Saturday, 9 June 2012

Purple Heron Dungeness

Got the news in the week that a Purple Heron had been around Denge Marsh Dungeness for a couple of days so an early Saturday trip was planned. I've collected the Jim's and after a short delay due to the M25 being closed at Romford I've diverted down the M11, A13, M25 and M20 and we're in Denge Road for 6.30am. and already have Marsh Harriers around us, a Buzzard on the way in and a count of over 30 birds before we get to the bridge to view over the Marsh.
Denge Marsh
The temperature is around 14 degrees but the wind is a good 30 MPH so it feels much colder. Another two birders arrive but we decide to head off for a quick sea watch so leave them to it.
Luckily we get in the hide out of the wind but the sea is very quiet.
A few Gannets dive a long way out and good numbers of Terns fly past with Sandwich and Common seen. No sign of yesterdays Roseates or the Black Tern reported for the last couple of days.

Little Gulls are feeding close in with the Black Headed guls and whilst I tried to get a record shot all I managed was Black Headed Gull and I got a good soaking in the process as a freek wave caught me out.

We ventured out of the hide and tried the patch for terns but nothing but Common and Sandwich about with the usual gulls but again a couple of Little Gulls. The eyes are watering from the wind here.
Sea Watch
After a quick walk around the lighthouse we're back in the car and heading for Denge Road again. On arrival the two birders we left are leaving but say they had the Heron an hour ago (just after we left!)
So we plot up on the bridge and wait. An hour goes by and we're joined by a few more birders some on the bridge and some taking the soft option and sitting in their cars. A couple of Yellow Wagtails, lot's  of Swift and Common Tern, a couple more Harriers, a Cormorant lot's of Reed Buntings, Reed and Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat....Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Greylag, Mute Swans, Mallards, Tufted, Gadwall, Pochard (and a female Red Crested Pochard)..Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Crows, Kestrel....are you getting the picture?...No sign of Purple Heron!
Another hour goes by and now I'm freezing...back to the car for coffee, back to the bridge back to the car...sit and wait but no Heron....what do you do you've got up early and driven 100 miles to the right place and given several hours of your time to the mission.
After a lenghty debate we decide to move so I take a detour around the military base looking for Turtle Dove in an effort to get something for the day. No joy but as I get back round onto Denge Marsh Road instead of turning left for home I turn right and tell the Jim's we'll give it another ten minutes from the car. BINGO! I'M ON THE TARGET BIRD WITHIN MINUTES.....It's flying in and as I shout it the boys get on it and we get 3 to 4 minutes of flight views.....probably best I've had..How's that for luck?
Now we can head off with a little more satisfaction.
I'm ticking Purple Heron for the third year running at Dungeness. 244 on the year list and 6 needed for the magical 250....blimey that was a slog for this one too, 200 miles and 6 hours but it's on the list and we move on looking for the final 6!
Dungeness National Nature Reserve

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