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RSPB Dungeness, Kent

OK, so it was more than a two-hour drive from Steyning thanks to the shit-heaps of Bexhill and Hastings on the way. This put me at the shingle reserve in the afternoon doldrums and, apart from sand martins, a lone great white egret lurking at the back of Denge Marsh was the highlight.

That was until I added the ARC pit (God, even the natural world is subject to the creeping miasma of sponsorship) to the roster. Then the shorebirds took off. It started innocuously enough with lapwings but hit its stride with obvious migrant waders:

  • one juvenile little ringed plover, easy to tell beside
  • several common ringed plovers
  • one redshank
  • dunlin
  • common sandpipers
  • a marsh harrier, which isn’t a wader!
  • one garganey to represent the ducks and
  • hundreds, if not a couple of thousand, more sand martins.

I’ve never seen such a cloud of the birds. A lady in the hide likened them to a swarm of gnats – but much less irritating.

This finale left me no time to check pools on the way back over the county border. However, it took me less than two hours to regain West Sussex at that time of evening despite a westering sun making the road ahead less than visible.

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