Lade - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, occasional sun, dry, n 2 - Today was one of those days when I realise how lucky I am to be able to show an appreciative visitor what Dungeness has to offer. We didn`t stray off the NNR all day and still managed to find a stunning array of flora and fauna.
First off the Plovers moth trap rattled up an `impressive` 8 species!! Rustic Shoulder-knot and Brimstone were both new for the year and Tawny Shears reached 25, including the pale job below.
Liz particularly wanted to see some butterflies, so as the sun was out we headed for the ponds at Lade a bit sharpish. The sun-trap paid dividends with our first Small Copper of the year, a pristine insect that looked as though it had just emerged. Also on the wing were a few Large Whites, an Orange Tip, a Hairy Hawker dragonfly and several Blue-tailed Damsels. The cloud cover then resumed, and that was that, show time over. Close views of Reed Warblers and Whitethroats were had, a few spikes of Southern Marsh Orchids were in flower and the Marsh Frog chorus was in full voice.
Next stop the Kerton Road Café (which for once had less moths than my garden trap) followed by a viewing of the wild flower meadow where Yellow Rattle was in flower (thanks to DB for the guided tour).
Dungeness - Moving on to the point where Linnets, Whitethroats, Wheatear and Black Redstart all showed well and a migrant Chiffchaff called from cover. Several large parties of Swifts moved overhead and a half hour look at the sea yielded 150 Common Scoters up-Channel, plus 2 Kittiwakes, 20 Gannets and all the usual Common and Sandwich Terns. Flora of interest included a carpet of Birds-foot Trefoil, flowering (at last) Sea Kale and Prostrate Broom also in flower.
At the Obs we met up with DW who kindly showed us where he`d recently seen Grizzled Skippers, but by now the sun had retreated behind a blanket of cloud and it was a no show.
RSPB - From the causeway road at the southern end of ARC Little Egret, Shoveler and Ringed Plover of note, plus 50 Swifts and a Cuckoo. From the access road there was a couple of Hobbies over Cook`s but no sign of yesterdays Cattle Egret in the fields, while the usual Tree Sparrows were on the Boulderwall feeders.
Liz set a toughish wish list of Grass Snake, Bearded Tit and Bittern, all of which we eventually recorded; the snake under tin, Beardies seen from the ramp, plus a `booming` Bittern. Also noted around the circuit: Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warblers, Whitethoat and Lesser Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker, Cuckoo and Marsh Harrier. The hayfields yielded a Greenshank amongst the breeding Redshank and Lapwing, plus Shelduck, Shoveler and Garganey. On Dengemarsh the usual Common Terns on the rafts, while Burrowes delivered Wigeon, Common Sandpiper and two 1st summer Little Gulls. Bird of the afternoon however was up to 10 Hobbies, some of which gave stunning views hawking insects and perched on posts and shingle, simply superb.
Back at the VC a Fox showed well in the car park and more Hobbies were seen on the drive out.
In summary, just another steady old day at Dungeness...