Trip reports

DUNGENESS RSPB RESERVE 17 DECEMBER 2017

Sunday, 17 December 2017

DUNGENESS RSPB RESERVE 17 DECEMBER 2017
With camera, binoculars and a little nervous twitch I led my first RSPB Bexley Group coach trip to Dungeness. The weather was very fresh with temperatures well below freezing. After a little quiz on the coach we downed our coffee and started on the circular walk towards Firth hide stopping of course to get a glimpse of the long eared owl by the dipping pond. With a no show we were soon looking at the new excavations which were full of many gull species. Just as we were about to leave two members popped into Firth hide saying that the long eared owl was showing. I think we should enter some of the members into the next Olympic 100 meters with the speed they left the hide. With telescopes trained across the dipping pond all members were able to get views. After some exchanges of the location we were soon looking at two long eared owls. Once owled out we made our way clockwise to the Makepeace hide where a Caspian gull was pointed out to the group. A life tick for some!
Moving onto Scott hide we were soon getting great views of a kingfisher and hundreds of cormorants. Little Egrets were seen flying past. The hungry members started lunch. Next was Christmas Dell hide where most decided this was the lunch stop. Certainly lunch was a far better sight due to the lack of birds. Denge marsh hide started off quietly until we observed a buzzard feasting on what looked like the remains of a goose, some lapwings and a close encounter with a grey heron. From the viewpoint at Hookers pit we also got a glimpse of another buzzard sitting on a post and then a marsh harrier sitting on top of a bush towards Springfield Bridge. Walking on, a gold crest flew across the path twice before disappearing into the gorse. Then came the big decision. Take the return trail to the visitors centre or walk over to the Hanson ARC hide? Half returned for coffee and nine of us walked over, stopping to look at the tree sparrows at Boulderwall Farm. Once over the road kestrels were observed before we got into the ARC hide where a lone Great White Egret was preening. There was not much else around so we started our walk back to the visitors centre. With rain now starting to fall we were lucky to spot the cattle egret in its usual place. Once back at the visitors centre the atmosphere was buzzing with the exchanges of who saw what and where. With a last sneaky peak at the long eared owl we boarded our coach for our return to Bexleyheath. In all 69 different species were seen, highlights being the long eared owl, the Caspian gull and a yellow legged gull. Martin Burke.