This month has brought us a lot of wet weather and a few different bird sightings. We've had a red-throated diver that's taken up residence on Burrowes Pit for the last couple of weeks. These divers are the UK's smallest and are usually found out to sea, except for when they come on land to breed. Although these birds aren't particularly rare with over 17,000 overwintering birds and 1,300 breeding pairs in the UK, these birds are usually quite hard to spot unless you are on a boat! Shetland is the UK stronghold for red-throated divers with other key populations on Orkney, the Outer Hebrides and the north Scottish mainland. Outside the breeding season it is numerous along the UK's east coast, and occurs patchily along the west coast, with concentrations off west Scotland and around north-west Wales.
Red-throated diver - Dave Clarke
Another unusual bird which has been sighted on Burrowes is the long-tailed duck. These ducks are only usually found out at sea. They feed off cockles, mussels, clams, crabs and small fish. They do not breed in the UK, but protection of their wintering sites is important, because they are vulnerable to oil pollution at sea. They are a winter visitor and passage migrant to the UK, most commonly from Northumberland to northern Scotland.
Other autumnal bird sightings we have had are black-necked grebe, avocet, little stint, yellow-legged gull, firecrest, brambling, black redstart, wheatear and ring ouzel.
The wet weather has brought us some more unusual sights but not feathered or furred. A lot of different types of fungi have popped up on the reserve this month! I've never seen so many mushrooms at Dungeness! Unfortunately I am hopeless at identifying but come and visit to see the amazing varieties we have.
And of course, with the rain always comes a rainbow (as long as we get just a glimmer of sun in between!). This lovely double rainbow was seen over Burrowes Pit last week and now we know for sure that there is a large pot of gold at the bottom of the lake! Excuse me whilst I get my wetsuit....
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