Just a quick post- a cattle egret arrived on the reserve yesterday and was visible for most of the day at Denge Marsh and from Dennis's hide near the Visitor Centre. Unfortunately it has not yet been seen today.
Other sightings for the day so far include the great white egret at Denge Marsh, which is still with us having returned last week, and a ruff, black-tailed godwit and three common sandpipers at ARC, oh, and the common lizard which I found in the office this morning...!
It was a tough job ... but the judges finally decided on the winners in the Focus on Insects Photography Competition. RSPB Dungeness site manager Martin Randall spent the afternoon deliberating. The entries were, without exception, of a very high standard and the young photographers, all aged under 16, took some amazing shots of insect-life around the RSPB Dungeness nature reserve.
But eventually the winning images were decided....in 3rd place... Ellie Higgins-Armstrong with her photo "Damselfly" ... in 2nd place ...Arun Jarman-Chantler with his photo "Damselflies" and ( drum roll !!!) in 1st place with an incredible photo of two soldier beetles was Harry Dean.
Well done to all who took part... the photos can be seen ( and purchased if you wish) at the Visitor centre at RSPB Dungeness throughout the summer.
Thought you might be interested to find out how breeding birds fared at Dungeness this year...
Back in April, the reserve team started carrying out 'Breeding Bird Survey' (or BBS) survey visits across the reserve. In order to cover the site, we divided the reserve into four 'chunks', and had to visit each chunk three times; once between mid-April and the end of April, once between the start of Mayand mid to late May, and once between mid to late May and mid-June. This involved early starts for staff members, as visits need to be carried out within three hours of dawn. On the surveys, we recorded all birds; passerines, wildfowl and waders, whether they be male or female, singing or calling, in pairs or singly, perched or flying, having disputes or sitting on nests. In addition to our early BBS surveys, we also carried out intensive bittern, marsh harrier, tree sparrow and lapwing nest monitoring this year, with which a number of dedicated volunteers helped us out, in addition to other species- specific surveys.
The reserve team sat down this morning to collate and scrutinise all our data to find out how we really fared. As always, it was a good year for some birds, and a poor year for others.
Some highlights: two pairs of corn bunting, five singing nightingales, 110 reed warblers(!), 71 sedge warbler, 53 whitethroats, five coo-ing cuckoos, four singing lesser whitethroats, two pairs of garganey, 23 sitting common terns, one booming bittern, two fledged bitterns, two fledged marsh harriers, 42 warbling Cetti's warblers and 14 tree sparrow broods.
Lowlights: no lapwing chicks, no skylarks, no meadow pipits, only nine chiffchaffs, only one willow warbler and no successful ringed or little ringed plovers.
Unfortunately wildlife this year has been at the mercy of the 'great' British weather. The hot-cold-wet-hot-wet-mild-hot spring and summer have played havoc with the insects and water levels, meaning food and feeding habitat haven't been available for foraging adult birds and chicks alike.
Still, we take away the positives from this year, and hope that things improve for next year. In any case, you can rest assured we're doing our best to ensure the habitat is in the best condition possible for all the nature we find on the Dungeness RSPB reserve.
Delighted to have a great white egret back on Denge Marsh this morning. Other sightings by early visitors included three garganey, a common sandpiper, kingfisher and yellow wagtail at the ARC site and two wheatears near the entrance track. Plenty of swifts, swallows and martins were on the move. A little tern over Burrowes pit, a turtle dove near the viewing screen and a pied flycatcher at Hooker's pits were the other sightings of particular note this week.
Little stint, curlew sandpiper and a variety of other waders, including whimbrel and black-tailed godwit, still present at the ARC site today.