Trip reports

Dungeness Sea & Shore (Leaders Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich)

Dungeness Sea & Shore (Leaders Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich)
Great Crested Grebe (Richard Hanman)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mothers' Day dawned bright and sunny but with a vicious north-easterly wind. Eleven of us met for a change by the old Dungeness lighthouse and proceeded past the perimeter wall of the power station to the "Patch" where we stood for a time watching the various gulls and the cormorants feeding avidly in the warm water outflow. A number of great-crested grebes were on the sea, along with some more distant gannets.

We hoped to see incoming migrants such as wheatear, black redstart, swallows and martins but most passerines were keeping a low profile in the wind and the only ones seen were a pied wagtail and some meadow pipits parachuting above the perimeter fence.

Next we drove in convoy round to the RSPB reserve and parked by Boulderwall Farm to delight in the tree sparrows on the feeders there. Further on we stopped at Cook's Pool and found the drake ring-necked duck swimming in company with his tufted duck congeners. Rumour has it that he has fallen for a tuftie female! A lucky few caught sight of a weasel as it sprinted past a gate.

We adjourned to the visitor centre and some made purchases from the shop. Then we commenced a circuit of the trail, visiting the Firth, Makepeace, Christmas Dell and Dengemarsh Hides in sequence, noticing the heady scent coming from the flowering gorse bushes we passed.

Pairs of goldeneyes and marsh harriers were added to our growing list, plus lapwing, ringed plover, stock dove, common gull, reed bunting, long-tailed tit, Cetti's warbler, oystercatcher and peregrine. We also saw a common lizard basking on some straw in a sunny but sheltered hollow, plus tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies.

Just before we went our separate ways, we visited Dennis' Hide next to the visitor centre and once again it produced the goods with views of sparrowhawk, turnstone and a couple of knot. On the bank outside we watched fascinated as the UK's only colony of Andrena Vaga mining bees went about their business.

We finished with a bird list of fifty plus species. Not bad in view of the weather!

Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich