Our plans to explore the shingle slopes of Dungeness soon came somewhat adrift. The wind increased to gale force. We decided to defy it and take the walk along the fisherman’s boardwalk across to the water’s edge. This was a stupid idea to say the least – the strongest gusts blew us off the boardwalk. We understood what it was like to be the “tumbleweed” of Dungeness, the dried Sea Kale plants.
We eventually struggled to the end by holding onto each other and making slow progress and tried to walk along the water’s edge. We couldn’t move as every step we moved forward the wind blew us straight back.
We gave up, went back to the car and drove along the coast a little to the RSPB Dungeness Reserve, situated in a more sheltered area. We vowed to return to Dungeness itself when the wind had calmed down.
The reserve was worth a visit so in the end we didn’t mind the diversion. Here was a strange watery landscape where unusual plants grow and unusual birds live and visit.
We particularly loved seeing the Vipers Bugloss in flower with its bright blue petals and strange structure. The dramatic seed heads of the Teasels and Mulleins looked so architectural and strongly structural, and would feed the finches as the cold weather set in.
The harsh environment created distorted trees and bushes twisted and stunted like bonsai creations.
I am forgetting what the RSPB is all about – the birds. Dungeness did not disappoint for despite the extreme winds which kept birds down on the ground we did manage to see a first ever bird, the Great Egret. We are getting used to seeing Little Egrets in the UK wherever there is a large expanse of water but we had never seen its much larger cousin. This was a red-letter day as we saw pairs of both species on the same lagoon.
After an hour walking around the reserve the wind appeared to be calming down so we bravely decided to give Dungeness another try.That will be the theme of the post “Go South 5. The Magic and Mystery of Dungeness”.