Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Dungeness (or Why Getting Up At 05:30 On A Sunday Morning Is Sometimes Justified)

I was talked into getting up at stupid o' clock and driving the hour and a half to Dungeness on Sunday by the usual suspect, which I'm quite grateful for. Sunday at Dunge was FUN.

It's been a few weeks since I was able to get out and birdwatch properly what with the terrible weather, a hectic weekend of choral activity and a general unwillingness to get out of bed extra-early to make time, so the year list hasn't really been progressing and the blog has oft wondered way off topic. Sunday has been a pleasant shot in the arm and has got me all enthused about birds in faraway places again. Guided by the excellent Howard, we spent the best part of the day moving about between the carpark by the lighthouse, the ARC pits and the RSPB reserve itself. Each one held at least one life tick. I love trips like that.

So, keeping it short and to the point, the year list has flown from 70ish up to a whopping 107 in the course of one trip to the coast. Picked up my first migrants of the year with a singing Chiffchaff, Swallows, singing Sedge Warbler in the ARC carpark and 3 Wheatear by the lighthouse.

Best of all were a whole 6 life ticks, only one of which was a bit dodgy. Usually when I see a bird for the first time I get pathetic skulky views so it was a refreshing change to have these lifers throwing themselves in front of me. In reverse order of awesomeness:
  • Caspian Gull (yes they're not common but, even having seen one, I still don't really believe they exist)
  • Slavonian Grebe (3 of those)
  • Tree Sparrow (cute and fluffy, and only this far down because of the quality of the other birds on offer)
  • 2 Black Redstart (one female perched in full view on a dog kennel, the other a beautifully marked male but slightly less confiding)
  • 1 Firecrest (amazing, so much greener than I expected)
  • 3 Penduline Tits (just. wow.)
I could go on and on, but just giving out a list of the 57 odd bird species I saw would be dull and pointless. Dungeness was brilliant, the birds were brilliant, and I'll be making the effort to get back there.

The rest of the story will be told as a kind of photo montage.

Caspian apparently. I have a Caspian blind-spot.

Breakfast. Most welcome after an early start and a longish drive. I give it 7/10.

Dipped the Rainham Slav a couple of times, and then it turned up dead, so I was glad to get this one.

You experienced naturalists out there may have noticed that this one isn't a bird. It is, however, still a life tick.
Again, I've dipped these at Rainham more times than I can remember. Don't be fooled by the photo, the views were excellent.

And finally, a new addition to the 'Evil Passer' series of photos. This was one mean looking Bunting.