Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Porpoises were the star turn.

The tour of Kent birding sites with Michel continued with a visit to Dungeness. The journey provided a close view of a female Marsh Harrier as we crossed Romney Marsh. As usual at this time of year, passerines, other than Linnets and yellow Wagtails, were in short supply and although there were lots of Tufted Ducks, Pochards and Coots, in general there was not a great deal of variety on the reserve.

Little Ringed Plover was one species that was prominent, although I only saw juveniles and I have to say I took some time to makes sure they weren't Ringed Plovers. We saw about ten, but I'm sure that there were more about. Other waders in the area were a Common Sandpiper and several Oystercatchers.

On the other hand the only Ringed Plovers I saw were adults, but it's possible I missed some juveniles. There were a few Swifts moving through and larger numbers of Sand Martins. We heard two Reed Warblers chuntering in the reeds and a Stonechat and a Whitethroat popped up on bushes as we left the reserve.

From the new hide on the other side of the road we got reasonable views of at least two Green Sandpipers. one Common Sandpiper and a Snipe. I heard a Wood Sandpiper calling but unfortunately didn't see it. In the distance I found a Black-necked Grebe diving near some Mute Swans but unfortunately when we drove round and looked from the road it wasn't to be seen.

This rather tatty Marsh Harrier flew over the pit causing panic amongst the roosting Lapwings, but it didn't stay around long.

Soon after the Harrier left this Snipe paid us a close visit, but the light wasn't really in the most helpful direction. We did have a look at the sea after we left the reserve. It was extremely hot and apart from a few Common and Sandwich Terns, several Gannets and Kittiwakes, birds were few and far between. Two distant Skuas settled on the sea not much more than dots in the distance. from what I saw I would think they were light phase Arctics, but I wasn't anywhere near certain. The entertainment was provided by about five very showy Harbour Porpoises. The water was very flat and they were continuously breaking the surface close enough for very good scope views.
Perhaps the best thing about the day was that it saved me watching England's dismal batting display.

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