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Monday, 19 July 2010

Dungeness goodies

On Saturday 17th July, I took a full car load of birders (John H, Andrew E & Rob W) down to Dungeness in Kent, on a quest for a White- tailed Plover. We left at 6am and 3 and a half hours later we were drawing into the car park by the ARC pits at Dungeness. Very much an iconic location famed for its migrants and rarities, it is dominated by the imposing view of the Nuclear Power station on the horizon and the area is composed of a network of habitats of pools, lakes, marshes and shingle and scrub.
We walked down to the screen overlooking a lake with several long islands dominated by swathes of Purple Loosestrithe. We eventually saw the excellent White- tailed Plover running at the back of an island occasionally showing amongst the purple plants. It showed particularly well at the left hand point where its pale mousey- brown plumage with striking long yellow legs could clearly be seen. Two Little Egrets were seen near by.
Meanwhile to the extreme right of the hide/ screen, 2 Green Sandpipers showed well close to the hide at the edge of an island. One even falling asleep here.
walking down to the left hand edge of the lake, we picked up the White- tailed plover perched again on the left hand edge of the island viewed behind some tall Purple Loosestrithe which swayed around in the strong wind. As it stood here it stretched out its wing and the white tail could be clearly seen.
Back at the screen, the White- tailed Plover stood on one leg and dozed off, whilst to the right of it, a female Garganey flew in, showing a large white patch at the base of her bill.
A walk around to a lake marshy area called Denge marsh, revealed at first, a flying Grey Heron and then a flying Bittern flying left. Slightly later, an excellent adult Purple Heron flew into distant reeds viewable in front of a barn structure, which was apparently the nesting area (the reeds not the barn structure!) Just to the left of here, a distant Great White Egret flew even further back before settling in a reedy area.
After an hour's delay waiting to get through the Dartford Tunnel, we eventually arrived at Minsmere Island Mere at 7pm and the excellent female Ferruginous Duck was soon  seen, the white undertail coverts prominent, she was swimming around an island with 2 Cormorants. It then swam back to the rear right hand end of the Mere.
Meanwhile a female Marsh Harrier perched on a bush to the left. whilst a male Sparrowhawk perched on a post sticking out of the water before flying left.

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