Today bittern were heard booming across the reserve from both ARC and Denge Marsh. Marsh harriers getting ready for the breeding season were exciting visitors at Denge Marsh with their food passing displays.
Other sightings included four black-necked grebe in summer plumage at ARC and a drake garganey at the south end of ARC. Also at ARC were seven little gull, thirty sand martin and swallows. The wading birds were to be found at Denge Marsh where there was one greenshank and seven black-tailed godwit. All around the reserve were sedge warblers and whitethroat and a lesser whitethroat was at ARC.
Helloooo Dungeness! So my name’s Alan and I have been working down on this truly unique reserve for the past 5 weeks as a conservation volunteer intern. Within this short time I have been very fortunate to witness Dungeness greet the spring and the subsequent arrival of the summer migrants. Especially in the past couple of weeks this has been evident, with the reserve being engulfed in singing warblers.
My arrival here has also coincided with the survey season, and we have been busy undertaking a host of surveys ranging from marsh harrier and bittern surveys to Great Crested Newt and Breeding Bird Surveys. All of which have produced very encouraging results. We currently have 2 male bitterns that have been heard booming, which is a first for our reserve. Our late night lamping newt surveys have also highlighted a strong population of both smooth and great crested newts inhabiting our ponds, accompanied by the rare medicinal leech in places. Finally our breeding bird surveys have underlined the diversity of species we have here, and it was fantastic to hear the various calls and songs, from the screeching of the water rail to the infamous cuckoo call.
I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my 6 months here at Dungeness, and my thanks go to the large team of staff and volunteers here who have made me feel very welcome.
We were up bright and early this morning for a sunrise wander and a slap up breakfast!
It was our first 'Bittern Breakfast', and we were very happy that one of our bitterns delivered the goods and obligingly boomed a number of times throughout the walk. Hearing that unusual booming call was a first for many of our visitors, as was seeing a very brave Cetti's warbler, which decided to perch in full show (they infamously tend to stay hidden in the depths of the bushes) as well as blasting out it's loud twittering call!
It was a beautiful morning - after watching a pink sun rise with a cuppa in hand from the visitor centre we soaked up the dawn chorus on the way to the reedbeds. There we were greeted by more tea and coffee, muffins, our booming bittern, a marsh harrier food pass and bearded tits pinging and frolicking in the reeds. It was a great opportunity for the group to experience the magic of a Dungeness dawn, and learn more about the hard work the RSPB has been putting in to benefit some of our key species such as bittern, marsh harrier and lapwing.
The morning was rounded off with a feast of porridge with a multitude of toppings, followed by hearty sausage sandwiches back at the visitor centre - oh, and lots of demands for more similar events to be put on in the future!
Some of our visitors' highlights and feedback included:
Hearing the bittern, the beautiful weather, and the fly past of bearded titsHearing the bittern and seeing the Cetti's warblermarsh harriers passing a frog to each other and the birdsongSitting in the hide with everyone sharing what they could see and whereThe staff were great - knowledgable and very pleasant Having experts to point out birds, and chatting with other RSPB membersWhat a super idea this was!Thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you very much indeedThank you to the team for a great morning : ) Thank you - it was an inspiring start to the day and the guides were great.We most enjoyed the knowledgable guides and the excellent breakfast!Excellent event, great staff. Do it again!
Enough said! I'm off for a nap....!