Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Kent Birding, Lashing rain & gale force winds!

Nice early start, leaving home in Essex at 5.30am with light rain falling. It was to get a lot heavier throughout the day!
Before making our way to Kent, we made a shortish detour to East Sussex hoping to connect with the Glossy Ibis at Pett Level. As we drove along Pett Level road the rain really began to fall, gale force winds and  lashing rain made visibility impossible. As the rain eased off a little we started scanning the coots at the West end, but failed to find the Ibis among them. We decided to drive back towards the main pool and scan the Coots on the far bank of Col Body Memorial Lake closest to the road. As we approached I caught sight of the Ibis on the near bank. Despite the conditions a good start to the day!

Before heading for Dungeness, there was a brief stop at Scotney GPs. Scanning through a group of Tufted and Wigeon a Black-necked Grebe was found. Asleep for most of the time it awoke briefly when another group of wigeon flew in. The lashing rain again forced us back into the car, and this would be the story throughout the day.

We pulled into Dungeness around 9.30am and with the rain still falling heavily, we headed for the nearest hide (Dennis's ). We were greeted by three friendly staff members who were busy cleaning the hide and window slots. A quick Scan of the Northern section of Burrowes Pit produced three female Goldeneye but very little else.
With the rain showing signs of easing, we headed for the dipping pool and connected with the LEO instantly. I managed to grab a couple of record shots with my phone hand held to my scope before the rain really lashed down and we had to take shelter in Firth hide.

As soon as there was a gap in the rain, we headed for Makepeace hide and soon picked out two drake Goldeneye and four females. Much more of a surprise was the presence of a Shag! It headed for the nearest island giving great views standing among the roosting Cormorants. Another birder found a redhead Smew close to a group of Coots and we soon managed to locate it.
Just before leaving the reserve we spotted one of the Great White Egrets among the reeds on the pool near Boulderwall Farm. A visit to Arc Pit proved less productive, water levels had risen considerably and covered all of the islands, thus limiting the birds present. A redhead Smew several pairs of Goldeneye and another Great White Egret were the best we could manage.

The beach at Dungeness was our next stop, scanning all the small groups of gulls along the road failed to locate any Caspian Gulls among them. So with a brief gap in the rain we foolishly decided to head for the fishing boats and a short seawatch! as we approached the boats the rain began and it got heavier and heavier, until we had to take shelter under one of the two hulled boats. This protected us from the rain but served as a wind tunnel, The sea was alive with Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants with a small group of Guillemots also seen relatively close. The walk back to the car was interrupted by more heavy rain and again we had to take shelter, we still didn't make it back to the car without getting soaked!
Another group of gulls caught the eye as we drove past the fish hut. With the aid of a few slices of bread we managed to entice them closer, and were pleased to find a Caspian Gull among them.

We left the beach and took a quick drive along Galloways Road and after several scans of the surrounding fields managed good flight views of a Raven. As we pulled out of Galloways, news broke that there was a Slav Grebe on pools by Boulderwall Farm. A quick drive back to the reserve and the Slav Grebe was quickly located before heading for home.

The weather was grim all day, but it didn't stop us connecting with some good birds throughout the day.

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