Sunday, 31 January 2016


RSPB Havering Local Group's coach trip yesterday to Dungeness, Kent. We arrived around 09.45 at the power station and had just over an hour before the coach left for the RSPB reserve. Some of us headed towards the fishing boats, stopping and checking the gulls as we went, no luck so far with the Glaucous Gull. We climbed a couple of ridges of shingle and scoped the sea. Great Crested Grebes were feeding close to the shore, must have been 50+, in amongst them were three or four Guillemots while two Red-throated Divers drifted past just beyond the grebes, and the odd Gannet floated by. Amongst the passing gulls were both adult and juvenile Kittiwakes. Over to our left were a number of gulls feeding and in amongst them was the first-winter Glaucous Gull, a beast of a bird and so easy to pick out as flew inland over the fishing boats, around behind us to join the group of loathing gulls.
adult Gannet and a few of the Great Crested Grebes

immature Kittiwake

first-winter Glaucous Gull

first winter Glaucous Gull, beast of a bird and when flying its paleness and white primaries really did make it stand out from the rest!

Back on the coach for the short trip back down the road where some of us were dropped out near the ARC pits. We watched the feeders in the garden of the house at the entrance but didn't see any of the hoped for tree sparrows. Large swirling flocks of mainly Lapwings were regularly put to flight by the quartering Marsh Harriers, an impressive sight. On to the ARC pits and the screen hide, young Tom was already there and had had a ring-tail Hen Harrier cruise past, luckily it showed again but more distantly. A couple of Bearded Tits were in the reedbed and a Bittern showed well as it flew across in front of the hide and disappeared in to the reeds. A Great White Egret flew over mobbed by gulls and another Marsh Harrier. Moving on to the reserve a male Stonechat showed well as did another Great White Egret from the viewing mound. We then had brief views of two Dartford Warblers in the gorse area as they gave tantalising but brief views in flight and occasionally perched on the gorse. We had a look out of all the hides around the reserve and saw another Bittern in flight. More sightings of Great White Egret, three Goosander a male and two females, at least three redhead Smew and half a dozen Goldeneye. Also a roving tit flock included mainly Long-tails and Blue with a couple of Goldcrests. Goldcrests were the highlight from Dennis's hide, it was as if they were on elastic continually popping up into the air, a brief hover before disappearing back in to the scrub and then repeat.

Our last highlight were two Long-eared Owls, roosting at the back of the dipping pond near the visitor centre. One showed very well almost completely in the open, while the other roosted deeper in the scrub. 

Long-eared Owl at roost

A great day which remained dry with an overcast morning and cool breeze. In the afternoon the clouds cleared and we had blue skies and sunshine although the cool breeze remained. I never managed an image I was happy with today so record shots only!