Thursday 1 December 2022

Kentish Nature Walks #59 - A Blue Eyed Birder day out at Dungeness - 30th November 2022

Pat and I headed down to Dungeness and once through the Medway and Maidstone fog we hit weak sunshine and bits of blue sky. Andy L had told me of the spot where the Glossy Ibises and Cattle Egrets were now hanging out just before the ARC car park and we picked them up both sides of the road before even stopping.  They were mobile between two favoured paddocks and there were a minimum of 15 Cattle Egrets with the long staying Ibis duo along with three each of Great White and Little Egret and two Grey Heron. It still amazes me how things have changed in recent years and that this sight is not even that unusual now but still a joy to see none the less.

Cattle Egrets

Cattle Egrets

Cattle Egrets and an Ibis

Cattle Egrets 

Cattle Egrets 

Cattle Egrets and an Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis - investigating a Mole Hill

Stonechats fed from the reedy fringes and Cetti’s Warbler sang and called in their usual stroppy manner.  A vast flock of Canada and Greylag Geese were in the more distant fields but we could see nothing different amongst them although two Egyptian Geese were in the field closest to us.

Buzzards loafed in the Willows and Marsh Harriers and Sparrowhawks were patrolling while a large flock of Lapwing and two Curlew were in another field with countless Black-headed and Common Gulls.  All this was experienced whilst standing next to the car on the main road.

With a bank of cloud taking out the sun we headed straight for the fishing boats.  The sea was mirror calm and there was almost no shimmer either so the dotted flocks of perky pied Razorbills easily stood out along with Great Crested Grebes, Red-throated Divers and a single Guillemot. Hundreds of Cormorants were resting up on the exposed mud to the north where bait diggers with their curious lug worm suction hand pumps competed against the Oystercatchers and Curlews.

Red-throated Divers

The Cormorants soon moved back to the sea and formed a huge raft before engaging in a mass wash and brush up session.  Gannets of all ages circled around the bay and amongst the close big gulls around a small boat were single adult Little and Med Gulls and several Kittiwakes.  Harbour Porpoises were very visible in the cam conditions and at least three pods were visible at any one time while two Harbour Seals and a single bull Grey Seal were also seen.

Siskin, Linnets and an invisible Snow Bunting moved over and a single Golden Plover did circuits above us.  Pat had poked his head over the lip of the beach to look for the Snow Bunt and unfortunately missed the Woodcock that weaved through the shipping containers as it headed inland.

I checked the Viper’s Bugloss rosettes for the rare moth blotches Antony had set me to look for but had no joy but we did find and obliging Skylark on the path and some funky lichens.



Time for lunch back at the ARC where a single Great White Egret was seen feeding around the edge and all the usual dabbling duck were noted.  The Teal and Pintail were particularly vocal and displaying groups of males were seen trying to woo the disinterested females.


Marsh Harriers and Buzzards periodically spooked the skittish Lapwing flock but two Snipe were the only other waders present.


Stigmella salicis group

Stigmella aurella

We ambled back picking up Kingfisher, Chiffchaffs, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting before making out way west to Scotney Pit to have a look.  It was glorious again with perfect light and no wind but despite there being lots of duck to scan there was nothing different amongst them of a wintery nature and still not one Goldeneye.  Redshank, Little Grebes and six Barnacle Geese were new for the day but it was the flock of 15 mixed age Little Gulls that were a pleasant surprise as they dip fed over the water.  Such a delightfully elegant species and it was good to catch up with some today after not connecting with the 1000’s seen around the coast this autumn.

Buzzard cryptically hidden from view

We looped back to Lydd and then wiggled our way up into Walland Marsh and thanks to a dropped pin from Martin we were lucky enough to find two family parties of four Bewick’s Swans lurking in the crops with the Mute Swans. The others were probably there but it was amazingly easy to lose a whole Mute Swan in there let alone a smaller Bewick’s! 

 Bewick’s & Mute Swans

 Bewick’s Swan

The lanes were full of Fieldfares and I reckon that about 400 were seen along the route along with a few Redwings and lots of Starlings and Woodpigeons (that I presume were after Ivy berries). 

 Fieldfares & Starlings

The days are short this time of year so we wiggled scenically from here up to Hothfield Heath for the remainder of the afternoon and although there was no sign of the Great Grey Shrike or Dartford Warblers, it was still a pleasant circuit and we did see a smart flock of Lesser Redpolls along with a couple of Siskin, Meadow Pipit and Green Woodpecker and I may have accidentally noticed one or two moth leaf mines along the way…

Acrocercops brongniardella on Oak

Coptoptriche marginea on Bramble

 Stigmella aceris on Field Maple

 Stigmella aurella on Bramble

 Stigmella luteella on Birch

 Stigmella luteella on Birch

 Phyllonorycter messaniella on Sweet Chestnut

Stigmella samiatella on Sweet Chestnut

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