Sunday, 25 March 2012

18th March Dungeness on the hunt for Firecrest

(176) We saw that Firecrest had been arriving in Kent and decided to head to Dungeness to see if we could locate one. Our day started at 5am and we were on the beach at around 6.15am!

We picked up our first Wheatears of the year with six birds found along the road to the lighthouse which we later found out had dropped in that night as none were reported the previous day.
On arrival at the sea watching hide we were lucky to find a local in it and the door for once was open..With a northerly wind there wasn't much happening but we stayed long enough to pick up several Sandwich Terns (177), a couple of Red-throated Divers, lot's of Gannet and hundreds of Brent Geese (one bird had one white wing and looked like a Black Swan as it headed along the coast but was clearly a Brent as it got closer.(strange thing though) We returned to the car for coffee and on the short walk I spotted a Black Redstart on the lighthouse fence. Jim gets another year tick having missed the Rainham bird. We made our way to the Moat and as we crossed the field I saw a small bird flash low across the ground from one bush to another, could it be the little Firecrest we had driven 90 miles for? After a short still, quiet wait it showed itself and it was indeed a fine Orange crested, white eye striped FIRECREST A cracking little bird happily feeding up to move on. We watched it for about 20 minutes before it flew a distance away and continued to the moat. On arrival I picked up another migrant bird which at first I thought was Chiffchaff until it sang and we then ID'd it as Willow Warbler...really early for this bird but once you've seen it and heard have to say that's a Willow Warbler and accept it may be a couple of days ahead of the pack. We find another five Firecrest in the moat area and then a guy arrived to try to trap a couple and he actually got two in the trapping area (with my help) but just as he opened the box the little fellas gave him the slip and made their way out.
As we continued around the moat a Woodcock was flushed and flew over our heads giving great views as it made it's way over the power station. We left for the reserve and found our first Chiffchaffs of the year on the willow trail (where else!) and despite looking for what seemed hours we didn't manage to find any Garganey. Another great days birding at my fav place! (181)

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