Sunday, 25 October 2015

An Autumn Visit to Dungeness

11th October 2015

Time for an autumn visit to Dungeness with a start on the beach. We parked by the railway station and set off to explore the Gorse bushes between the old lighthouse and the observatory. The area had attracted a large number of Pied Wagtails and the occasional Meadow Pipit, but migrants such as Whinchats and Wheatears had long gone.

The gorse was home to some Robins, the odd Chiffchaff and also large numbers of Goldcrests which could be heard deep inside the bushes, but rarely seen and certainly not photographed.

Then, further over towards the observatory a couple of birds were flitting around, carrying out sorties on to the bare ground before returning to the bushes. A closer inspection of the area revealed no less than three Black Redstarts, presumably a family party as the male could be seen and heard singing in the power station compound.

Also in this area the Gorse bushes were less compact with some bare stems, and therefore the Goldcrests were far more visible and as confiding as ever. One of them even flew straight at me and nearly landed on me, but flew straight past with just inches to spare. What fantastic little birds.

At that point the peace was disturbed by some cronking overhead and one of the resident ravens put on a brief aerial display.

Now on to the RSPB reserve and we had hardly entered the entrance track when a female Marsh Harrier was seen quartering the adjacent field. I often see Marsh Harriers at Dungeness but not normally so close.

Great White Egrets have become regular visitors to Dungeness but the surprise today was that there were eight, and most of them right in front of the visitor centre!! It is always difficult to judge the size of an individual bird, especially at a distance, but the first shot shows just how big a Great White is compared to a Grey Heron, especially when you remember how a Heron dwarfs a Little Egret.

On to the trail where there were plenty of Goldfinches, this one posing rather nicely on a Teasel.

But the stars of the reserve today were a pair of Stonechats next to Chritmas Dell which, although initially a bit flighty, did eventually put on a display at reasonably close range. Dungeness, irrespective of the season, never disappoints.

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