24th/25th March 2017
Time for my annual pilgrimage to Dungeness with No 2 son Stuart, but instead of driving there and back in a day we stayed overnight in Medway and spent the next day on Sheppey. First on the list at Dungeness was to search for the 1st Winter Iceland Gull that had frequenting the area by the fishing boats. After an hour or so of scouring all the gull flocks, there was no sign of the white-winger but plenty of these stonking Great Black-backed Gulls.
Also on the vast shingle bank were a dozen or so Turnstones, each rushing around as if they were late for an appointment.
We did eventually find the Iceland on the beach by The Patch, but it was very distant and into the sun so we cut our losses and headed off for the RSPB reserve. On the entrance track we had a look for the Ring-necked Duck and I started by searching the flock of Aythyas on the far bank. No luck there but Stuart suddenly shouted out "there it is" and there it was indeed, just 20 yards away partially obscured by the reed bed. Nice to get it right for a change.
After a slap-up meal, a good nights sleep and a hearty cooked breakfast we rolled out of the hotel and into Elmley Marshes. For some reason the birds along the entrance track are attracted to cars and feed just yards away with no other birds in sight for miles. The usual suspects are Lapwings, Oystercatchers and Curlews and today was no exception.
On the way to the hides the track was fairly quiet with just this male Reed Bunting for entertainment.
Once inside the hide, everything was quiet on the wader front due to the low tide, with just a couple of Redshanks feeding along the muddy margins and Avocets starting to gather for the breeding season.
But the star of the show today was the teeny Bank Vole that seemed totally unaware of our presence and continued to run around our feet at the edge of the path. With just a prime lens I had to back off to 12 feet to get it in focus, but Stuart managed to get a video on his phone!!!!