Archive for February, 2011

14th February 2011, Monday

Beach Reserve

Signs of early spring during sunny periods on the Beach Reserve several Mediterranean Gulls joined a gang of Black-headed Gulls at Ternery Pool, displaying waders have included Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Oystercarcher and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) was encouraged out of hibernation by the warmer weather. 


13th February 2011, Sunday

Between the showers

Not much going on, with alot of the numbers of wildfowl already moved on, there is still 200/300 Wigeon on the pools and the fields east of the pools. Most of the sightings were on the sea, with a good supply or movement mainly in a westerly direction, of Gannets, R.T.Divers, Razorbills, with some Guillemots in with them. Common Scoters were in much better numbers then they have been for most of the winter, with at least 100/150 moving about the bay, and 10/12 Velvet Scoters could be seen on the sea just out from the pools. The G.C.Grebe numbers also have dropped right off, to where it was hard to find any at all, with the rough sea. The best sighting for me any way was 3 Med Gulls (all adults birds, but all having different amounts of black on the head), they were seen with hundreds of BL.H.Gull,Commom Gull roosting on, or at the sides of the pools. Good bird watching Pete.

11th February 2011, Friday

Rye Harbour

Highlights over the past few days have included 270 Brent Geese and 90 Red-throated Diver heading east offshore, a Slavonian Grebe spent at least a day on the Quarry, a Merlin also showed well there perched along the nearby fence. Flat Beach Flood attracted 1000 Lapwing and 80 Golden Plover which of course attracted a Peregrine. At Castle Water three Bittern gave flight views at dawn today, a Barn Owl took advantage of a brief lull in the damp weather too hunt near the hide and four Cetti’s Warbler were also calling from various places around the main pit.



10th February 2011, Thursday


Another mild wet night and common toads Bufo bufo are on the move here in Northiam, with six corpses found this evening on Dixter Lane.


This is typical of the fate of many migrating amphibians on our busy roads at this time of year, but it is not the only problem this species faces.  Read the rest of this entry »

10th February 2011, Thursday

Are Marsh Tree Sparrows being affected by rising costs of domestic Fuels and the current economic downturn?

I continue to monitor bird populations of the Romney Marsh and pay specific attention to a number of species that still have viable breeding populations on the Romney Marsh where in other areas some of these species are noticably decreasing. Tree Sparrows  have always been a feature of the Romney Marsh with pockets of breeding  birds using the lines of willow hedgerow  and established willow trees as breeding habitat but in recent years continued flailing of the these hedges has resulted in some of them becoming fragemented or even disappearing. The practice of flailing has recently become more aggressive giving little or no chance for the hedge to recover, however most recently, I have observed a new activity and that is the removal of  both large  and small limbs from established willow trees for free wood burning fuel.

Driving  through the network of lanes on the Romney Marsh there are numerous piles of sawdust along the roadside this I believe is a result  of individuals gathering free wood burning materials either for personal use or to sell on. The rate at which the practice seems to have gathered momentum could have serious implications for the sustainability of the Romney Marsh Tree Sparrow population.

8th February 2011, Tuesday

New Year newts

I recorded my first two great crested newts of the year on Walland Marsh last night.  It is the first time I have checked the site this winter so I don’t know when they arrived in the water, but friends who regularly monitor their own garden ponds, in Brighton and near Alton reported the first specimens turning up in their ponds last weekend, which in the case of the Brighton pond is the latest first arrival for this species in 20 years of regular monitoring.

 Meanwhile in Northiam I recorded my first common frog of the year last Saturday, again a relatively late first sighting

8th February 2011, Tuesday

RSPB Dungeness sightings

Single red-necked, Slavonian and black-necked grebes were seen on Denge Marsh on Sunday. Unfortunately the Slavonian seems to have disappeared but the other two were showing well in the sunshine today. Five Bewick’s swans, 17 white-fronted geese and eight smew were on the ARC pit this morning. There were sightings of bittern at the ARC site and Scott hide and two firecrests were in Christmas Dell. Also of note today were two pairs of ravens.

8th February 2011, Tuesday

Rye Harbour Sightings

Highlights over the last few days have included up to two Marsh Harrier, three Water Rail, three Ruff, a pair of Pintail and a Merlin at Castle Water, 300 Lapwing, 60 Golden Plover and a pair of Grey Partridge on Harbour Farm, and a Bittern at Narrow Pit.
Water Rail

8th February 2011, Tuesday

Red mason bee nest maintenance

I have a couple of red mason bee nest tubes in my garden and they have been very successful in attracting these insects, but unfortunately the cardboard tubes need replacing every year or two.  This winter I have improvised and used stems from a Himalayan honeysuckle.  This invasive non-native species which colonised our garden from a neighbours is attractive to bumblebees (for pollen) and birds (which eat the fruit) and so has been left to grow.  The stems however were coppiced this winter, and were found to be hollow with partitions at each node.  I have cut them into sections with a node at one end, and used them to replace the worn out cardboard tubes.  The result is a mixture of different sized cavities, which should attract a wider range of bee species.


4th February 2011, Friday

RSPB Dungeness

Bewick’s swans, goldeneyes and smew are all still present in decent numbers. Two goosanders were seen on the ARC pit on 29th January. A black-necked grebe has been on Denge Marsh all week and a Slavonian grebe on New Excavations. There have been two or three bittern sightings daily. A woodcock and a firecrest were seen in Christmas Dell on 1st and another firecrest at the ARC site on 3rd.