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WEATHER; hazy start then clear blue sky all day. Light breeze, toip temp 12C

I had a great day out in Kent with my good friends Richard & Linda they live near Shadoxhurst (near Ashford) and we were staying in West Malling, not too far from them. We planned a morning visit to the Dungeness area and an afternoon visit to Rye Harbour but things didn’t all go to plan.

I drove to Richard and Linda’s home which is tucked away nicely in the countryside near the village of Shadoxhurst (a strange name indeed), they have breeding Kestrels in an out-building and Barns Owls breed nearby. I saw the Kestrels and a few other common garden birds around their garden.

Richard and I set off just after 8am and Linda set off to Rye Harbour to do a few hours voluntary work as a ‘guide in the hide’ at Gooders Hide on the main track.

We set off and headed towards Dunegness, our first target was a couple of Glossy Ibis, most wanted by me for my year list. A few miles before Dungeness Richard pulled over at a site favoured by the Ibis and low and behold, there they were. Amazing, number 170 for the year in the bag before 9am!! Great guiding so far... watch this space!

my attempt at capturing the Ibis

and Richard's splendid shot, at distance in poor!!

We also saw several Cattle Egrets, some Little Egrets, Greylag Geese, a few Buzzards perched on fence posts and some Mute Swans. We then drove down to the entrance road to RSPB Dungeness and parked in the car park where tracks run out to a hide and a viewing screen which overlook a large body of water called Arc Pool.

A Woodcock sighting had been made earlier today and that is what drew us in, however, we never had a sniff of a Woodcock and the pool was sparsely populated with a few duck, mainly Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler and Mallards, also Greylag Geese, Coots, Little Grebes and Moorhens.

A good sized flock of Bewick’s Swans with a small party of Whooper Swans were also a regular sighting nearby so Richard drove us there. Unfortunately my superb guide (up to now) failed to realise that a crucial road was closed and we waste 30-40 minutes driving to a road block and back again!! Dipstick comes to  mind.

one Whooper and 5 Bewick's Swans, can you find the wopper?

two Whoopers in the foreground

We eventually found our way to the correct site and there they were, about 14 Bewick’s and a couple of Whoopers, there may have been more beyond a bank but we never stopped to search for them. Plenty of flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares were feeding in the flat, open meadows, with flocks of Starling and Lapwings. I also saw one or two Song Thrushes, a few Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits. Richard mentioned the possibility of seeing Tree Sparrows in the area but foolishly we never looked for them (later we found out that they were seen this morning!! Doh!!)

After the Swan-fest we drove to Rye Harbour and spent two hours enjoying some fantastic birding in superb weather. A chilly cool breeze kept the temperature down to 12C, but a bright blue, clear sky enhanced our visit.

the main track at Rye arbour with the Discovery Centre in the distance

We met up with our ‘guide in the hide’ Linda, in the Gooders Hide from where we could see dozens of roosting waders during this high tide period. We saw Grey, Golden and Ringed Plovers, Lapwings, Ruff, Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Sanderling and about 6 Red Knot. We also noted several Pintail Ducks, Wigeon, Tufted Ducks aand more Little Grebes.

a Ruff at Rye

Skylarks were singing and were very showy, and people kept pointing out a small flock of Brent Geese?? Well, these birds are a bit of a celebrity in these south-eastern parts. Of course I see hundreds of them in Dorset and Somerset every time I go out so they didn’t get the respect from me that they deserved!

my shot of a Skylark

Richard's shot of a Skylark

four of the 23 Brent Geese at Rye, taken by Richard

After Linda finished her little stint in the hide, (talking about Little Stints, they promised to show me two of them at Rye, guess what?? The birds were not there!). We took a coffee and cake break in the very new and impressive Discovery Centre before walking round the west side of the reserve to visit the Denny and the Parkes Hides.

Golden on the right and Grey on the left.....Plovers

Along the way we had closer views of Ruff, Curlew, Stonechats, Meadow Pipits and Redshanks. From the Denny Hide we added Ruddy Turstone and a single Common Snipe to the wader list and from the Parkes Hide, which overlooks the Ternery Pool (where terns do not breed), we were treated to a wader spectacular.

Golden Plover seen from the Parkes Hide

4-600 Golden Plover and half as many Lapwings favoured this pool, they took flight several times giving us a fantastic aerial display before settling down on the shingle. We searched for Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank & Goldeneye, none were present, another three dips supplied by my guides!!

Lapwings in flight over the goldies

It was getting on for 1pm and we had get back, so we walked slowly back to the car park and Richard drove us home, this time avoiding closed roads and diversions. Thanks to Richard and Linda for showing me their local area, I will see them again on Tuesday at Gatwick when we fly off to Costa Rica.

Golden Plovers in flight there are over 300 in this picture

I got back to West Malling around 3pm and after a bite to eat I went for a local walk with Dawn, Sophie (daughter of Dawn’s) and her two yappy little dogs, Ginger and Coco (Dacshunds). We walked around a huge field whith thousands of apple trees in there and once again I was treated to sightings of many Redwings and Fieldfares. Also Mistle Thrush, Blackbirds, a Green Woodpecker and lots of Wood Pigeons.

hte Orchard at Kings Mill near where we are staying in Kent

I was done in after that, I clocked up 15,000 steps today and now I felt it. After dinner I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but I managed to, hence this blog exists!!!