16th February 2016
Stuart and I have annual pilgrimages to Dungeness and the Isle of Sheppey, so this year decided to combine them over two days with an overnight stay near the Medway. First stop was Dungeness and we were still travelling along the road near the fishing boats when Stuart espied the juvenile Glaucous Gull with his naked eye. Not too surprising really as it was huge and white and stood head and shoulders amongst the other gulls on the shingle.
As luck would have it the 1st Winter Caspian Gull was standing next to it. Now, whilst I am more than happy to identify all the commoner gulls, I don't normally get too involved with the various plumages of Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls, but even I could see that this individual was indeed a Caspian Gull.
The area by the Observatory was deserted, so on to the patch which was a heaving mass of gulls, almost exclusively Black-headed, but nothing else of note. On the way back Stuart spotted a pair of Black Redstarts behind the perimeter wall, but always too far away for photographs. I therefore had to be content with a Meadow Pipit on the shingle bank and then on the barbed wire. It is worth remembering that the rather atmospheric background of the shot on the wire is in fact a blurred-out nuclear power station.
At the RSPB reserve the drake Shovelers were looking resplendent in their breeding attire and were showing off their finery with many wing flaps. A larger group a little further out were engaging in some cooperative feeding where they circled around stirring up the food from the bottom of the pit
But the biggest surprise today was on the return leg when I spotted a Chiffchaff flitting around in the lakeside Sallows. It was keeping fairly deep inside the trees but occasionally approached the edge revealing a rather warm brown plumage rather the the traditional grey-green effect. Unfortunately it didn't call while I was there and when I got the syringe out to take a DNA sample it flew away. However, this photo shows that it is a candidate for a Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis.
A great day at Dungeness so now off to the hotel for a slap-up meal and a few beers. I could get used to this birdwatching lark!!
WATCH THIS SPACE for tomorrow's trip to the Isle of Sheppey.