Friday, 2 January 2015

A new birding year starts in Kent with Cattle Egrets

Normally the first day of a new birding year would see us heading towards Norfolk. But today it's not Norfolk it's Kent we head for.
Arriving at first light, we head for a brief seawatch. The wind is fierce and blowing straight into our faces. Luckily there is a guy already inside the hide and we take refuge alongside him and out of the wind.
The year kicks off with the usual gull species, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring, Along with a Great Black-backed  that is found sitting on the sea. The most numerous birds seen were varying groups  of Guillemots. Razorbills were much less numerous, but a small group of five birds were enough.
A single Common Scoter and two Fulmars were nice additions to the tally.
On the drive out towards the reserve I managed to add Common Gull, having managed to miss one from the beach.
We decided to head off pass the reserve entrance and search for any sign of the Bean Geese at Walland Marsh.
Before reaching Walland Marsh, we managed to bag two Great White Egrets, one in flight over Arc Pit and a second roosting on New Diggings.
At Walland Marsh a scan through the large Bewick Swan flock failed to produce the Whooper Swan but we did find four Bean Geese among them.
A drive along Dengemarsh Road produced sightings of one of the Cattle Egrets, which was shortly joined by a second bird.



At the reserve entrance Tree Sparrow was seen and from Makepiece Hide five redhead Smew were also added, the return walk produced sightings of both Goosander and Goldeneye.
As we reached the reserve centre news came through that a Pallas's Warbler had been found just across the road.
A search of Willow Trail and the trees outside Hanson Hide failed to find the bird. A Kingfisher was performing superbly right outside the windows of the hide.
Three Chiffchaffs were watched feeding among the reeds and a Bittern was a very welcome addition as it flew across the reeds on the far bank.

Leaving Dungeness we travelled to Chilham and found the Great Grey Shrike perched up on the telegraph wires without even leaving the car.

With light fading fast, we had just enough time for a quick drive along the entrance track of Elmley.

I ended the day with 73 species, and although not as many as I would have liked, there were some nice birds on the list.

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