Some Special Birds to Round-off the Year (2)

Now Christmas is over and the indigestion has subsided it is time to look back at a couple of very worthwhile visits to Kent Reserves near Hotel Benson...

In spite of heavy cloud we set off for Stodmarsh Reserve sure that we would see something of note even if weather conditions would not allow any realistic hope of photography. A stiff breeze had also picked-up by the time we arrived so chances of small birds such as the bearded tits were zero to none!

However, a chat with the ranger as we set-off towards the first hide meant that we knew for certain that there really were Marsh and Hen Harriers somewhere in the reeds!

Then the sun came out!

And then - just for a few minutes - we were treated to one of those encounters that makes birding truly special as a Marsh Harrier flew slowly towards the hide with the sun glancing off his wings! A few photographs were quickly taken...


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Marsh Harrier.

We were treated to many more sightings of these beautiful birds (perhaps even Hen Harriers as well) but the sun had made its appearance for Christmas and the mist began to roll in.
.............

Our second foray into the wilds of Kent saw us all heading off to Dungeness RSPB Reserve in hope of Long-eared Owl and Smew.
The weather was not exactly helpful but the Owl was showing well at the back of th first pond beyond the visitor centre.

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Things quietened down after that with the strengthening wind ensuring so sensible bird would fly overhead. Still, the Harriers showed well even though photography was out of the question in the dismal light and mist.
The decision was made to re-trace our steps from hide to hide rather than complete the circular walk as the wind was really picking-up and perhaps - just possibly - a slew might still show-up in THAT hide where we had seen one in a previous year...

There then followed one of those memorable experiences with two water rails and a female smew showing right in front of our hide! (What a pity the grumpy birder who took one look at us - left - slammed the door missed them)....
And then the Great White Egret decided to fly over and show us his fine features! Fantastic!
Truly a day to remember - only a few individual birds but WHAT birds!



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Water Rail.
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Female Smew.
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Great White Egret.

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