A brief three-day stay in the Dungeness area was courtesy of the Hollingworth Hotel (fine whiskies and good music a speciality!) Unusually for a birding visit to the area, little was actually done at the observatory, save for a brief sea-watch and a 'coffee and biscuit' morning with Jacques. Instead I was drawn to the outer limits of the shingle...
A strong southerly blow was whipping up a fierce sea, and as Chris P and I walked along the desolate 'green wall' between The Midrips and Galloways, our attention was largely drawn to the sea incursions along the shingle ridge. At times our resolve was tested, as one particular break in the beach at The Brooks was allowing the sea to stream through (see image above and video below). At times the waves rose above the top of the shingle and were many feet higher than us. Suddenly that wall of pebbles seemed insubstantial! We did keep an eye on the birds when we weren't marvelling at the sea, best of all being three Grey Partridges, a sad statement of how far this game bird's numbers have fallen.
The RSPB reserve was a veritable 'white heron fest', with 11 Great White Egrets, a Little Egret, 7 Cattle Egrets (below) and best of all - drumroll please - two Spoonbills roosting in front of the Makepeace Hide. This is a long-awaited Dungeness tick, a tart's-tick one could say. They had the decency to preen and fly around a bit as well.
The afternoon was spent in the company of Chris P, on his beloved Walland Marsh. Our afternoon would have been memorable without the birds, what with the sunny and mild conditions under that big, big, blue sky. We recorded Great White Egret, 1,000 Greylag Geese, 50 Egyptian Geese, 500 Wigeon, 5,000 Golden Plover, 1,500 Lapwing, 16 Marsh Harrier, a Barn Owl, 15,000 Starling and a number of passerine flocks that were feeding on the stubble, including Skylarks, Twite (a single), Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings. At times the skies were filled with birds, which made for an unforgettable afternoon - birding at its best.