Archive for November, 2010

30th November 2010, Tuesday

Dawn at Castle Water

Highlights from Castle Water at dawn included 9 Bewick’s Swans out from the hide, these were a real pleasure to watch, 47 Mute Swan departed the main pit after roosting overnight, at least 200 Fieldfare and 80 Redwing were perched amongst hawthorns and willows at the southern end and 31 Little Egret left the roost. Two Marsh Harrier made an early apperance and managed to flush 35+ Snipe. From the viewpoint 400 Wigeon were grazing grass in the nearby fields. Later at the hide there were 3 Bittern and 2 Black-tailed Godwit.

29th November 2010, Monday

Before the snow came

Sunday 28th November 2010, 7.15 am to 11.30 am, It was still dark when I arrived at the pools, and the Grey Phalarope was no where to be seen, I was told later in the morning that it left on Friday?. As the morning went on it produced the first red cap Smew and the first W.F.Geese, with 18 flying around the marsh, for about 10 minutes. Alot of the pools were frozen around the edges with the birds keeping the water free from ice, with Cliff counting 698 Coot and with nearly 800 ducks, made up with Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall and Wigeon with around 500 on the marsh and pools, with a further 300 Wigoen on the sea. There was 50/60 Common Scoter which went east, also on the sea 2 R.T.Diver a few G.C.Grebe.Good bird watching Pete.

27th November 2010, Saturday

Amphibians and dry ditches

Continuing the theme of the results of the 2009 drought on ditch flora and fauna at East Guldeford I surveyed the ditches for amphibians in March.  By far the most abundant species was the marsh frog Pelophylax ridibundus which was present in all the ditches in good numbers.  This is far and away the most aquatic of the Marsh amphibians and will have evaded the worst effects of the drought, and the little egrets and grey herons, by hiding in damp crevices and hollows in the bottom of the ditches.  Although not of any conservation significance (because it is an introduced species) it does act as as a prey species for the medicinal leech that abound in these ditches.

Great crested newt egg on water-speedwell leaf

I would not say that newts abounded in the ditches.  There were Read the rest of this entry »

27th November 2010, Saturday

Castle Water

Highlights this morning included 450 Teal, 145 Shoveler, 125 Gadwall, 280 Wigeon, 400 Mallard, 2 Smew, and 2 Bittern on the main pit, 3 Waxwing gave great but all too brief views in hawthorns at the northern end of the main pit and a Woodcock was flushed from bramble scrub near the veiwpoint.


25th November 2010, Thursday

Public Inquiry

Many residents believe the Lydd Airport “issue” has died because of the lack of press coverage. This is far from the case. A public inquiry will start on February 15th, 2011 and last at least 6 weeks. The Lydd Airport Action Group has a leaflet aimed at non-member residents to encourage them to contribute towards the legal costs of the public inquiry. Click here for Lydd Airport leaflet

See also the RSPB work on this issue by clicking here.

24th November 2010, Wednesday

Aquatic invertebrates and dry ditches

A few weeks back I refered to a land-holding at East Guldeford where almost all of the ditches dried out completely last year. A number of surveys were undertaken this summer to advise on management which also give an indication of how various groups coped with this serious challenge.  So how did the ditch invertebrates cope?

Dried out ditch bed

The answer is Read the rest of this entry »

24th November 2010, Wednesday

If you are interested in plant conservation

I have been reading the New Atlas of the Kent flora by Eric Philp this week.  This book is a repeat of the volume published in 1982 that provided distribution maps for most of the plants found growing in the county.  With recording taking place between 1991 and 2005, it was a gargantuan task for the author.  It shows clearly how many of our wild flowers have declined in the period between the publication of the two volumes, and it also clearly documents the spread of neophytes across the county.

A typical example is marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris, shown here in the Dungeness Open Pits.  This plant is now recorded in 38% fewer tetrads now than it was in 1982.  Many of our wetland plants have suffered a similar fate.

Marsh pennywort in the Dungeness Open Pits

24th November 2010, Wednesday

Rye Harbour

No connection to the internet at Lime Kiln Cottage has resulted in no news from here over the last week, so highlights have been a male Goshawk being mobbed by 15/20 Carrion Crows over Flat Beach and the sea, it looked likely that the crows forced the Goshawk into the sea after a prolonged attack, 400 Golden Plover, 500 LapwingPeregrine and Merlin have aslo been regular aroung the Flat Beach area. At Castle Water Barn Owl, Bittern, 5+ Bearded Tit and 2 Marsh Harrier have shown well from the viewpoint, on the main pit wildfowl has included 150 Teal, 200 Wigeon, 98 Shoveler and 50 Gadwall.

24th November 2010, Wednesday

Pett Pools Phalarope

The Grey Phalarope at Pett Pools has been giving great views and pleased many birders over recent days, this picture was sent to us by Fred Batchelor.


23rd November 2010, Tuesday

A confusion of ants

Scattered around parts of Dungeness and Rye Harbour are little groups of roof tiles.  They are part of a project I have been involved with to survey for a number of scarce ant species found on the shingle.  The thinking behind this is that as the tiles heat up in the sun they become attractive to ants trying to speed the development of their larvae.  The tiny black ants in the photo below are a species called Tetramorium caespitum.  The reason I am surveying for this locally uncommon species, is that it is the host for another the very rare dark guest ant Anergetes atratulus.

Tetramorium caespitum

These ants are tiny, but the other species I am looking for is even smaller and is called Temnothorax interruptus (click on name to see a picture of this species). It has a relative, Read the rest of this entry »