It's been a little while (sorry!), but I'm here to give you an update on the wildlife currently at Dungeness. The highlight is the beautiful male smew that has been on the reserve for most of January. The only smew here currently seems to favour the more 'hard-to-see' areas of the reserve. He seems to favour the Tanners pool which is viewable from the track just past Boulderwall Farm by the gate to Denge Marsh hide or from the back of Hookers Pit which is a muddy track off the bridleway.

The smew is a winter visitor, with around 180 individuals wintering in the UK. They are diving ducks that eat small fish, aquatic insects and larvae. They are found on inland lakes dotted about the country and are solitary birds.

Smew - Martin Casemore

The reserve is extremely wet at the moment. Thanks to all the rain we've had this autumn and winter, many of our fields are flooded, our ditches and lakes are overflowing and parts of our trail are waterlogged and muddy. The Discovery Area and return trail to the visitor centre is closed at the moment, but the diversion route (an extra half mile) takes you nicely past where the smew is mostly seen. 

This buzzard is enjoying the flooded fields as he is able to catch worms and newts more easily! A lovely photo by regular visitor Graham Parry, it really shows what our conditions are like at the moment!

However, as they say, it's a great weather for ducks! And we have lots here at the moment. In front of the visitor centre we are now used to seeing a nice gathering of teal, shoveler, pochard and tufted ducks. We even had a lovely goldeneye displaying as close as it could possibly get to the window! Elsewhere on the reserve we have been seeing high numbers of wigeon and coot. We've had a few types of geese pop in this month too including Egyptian, barnacle and brent as well as the usual greylags and Canadian geese. 

Shoveler on Burrowes Pit - Dave Clarke

Another large highlight has been the gorgeous firecrests which have been showing very well from in front of the visitor centre and Firth hide. They tend to keep in with the flocks of long-tailed tits here too. It's worth keeping watch on the feeders by our visitor centre too as a lovely great spotted woodpecker regularly shows up to enjoy the peanuts!

Great spotted woodpecker - Dave Clarke

Some exciting news is that we now have a new Facebook page, so if you want to keep more up to date with what is going on, give us a like here: https://www.facebook.com/RSPBDungeness/

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