Archive for September 22nd, 2007

22nd September 2007, Saturday


Walking around Walland Marsh today we got excellent views of a female merlin and a hunting hobby, and regular sightings of two marsh harriers. Whether or not these were always the same birds was hard to tell but it reminded me that it will soon be time to watch for harriers returning to their winter roosts at dusk. Co-ordinated counts at the reed-beds on Walland Marsh and Dungeness in recent winters have confirmed the health of marsh harrier populations in the area. Counts of 19 birds were obtained two years ago and 18 last winter – I can remember getting excited when a single pair of this bird started breeding in the area in the 1990’s! Hen harriers in contrast were disappointing last winter – only 4-5 birds were recorded compared to 17 in the winter of 2002/3. Hopefully this was due to the mild weather last year. What will this winter have in store for us?

22nd September 2007, Saturday

Dungeness Bird Observatory

The highlights of the day were another two Sabine’s Gulls, an adult and juvenile. There was very little movement offshore otherwise, although there were about 200 Gannets and 20 Arctic Skuas lingering throughout the day and five Great Skuas flew west. There was also a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, six Little Gulls, three Yellow-legged Gulls and about 20 Arctic Terns feeding offshore. The bushes were also fairly quiet with two Merlins, a Redwing and a Spotted Flycatcher being about the best on offer but there was a  steady movement of birds overhead including six Grey Herons, 1800 Swallows, 300 House Martins, 270 Sand Martins, 200 Meadow Pipits, seven Grey Wagtails, three Siskins and nine Reed Buntings.


Sabine’s Gull  Larus sabini juvenile   Dungeness  22nd September

David Walker from DBO website

22nd September 2007, Saturday

Dried out ditches

These might not seem the most promising wildlife habitats, but desiccation is essential for some species. Today, on Walland Marsh, I came across one of these rather unpromising habitats. However flowering on the bare lumps of rather salty-looking clay were what appeared to be tiny saltmarsh goosefoot Chenopodium chenopodioides (below), a nationally scarce annual plant that germinates on the mud of drying saline ditches. Although abundant on the North Kent Marshes this species is rare on Walland Marsh and at Rye Harbour. It is though similar to red goosefoot Chenopodium rubrum. If anyone can guide me further I would be grateful….. It was growing with another mud-lover, celery-leaved buttercup Ranunculus sceleratus. Nearby seedlings of another mud-germinating plant thread leaved water crowfoot Ranunculus trichophyllus were growing well, indeed one precocious specimen was starting to flower. Come the spring these channels will be shallow water-filled features, covered in white crowfoot flowers.

 saltmarsh goosefoot
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22nd September 2007, Saturday



Quite a few changes from a fortnight ago. Reed Buntings are very obvious perched in the vegetation and calling continuously – there were at least 50 of these, and alongside them several new Stonechats, in addition to the local family of 4.
Little groups of Meadow Pipits were moving up the valley – at least 25, and I could hear a couple of Skylarks, 3 Grey Wagtails and a Siskin with them.

Many hirundines were also flying west and gathering over the fields towards Brede Bridge – about 300 Swallows and 100 House Martins. Other departing summer birds were a dozen Chiffchaffs, 2 each of Blackcap and Sedge Warbler,and a Wheatear, with a Hobby cruising lazily overhead, picking dragonflies out of the air.

Other raptors were Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier.
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22nd September 2007, Saturday

Pett Pools

… the roadside pool continues to be the best place in the RX area for watching a variety of waders. This morning they included some similar species side by side for easy comparison. Both Godwits, both Redshank, and Dunlin alongside Little Stint  and Curlew Sandpiper. Most entertaining were the 8 Little Egret dashing around and catching shrimps, closely followed by more than a dozen active and noisy Bearded Tit.


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22nd September 2007, Saturday

News from RSPB Dungeness

Bird of the week was the common crane that flew low over Burrowes pit on Tuesday afternoon before settling down and spending the evening in the ploughed fields at the back of Hooker’s pits. Ospreys were recorded flying over on the 14th, 20th and 21st and shovelers reached an impressive peak of 437 birds on the 16th. Pintails peaked at 31 and garganey were seen on several dates, with two birds together on 17th. Eleven bar-tailed godwits flying over on the 19th were the best of the waders. A little owl was present in the car park bushes on the 18th and seen again two days later near Scott hide.

Sixteen redwings flew over on the 18th and five song thrushes were present along the entrance track the following day. Apart from increasing numbers of robins (20+) and chiffchaffs (30+) migrants have been thin on the ground, with highlights limited to a single stonechat and a couple of flyover grey wagtails.