Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A Visit to Dungeness

24th September 2017

The winds were forecast to be south-easterly so off to Dungeness in the hope of a few migrants. In accordance with tradition we started at the NNR at explored the gorse bushes around the old lighthouse. These were extremely quiet but there had obviously been a sizeable fall of Meadow Pipits that were feeding between the lighthouse and the power station. Unfortunately they were continually on the move so quite hard to get close to.

While we were watching the pipits news came through of a juvenile Red-backed Shrike at South View, a few hundred yards along the road. When the bird was first found by Dave Bunney it was fairly close to the track, but had now moved to a bramble bush a good 40 yards away. I was therefore only able to get rather poor record shots.

We then moved on to The Observatory, and in particular The Moat, where a Pied Flycatcher had been reported. It was fairly quiet at first apart from a couple of Goldcrests and none of the hoped for Firecrests, but then the Pied Flycatcher appeared.

It was obviously on a well-rehearsed circuit and was quite difficult to keep up with, so even more record shots but in better light than the shrike.

There were large numbers of birds in front of the hide on the ARC pit, but mainly the usual suspects apart from am extremely distant Little Stint. However, here ths stars of the show were a couple of Grass Snakes coiled up and inter-twined on a pile of cut reeds, but about three months too late for mating.

On the Burrowes Pit the sun was now fully out and was illuminating the Shelduck sleeping on the spit and an individual going for a fly around, and the tight flock of Oytercatchers looked resplendent in their black and white suits.

From the Makepeace Hide the two Great White Egrets were having a preen, but sadly I was shooting straight into the sun which made life a bit difficult.

The trails were a bit quiet apart from a sprinkling of Chiffchaffs and a stunning pair of Stonechats which were reasonably obliging.

But the star of the show today was this Clouded Yellow butterfly which landed right in front of us on a sprig of Wood Sage. I see many Clouded Yellow most years but they are strong fliers, seldom settle and are usually difficult to approach. It was therefore most gratifying that this individual hadn't read the rule book!!!

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