Archive for February, 2008

29th February 2008, Friday

News from RSPB Dungeness

On the 22nd a first winter glaucous gull once again appeared on Burrowes pit late in the afternoon. A bittern was seen at Hooker’s pits on 23rd and two tundra bean geese were on Denge Marsh the following day. A barn owl could be seen hunting in the Hooker’s pits area on most evenings and on still days bearded tits put on a good display below the viewing ramp. The Slavonian grebe remained on New Excavations and smew and goosander could still be seen daily from the Visitor Centre.

29th February 2008, Friday

Beach Reserve

A Short-eared Owl was an unexpected highlight at Ternery Pool early this morning, its appearance though was not appreciated by the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls which had gathered by 6.15, Mediterranean Gulls (pictured) were also present and gave fine views in the morning light. Flat Beach Quarry attracted 145 Dunlin, 24 Redshank and 114 Golden Plover.

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28th February 2008, Thursday

Ancient shingle vegetation on Dungeness

Old stable shingle on Dungeness that has supported broom scrub Cytisus scoparius for many years, has a deep acidic humus, with a pH of around 4-5 and it is probably the acidity that kills off the broom.  Once the broom has gone it is replaced by a remarkable community of plants, often dominated by lichens that caste the shingle a grey colour. As well as abundant lichens and mosses there are a mix of low growing plants such as wood sage Teucrium scorodonia, one of the hosts, along with broom, of dodder Cuscuta epithymum. I remember learning about this parasitic plant when I did  O-level biology but did not see it until I came to Dungeness. In the photo below it can be seen in the foreground of the picture with its trailing pink stems and flowers wrapped around the pale flowers of wood sage.

Lichen heath with dodder

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28th February 2008, Thursday

Movies!

Thank you, Andy, for the excellent video clip. This is setting new standards for rxwildlife!  Let’s hope the ponies and the habitat both thrive. Another good reason for a visit to Warren Glen.

28th February 2008, Thursday

Exmoor Ponies at Warren Glen

Twenty-three Exmoor ponies have been brought over from Firle, near Lewes, to munch down on grassland at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve.

Exmoor ponies, an endangered breed, are famous for being hardy and tough and will benefit the nature reserve by controlling coarse grasses and gorse and help towards restoring the maritime heath within Warren Glen.

Councillor Peter Finch, lead member for community well being, said: “We’re very pleased indeed that we are able to cater for these beautiful ponies for the coming weeks. I hope they enjoy their stay in the nature reserve, I’m sure the food will just be as good as in Firle and certainly more plentiful.

“They will be a real draw to visitors to the reserve, which is always worth a visit at any time of the year.”

28th February 2008, Thursday

Beach Reserve

Highlights this morning included, 65 Golden Plover on Flat Beach, 112 Grey Plover and 220 Dunlin along the shore. Good numbers of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls were present at Ternery Pool.  Two Common Seals were hauled out on the sand at the River Mouth.

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27th February 2008, Wednesday

Dungeness Bird Observatory

The Patch proved the place to be this morning with good numbers of gulls including both juvenile/first-winter Iceland and Glaucous Gulls along with a second-winter Mediterranean Gull. Click for images. There were also signs of a small arrival of migrants on the land with a Rock Pipit, the first Black Redstart since November 2007 and a party of five Stonechats on the Point. There was also a Cetti’s Warbler and two Chiffchaffs at the Long Pits.

David Walker from DBO website

27th February 2008, Wednesday

Spoonbill at Rye Harbour

A Spoonbill (below) was present on the new pits adjacent to Lime Kiln Cottage late afternoon. The bird flew in from the east at about 4.30pm and was still present at dusk among increasing numbers of Curlew and Lapwing (apologies for the poor quality of the image).
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26th February 2008, Tuesday

Sideshow Bob!

On 2nd December I noted how rabbits manage to graze gorse to tight hummocks. Eventually the hummocks grow beyond rabbit height at which point the uppermost branches can shoot upwards rapidly. At this stage they remind me of a certain villainous homicidal maniac on the Simpsons! If your not a viewer check this link

Sideshow Bob look-alike

25th February 2008, Monday

Newenden bridge

Normally if I want to see waterfowl I head for the Romney Marshes, but the floods reported in the field between Newenden Bridge and the steam railway line click here to see photograph have been getting steadily more attractive to waterfowl. Last week there was a flock of more than 300 lapwing (and I suspect at times there have been more) with about 10 golden plover and today, whilst waiting for my car MoT there were about 250 duck on the water, comprising 70 shoveler, 30 wigeon and 150 teal. The only thing missing were the marsh harrier and peregrine worrying the birds that I expect to see on visits to wetlands nearer the coast these days.