Dungeness - warm, dry, sunny, s 3 -The record breaking day time temperatures for December peaked at 16C this afternoon in the garden, while last night it remained in double figures. At the point this morning even the brisk southerly wind couldn`t suppress the plume of warm air sweeping up from the Azores. An hour from the fishing boats delivered a steady flow of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks along with a few Red-throated Divers, a Fulmar and 5 Common Scoters. On the shingle a well marked 1st winter Caspian Gull was amongst the Herrings and Black-backs by the road, while at least two other individuals were located throughout the day.
Late afternoon we called in at the Obs for mulled wine and a mince pie where this unseasonable weather had delivered a stunning Striped Hawk-moth to the mv trap last night, incredible.
RSPB - I make no apologies for posting another pic of the superb Long-eared Owl that continues to roost in sallows behind the discovery pond on the bird reserve, and today it was particularly showy basking in the warm sunshine. Twenty years ago these owls were regularly encountered during the winter across the Romney Marsh roosting in shelter belts above ditches, often in small flocks;
in my native Bedfordshire I once found a flock of 12 Long-eared Owls roosting in dry scrub on the Chilterns at Dunstable Downs.
Sadly this bird is much rarer today, so make the most of this gorgeous creature, as you just never know when one will present itself in such a confiding fashion in future. As a lasting memory local wildlife artist Stephen Message (www.message-wildlife-art.co.uk ) has produced a magnificent painting of the Leo. Limited edition prints are on sale in the Visitor Centre.
Elsewhere around the bird reserve Great White Egrets at Boulderwall and ARC, plus Chiffchaffs, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Marsh Harrier behind Tower Pits.