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A Merry Christmas from RSPB Dungeness

Following a small flurry of last minute shopping this morning the place is now very quiet with only a couple of visitors left on site. In fact there are more great white egrets than visitors, with five once again dotted around the place. Seven smew have been seen today, including one drake on Burrowes pit, where a male goldeneye was also present. 

Please note that the reserve and Visitor Centre will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day but will re-open for birding and business again on Thursday 27th.

Wishing you the Christmas you hope for and thanking you for all your support in 2012.

All the best



Ash trees and egrets

I don't know about you but as I have driven around the countryside this autumn I have kept noticing bunches of ash keys, a feature of the environment that has tended to pass un-noticed in winters prior to ash die-back disease.

These were photographed on a walk down the Rother Valley on Sunday, where I also saw two buzzard and two little egret.  While the future of the ash may be in doubt these birds seem to face a brighter future.  Back in the 1980s I remember a trip to the Coto Donana where I remember the excitement of

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Rye Harbour

With another wet day on the cards its unlikely there will be anything else to add, so the sunny day yesterday produced the weeks highlights. Flat Beach attracted 250 Golden Plover, Spotted Redshank, 34 Turnstone, 90 Wigeon and 70 Teal. A Peregrine spent most of the morning around the Beach Reserve and Harbour Farm, and the regular Merlin showed well along Shore Ridges. At Ternery Pool at least 60 Snipe were flushed from the islands by a hunting Marsh Harrier, good numbers of Mallard, Teal, Shoveler and Tufted Duck were also present. From Parkes Hide the Spotted Redshank (flushed from flat beach by the Peregrine) again showed well along with several Littel Egret. At Castle Water a visit to the viewpoint in the afternoon produced flight views of Bittern, Barn Owl and Water Rail, in the nearest reeds at least 5 Bearded Tit were flitting about and 2 Cetti's Warblers were their usual loud selves.


Missed again

I am sure most people with bird feeders and bird tables are used to the local Sparrowhawks paying regular visits to their gardens. These raptors usually approach at high speed and if possible from a blind spot. In my garden the favoured approach is down the side alley, or unbelievably scything its way through several shrubs. Most of the attacks come to nothing and the hunters usually end up sitting around, and in this case looking behind as 30 House Sparrows ''blow raspberries'' from the nearby hedge.


Mediterranean Gulls

It's difficult to find a Mediterranean Gull in the RX area at this time of year, but during February they will become regular again. The recent rise and rise of this seabird in the RX area has been summarised in a paper in the 2011 Sussex Bird Report that was recently published by the Sussex Ornithological Society. You can read this paper online from the WildRye website – click here.  Better still you can join the Society here and get the whole report. (The photo above is a juvenile)