Sunday, 28 June 2020

Gull-billed Tern at Dungeness.

Having never seen a Gull-billed Tern before and one being reported on the ARC pit at Dungeness for the past few days, I went down this morning (Sunday 28th) to take a look. Being on the ARC pit and with the reserve still closed, I was not very hopeful of getting any photos but I went with the intentions of seeing the bird as it would be a first. Martyn Wilson and Sue Morton were looking at the bird on my arrival and they put me on to it straight away. Although very distant, it was fishing up and down the back edge of the pit as we viewed from the road, I could easily see the size difference from the numerous Common Terns it was keeping company with. It did venture a little closer allowing the bill to be viewed but a photo from this position was totally out of the question. I was contemplating on leaving for home, the wind was gale force and dark clouds were looming but thankfully the rain skirted our position and the Tern flew over the road and started fishing on the pit opposite the ARC pit and was now a lot closer. It was still difficult waving a lens about in wind that was now reaching speeds of 50 mph, and the sun went in but it was a lot better than being 200 meters away from it which was the case for the first two hours of viewing.

We took a bit of a buffeting from the wind but all in all a worthwhile trip to Dungeness, returning with another tick for the list I don't keep. I also managed to see the Black-winged Stilt that was feeding on one of the islands down by the screen hide at the opposite end of the ARC pit.

I finally caught up with the long staying Pink-footed Goose that has been at Stodmarsh for a good chunk of the year. Probably an escaped bird but I prefer the idea that it arrived wild but has been in the company of the local Greylag flock and has forgotten to leave. It sounds better than “an escapee".

I have just set up a facebook wildlife photography page and can be seen at  

I hope you like it. Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

An Unusual Summer Visitor.

Not a lot is happening at the moment, well not for me anyway but something out of the ordinary with the arrival of a summer plumaged Snow Bunting at Deal during the week. Although annual visitors to east Kent, a summer plumaged bird present at this time of the year is somewhat of a surprise, the nearest breeding birds apart from a few in the Cairngorms of Scotland found in Scandinavia. This individual has been tracked from Cornwall, spending a few days on the Pett levels in east Sussex before rocking up at the Bandstand on the seafront at Walmer near to Deal. It had flown from there on my arrival (Thursday 11th) and I caught up with it a few hundred meters further north in front of the castle at Deal, feeding on the grass and showing down to three or four meters.

I have seen Snow Buntings in this plumage before, on the top of the Cairngorm Mountain in Scotland but never thought I would see a summer plumaged bird in Kent during mid June. It remains there today (Friday 12th) but I suspect will be resuming his journey soon to get back to where he belongs.

As mentioned before, not too much is happening at the moment and although lockdown restrictions have been eased, apart from yesterday's trip to Deal, I have only visited the reserve at Stodmarsh, recording a few bits and pieces on the camera. Three Spoonbills were seen whilst staked out along the Lampern Wall, flying over my head from the west and heading off towards the Grove end of the reserve and a 1st summer male Red-footed Falcon was seen hawking insects over the reed beds, the low light from the cloudy and grey day only allowing a few record shots of each species.

When the light and conditions suit, the Swifts make good targets as they hawk for insects above the main lake and something to do whilst awaiting the arrival of a Red-foot.

A Turtle Dove was photographed in the paddock at the Grove Ferry end of the reserve, and a Spotted Flycatcher was another welcomed visitor to the reserve.

With a bit of help, (thanks) I have been able to get a few close up images of Jays, a species that apart from last year and with the same help, (thanks again) I have struggled with over the years. Certainly one of the better looking birds from the Corvid family.

Until the next time......thanks for looking.