Sunday, 29 July 2012

Eagle Owl at Ashford

An early start as usual and a regular destination is on the agenda. Dungeness is a favourite location of ours and even with the likely prospect of not adding any new birds to our lists, it doesn't matter.
On the way we can't resist a quick detour to Ashford hoping to bag a view of the Eagle Owl that's been reported recently.
On arrival we meet a couple of locals who already have the bird in their scope. I quickly set mine up and we are enjoying some great views of the bird perched on top of the Charter House building. At this time of day it's not going to be very active, But it's awake and we get a couple of head shakes and some feather ruffling.
We're informed that a collection of some of  it's pellets suggest it's enjoying the local pigeon population. Escape or not, It's not everyday you get to see an Eagle Owl in the wild. 
A bonus sighting of a Peregrine flying through only added to the enjoyment of seeing the Owl.
On to Dungeness, and the normal routine is beach first for some sea-watching and then take it from there. As expected it's pretty quiet, But there's plenty of Gannets fishing  and Sandwich and Common Terns are present in good numbers. There's a couple of Common Scoter on the sea and good numbers of Porpoises are also on show.
We make use of  the short walk back to the car by looking for butterflies. With Common Blue, Small and Large White, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown all seen.
A quick stop at the observatory and moat to check out the trapping area and new trap that has gone up. If you had seen the old trap you would know that it was well overdue for replacement.
Common blue
Next stop is Arc Pit and we spend an enjoyable couple of hours in Hanson Arc Pit hide. It proves quite productive with at least five garganeys, four Common Sandpipers, Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Shelduck and three Dunlin all seen. There's huge numbers of Pochard present and from nowhere masses of Swifts, House and Sand martins appear over the water. 

There's just time to visit Folkestone Downs for more butterflies. The main target was Adonis Blues, But the timing is wrong  for them and we make do with plenty of views of Marbled Whites, Large and Small Whites, Meadow Browns, Large and Small Skippers, Small Heath and Commas.

Just Brian and myself today, As dad seems to have developed a mystery illness related to the Olympics which prevents him from leaving the house and for most of the day even leaving the sofa. With luck it should clear up in a couple of weeks. But if it gets to the point where he can't even make it upstairs to the toilet we are going to have to seek medical assistance. 

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