Fallow Stag, Knowle Park.

Fallow Stag, Knowle Park.

Friday, 10 December 2010

** Dungeness RSPB Reserve.**

Wanting to see one on my top 5 birds, the Smew, preferably the male, also known as a 'White Nun'  meant taking a trip to Dungeness RSPB Reserve. We decided to go via Hythe in the hope of seeing the Waxwings that are in the area. I took directions  from a website last night soI had a idea as to where to go. We arrived at Hythe, had a good look around but again I dipped out, so we headed off to Dungeness Reserve.
When we got there we  was suprised at just how warm it felt compared to back home, the temperature outside was 6c and it wasn't long before it went up to 7.5c where it stayed most of the day, until late afternoon.
We went to the visitors centre for lunch, when we arrived at the car park there was no more than 6/7 cars there, anyway we sat in the far corner seats, this time I took my scope in with me, I don't usually do that, but this time I was glad I did, because over the far side of Burrows Pit was the male Smew. It was showing really well, along with a female 'redhead' Smew. I scanned around just incase there was any more, I didn't find any but what I did see was 2 Goldeneye(1m,1f) and a female 'redhead Goosander, again right over against the far bank. There have been reports of up to 27 Goosanders there on the reserve,  The other species  of bird seen on Burrows Pit was: Cormorant, G/B/B/Gull, L/B/B/Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, B/H/Gull, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Teal, Coot Moorhen, Shoveler, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Greylag Geese, Gadwall, Wigeon(there was more Wigeon here than any other species).The birds seem to be congregating in large groups nearer the far bank and islands.
We then went round toDenge Marsh Hide, several species was seen from the track there and back, I will list them later. I entered the hide to find that I had it all to myself, so I set the scope up and scanned around. Again Wigeon was the greatest number of birds there, and again nearly all the birds was over by the reeds, so no chance of any near photo shots, I did pick out a small Grebe in the distance, I could clearly see it had a steep forehead with a peak at the top and not at the back of the head, plus it had dark feathering behind the eye going down, which could mean ony one thing, it was a Black Necked Grebe. I kept my eye on it just in case it came any closer, and after a while it did, not that close but I did try to get a record shot of it, them just as I got the camera on it another one appeared near to it, so it was 2, not 1.

Another way to tell they are Black necked Grebes and not Slavonian in by the  black stipe on the back
of the neck, on a Black Necked it is broad, and on a Slavonian it is slim, so if at times one can only see the back of the bird remember it this way, Black Necked, B for broad. Slavonian, S for slim.
There was two times when, as usual a Marsh Harrier flew over  the flood putting fear of christ up the birds scattering them everywhere, but even after they settled nothing special appeared.  The species there was virtually the same as on Burrows so there is no point listing them.
Before leaving I scanned the fields on the right as you go to Christmas Dell Hide hoping there might be a wader or two, but even though it was snow and ice free, where was nothing there.
As we drove down the track we stopped where the bridle path goes through to Lydd because there wa 5 Red legged partridges feeding amonst the long grass,so hoping for a picture or two we waited, they certainly didn't want to play ball, but a couple did wander out a short distance before seeing me, then it was heads down, and off like the clappers in the opposite direction.

The other species seen from the track was: Marsh harrier(m1, f2), W/Pigeon, C/Dove, Kestrel(f1,m1), Grey Heron, Magpie, C/Crow, Rook, Jackdaw (there is what looks like the remains of a dead sheep in a field which members of the Crow family was feeding on at times), Pheasant(m), Starling.
Final stop was to be the ARC Pit, Hanson Hide,again I had it all to myself , where was all the birders today??? I settled down, and once again all the birds were, how shall I put it........not very close. Way over the back, still scope to the eye I started to scan around, again like the othe pits, same species  seen, but after about 20 minutes from the right corner at the far bank came some birds I did recognise, and was pleased to see, they was 4 sawbills, 1male Goosander,and 2 redhead Goosander, and the forth was a redhead Smew.
Knowing there was more been seen recently I waited just in case any more came out, but none did while I was there.The other wintering wildfowlseen here was 3 Goldeneye, 2m,1f. In all the other species seen was as over the road: Coot Moorhen, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Pochard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Gulls (G/B/B -L/B/B - Herring - Common- B/H), Mallard, Teal, Magpie, C/Crow, G/C/Grebe, Gadwall.
Before I packed up a few Tufted Duck's swam past a short distance out in front of the hide so I fired off a few shots hoping for at least 1 reasonable one to put on the blog. I was hoping the birds today might be a fair bit closer than they was today so that I might have had more choice in what to post.

** Above, and below. Female Tufted Duck. **

My bird of the has to be the male ** Smew.**


  1. Ken ,
    Shame you didn't get the Waxwings at Hythe , would have made a great day even better . There were also some at Pett Level , near the pub yesterday .
    I haven't seen a male Smew for years , one of my favourites . Shame all the good Winter ducks are so timid and stay well away from cameras .
    Like your memory tips for the Grebes .

  2. Bad luck with the Waxwings Ken. Maybe you'll get a chance closer to home soon!
    Sounds like a good day, and some good pics too.