Sunday, 20 May 2018

Good birds

Part of the allure of spending mid-to-late May at Dungeness is the possibility of unusual birds. As already laid out in a recent post, the last four years has been kind to me at this time of year here. On Friday the first success came via a flighty Hoopoe at Galloways, courtesy of the ever-searching Martin C. The bird did not stay long, bounding away deeper into the Army ranges, although it was later relocated on the Dengemarsh Road to the relief of the many observers who had not been as quick off the marks (or as close) as Mark H and I had.

Saturday was starting to resemble a day of unfulfilled promise until news broke of a Terek Sandpiper just over the county boundary at the superb Rye Harbour reserve. I weighed up the options - stay put scanning an almost empty sky - or indulge in the uncharacteristic behaviour of a filthy twitch. The latter won hands down. After picking up Martin C we arrived on site to be greeted by distant and heat hazed views of the bird, although we were able to take up a much better vantage point further along the Salt Pool's edge and, in good light, the Terek played ball and walked right up to us, giving scintillating views and enabling all present to happily click away on a variety of photographic products. It had turned into a Dungeness away day, with most of the regulars present, and it was good to see Mike B and Matt P there too. Back at Dungeness, the Hoopoe was allowing all comers a chance to watch it again and a Bee-eater that had been seen briefly earlier in the day was relocated, and decided to perch up on bushes close to the Hanson Hide, much to the delight of a local gathering of birders in the evening light. Some of us - alright Mark H and myself - missed out, due to having already got stuck into an evening of FA Cup Final / food and alcohol. Our resolve would have been sorely tested had it been a Blue-cheeked...

And then this morning, in overcast conditions, I found myself walking along the sandy track to the Water Tower when my daydreaming was rudely interrupted by the liquid 'prrrp' of a Bee-eater. The bird circled above me before heading out eastwards over ARC and being lost to view. Another birder had independently picked this bird up from the screen hide and he too lost the bird in the distance. Before there was time to reflect on my 'rainbow interloper' I was made aware of a Kentish Plover (found by Liz H) on Burrowes. Now, back in my youth this would not have warranted such a frenzied response, but this was, unbelievably, the first Dungeness record since 2005! Cue a procession of birders who were able to watch this dainty plover that remained faithful to a small shingle island.

So, three days and four birds (albeit one away from Dungeness). Is it being greedy to hope for a bit more?

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