Archive for December 16th, 2007

16th December 2007, Sunday

Grey Willow on the up.

Quite the most conspicuous scrub species on Dungeness these days is grey willow Salix cinerea. This tree is abundant around the Long Pits, and in the natural freshwater pits, photographed near the RSPB visitor centre this week. If you stood on the gravel bank to the right of this picture a few centuries ago you would have been on the old east coast of the Dungeness shingle spit. Gravel eroding from the west coast was washed around Dungeness Point creating a new spit that projected out into the sea, before joining back onto the coast again, leaving the natural hollow in the centre of the picture. The new coastline was the gravel on the left side of this shot which has been progressively broadened by the deposition of more shingle along this mobile coast. The story of these landscape changes has been preserved because shingle is too heavy to blow about. The water under this area of willow carr is now very fresh.

 Grey willow, Dungeness

The present abundance of willow has not always been the case. Read the rest of this entry »

16th December 2007, Sunday

Periwinkle in flower – a correction

On 7 Dec. I posted a note about Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) in flower in a rough field at Playden. These plants have now been re-identified as a garden variety of periwinkle, possibly V. difformis which regularly flowers in late autumn and early winter. The flowers look just like V. minor but are slightly larger, 40 mm across. They are frost-hardy and there are still about 20 in bloom with more in bud.

16th December 2007, Sunday

News from RSPB Dungeness

Highlight of the day was a party of 21 pink footed geese that flew South through the reserve early morning. The juvenile shag was still present on Burrowes pit, often on the shingle island in front of the visitor centre, and nine smew and four goosanders were still favouring the willows in front of Scott hide. A ringtail hen harrier was seen over towards ARC, whilst the bright conditions encouraged a male marsh harrier to indulge in a short spell of display flight over the car park. A water rail put in a surprise appearance for visitors, running along the shingle bank below the visitor centre windows!

16th December 2007, Sunday

White Nuns

… White Mergansers, Weasel Coots, Mergus albellus – are all names for the Smew, the white winter duck that feeds on fish. It is a "sawbill" related to the mergansers. The young males and the females are grey, with reddish heads and white cheeks and so referred to collectively as "Redheads". Today there were 2 adult males and 4 redheads visible from the hide at Castle Water.

smew