When we arrived at Dungeness (Kent, UK) at about 8.00 a.m., we were greeted with a biting northerly wind. We started in front of the sea-watching hide, which at least meant that we could keep our optics steady. Not surprisingly, there was little visible passage although we did pick up a distant flock of five common scoter. There were lots of terns feeding over the ‘patch’ but they were too far away for positive identification. We did pick up a couple of Mediterranean gulls.
Heading north towards the observatory trapping area, we struggled to see much in the blustery conditions. However, we did pick up a black redstart which wouldn’t allow a close approach, several whitethroats and the odd meadow pipit. Birds were keeping a low profile but we found one wheatear and had reasonable views of a peregrine on the nuclear power plant.
On the RSPB reserve, we were at least largely able to avoid the wind. The light was excellent and we were soon picking up a good variety of birds. Some bar-tailed godwits in breeding plumage were a highlight. We found most of the expected species plus lesser whitethroat, yellow wagtail, four cattle egrets and two great white egrets. Brian found a couple of whimbrels but I couldn’t get on to them. We also had at least three hobbys and a marsh harrier to two. A bittern was booming. Sedge warblers were plentiful but we only managed a few brief glimpses.
A walk around the beach reserve at Rye added avocet, skylark and blackbird. A buzzard as we were leaving Rye was our final bird of the day, my 78th species.