Thursday, 12 November 2015

The last leg

My three and a half weeks at Dungeness is almost up, with just one and a half days left to go. As always, the shingle has exceeded expectations. The role call of scarce birds has been more than acceptable, with Rough-legged Buzzard, Great Grey Shrike, Dusky Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Barred Warbler, several Dartford Warblers, a few Woodlarks, more Caspian Gulls than I've ever seen before and a back-up cast of such diversity as Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl, Jack Snipe, Crossbill, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe, Pomarine Skua and Sooty Shearwater. There have been some very late dates for summer migrants (Hobby 21/10; Tree Pipit 26/10 - no it wasn't an OBP; Whitethroat 4/11; Common Tern 6/11) and an early one for a winter one (Smew 3/11). There has been a few decent arrivals, mainly crests and Black Redstarts and no two days have been remotely the same. So far, 147 species of bird have come my way.

The late flowering of plants has been a revelation (that particular list now up to 130 with the addition of Hogweed). In that tidy total are two new species for the DBO recording area - the Marrow/Gourd and Slender Speedwell. And I wish I was more proficient with fungi, as the shingle is alive with all sorts of them.

But as much as the wildlife is the historical draw for me to this place, the people make it special. I have been lucky to have been in the company of a bunch of lovely folks who make me feel most welcome and look after me on many different levels. I won't name names for fear of leaving someone out. They know who they are and to each and every one of them I say a big thank you. I'll be telling them that in person.

If you don't know Dungeness, then why not come and visit. It is excellent for a wide range of wildlife and if you want to stay then the bird observatory offers a clean, comfortable and inexpensive base. Next April sees the 40th anniversary of my first visit. All being well I intend to be down on the very date that marks it. Little did my 17-year old self realise at the time that I was about to embark on a lifetime of wonder and companionship on the shingle.


Factor said...

Magical stuff Steve - have enjoyed the journey and has acted as respite away from hours of stress working to endless deadlines!

Gavin Haig said...

Good stuff Steve. I have very happy memories of my few short stays at DBO in the mid-90s, and your posts bring it all back. Perhaps one day I'll be able to get there again. I hope so.

Steve Gale said...

Neil, I feel your deadline pain! I need to dust down my InDesign and Photoshop as I've got three days in an office next week. Help!!

Steve Gale said...

Do I recall a Thrush Nightingale Gav? (Not on my Dung list...)

Gavin Haig said...

That's right Steve, 1994. I was staying at the obs with my eldest son, and we came across the bird singing in the trapping area very early in the morning. Had to knock on DW's door to rouse him to action!