported later – we hope) and a sparrowhawk. The other raptor noted was a kestrel.

Common terns were busy, nesting on the rafts at Dengemarsh, and a grey heron was pretending to be a bittern. On the way to the screen hide at ARC, a sandwich tern flew over several times, calling.

We had lunch before moving on to Dengemarsh Road. Springfield Bridge proved less interesting than usual, but at Galloways, Martin found us at least five wheatears. There were plenty of linnets here, and on the way, and a couple of meadow pipits. Our species total was well up into the 60’s, which was pleasing, as our only waders were oystercatchers and lapwings.

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