Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dungeness: Skua Delight

A 6am meet and it's off to Dungeness. Arriving at around 7.30 it's straight up to the beach for some sea-watching. Reaching the top of the shingle bank we find the hide locked, which is not uncommon here, but at the patch we find a new hide being built and although not yet complete this will be very welcome when the work has finished.
Looking out over the patch, the main target bird for me is Black Tern. Having still not managed to catch up with one this year despite numerous attempts.
I scan the area several times without any sign of a Black Tern, there are plenty of Common Terns present and in amongst these are some Arctic and Sandwich Terns.
Gulls are present with Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Black Headed, Herring and I manage to pick out an adult Little Gull among them.
Brian then adds a juvenile Kittiwake to the days total as it flies in and lands close by to give great views. There's also a group of thirty Common Scoters seen and then a smaller group of eight fly through shortly afterwards.
It's now 10am and the winds start in increase in strength, and with it there is some Skua movement. Firstly in the shape of two Arctic Skuas. They fly through and after a brief stop to harass the terns they continue on. Another Skua call goes up and the gathered birders get on it. It's a cracking Pomarine Skua, and behind it is another year tick when a Great Skua is spotted.

In the three hour session here we have single Pomarine and Great Skuas along with eight Arctic Skuas. Still no Black Tern seen and there's no sign of the recently reported Roseate Tern either.
Denge Marsh Hide
It's off to the cafe for a quick coffee and slice of toast, before heading for the fishing boats. Two Arctic Skuas appear and give great scope views as they approach quite close. There also a distant Bonxie seen but it remains distant and continues to fly straight through.
Some Porpoises are seen from here which is a welcome sight, as I had managed to miss numerous sightings from the patch earlier.
Then two juvenile Black Terns appear in Brian's bins, he quickly directs me on to them and I finally have my Black Tern tick for the year.

From here we drive round to Denge Marsh, there's no sign of the Great White Egret although it would be reported from here shortly after we have left. We are not too disappointed as we had already added it to the year lists earlier in the year.
There are hundreds of Sand Martins seen flying over the water, busy feeding up before they make their outward journeys.
Another good trip, with three more year ticks added.

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