For the last couple of days there have been daytime flocks of several thousand Starlings feeding on the saturated grasslands of Camber and Rye Harbour. When troubled by raptors they performed aerial acrobatics, providing a spectacle for birdwatchers who might otherwise overlook this candidate for “Britain’s most attractive bird”.
Archive for March 18th, 2008
Slavonian grebe, goldeneye, yellow-legged gull, chiffchaff, goldcrest and the first wheatears of the year were seen on the 15th. Two bitterns were seen on the 16th at the ARC site and sand martins were also present. On the 17th two Slavonian grebes were seen (one on the ARC pit and one on New Excavations), a bittern flew over Christmas Dell, sand martins were still at the ARC site and at least six wheatears were spotted. The first garganey of the year were spotted on one of the lakes near Boulderwall Farm late on Tuesday morning, a blackcap was seen at the ARC site and two wheatears were in the sheep fields by the access track.
Thursday 20 March
St. Helena, an island odyssey - an illustrated talk by Paul Trodd
Doors open 7pm, talk starts 7.30pm
RSPB members £1.50, non-members £3
Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 March
Binocular and telescope demo
10 am to 5pm
In the central section of the marsh, a lot of ditches have been dredged, some for the first time in decades, the diggers returning them to a sharper geometry emphasized by parallel lines of spoil, bristling with displaced juncus. The open water will let in more light, which will benefit the varied aquatic wildlife, which the marginal vegetation will soon regenerate.
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Pat Bonham is correct that the young newt found on the shingle at Dungeness is a juvenile smooth newt Lissotriton vulgaris. The only other newt found at Dungeness is the great crested newt and the juveniles and adults of this species look very dark on land, with a rougher skin.
The other possibility would be the palmate newt L. helveticus but I have never found it on Dungeness, or Romney Marsh for that matter, although it might occur in ditches on the boundary between the Marsh and the Weald. Our grazing marshes just do not seem to be a suitable habitat for this species. The juveniles of both newt species live on land, and resemble female newts in colour being an pale sandy yellow colour. Adult palmate newts have unspotted throats, where as the throat of a smooth newt is spotty, but this can be difficult to see in young animals. At this stage, though, they can be told apart by a feature that does not show up in Pat’s photo. Juvenile palmate newts have an pale orange coloured stripe down the centre of the back and onto the tail, whereas in the smooth newt this stripe starts just behind the eyes, but peters out before it reaches the forelimbs - this can be seen on the photo above. Read the rest of this entry »