22nd January 2012 - Dungeness

Dungeness was certainly the golden trip of January.  Despite facing the harsh winds (I didn’t wear a skirt this time though!) and freezing gales on only 4 hours sleep, it was a star trip.
We met Jono Forgham (http://littlehadhambirding.blogspot.com) and Graeme in the car park by the nuclear power station and headed out to the The Patch.  I found a nice winder buffer to the side of the bird hide and huddled here whilst the others scanned the sea with their scopes.  In one of my warmer moments I joined them scanning with my binoculars and was lucky enough to get my first lifer of the day – a Red-throated Diver.  Stuart unfortunately missed it as it was flying and it is extremely hard to explain to other people where birds over the sea are!  Another two lifers were sighted on that stretch of the sand, a Razorbill and a gorgeous Kittiwake.  After a scope was narrowly saved from smashing to the ground in a particularly hefty gust of wind, we headed over to the fishing boats to try and spot the Caspian Gull and Glacuous Gull that had been seen there.  We had no luck with the Glaucous, but the Caspian Gull was spotted sitting in amongst others gulls.  Unfortunately before I could get a look a car came by and disturbed them, but the gull was gracious enough to fly past about 10 minutes later and so became the fourth lifer for the day.  The winds had blown Gannets and Guillemots closer to the shore so there were some spectacular views of these two species.  We decided numb limbs were a sign we should go and headed round to the RSPB reserve, where coffee and chocolate was had to help with the warming up.  On the road up to the reserve we had a delightful view of over 70 Tree Sparrows flocking from bush to bush, another lifer!  Some lazy birdwatching then ensued from the visitors' centre, where a pair of Oystercatchers were hanging out on an island.  Walking around the reserve a Stonechat was spotted to the side of the path but the best view was to come 5 minutes later when we rounded a corner and saw the unmistakeable head of a Great White Egret.  The next lifer to appear on the horizon was a lovely Merlin swooping over us.  A trip to the ARC Hide (first time as we managed to miss it on the previous visit) gave an amazing view of a Bittern flying in and then showing itself on the end of the pool.  An excellent spot from Stuart lead to the next lifer for both of us - 'I've got a weird duck in my scope and can't ID it...'.  The duck turned out to be a female Long-tailed Duck, well done Stuart!  A variety of other ducks were spotted and a few Barnacle Geese on the journey to the next place.  I unfortunately then had to miss out the next spot as I was exhausted but Stuart had a great time looking for birds at dusk and got his first Mistle Thrush.       

The day ended rather drastically as I nearly broke Stuart's rib when we were trying to jump start the car.  I haven't driven in 6 years, I don't remember which pedal the brake is...and when I'm driving towards a wall at high speed, I am going to slam my foot down on it when I finally get told which one it is!  Ooops.   

1) Mute Swan
2) Canada Goose
3) Carrion Crow
4) Kestrel
5) Magpie
6) Pheasant
7) Caspian Gull -NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
8) Red-throated Diver - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
9) Razorbill - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
10) Kittiwake - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
11) Guillemot
12) Gannet
13) House Sparrow
14) Cormorant
15) Herring Gull
16) Lesser Black-backed Gull
17) Greater Black-backed Gull
18) Tree Sparrow - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
19) Marsh Harrier
20) Coot
21) Robin
22) Shoveler
23) Oystercatcher
24) Wigeon
25) Teal
26) Gadwall
27) Greylag Goose
28) Stonechat
29) Great White Egret - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
30) Great Crested Grebe
31) Merlin - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
32) Snipe
33) Pochard
34) Buzzard
35) Dunnock
36) Long-tailed Duck - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
37) Goldeneye
38) Pintail
39) Bittern
40) Shelduck
41) Mallard
42) Lapwing
43) Great Tit
44) Blue Tit
45) Long-tailed Tit
46) Barnacle Goose

My year list for 2012 comes to 85.

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