Saturday, 8 March 2014

Hythe, Dungeness and East Sussex (8 March 2014)

Saturday 8th.  With the Chinese Pond Heron appearing more often, if not more regularly, its identification becoming more certain and it having occurred in various places as a vagrant, albeit still nowhere very close, I decided to make a second visit to look for it.  I arrived at Turnpike Hill at 06:30 ready for a long wait.  There were 5 other cars there when I arrived and 3 had left by 07:30, presumably to try Redbrook Way.  I had a good vantage point and was comfortably sitting down so I decided to stay in situ until at least 09:00.  A pair of Mandarin flew around a few ties to keep me interested and at 08:17 the Pond Heron flew in over me and landed in a tree above the children's play area.  It remained on view, initially close then on the other side of the main road until about 08:55 when it dropped from sight.  Excellent.  I headed to Dungeness, anything else a bonus as was walking around a birding site rather than a housing estate.  80 Brent Geese and 17 Teal flew east in a half hour watch by the patch where a single Mediterranean Gull was seen.  200 Great Crested Grebes, 20 Guillemots and 2 Razorbills were on the sea. The two Black-throated Divers were on the New Diggings and a red-head Smew on the east end of the ARC, a Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret on the walk to the viewpoint but nothing in the reeds there other than invisible Cetti's Warblers.  Nine Tree Sparrows were around the feeders at he reserve entrance but I failed to find the Emu let alone the Glossy Ibis further down the road.  The Black-necked Grebe was on Scotney, probably just in Kent, 2 Mistle Thrushes were the only birds of note at the Bittern viewpoint at Rye where more Cetti's were heard.  Pett Pools was quiet with 160 Curlew in the fields and 200+ Wigeon. My final stop was Filsham Reedbed boardwalk and Combe Haven.  More Cetti's were heard but I only flushed up a Snipe in a plodge around a wet field that some years ago I had seen a flock of Water Pipits in.  The fields further up the valley were flooded so I headed home into the setting sun, happy not to have spent all day in Hythe!
Chinese Pond Heron at Hythe, slightly obstructed view through a nearer tree

I moved to get an unobstructed view and it turned its back
or tucked its bill behind a branch
a smart bird all the same

powerful feet
it then flew further back, across the main road, but it did give a head-on view
it also appeared to show some dark feathering on its right shoulder
one of two Black-throated Divers on the New diggings, the other remained asleep

sparrows at Dungeness, the Tree is "HJ"
Great White Egret from Dungeness entrance road

Small Tortoishells at Filsham

Monday-Friday 3rd-7th.  A Peregrine on the Power Station chimney a couple of times, Mistle Thrush singing and Herring Gull A4AH at the University some days.


  1. Hi Richard - surprised we didn't bump into you on Sat. Photos of the Ratite on my blog which I think is a Greater Rhea (rather than an Emu). Was in a field about 1/2 way between Lydd & RSPB reserve on the South side with the Ibis at the back of the next field on a pool. Maybe the next id challenge for the Birding Frontiers team, now the Pond Heron id has been sorted!! Regards
    Steve Smith

    1. Hi Steve, Sorry not to have bumped into you at Dunge - I might have seen a bit more if I had! I'm enjoying your blog, fantastic photos. Best wishes, Richard
      PS I think it was a Greater Rhea I failed to find. I think the Ibis might have been flushed off by horse walkers ...


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