Tuesday 20 May 2014

Skuas, dolphins and plovers

Dungeness - 0530-0800hrs  - warm, dry, sunny, se 2 - Managed to haul myself out of bed for an early seawatch at the point. From the hide, together with TG and SG for the first hour and a half, we had a large feeding party of upwards 300 Common and 100 Sandwich Terns coming and going from the Patch and beyond, some of which moved through.  Also up-Channel a steady trickle of seabirds: 11 Gannet, 10 auk sp, 4 Kittiwake, 9 Oystercatcher, 45 Common Scoter, 12 Shoveler, 30 Dunlin, 4 Little Terns and best of all a stunning close, light phase Arctic Skua.
Moving down to the concrete road with SG to join MH and almost immediately a light phase Pomarine Skua powered through trailing an impressive set of `spoons`; what fabulous birds they are, I don`t think I`ll ever tire of watching this `prince of seabirds`, and personally it was the latest Pom (20th May) I`ve seen at Dungeness after nine consecutive springs of seawatching.
However, the excitement did not end there, whilst watching two Harbour Porpoises and a Grey Seal just offshore news came through from DW back at the hide of a small pod of White-beaked Dolphins near the Patch, a species of cetacean that is increasingly being seen in the English Channel by local fishermen. By the time we`d yomped along the foreshore to the hide all that could be seen was a couple of views of breaching animals, which were noticeably larger than porpoises.
Elsewhere, the usual singing Black Redstart, Wheatear, Whitethroat, Mipit and Skylark.

                                Blood-vein, Lade

                                Toadflax Brocade, Lade

                                  White-point, Lade

Lade - Back home after breakfast I checked the moth trap which held the first decent catch of the spring with some 50 moths of 15 species, several new for the year including Toadflax Brocade, Blood-vein and White-point. Two Med Gulls flew over calling as we did a circuit of the local patch where ten spikes of Southern Marsh Orchid were counted; last year there was over 50. Plenty of common butterflies and damsels were on the wing in the warm sunshine along the main track beside south lake.
Cutting back along the beach and a flock of 40 odd waders comprised 35 Tundra Ringed Plovers, tundrae, in a tight flock along with several Sanderlings and Dunlins; the plovers were noticeably slimmer and darker than the local birds, hiaticula, of which there were several nearby.

                                Tundra Ringed Plover, Lade Bay

    Tundra Ringed Plovers, Sanderling & Dunlin, Lade Bay

Dungeness - 1600hrs - Back at the seawatch hide for a dolphin scan drew a blank, with just the expected terns, gulls, scoters and Gannets coming and going offshore.

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