Thursday 24 April 2014

Four Ring Ouzels & 11 Black-winged Stilts!

Dungeness - 0900hrs - warm, dry, hazy sunshine, light airs - We finished off the Birdwatching Break for George and Ann birding around the peninsula this morning. The first hour was spent on a quiet seawatch from the concrete road. Sandwich Terns were fishing offshore along with a few Common Terns and Gannets, several Med Gulls and Fulmars came and went while up-Channel movement included 17 Brent, four Whimbrel, 18 Common Scoter and two Arctic Skuas, plus several inbound Swallows and Yellow Wagtails. Up to ten harbour porpoises were also feeding offshore.

                                It was a quiet seawatch ...

After a coffee break at the Obs we wandered over to the Trapping Area and stumbled across a flock of four Ring Ouzels in the low gorse. Two `clacked` away towards the Sanctuary, but a pair pitched back down close by with the male showing for at least 20 minutes, mostly on a turf patch under a bush. These were some of the best views I`ve had of Rouzel here in the spring, and for the guests they were a new species, so they were very lucky to enjoy such protracted views of their first, nervy moorland thrush.
Two Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs also noted in the scrub, plus a spanking male Black Redstart on the power station.

                                Ring Ouzel, Dungeness

The guests certainly enjoyed a wide variety of birds during their stay with 96 species logged, the highlights being Purple Heron, Bean Geese and Ring Ouzels, plus a supporting cast of Black-necked Grebe, Hobby, LRP, Barwits, Arctic and Great Skuas, Little Gull, Cuckoo, Yellow Wagtail, Black Redstart, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting.

                                Half a Black-winged Stilt, New Excavations

Black-winged Stilts, Dungeness RSPB - At around 1100hrs Douglas and Wendy Stewart were checking out the Bearded Tits behind Christmas Dell hide when they noticed a flock of ten waders on the flooded hayfield. Doug managed a few pics and they were soon confirmed as Black-winged Stilts - all ten of them! Unfortunately, they were flushed around noon, presumably by a Marsh Harrier, although it was unclear exactly in which direction the flock flew. However, another bird (11th?) was located on a bund on New Excavations, which by the time I arrived, about 1400hrs, spent most of its time hunkered down and partially obscured by vegetation and gulls. Still, they all count towards that year list...
A great find by Douglas and Wendy, but if only that flock had stayed a while longer...

    Black-winged Stilts, Dungeness RSPB (by Douglas Stewart)

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