I had never been to RSPB Dungeness until my visit with my friend Jill two weeks ago but, if you can get past the fact that there’s a nuclear power station buzzing away just down the road, then you should be able to appreciate what a wonderful place it is. (British people seem to take nuclear power stations for granted but, as a nuclear-free New Zealander, I still find them quite scary places and really rather menacing!)
This is a unique landscape of low rolling shingle banks, interspersed with patchy areas of low scrub and large shallow pools – it’s water bird heaven!
Our first highlight was seeing the Common terns that breed at Dungeness. Terns are such agile flyers and to see their young fledglings was a real treat.
Eqyptian geese have also bred here, and we saw a pair with two well-grown goslings.
I had my best-ever views of a Snipe that decided to come out and poke around the muddy edges of one of the pools. These are normally such secretive birds so it was a real pleasure to watch this bird foraging.
And the Snipe was joined by not one but two Wood sandpipers.
Each of the six hides on the two-mile-long main trail offers different views, different birds, and, after motoring down to a cafe near the lighthouse (and that power station), we also stopped off on our return to check out the two shorter trails and hides on the opposite side of the road. Here we had good, though distant views of a Greenshank and a Bar-tailed godwit. Cracking!
As well as the birds, the wildflowers added lots of pretty colour to our wander, and we were entertained as we walked by large numbers of beautiful butterflies and debonaire dragonflies, though it wasn’t quite so pleasant watching an Emperor dragon biting the wings off a Gatekeeper.
Here’s my bird list for the day (not including a lot of smaller birds that were flitting about the bushes while I was marvelling at the butterflies): Teal, Lesser black-backed gull, Tufted duck, Mallard, Herring gull, Common tern (with young), Cormorant, Sandwich tern, Common sandpiper, Wood sandpiper (2), Snipe, Egyptian goose (and goslings), Ringed plover, Pochard, Little grebe, Great crested grebe, Lapwing,Coot, Dunlin, Goldeneye, Reed warbler, Redshank, Woodpigeon, Oystercatcher, Grey heron, Great white egret (2), Greylag goose, Mute swan, Black-headed gull, Shelduck, Shoveler, Carrion crow, Swallow, House martin, Greenshank, Bar-tailed godwit, Pied wagtail, Gadwall and Magpie.