Sunday, 8 April 2018

Dodging the rain searching for migrants at Dungeness

A gloomy start to the day greeted us upon arrival at Dungeness this morning. A brief seawatch from the beach produced my first Sandwich Terns of the year but the constant misty rain made visibility very poor and with a complete lack of wind there was no bird movement. A single flock of Scoter resting on the surface along with several Gannets, Auks and Porpoise were the only sightings of note.
We moved back inland and managed to locate a single Wheatear close to the Lifeboat Station before a drive along the entrance track of the reserve added several newly arrived Sedge Warblers. We scanned Dengemarsh from Springfield Bridge and soon located the Slavonian Grebe, now looking even smarter in almost full summer plumage. A bonus year tick came in the form of a "Booming" Bittern from within the reedbed.

We dropped in at Oare Marshes in search of the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher. Last year it was seen several times on East Flood but this year it had proved much more difficult. Three previous visits had failed to locate it. There was again no sign after a walk along the creek South of the sluice and back again. On our return a flock of Black-tailed Godwits had flown into roost on one of the grass islands on East Flood, so another scan of East Flood began. Again we failed to locate the LBD among the Godwits and headed back along the seawall towards East Hide leaving fellow Essex birders Doug & Tina to continue the search.    A scan of the paddocks near East Hide failed to turn up any Yellow Wagtails but did produce views of a Little owl. 
A look back towards the seawall proved to be a wise move as Doug & Tina were pointing towards the Flood. We re-joined them on the seawall to find they had managed to locate the bird asleep among the Godwit flock. It remained asleep and didn't look like it was going anywhere soon so we headed back round to view the Little Owl and found two birds this time.  Eventually, the Godwits took to the air allowing for some nice flight views of the Long-billed Dowitcher among them before they again settled back down on the island. 

A drive along the entrance track at Elmley produced sightings of several Hares

Skylarks were singing overhead and one dropped onto the track as we approached.

Marsh Harriers were busy collecting nesting material, with some impressively large sticks being collected.

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