Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snowfields and Pack Ice on Denge Beach

Lade - 1100hrs - cold, overcast, overnight snowfall, s2 - The much forecast snow eventually arrived on the Marsh during the early hours dumping several inches across the Dungeness area. Decided to give the local patch a flogging and by and large it paid off. Checked the partially frozen pits first where 9 Goldeneyes amongst the usual diving ducks, Teals and Shovelers. Walking down the track beside south pit 3 Snipe flew over in the gloom and the first group of 5 Redwings, a bird that has been largely absent all winter. Whilst watching hundreds of Curlews leaving their roost site on the desert 2 Woodcocks flew into view; a cold weather movement was obviously in progress. Over the next two hours noted several small flocks of Skylarks (first of the year locally) coming in off the sea, several Mipits and Reed Buntings, 2 more Snipes and a Woodcock that flew over the cottage whilst I was on the phone looking out of the window! Also at the pits watched a Common Gull on the ice keel over and die, something you don't see very often and had good views of Water Rail, Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler. Behind the `mirrors` singles of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier.
The bay at Greatstone was a terrific sight as the sea had frozen at slack water with pack ice sloshing about as the tide receded. The snow cover had largely left the shorebirds and gulls unaffected as the mudflats were full of Curlews, Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, Dunlins and the like. Scores of Carrion Crows and a fox scavenging along the tideline.

                                           Lade north pit
                                           Curlews returning to the bay
                                           Gorse in flower!
                                          Greatstone pack-ice
                                          Happy dog!

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