Trip reports

Coach trip to Dungeness Observatory, (ARC Pits) & RSPB Reserve, 10th September 2016

Marsh Harrier (female), close up of head
Female marsh harrier, RSPB images

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Around 30 of us were on the trip to the Kent coast, on a warm then sunny day.

First to the observatory, consisting of sea, shingle beach, (nuclear power station) and sparsely vegetated spit. There were common terns and assorted gulls - and cormorants - on the sea, but no sign of the arctic skuas the warden told us about. Black redstarts and firecrests were also unco-operative, but we saw a peregrine flying around the power station, landing on a ledge where we scoped it, then we saw our first marsh harrier of the day.

Next, we bypassed the ARC pits and went straight to the RSPB reserve. Just inside the entrance we stopped to look from the coach for a cattle egret that had been with the cows. We had a brief view of an egret that flapped into a ditch, which was probably the offender. For the next wodge of the day we searched for the buff breasted sandpiper which had pitched up the day before (a rarity). No joy, but plenty of other good things.

5 black terns were hawking for insects over the water in front of us, giving good views. The lower water levels meant there were a number of islands, encouraging waders. There were lapwing, ringed plovers, common sandpiper, ruff and a typically hyperactive 'sewing machine' little stint. Also gadwall, tufted duck, shoveler, wigeon and great crested grebes. Rounding the corner there were numbers of dragonflies (various) hunting over the path in the sun.

At Denge marsh there was a flock of over 20 yellow wagtails feeding in the grass around the cows. On the ground they disappeared, but they kept leaping up and flying around together calling. In flight their bright 'light bulb' breasts convinced us we would find them when they landed. Close behind us bearded tits were calling in the reeds. From the hide we had good views of 3 great white egrets, one of them flushed 5 snipe into view from the reeds. En route to the mound we heard a cetti's warbler and saw a green woodpecker, then from the viewpoint we finished the day with another harrier.

Altogether a rather good day was had by all!