A day at Dungeness
by A warbler a day
I’ve been spending the week in Essex with my father and today I decided to go on a long jaunt across the river to Kent, specifically Dungeness. It was my first ever visit so was not sure what to expect. The first half hour of my walk around the RSPB reserve was rather disappointing. lots of Cormorants, Coots and Mute Swans but little else in terms of bird life. Things picked up as I approached the quaintly named Christmas Dell Hide when I spotted a couple of Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat and some Emperor and Brown Hawker dragonflies. The next hide visited was the Denge Marsh. There I was greeted by 20 or so Common Terns calling and fishing, sometimes less than 10ft away. My sightings leaflet had mentioned Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier in that area so I gave myself 30 minutes before moving on. I was just beginning to think nothing more was going to appear when a large white bird dropped in to the edge of the reed bed on the opposite bank. Sure enough it was my first ever Great White Egret. It immediately stretched it’s astonishingly long neck up to its full height. A brilliant bird. About 5 minutes after leaving the hide I caught sight of a large dark raptor dropping behind some trees. Thankfully it quickly reappeared and, yes, it was a Marsh Harrier. A chocolate brown female with a shining gold cap. The rest of the walk was uneventful until I reached the car park where I spotted another lifetime first, a Tree Sparrow.
On leaving the RSPB reserve I crossed the road to the National Nature Reserve at ARC pits. There I added a couple of interesting waders, 2 summer plumage Golden Plovers and bobbing Common Sandpiper.
Finally I drove up to the beach by the power station. Again it was initially fairly quiet and dare I say it uninteresting. However I persevered and eventually saw my first Cinnabar moth of the year, a dozen Gannets including 2 juveniles, an immature Little Gull, several Little Terns and what I am certain was the nose of a seal as it swam against the tide.
All in all it was definitely worth the visit.