|Female Merlin after being caught in one of the fishing boats and ringed at the Observatory
I've predictably not been birding much since early September, only heading to Spynes Mere on the local patch to see my first Curlew Sandpiper at Homethorpe, found by Richard Perry.
But I was compelled to make a belated autumn visit to Dungeness yesterday, and glad I did. The weather was damp and breezy, with north-easterly winds which had originally tempted me to head to north Kent. But with the temptation of a juvenile Sabine's Gull to see at Dunge, I went south instead. I was also hoping for Ring Ouzel.
When I arrived, the first bird I saw was a Ring Ouzel that flew into a bush next to the lighthouse, and was followed by a second one later in the morning. I looked around the desert area for the 11 or so that had been in the morning in the desert area near the observatory, but to no avail.
While twitching is not something I tend to do much these days, I still needed Sabine's Gull for my UK list. There was no guarantee it would still be there, but luckily it remained, flying between the Patch offshore from the power station, and the fishing boats further up the shingle beach.
I was lucky to get down the Dungeness when I did as there have been no sightings of it today (Tuesday) so far.
It eventually flew towards the fishing boats, before flying towards the Patch in the afternoon. The sea watch looked promising, but maybe not surprisingly didn't produce the Pomarine or Long-tailed Skuas seen further up the coast at Sheppey and Foreness Point.
|The juvenile Sabine's Gull on the Patch at Dungeness
|A pair of Black Redstart along the perimeter fence to the power station
And so I dashed over to the Obs, where Jacques and warden David Walker were weighing and id-ing the Merlin. It was concluded the falcon was a female from the larger Icelandic race Falco columbarius subaesalon.
|Studying the finer details (as seen through the shed window)
|Jacques Turner-Moss at work
She was soon let free to fly off to hunt for more Meadow Pipits, ending a memorable day on the shingle.