Saturday, 9 June 2012

Purple Heron at Dungeness

5am start and by 6.30am we arrive at Dungeness. We would normally drive round to the beach for a spot of sea watching, But we are keen to see if the reported Purple Heron is showing. So we head along Dengemarsh Road and walk down to Springfield Bridge.
It's quite bright but there's a strong wind which make it feel much colder. We scan the reeds and the marsh edges, But there's no sign. I scan the lake and among the many Coots, Great Crested Grebes and Greylags I find a female Red-crested Pochard. There's also large numbers of Swifts flying over the water and good numbers of Common Terns.
After an hour or so we leave and drive round to the beach. Out on the sea it's really quiet. There are a few Gannets and the presence of two Little Gulls really close in is a welcome sight. With the strong winds the Little Gulls struggle to make any headway and Brian takes the opportunity to grab a few photos.
I check the patch for any presence of Black Terns among the numerous Common Terns, But I can't pick any out and with the winds getting ever stronger I head for the car.
New Lighthouse
It's time to have another try for the Purple Heron, On arrival we meet the two birders who were present earlier and they informed us that they have had the briefest of views when it flew up and quickly back down.
Back on the bridge we scan the area for another one and a half hours without any sign. Back to the car for a coffee we give the area another scan again with no luck, So it's off along Galloways Road which runs parallel with Dengemarsh Road. We got Turtle Dove from here last year, Today it's quiet and the only sighting is of a single Green Woodpecker. We take a turn off the road and find that we are now back on Dengemarsh Road. There's an area to park the car that overlooks the marsh area where the Purple Heron has been reported from earlier in the week. Brian says "We'll give it five minutes" and we start scanning again. There's a flock of Greylags feeding in the field in front of us, and while scanning several more start to fly up from the marsh.I have my bins trained on two Greylags on the grass mound in front of us when Brian shouts "HERON" almost immediately the Purple Heron appears in my bins. It flies up and then circles round. It's in the air for two-three minutes and gives some great views as it turns and the sun brings out the birds colouration.
What looked like being a disappointing day, Turns out to be a really good day. It gets even better for me after returning home I realise that the Red-crested Pochard seen earlier in the day is needed for the year.

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