Trip reports

Reserve Visit: RSPB Dungeness

Male goldeneye

Saturday, 9 January 2016

There is no better way to start the birding year than with a visit to RSPB Dungeness. It is a generous giver to birders searching for a "special" bird, and on this occasion our spirits were lifted to great heights. The weather also played its part in making our visit a magical one, likely to be remembered for all the right reasons by all who came. The day was dry and wind free for the most part and only much later in the afternoon did raindrops "keep falling on my head" ran the reprise in my mind.

The absolute highlight of the day had to be the most fantastic, fabulous views of the long eared owl. One surely had to pinch oneself to believe that it was real, but real it was and there it sat majestically looking at us mere mortals, as we gazed upon it with great awe and wonder.

This wondrous spectacle was closely followed by the sight of one extremely dapper male smew closely followed by his much admiring harem and rightly so. He looked utterly splendid, as if he were made of the most expensive porcelain gliding across the water as our hearts beat ever harder as we watched from the hide. Please note that I have refrained and restrained myself from attaching to him anthropomorphic terms like "cute" and "cuddly".

The birds seen at Dungeness identified by our guides Sedley and Peter were little, great crested and slavonian grebe, cormorant, grey heron, little and great white egret, greylag geese, Canada geese, wigeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, pintail, shoveler, pochard, tufted duck, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, tree sparrow, reed bunting, moorhen, coot, lapwing, black headed, common, herring and great black backed gull, wood pigeon, kingfisher, water rail, Cetti's warbler, goldcrest, long tailed, great and blue tit, chaffinch, magpie, crow, house sparrow, mute swan, great spotted woodpecker, goldeneye (pictured), robin and stonechat. Additionally four group members saw firecrest. So as well as the long eared owl and smew mentioned earlier quite an impressive bird list.

All too soon the day drew to a close and it was time to start our journey home. Homeward bound, yes we were, but the wonderful memories of the day, I feel sure, will live in the minds of all who came to RSPB Dungeness on that most memorable of days.