Archive for December, 2007

31st December 2007, Monday

Rye Harbour

Highlight this morning included, 43 White-fronted Geese, 2 Goldeneye, Green Sandpiper and Marsh Harrier at Castle Water.  This evening there was Barn Owl, 2 Smew including a fine drake, and Water Rail, Bearded Tit and Cettis Warbler were heard. On the Beach Reserve, the Shore Lark was still present near the  Red Roofed Hut and 11 Grey Partridge gave good views feeding on the banks of the new pool by Lime Kiln Cottage. There was a single Black-tailed Godwit on the shore. Yesterday, 47 Little Egret left the roost at Castle Water at dawn.

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30th December 2007, Sunday

Doleham, Brede Valley

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Habitat improvement work, in which stands of juncus were scraped off some fields, has paid off in the valley, where shallow flooded grassland is now crowded with ducks. Still difficult to count however, but roughly 200 Teal, 70 Mallard, 20 Shoveler and 10 each of Gadwall and Wigeon.

One corner of the flood seemed popular with Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits, which were also running about among sheep at Doleham Farm, but 2 Water Pipits were with them, and another seen later could have been a third individual. Of particular interest nearby was a Cetti’s Warbler in song along a reedy ditch. This species first showed up at the site last winter, but this is the first singing male.

Some passerines, such as Blackbird, Wren and Reed Bunting were present in good numbers. 2 Little Egrets, 4 Stonechats and a Buzzard were also in the area.
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30th December 2007, Sunday

Pett Level

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Pete Rouse saw 80 White-fronted Geese, 1200 Lapwings, 300 Curlews 60 Golden Plovers and 4 Ruff.

60 Red-throated divers, hundreds of Great Crested Grebes and 4/500 Common Scoters were on the sea.

A f Ruddy Duck accompanied about a dozen actively diving Pochard on the biggest pool.

Yesterday, John Newton saw 2 Marsh Harriers and a Barn Owl in the Pannel Valley.
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30th December 2007, Sunday

Life and death on the strandline

The vegetation at Dungeness is very variable, but to experience the full range of diversity you need to walk inland from the coast. At the edge of the sea, just above the tide-line, grow the first colonists of the shingle beach. These are the strandline plants. They have to be be opportunistic as the coast should be naturally mobile. They also need to be salt tolerant and able to grow on a pure gravel substrate. By far the most abundant plant in this community at Dungeness is Babbington’s orache, Atriplex glabriuscula. For the moment all the specimens of this annual plant are visible as dead, grey patches of vegetation just above the strandline, as in the picture.

Babbington's orache (dead) and sea beet

The presence of this species is wildly unpredictable.

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30th December 2007, Sunday

Rye Harbour Sightings

The Shore Lark (below) is still present today, commuting between the saltmarsh near the Red-roofed Hut and Flat Beach Level. Also on the Beach Reserve, a flock of 61 White-fronted Goose passed over heading west early morning, while a Raven over Lime Kiln Cottage at about 11am was a nice surprise.
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29th December 2007, Saturday

Beach Reserve

Still lots of interest in the Shore Lark, today it has shown well at times near the Red Roofed Hut although it can disappear across the road on to Flat Beach.

29th December 2007, Saturday

An ancient feast, and other surprises

Walking across the shingle on the Lydd Ranges coast on Wednesday I came across a horde of cockle shells near Galloways, with the odd dog whelk thrown in. They had been dropped in a cluster, and judging by the numbers of slow growing lichens darkening these pale shells they are clearly an old feature. Is this the result of a bird (perhaps a gull or a crow) gathering the shells and feasting on them at a particular roost spot, or are they signs of a meal by people foraging on the beach before it became regularly fired over by the army? The high cover of lichens on the shells shows that this patch of shingle has been left undisturbed for a long time.

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Further south from this Read the rest of this entry »

28th December 2007, Friday

Murder>Miracles>Mud>Marsh

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The ancient marsh landscape of walls and ditches, described by Brian Banks on November 25th, shows up particularly well in the low midwinter sunlight.

Many of these civil engineering projects, which created today’s marsh, were undertaken in the late middle ages by Christ Church Canterbury, which was a major landowner in the area.

The work was funded by donations from the huge numbers of pilgrims converging on the tomb of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral; at that time the third greatest destination in Europe for the faithful.

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28th December 2007, Friday

Beach Reserve

Highlights this morning included, 430 Dunlin, 100 Curlew and 31 Grey plover feeding along the shore, a Merlin was present along Shore Ridges. The Shore Lark was again amongst 30+ Skylark feeding on the saltmarsh near the Red Roofed Hut.

26th December 2007, Wednesday

Lapland Bunting over coastguard cottages

Post by Alan Parker on wildhastings

A dawn visit to the Warren Glen area was pretty quiet, with just 10 Great Crested Grebes and a Red Throated Diver on the sea, and a Siskin over. But as I approached the coastguard cottages a Lapland Bunting called several times as it flew over, having apparently come in off the sea.