For several years now Stuart and I have visited Dungeness during the winter months so off we went for this years pilgrimage. The first stop was going to be to see the Cattle Egrets at Dengemarsh Road but unfortunately the grazier had moved the cattle indoors the day before, and therefore the two Cattle Egrets were either huddled together in a local cow shed or back across the channel in France. So the next stop was the beach which was equally quiet until a police car drew up by the old lighthouse and two officers armed with sub-machine guns got out (I am not joking), at which point we retreated to the ARC pit.
From the Hanson Hide a Bittern was stealthily moving along the reeds albeit about 150 yards away, close enough for a record shot, but some Tufties and Pochard right outside the hide were more in my league.
Out on the trail at the RSPB reserve a Great White Egret was feeding on Denge Marsh, but before I could get anywhere close decided to move position and fly to Burrows Pit. One of the problems with Dungeness is that it is very difficult to get flight shots without a backdrop of pylons and power lines. Luckily a Kestrel was a little more cooperative and hovered quite close against a clear uncluttered sky.
Time for a rest in the Scott Hide and a Little Egret was feeding amongst the shallows to the left of the hide and provided an ideal photo opportunity. But the stars of the show today by far was the pair of Smew which insisted on parading up and down right outside the hide, sometimes down to 10 metres, close enough to identify the fish as a Perch. I have never been so close to a Smew, with or without a camera. MAGIC!!!!!