Archive for February, 2011
More signs of spring. Over the past two days I have buff tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris and the early nesting bumblebee B. pratorum foraging on shrubs in our garden in Northiam.
For anyone doubting my commemnts about the hardiness of medicinal leeches I was told this morning of a specimen that escaped from an aquarium and was missing for a “day or so”. It was eventually retrieved in a very dehydrated state, and was described as “crisp”. The unfortunate explorer was placed in water where it eventually revived. Probably a much harsher environment than the damp mud at the base of a ditch!
The noise level increases day by day at Ternery Pool with more and more gulls fighting for mates and territories, but today the sound of the first Sandwich Terns of the year was heard – with 3 birds there.
Returning to a familiar theme, the impact of drought on a series of grazing marsh ditches at East Guldeford, my latest post brings me to the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis. Drought would seem an obvious killer for this animal, however the leech is a resiliant beast. Last summer I netted the ditches that had dried out in 2009 and found the leech to be distributed in good numbers through most of them, even an extremely isolated and ephemeral ditch that dries out in most years.
Whilst I guess the Read the rest of this entry »
As the day length gradually increases so does the gull activity at Ternery Pool, this morning at least 350 Black-headed and 12 Mediterranean Gulls brought the place alive with birds squabbling and calling. Offshore small groups of Brent Geese are still frequent heading east, 14 Eider and 8 Velvet Scoter provided additional interest. At Castle water over the last few days four Marsh Harrier have given fantastic views from the viewpoint, Bearded Tits, Barn Owl and two Bittern have also given flight views.
Highlights from a walk along the low water line at first light, 435 Brent Geese heading east, waders feeding along the shore included 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 36 Grey Plover, 8 Dunlin, 100 Curlew and a Spotted Redshank (probably the one that has frequented Ternery pool for sometime now).
Parked the van near Toot Rock turning, I arrived at 7.15am, and began to walk along the sea wall. The tide was low with sea mist around a mile out, with both Dung and Cliff End covered with mist, which made the birds, fly closer in to shore. There was a cold N.E/E breeze, with over/cast conditions, which made for good light on the seaward side.Brent Geese started moving eastward straight away,with a flock of 50/60 along the tidal edge,with flocks of 1oo or so being the largest, and by the time I left at 12.30pm, (high tide) there had been a grand total of 733,along 13 Barnacle Geese (they spent sometime on the beach, along with 16 Brent,at waters edge) Between these sightings, the most odd sighting was of three geese coming in head on with only the light forewing showing, and at first I thought they were Graylag until they turned side ways on, where they turned out to be 3 Egyptian Geese they also spent sometime on the beach before moving off east. Also moving over the sea 40 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 2 Pintail, 2 Goldeneye, 1 R.B.Merganser, there was again a nice size flock of Velvet Scoters with 16, and a party 6 Eider ( all adult drakes) which moved west early in the morning, and east again later in the morning. Other sightings over the sea 50/60 Gannet,40/50 R.T.Diver(with alot on the sea) 3 Little Gull(adult) west. On the pools and marsh there is still large numbers of wildfowl to see. Gulls are also in good numbers on the marsh, the best of which, 3 Med Gulls adult on the pools. Good bird watching Pete.
Along shore ridges at high water today at least 125 Grey Plover, 22 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 260 Oystercatcher were roosting. Dunlin and Sanderling were conspicuous by there absence. Numbers of these two species feeding along the shore this winter have been low compared to recent years, Sanderling in particular have barely reached double figures, while groups of Dunlin have only appeared on occasions. The harsh weather conditions during December probably account for this as many birds moved further south. As birds start to move north again during the coming weeks it will be interesting to see if waders numbers increase for a short time, as indeed Grey Plover numbers have gone up over the last few days.
Grey Plover along Shore Ridges, (with two Knot trying to get a look in)
A quick count at the pools showed that many duck are still here. Numbers included 403 Coot, 521 Wigeon and 39 Shoveler. The sea was very quiet with only 18 Common Scoter and four Great Crested Grebe present. There was also a single Barnacle Goose with the Greylag flock.