Paul couldn't hold out any longer and he phoned me last night to arrange a trip to Dungeness today .. we had to add the White-tailed Plover/Lapwing to our life lists.
We set off at 5.15 a.m. and arrived at the Hanson-ARC Pit precisely one hour later. Two birders were already present at the viewing screen and kindly pointed out the plover, which was showing well but somewhat distantly.
To begin with, it was overcast but after 30 minutes or so, the skies cleared and viewing and digiscoping became a little more difficult.
WHITE-TAILED PLOVER (Paul)
(VIDEO) WHITE-TAILED PLOVER (Paul)
WHITE-TAILED PLOVER (Graham)
(DODGY VIDEO) WHITE-TAILED PLOVER (Graham)
One of the birders present pointed out a female Garganey not far from the plover and three Green Sandpipers were also nearby.
After having our fill of the plover, we headed for the 'Patch' for a seawatch. By now a decent onshore wind was blowing and we were expecting some decent birds to be on the move. On arrival, we met up with Steve Gale, who is staying at the Observatory this week.
Gulls at the Patch
The Patch was covered in gulls, with a good number being Mediterranean Gulls (many of which were juveniles - 73 birds were reported as being present) and at least one Little Gull was present. Apart from a few distant Gannets, several Common Terns and three or so Sandwich Terns, nothing much else was noted.
We bid our farewells to Steve and headed on past the power station where we found three Wheatears. On our return walk, we located one female Black Redstart that conveniently perched on the roof of the concrete hide on the beach.
LITTLE GULL (Graham)
BLACK REDSTART (Graham)
Decision time -should we traipse around the trapping area or head for the RSPB reserve? We decided on the latter and, on our way, we spotted a Little Egret in flight at the Hanson-ARC Pit.
We saw at least two (maybe three) Hobbies at the reserve and three adult Mediterranean Gulls were roosting with other gulls not far from the car park. Three Marsh Harriers were quartering around the Dengemarsh/Hookers Pit area and several Cetti's Warblers were heard and one seen briefly but the reserve proved remarkably quiet, but it is July, so we couldn't expect it to be alive with birds yet.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL (Graham)
We spent some time at the viewing ramp and at the Dengemarsh Hide in the hope of seeing the Purple Herons, Bitterns or the Great White Egret that had been present yesterday, but we had no luck with any of them.
On leaving the reserve, we stopped by the entrance at Boulderwall Farm and saw seven Tree Sparrows, always a welcomed sight.
We ended our visit with a drive round to Dengemarsh Road where we joined several other birders waiting to see the Purple Herons, but they didn't show. As far as we could make out, they hadn't been seen today up to the time we left.
A few Yellow Wagtails were flying low across the field by the road.
Paul & Graham