Yet more exciting news to round off a magnificent couple of weeks - the purple heron chicks were seen on the nest for the first time over the weekend by some of our extremely dedicated volunteers. Whilst it was not possible to ascertain the exact number of chicks as they are heavily obscured by reeds still, it appeared to be at least two! Based on our assumptions of laying and hatching dates, we expect the oldest of the chicks to be ready for fledging imminently. Keeping the white-tailed plover company (now resident on site for well over a week) on the ARC pits are two wood sandpipers. The great white egret remains on the Denge Marsh near to the purple heron nest and finally, a black-tailed godwit was seen yesterday. On the amphibian front, a single toadlet made the most of a heavy rain shower to cross the path near the Denge Marsh hide. Toads are not hugely common on site so it is great to see that they are breeding successfully.
We have some extremely exciting news to report today of a white-tailed plover (lapwing) having been seen around the ARC pits both today and yesterday. This bird is a resident of the middle-east, particularly Iran and Iraq, and is exceptionally rare not just here but in continental Europe as a whole. Only a handful of records exist from Britain making this a very special addition to an already fantastic year for rarities at Dungeness. The great white egret can also still be seen feeding around the Denge Marsh area.
The birding highlight for this week has been a single great white egret seen feeding on Denge Marsh from 7th July to 9th. A green sandpiper has been seen again on the 9th July and a snipe on the 7th. The purple herons remain highly visible and engaged in nesting and feeding behaviour. On the insect side of the news, a lesser emperor dragonfly was seen near the Denge Marsh hide on 9th July. Hobbies are still a regular sight and they can be seen catching insects in flight. Cuckoo activity near the purple heron watch point has also been exceptional of late with clear views of the birds both in flight and both males and females calling from the willow bushes, accompanied by the loud calling of Ceti's warblers from the same location. The male bittern has quietened lately but fairly frequent sightings of up to three individual birds in flight are still reported on a daily basis.
In addition to the stars of the show, bitterns, hobbies and cuckoos were just some of the other birds that visitors were able to enjoy at our purple heron viewpoint this week. A few returning waders have started to appear in the Denge Marsh flood fields with curlew, greenshank and green sandpiper all seen this week. Our two kestrel chicks have fledged successfully but can still be seen in the Bouderwall Farm area.