Dungeness - 0550-0800hrs - mild, hazy, e4 - Lost count of the number of times this spring when I`ve got up at dawn, full of optimism, only to be cheesed-off after an hour in the seawatch hide. However, this morning was NOT one of those mornings. Arrived late, and just missed a drake Long-tailed Duck, not a great start, but waders were on the move, and close to the hide. Over the coming two hours a steady procession of c300 Barwits, at least 80 Grey Plovers and lesser numbers of Whimbrels, Curlews, Knots, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and one Spotted Redshank (a first for me on a seawatch) clipped the Point. There was a decent supporting cast of Kitts, Fulmar, Gannets, Common and Little Terns, one Black Tern and Red-throated Diver. Ducks included Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Common Scoter and 2 Tufted Ducks. Half a dozen distant Arctic Skuas and a close Bonxie were then followed by the main event of the watch, 5 superb Pomarine Skuas in full breeding plumage complete with trailing spoons. They powered imperiously through just outside the cardinal buoy to be followed by a singleton ten minutes later. Now, that`s what a Dungeness seawatch is all about.
Bird Reserve - Had two attempts at the Purple Heron before I finally nailed it in the ditch by the farm, and it is an adult and well marked, so probably a male; lets hope we get a repeat of last year. From Springfield Bridge at leat 80 Barwits and a Dunlin on the flood, a Greenshank over, a cracking male Marsh Harrier, distant views of the adult Ravens, Yellow Wags, Swift and a drake Survivor Duck.
Called in at the Visitor Centre and scanned Burrowes where 2 Little Gulls floated by. Nothing much else but on the way out the Ring-necked Parakeet flew across the road by ARC and onto my Dungeness list; apparently none the worse from its hammering by the Peregrine (see yesterdays post).
Dungeness Boats - 1530-1630hrs - Joined the Joker and Weekend Birder for a late seawatch and scored immediately with five close Spooners and a singleton. Breathtaking views as these marvellous migrants purposefully rounded the point and headed towards the North Sea. Also, a steady flow of Barwits, plus lesser numbers of Grey Plovers, Whimbrel and Knot. Common and Little Terns were still moving through and we had a party of 5 Arctic Terns, more Kitts, Gannets and a few scoters.
Phew, what a day! The two old timers reckoned it was one of the best wader and Pom days ever with a wide variety of the former and at least 50 of the latter. Dungeness at its very best.
The first one of the spring last night. Toadflax Brocade particularly favours shingle beaches along the south coast, and therefore is a regular visitor to the Plovers moth trap.