I wasn't the only one to miss out – top local birder Martin Casemore, who has counted more than 200 Pomarine Skuas during the spring passage, arrived about half an hour after me.
From this point on I watched the sea until the weather closed in and the rain came at around 7.30pm. The list of birds was rewarding during a long day simply staring at the horizon – and I loved every minute of it.
I was met by a bitterly cold wind for the time of year, which thankfully was compensated by warm sunshine later in the day. Down on the broiling 'patch' five Black Tern were feeding and also the long-staying Iceland Gull could easily be picked out among the gulls. A Black Redstart sang from the power station – it sounded close by, but was actually some distance away on a roof.
After a quiet start the first Pomarine Skua flew by, followed soon after by three Black-throated Diver. And then about an hour later things began to pick up as group of six Pomarine Skua headed past the outside of the buoy – a great sight.
|A Pomarine Skua flies past the Point at Dungeness|
By noting the time of the sighting, you can work out when they should pass by where you are – although that sometimes doesn't happen.
|This Fox vixen is a regular and remarkably tame companion during a |
seawatch at Dungeness
It should have looked good for a 3pm viewing for the gathering throng of birders who had joined our small group, including Mark Collingworth (along with his terrible jokes!). But the bird never showed up.
|Five Whimbrel flying east|
But despite that disappointment, and the occasional quiet period around lunchtime, the birding was good. One Pomarine Skua in particular came in quite close the the shore, flying past on the inside of the buoy. The sightings included decent views of a number of Arctic Skua, plus a Long-tailed Duck in amongst a flock of Common Scoter, more Black-throated Diver, plenty of Whimbrel and. late in the day, shortly before I left, three Great Northern Diver.
|Three Great Northern Divers late in the day before the rain set in|
1 Brent Goose
1 Long-tailed Duck
c300 Common Scoter
10 Black-throated Diver
3 Great Northern Diver
9 Great Crested Grebe
1 Ringed Plover
10 Grey Plover
8 Bar-tailed Godwit
9 Pomarine Skua (1 at 08.52hrs, 6 at 09.50hrs, 1 at 11.17hrs (photo above), 1 at 17.50hrs)
7 Arctic Skua
1 Iceland Gull (on the Patch)
2 Little Tern
5 Black Tern (on the Patch)
c40 Sandwich Tern
c250 Common Tern (plus a few 'Commic')
c10 Auk sp
1 Black Redstart (on roof at power station)