We started an extremely cold day at the East Sussex end of Scotney Gravel Pit and soon picked out 53 feral Barnacle Geese grazing on the bank. Amongst them were at least four other geese, which looked similar to either Blue Snow Geese or Emperor Geese, or maybe they are hybrids. Whatever they were, they were certainly not wild. On the far bank was a Little Egret.
Feral BARNACLE GEESE at Scotney GP (Graham)
We then headed to the Kent end of the pit where a female GOLDENEYE and another Little Egret was present, but that was it - time to move on.
We parked up at the ARC Pit at Dungeness reserve and headed for the Hanson-ARC hide. On the way we saw a BITTERN fly towards the vegetation near the viewing screen but we decided to carry on to the hide. A Chiffchaff was calling and flitting amongst the bushes by the path and, after installing ourselves in the relative warmth of the hide, the Bittern flew a few yards and dropped again into reeds near the viewing screen. We could see its head peering out above the vegetation. It showed again briefly a while later but was too distant for a photo. A female GOLDENEYE was on the ARC Pit but, apart from plenty of Wigeon and a few Shoveler, there was not much else of note.
GREEN WOODPECKERS by the ARC Pit (Graham)
Parking at the southern end of the ARC Pit, we viewed the New Diggings pit across the road. One male and 3 female GOLDENEYE were present but little else of note.
Back at the main reserve, we noted 5 Common Snipe, a Dunlin, 9 Pintail and 2 female GOOSANDERS on Burrowes Pit and a Water Rail was heard squealing by the Firth Hide. Another Water Rail was seen right in front of the Scott Hide.
DUNLIN and SNIPE at Burrowes Pit (Paul)
WIGEON and SHOVELER at Burrowes Pit (Graham)
Female GOOSANDER at Burrowes Pit (Graham)
A male and at least two female MARSH HARRIERS were around the reserve and, at the Dengemarsh Hide, we picked out a BLACK-NECKED GREBE. Near the return trail, a female MERLIN was perched on telegraph wires.
MARSH HARRIER from Dengemarsh Hide (Graham)
BLACK-NECKED GREBE from Dengemarsh Hide (Paul)
BLACK-NECKED GREBE from Dengemarsh Hide (Graham)
MERLIN near the start of the Return Trail (Paul)
MERLIN near the start of the Return Trail (Graham)
We then headed to the fishing boats at Dungeness beach as it was about high tide. The wind was not favourable for a seawatch but, as it turned out, it was fairly rewarding with 9 Turnstones, 60+ Kittiwakes, many of which were on the sea, 33 Common Scoters, 2 Guillemots on the sea, a Red-throated Diver on the sea, with two more unidentified divers flying west, and a male and two female Eiders flying east.
Female COMMON SCOTERS passing the fishing boats (Graham)
We headed for home about half an hour before sunset and, on the way at Brenzett, a Common Buzzard flew low over the road.
Not surprisingly, considering the cold conditions, there were few other birders about at Dungeness today but plenty of birds to keep our spirits up.
Paul & Graham