Archive for July 30th, 2009

30th July 2009, Thursday

Romney Marshes from the air

Yesterday I had the opportunity to fly over the marsh in a light aircraft. From above, the level landscape springs into a jigsaw puzzle of irregular fields divided by wriggling ditches.
It’s not easy to get good quality photos through plastic windows, but some I took show up historic features very clearly.
Two resources are invaluable in interpreting these pictures: Ordnance Survey Explorer 125 and “Romney Marsh – Survival on a Frontier” by Jill Eddison.

In the right foreground is Snargate and beyond it, Brenzett. Between the two the road runs straight and is shadowed by a parallel hedgerow as it traces the course of the Rhee Wall, actually an artificial watercourse excavated in the 11th century to scour silt from the mouth of the Rother – at that time by New Romney. The diagonal straight line to the right is the railway that carries nuclear waste from Dungeness Power Station, seen in the distance. The grid of lanes and ditches to the right are the eastern end of Brookland’s 12th century planned landscape.
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30th July 2009, Thursday

RSPB Dungeness recent sightings

Our long-staying bittern was seen well from Denge Marsh hide on Sunday. A kingfisher and a little gull were also of note at the ARC site this week along with a variety of waders including up to seven dunlin, a single greenshank, two black-tailed godwits, three whimbrels and six common sandpipers. About 3000 starlings gathered near Boulderwall Farm on Sunday night before going to roost. Two ravens flew over on Tuesday.

30th July 2009, Thursday

Another cuckoo

Walking along the sea wall at Pett I caught site of a jet black bumblebee foraging on knapweed. It was either something good, or very good so soon it was inside my butterfly net so I could examine it more closely.  Totally black bumblebees in Britain are likely to be one of two species. The really exciting one is a melanic form of the large garden bumblebee Bombus ruderatus.  This is one of several species that are currently extinct on Romney Marsh, and it is listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.  This bee became so rare in Britain that some bumblebee experts even doubted it existed, believing it to be a form of the very similar small garden bumblebee Bombus hortorum.  It was then discovered in the Ouse Washes, and with the advent of the Entry Level Scheme, where farmers are paid to plant clover plots as a source of pollen and nectar, it is currently on the increase in Britain, and DNA studies have confirmed it to be a genuinely separate species.

 Field Cuckoo Bumblebee

It has not yet found it’s way back to Romney Marsh and Rye Bay, however. B. ruderatus has a very long narrow face, whereas this bee had a short more rounded face, making it the other species that has a melanic form in Britain, the field cuckoo bumblebee Bombus (formerly Psithyrus) campestris. Read the rest of this entry »

30th July 2009, Thursday

Beach Reserve

Highlights this morning 75 Curlew roosting on Flat Beach and Wader Pool, 18 Whimbrel in flight over Shore Ridges, 3 Common Sandpiper and a Hobby at Ternery pool.