Trip reports

Dungeness - coach trip on 27th Jan 2018

Dungeness - coach trip on 27th Jan 2018
Pair of Smew - Debbie Burkett

Saturday, 27 January 2018

"Twenty eight of us arrived by coach at Dungeness head at 09:40 - we had an hour and twenty minutes to explore this unique area. Some headed off to the shingle ridge viewing point for a bit of seawatching. Others headed to the old fishing boats, while a few successfully found the Black Redstarts that frequent the power station. The weather was kind with blue skies and some sunshine but the strong wind chilled your face.

Out at sea Gannets, both adults and immatures were passing by and stopping now and again to plunge dive for food. A couple of lines of Common Scoter passed by as did the odd Guillemot and Razorbill. At the outfall a couple of Kittiwakes were spotted amongst the masses of gulls.

11am and we are all back on the coach and heading the short distance back to the RSPB reserve. About half the passengers got off at the entrance to explore the ARC pits while the remainder stayed on and began their exploration from the visitor centre.

We all had a great day with sixty two different species seen collectively with some outstanding highlights. Probably, although it was distant the Black-throated Diver on the ARC lake was many peoples bird of the day. Also spotted were Great White Egret along with Firecrest and Chiffchaff on the ARC side. At the gatehouse everyone enjoyed watching the Tree Sparrows coming to the feeders.

Out on the reserve a Slavonian Grebe along with a drake Smew and two red heads were seen from Christmas Dell hide but always stayed frustratingly distant. At around 15:30 the weather had completely changed and was now beginning to rain. Time to head to the visitor centre and warm ourselves with a cup of hot chocolate. As we viewed the main lake and its islands through the centre's massive picture window, our group leader Michael picked out the immature Glaucous Gull which had come in to roost on one of the islands. What a fantastic way to end a brilliant day!"

Thanks to Havering for this excellent report of the trip - the onshore winds brought the birds surprisingly close for the sea watching, normally I find they are distant dots! People in the group are really good at helping others to get on to the birds they've spotted - the ARC Pit hide was especially good.
I enjoyed watching the courting display of what I assumed were a pair of Smew. There was definitely head nodding and the female lowered her body in the water, stretched out her head and put her tail up but the male was more interested in fluffing up his own feathers! I didn't know there was a second female...
(see my very blurry, phonescoped shot of the pair).