A huge thank you to all the children who helped to produce the Little Egret Pebble mosaic during half term. It looks fantastic along-side the Avocet and Smew mosaics. Next time you wander past take a look!
It's always lovely to welcome the smew back to Dungeness but it is also a sign that winter is just around the corner. Hard to believe today, mind you, as it has been sunny and really rather warm with only a gentle breeze. A single redhead (female or young male) was seen on the ARC pit briefly this afternoon. I've had no news of the penduline tit yet today but it was seen well over the weekend and yesterday afternoon just to the left of the Hanson-ARC hide. Bittern sightings are increasing with almost daily reports from the ARC site or Denge Marsh.
A spoonbill was seen yesterday - first at the ARC site and then on Denge Marsh. We were also treated to the unusual sight of 11 grey herons lined up along the far bank of Burrowes pit. Even more unusual, however, has been the appearance of a lesser spotted woodpecker, seen flying to and from the willow trail on a couple of occasions in the last few days. This is the first ever record of this species on the reserve.
One or two ring ouzels have been seen over the past few days near the viewing screen and one flew past the Hanson-ARC hide this afternoon. Other birds on the move have included redpolls, siskins, goldfinches and (on 23rd) three crossbills.
What a morning the Wildlife Explorers were treated to at the Dungeness Bird Observatory on Saturday! We arrived to a flurry of excitement as a migrating flock of nearly 60 redpolls had been caught in just one mist net, having been chased in by a sparrowhawk. The beautiful little finches were being ringed, measured and weighed before being set free to continue their migration. To the children's delight the sparrowhawk had itself been caught and the warden showed the children just why this bird of prey is such an amazing predator with its huge yellow talons and piercing eyes.
The highlight however was an exquisite Pallas's warbler - a rare, bright yellow and green visitor from Siberia - which we all had wonderful views of. As you can see from Dylan's photo we got very close views!
Pallas's Warbler photo by Dylan
A little auk was found on Hooker's pits mid-morning, the first reserve record (other than a brief fly-past in 2005) for nearly ten years. The glossy ibis was seen first thing flying from the main site towards the water tower pits, but was seen later in the day coming down in the Denge Marsh area. The pectoral sandpiper and great white egret are still on Denge Marsh and two white-fronted geese were seen there this morning. Several flocks of redpolls, siskins and goldfinches were seen flying over from early morning but sadly there was no sign of any of yesterday's ten ring ouzels. A small party of long-tailed tits was seen at the willow trail along with a couple of chiffchaffs whilst a goldeneye, three snipe and a dunlin were seen from the Hanson-ARC hide.
A glossy ibis was seen on Burrowes pit yesterday afternoon, before flying off to the field near Boulderwall Farm, where it remains. Migrants continue to pass through in small numbers, with wheatear, whinchat and a handful of sand martins and swallows seen today. About 150 house martins passed through first thing. The great white egret is still on Denge Marsh.