Hands up who identified the play of words between the 1971 CCS hit single 'Tap turns on the water' and the blog post title above... no, thought not, too obscure, to tenuous, all smacking of trying to hard... sorry, but I couldn't resist it.
As a lapsed sea-watcher, when I return to Dungeness I am only too aware that I am,
(A) rusty, and
(B) surrounded by experts and competence.
However, what I am able to do is to sit back and watch the sea watching-obsessed locals with some understanding of their mental processes as to how they read the weather conditions, weigh up the pros and cons as to how much effort to put in and where exactly to sea watch from. Even at a prominentary such as Dungeness, you don't just walk to the tip and assume that it is the best place to sea watch from. If you do, that is Mistake Number One. Time of year, wind direction and how much effort that you want to expend all play their part.
Today was one of those days that tested even the most experienced reader of the sea watching tea leaves. A very slow morning was followed by a soporific middle of the day but then ended with an afternoon of interest. The wind direction seemed to remain in the NE quadrant, at a modest force 1-3, so why did the birding gods turn on the tap and allow over 4,000 Common Terns, a modest passage of mixed waders, a few Black and Little Terns and the added bonus of a sprinkling of skuas to move eastwards? And then to turn it off again by 18.15hrs? The turning on and off of this ornithological tap does not always conform to a change in the wind or the weather. If there is a black art to the understanding of the processes involved in dictating which way the tap is turned, then few have grasped it. Even the grizzled old Dungeness sea watchers find themselves scratching their greying beards in contemplation over this one.