Migrants at Dungeness: British Birding


By early September bird migration is well and truly in progress. For many species it has not yet reached its peak but for the next few months birders should be able to find migrating birds at any coastal location. With this in mind I made another trip to Dungeness yesterday as it can be a migrant hotspot and there had been several reports over the previous few days of some interesting species. Over the previous few days the weather had been more or less ideal for finding grounded migrants; blustery with sporadic heavy showers and patches of sunshine but unfortunately yesterday the conditions changed and were quite sunny in the morning with the winds from the wrong direction, although it did cloud over later with some showers. Still, on getting out of the car the first bird I saw was a nice Lesser Whitethroat followed by several Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler and a singing Willow Warbler. However, the bird I was anticipating was a White-winged Black Tern which had been reported over the previous few days.

On my way to the ARC hide to look for the tern a large raptor flew overhead which turned out to be a Honey Buzzard and this was followed by 2 Common Buzzards. In the hide the juvenile White-winged Black Tern was easy to observe and was quite obliging when it landed nearby for all to study it. Walking back to the car a juvenile Hobby flew overhead and the short drive along the entry track on the main reserve turned up a Cattle Egret when I scanned the fields full of cows. The last time I saw Cattle Egret in UK was almost exactly one year ago in exactly the same field!

This was pretty good but further along the track was a small group of birders who were watching a first winter Red-backed Shrike, another excellent bird for the day. Alongside it were 2 Yellow Wagtails and 3 Whinchats, proving that it was a good time for birders to be out looking for migrants while at Denge Marsh a total of 3 Great Egrets were present.

Moving on to the coast I spent an hour sea watching but with the winds blowing in the wrong direction there was little to see although 2 adult Black Terns were nice fishing alongside larger numbers of Common and Sandwich Terns. There was 1 Fulmar and 2 Common Scoters to provide some interest further out to sea.

Although a walk around the Bird Observatory was fruitless the day had been a good one and if I had managed to get out earlier in the day I am sure I would have found even more interesting migrants. Perhaps tomorrow!

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