I’m writing to you from a very blustery Dungeness today. With gusts of 60mph, a walk around the reserve today is not for the faint hearted! At least, for now, it is dry, which is always a bonus! Most birds are hunkering down on their nests or in the shelter of the gorse and bramble bushes. Swifts are braving it against the wind to feed on what little flying insects there are around. The St Marks flies are out later than usual and providing a valuable source of food for our hobbies. Their usual dish of choice, dragonflies, are off the menu as hardly any have emerged yet this year. The poor hobbies are having to hunt twice as more to make a meal out of the small flies.

Hobby catching prey - Dave Clarke

The first cattle egret of the year was seen on the reserve this week. These lovely birds visit us for the summer months mostly. Now our cows are back in the fields, out of their winter barns, the cattle egrets will be sure to follow them closely for the tasty bugs the cows dung attract.

Cattle egrets - Graham Parry

We had a sighting of a female hen harrier yesterday too, a fleeting glimpse, but it was nice to know they are passing through.

A few interesting mammals that have been spotted on the reserve recently include a weasel, hare and water vole. We know water voles are present, but they are rarely seen so it was a good spot by a member of the team! Water voles live and feed around the ditch edges on the reserve, feeding off fresh reed shoots and grass.

Weasel - Graham Parry

We have several gulls nesting on Burrowes Pit. Both common gulls and herring gulls have nested in the boxes and some around the islands. The terns seem to have disappeared for the time being, we hope they will be back to settle and nest when the weather improves. Half of our hides have been taken over by nesting birds whilst they have been closed. Blue tits, great tits and swallows have all taken up residence in the hides. We will wait patiently for their chicks to fledge before we can get into the hides to give them a good clean and make them secure for opening to the public again.

Common gull - Graham Parry