27th January 2013 - Dungeness, Walland Marsh and Scotney Gravel Pits

It was time for a trip to Dungeness and of course it was miserable, cold and blowing a gale when we arrived.  Surprisingly, within 20 minutes of enduring the winds on the beach, the sun came out and it was practically glorious.  One good aspect of the wind was that it appeared to be blowing the birds further into the beach, making it a little easier to seawatch.  If you have ever tried seawatching, you will know how hard it is to identify a small, far off, fast moving blob on the horizon when you are just starting out.  I did manage Guillemot and Red-throated Diver however, a few miscellaneous auks and a lovely Kittiwake which came extremely close to shore.  There was also a selection of gulls around with rumours of a Glaucous, but we didn't spot it.  A brief glimpse of a Common Scoter was the first for a while, so was extra pleasing.  A wander up to the Bird Observatory gave Redwing and Fieldfare, along with a happy Robin and a Kestrel.

It's cold in Dungeness.
It was on to the RSPB reserve with a first look over the ARC pit.  A Goldeneye was diving and 14 Smew (2 male) were to be seen amongst the large numbers of Teal, Tufted Duck and Wigeon.  We were hoping for Great White Egret on the reserve, but it kept being seen just before or just after we left an area, so that unfortunately was a no show.  However, there were 3 Marsh Harrier around for most of the visit and a little Egret high up in a tree provided a chuckle.

A Fox and a Weasel added to the sightings for the day, although the Fox didn't look very happy.  I was checking every swan in my hunt for Bewick's Swan, but they all turned out to be Mute Swan.  Two Red-legged Partridge were running along the left side of the entrance drive when we got out of the car to look for the Tree Sparrow, which was a first for us at the site.

House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Whilst in the Firth Hide, we unexpectedly had a deluge of small birds, with sightings of Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Dunnock and Long-tailed Tit within minutes of each other and yards of the hide.  Other great sightings were a Green Woodpecker, Snipe and a huge flock of Lapwing.  I spotted a flock of geese and was looking for Bean Goose (I wish!) but instead found a small few Barnacle Geese, which made me happy - they are pretty adorable.

Wintering Chiffchaff
Hello little Long-tailed Tit

We went to Walland Marsh on the way to Rye where I saw a flock of Bewick's Swan - finally!  They are very sweet, less curvy and smaller than Mute Swan.

Bewick's Swan, finally!
A final stop before Rye was at Scotney Gravel Pits as a message on the pager had just come through to say there was a Red-throated Diver and I had read earlier that there was a Bean Goose (Tundra) on the border between Kent and East Sussex but unfortunately even after scanning every Greylag I could see I didn't see either of them.  Ah well.

Grumpy fox
Barnacle Goose <3 
A quick note on the Sunday roast at the Standard in Rye.  It's huge and amazing.  See below.


Post a Comment