Archive for December 30th, 2007

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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