Saturday, 7 April 2012

7th April Dungeness " the usual suspects"

A 6am start, flask filled, sandwich made and we were off down the M20 towards Dungeness. A road closure at Ashford sent us round the houses and the 90 mile drive is stretched a little but we arrived around 8am. With a quick stop to check ARC pit from the road I found a Spoonbill for my partners in crime and it obliged with a nice flight circle over our heads before returning to the scrape. I picked out both Long Tailed Duck and G W Egret before we moved on and saw Wheatear again on the road to the point.

Light drizzle and quite cold but no wind are not a great combination for sea watching but we gave it a go.
A few harbour porpoise playing in the warm waters from the power station but otherwise just the usual suspects...G C Grebes, Kittiwake, Cormorants, Gulls etc (no skuas...nothing of note apart from a possible Little Gull) We headed to the moat and it was still raining and it was still cold...the walk round the moat revealed a single Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and two Blackbirds...really quiet. Luckily I picked out a distant Black Redstart and another Wheatear in the power station grounds otherwise it's one of those mornings to forget. A quick coffee and we made the short drive to the reserve. Tree Sparrows are all around the entrance gate but we found no Garganey on Balderwell pond. Our walk round the reserve delayed briefly while the "old man" negotiated the Tea machine for a cuppa and chatted up the lady giving out the pass to the reserve. We found our first Sedge Warblers of the year (192) outside Dell Hide and a couple of Marsh Harriers gave good displays but otherwise the walk dissapointed. Jimmy gave it another go for Garganey before we headed back to the car for the drive home. Just as we got in the car the pager shouts GARGANEY AT what's a bloke to do? He's seen Garganey but his mate hasn't yet this year....does he head home early or take the nine mile drive to Rye...we headed for Rye and a short walk to the imformation point (where I picked up a Common Tern (193) )and we're heading back to the car to follow directions to Castle Water where the Garganey have been seen today......Up the road, down the road, past the white portacabins, turn left etc etc..we've gone half a mile and got lost but there's hope......we could see a castle and we're looking for Castle Water so we put "2 & 2 " together, we parked up and head across fields to the castle hoping we were warm.
Camber Castle
Camber Castle built by or for Henry V111.  We walked through gate after gate passing sheep after sheep....Two Mute Swans got a little frisky with us and we were forced to give them the slip as we passed through yet another gate but good news we could now see water! Is it Castle water? Lot's of Cormorant, Tufted duck and gulls no Garganey and no sign of a hide that they'd been seen from. Let's walk round says Jim....really says I? but what ya gonna do having come this far so we walk round and stumble on the elusive hide and it is really tucked away...a real hidden hide.
We enter the hide and before we take a seat the lady sitting inside with the man sitting in side asked me if I can help ID a strange duck for her.....Great I think must be Garganey but could it be? Yep sitting in front of the hide are a lovely pair of Garganey. "Garganey" I say "Thought so" she says. Jimmy's well pleased as the treck proves fruitfull. Better still to come in a good hours or so in the fewer than five Garganey appear, ten or more Med Gulls, Two Snipe drop in, Marsh Harriers hunting in front of the hide, three Yellow Wagtails (194) Swallows and the House Martins (195) make an appearance. A stoat is chased by a Rabbit in a strange turn of fate. What started as a day of usual suspects ended well and we made the long walk back ready for the long drive back. (The chippy in Rye allows a little refuel on route although at £1.80 a portion the old man needs help opening his wallet)
The field

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