Friday, 20 April 2018
Splendid in the sun
A splendid three days at Dungeness, staying at the exclusive 'Hotel Hollingworth', with fine whiskey and dodgy country music being the establishment's specialities...
The birding was wonderful. High pressure and hot sun are never going to be the ideal conditions for a fall/arrival, but is always good for a bit of skywatching, and the sea was better than expected.
An intense hour-and-a-half of birding with Mark H occurred yesterday (19th), with a marked movement of raptors, the birds seemingly arriving from the north and concentrating around the Water Tower/Boulderwall area before spiralling away high or carrying on southwards, across the reserve. The most numerous were Common Buzzard (14), Marsh Harrier (10, with a further four local birds), 4 Sparrowhawk, a Red Kite and most notable of all, a thuggish female Goshawk. Prior to this raptor-fest, a flock of three Hawfinches headed eastwards, possibly pitching down in bushes close to the RSPB visitor centre.
Sea watching was nothing but absorbing, with the onshore winds on 17th throwing up a number of welcome species, including Manx Shearwater, Velvet Scoter, Arctic Skua, Bonxie, Whimbrel and Arctic Tern. The following couple of days continued to provide a modest trickle past the the beach, with increasing numbers of Whimbrel (above), and - for Dungeness - the most unusual sight of a raft of 17 Manx Shearwaters feeding offshore.
Other highlights included a good number of Andrena vaga at the usual sandy bank on the RSPB reserve, and a Light Orange Underwing in the DBO trapping area.
Once again, the shingle delivers.