Max and I left home in thick fog which followed us on our journey down towards Dungeness and despite almost causing us to miss out on some Golden Arches (not a moth) breakfast action it miraculously lifted just a mile from Lydd to reveal glorious blue skies without a breath of wind.
A Barn Owl drifted by as we walked down and Chiffchaffs and Cetti’s were vocal while a Greenshank invisibly tew tewed at us.
It was an idyllic if somewhat hazy view from the Hanson Hide but there was plenty to seen with a smattering of waders that included 12 Little Ringed and a solitary Ringed Plover, six Dunlin, six Snipe and three tiny scuttling juvenile Little Stints. There were no Great Whites and so we ambled back to the sound of over a hundred Greylags honking overhead.
|A Room WIth A View...
|Little Stint - Max Hellicar
Before we even reached the sea we had notched up about a dozen Wheatear and a good wander around the lighthouse area raised the tally by another ten along with a couple of shiver tailed Common Redstart, a Willow Warbler and several flyover Yellow Wagtails.
The sea was very disappointing with not one tern on the Patch and just a few Sandwich and Commons milling around further out where the Harbour Porpoises were frequently surfacing. Eight Shelduck headed west and a Black-necked Grebe was slightly surprising as it bobbed by.
A potter inland to the Obs produced much crunching of gravel along with 12 more Wheatear, two Whinchat, Stonechat and a couple of Willow Warblers and Whitethroats.
|Willow Warblers following a tete a tete
|Willow Warbler cooling off that armpit
|Blackberry munching Starlings
I did not look too hard for the two rare crickets that now reside here but I was fortunate enough to find a Grey Bush Cricket sat right out in the open which is the first time I have ever got a good look at this large winged species.
|Grey Bush Cricket
Max had had a look at some moths in the Obs as well as seeing his second Hummingbird Hawkmoth of the day but nothing different on the bird front so we retraced our steps to the Reserve for our regular circular walk.
It was quite hot by now but we persevered and collected a nice array of small waders with Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, eight LRPs, 6 Ringed Plovers and a couple of Redshank while a smoky juvenile Black Tern dipped circuits over the middle of Burrows. Two Great White Egrets were seen poorly on here and another lurked (and loomed!) over the back of Denge Marsh where Common Terns were still feeding young and Beardies pinged.
|Not the best day for Great White Egrets at Dungeness!
|Common Tern family
Lunch saw us on the last leg of the walk but we were slowed down by a lovely patch of Fleabane covered in Coppers, Blues, Torts, Bumbles and Flies. There were several common hover species along with the hulking Norwikia ferox – a tachinid of great size and spikiness.
|Twin-lobed Deer Fly - Chysops relictus
|Norwikia ferox- almost a Tachina grossa ... but not quite!
Lunch and then up to Oare Marshes for the late afternoon and despite the tide being well out, it did not disappoint with over 1000 Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank still loafing around along with Avocets, Knot, Dunlin, Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers to name a few. About 200 mixed Golden Plovers erupted at the distant passing of a male Peregrine and the air was filled with those plaintive calls that so remind me of winter days on the Essex coast. Yellow Wagtails and Starlings were coming down to poke around for flies on the exposed mud surface and a Water Rail was calling quite incessantly.
|adult Black-tailed Godwit
|juv Black-tailed Godwit
|Spangly Golden Plover
|Blackwits, Ruff, Avocet, Redshank
There was no sign of the Bonaparte’s Gull so we headed for the Swale and a check of the mud. Amazingly I found this now winter adult almost immediately and it showed very well on the flats as it delicately paddled around with the Black-headed Gulls.
|Bony and the Black-head
|Nice to get both upper and under wing shots!
Black-bellied Grey Plovers and russet Barwits lined the north side and three more Little Stints tried to have a kip in a tiny runnel. With a last look at the gull we called it a day and escaped from the sun after filling up our water bottles from the beautifully cold aquifer. Time for home...