No further signs or reports of the Iceland Gull or the Sea Eagle but Angela and myself did manage to see the Great White Egret at Conningbrook GP's, c10 Teal at Plumpton Farm, and 3 Fieldfare and a single Redwing near Bodsham in the afternoon of Sunday 19th February.
The following Saturday morning (25th), we both paid the RSPB Reserve at Dungeness a visit where highlights included: several calling Cetti's Warblers, a displaying Goldcrest by the Scott Hide, 3 drake Pintail from the Dengemarsh Hide, plus 4 Marsh Harriers and a couple of flight views of a Bittern from the viewing ramp. It was nice to show Angela the Harriers, one of which was skydancing over the reedbeds (a female). Back at the visitor centre, SB, DW and GH pointed out an Avocet on Burrowes and after a bite to eat we added the Long-tailed Duck and 5 Goldeneye (1 drake) from the Dennis's Hide and a distant red-head Smew on the New Diggings. The car park feeders held some smart Reed Buntings and Greenfinches along with the commoner species and a plucky Moorhen. On the entrance track we noted a nice pair of Stonechat and the regular flock of Tree Sparrows around Boulderwall Farm. Bumped into the parents at ARC where they told us that the pair of Little Owls were again showing on Walland Marsh near to Wheelsgate. We diverted home via the Marsh where one of the Little Owls performed well - see previous blog post. We also noted 3 each of Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard (including a fighting pair).
Sunday morning (26th) involved a little shopping ready for the big Carling Cup Final, but we did manage to spend around an hour at Eastwell Lake, where we had a lovely female Peregrine Falcon circling above our heads. The lake held many of the usual suspects but was noteworthy for 3 returning Great-crested Grebes (including a displaying pair), a Little Grebe, drake Gadwall, and Angela picked out a Goldcrest feeding in the trees by the road bridge.
After a week of seeing the Hooded Merganser come up on the information services while busy at work, it was nice to get over to Whetsted Gravel Pits this afternoon (3rd). Angela joined in for her first successful twitch which resulted in some good scope views of the female Hooded Merganser (my second Hoodie in Kent), along with 3 Skylark (1 singing), c30 Linnet, a pair of Grey Wagtails, 3 Common Buzzards, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Little Egrets, several Great-crested and Little Grebes and the usual common wildfowl. Had a nice chat with birders from Herts, Essex and Sussex and another local birder, LJ, who was very helpful in showing us the drake Smew and giving a little bit of background info on the site and some of the past bird sightings at this cracking spot - well worth a visit to see these Sawbills and the other birds on offer. A lovely afternoon walk, especially after the gloom and drizzle of the morning.
|A silhouetted record shot of the Hooded Merganser in front of 5 Shoveler.|