Sunday, 25 March 2012

18th March Dungeness on the hunt for Firecrest

(176) We see Firecrest ariving in Kent and decide to head to Dungeness to see if we can locate one. Our day starts at 5am and we're on the beach in Dungeness at around 6.15am...lovely!
We pick up our first Wheatears of the year with 6 birds found along the road to the lighthouse which we later find out had dropped in that night as none were reported the previous day.
On arrival at the sea watching hide we're lucky to find a local in it and the door for once is open (why can't this be worked on a key code or something....usually we end up standing out side using the hide as a wind break....but surely it wouldn't hurt to put a coded lock on and let birders have the number)...never mind moan over on this occasion we get let in by one of the privaliged locals. The sea is calm but with a northerly wind theres not much happening...we stay long enough to pick up several Sandwich Terns (177) passing by to Rye, a couple of RT Divers, lot's of Gannet and hundreds of Brent Geese (one bird had one white wing...looked like a Black Swan as it headed along the coast but was clearly a Brent as it got closer..strange thing though) We return to the car for coffee and on the short walk I spot a Black Redstart on the lighthouse fence....Jim gets another year tick having missed the Rainham bird. We make way to the Moat and as we cross the field I see a small bird flash low across the ground from one bush to another...coudl it be the little Firecrest we've driven 90 miles for? After a short still, quiet wait it shows itself and is indeed a fine Orange crested, white eye striped FIRECREST...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 frst 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 n the moat area and then a guys arives trying to trap a couple..he actually gets 2 in the trapping area (with my help) but just as he opens the box the little fellas give him the slip and make their way out.
As we continue around the moat a Woodcock is flushed and flies over our heads giving great views as it makes it's way over the power station. We leave for the reserve and find 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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