Archive for August, 2011

29th August 2011, Monday

RSPB Dungeness sightings

After a brief appearance at Denge Marsh on Saturday the rather elusive cattle egret is now showing well in the field beyond the lake to the right of the entrance track just past Boulderwall Farm.

A good variety of waders around the site over the weekend included up to 300 golden plovers, 80 knot, three ruff, several common sandpipers and a little stint. Three black terns were seen at the ARC site on Sunday. Passerines around the site included several yellow wagtails and wheatears, a redstart and lesser whitethroat on the return trail and three spotted flycatchers – two in Christmas Dell and one at Hooker’s pits.

29th August 2011, Monday

Castle Water

Waders at Castle Water this morning included 2 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, 6 Green Sandpiper, a Little Stint and 5 Common Sandpiper. At least 9 Wheatear and 3 Whinchat were present perched along the fence line near the hide and at the northern end of the main pit. A Spotted Flycatcher gave great but brief views in the scrubby area near the viewpoint. Groups of Bearded Tits were also showing well with a group of at least 10 flitting around the reedy margins also at the northern end of the main pit, with additional birds showing at the viewpoint.

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Wheatear perched along the fence near the hide.

28th August 2011, Sunday

Bird sightings along foot of Fairlight Cliffs

27/08/11 am: Little Egret flying east along shore. Fulmar on cliffs. Flock of 190-200 Oystercatchers on beach at Fairlight Cove.

26th August 2011, Friday

Castle Water

Wader highlights from Castle Water over the past two mornings have been 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Greenshank, 11 Green Sandpiper (including a group of 8 dispersing from the main pit), 10 Little Ringed Plover, 18 Snipe, 12 Ruff, 3 Common Sandpier and 500 Lapwing. Other stars of the show included 300 Sand Martin, 100 Swallow,Grey Wagtail, Hobby, 5 Wheatear and 60 Yellow Wagatil that had roosted in the reeds at the viewpoint. The recent unsettled weather and overnight rain has also stocked up the scrubby areas and willows with a good selection of warblers, I am sure you all know which ones by now so I wil not name them all. 

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Snipe

23rd August 2011, Tuesday

Beach Reserve

A couple of days spent fencing the boundary at Lime Kiln Cottage produced some good birding highlights, today a Temminck’s Stint passed overhead and landed briefly on the small pool nearest to Lime Kiln Cottage and a party of 7 Green Sandpipers gave flight views along the river. Yesterday overhead birds highlights were 2 Tree Pipit, 70 Linnet, 50 Meadow Pipit and a Hobby. Waders feeding along the shore at low water have included 72 Ringed Plover, 24 Knot, 200 Oystercatcher, 18 Turnstone and 175 Curlew. Yellow Wagtail numbers along Shore Ridges at dawn are still reasonable with at least 100+ Present on most days.

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Temmink’s Stint 

21st August 2011, Sunday

Another bane!

A number of plants have the suffix bane at the end of their name.  I wrote about henbane last week, this week it is another unrelated species, fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica. In the past I was used to seeing this species on ditch banks bordering arable fields.  It is a species that does not thrive with regular grazing, and currently it is abundant in some of the fields on the RSPB reserve that have been left ungrazed over the past 10 summers to favour bumblebees.

Craggs Small Field, with abundant fleabane

The fields look pretty with this bright yellow flower.  A few years back however, Read the rest of this entry »

21st August 2011, Sunday

Dungeness RSPB bumblebees

Last week saw the completion of the 10th annual round of monitoring of bumblebee numbers on timed walks, a long data set that started when we were experimenting with raising numbers of Biodiversity Action Plan bumblebees.  This may be the end of this monitoring for reasons I reveal in a later post.

 As ever the data need interpreting with care, but they do seem to show that 2011 was a lousy summer for bumblebees at Dungeness.

Trends in bumblebee numbers over 10 years

This does not mean there is anything wrong with the management on the RSPB reserve however, rather I think the climate was to blame.  Many of the Read the rest of this entry »

18th August 2011, Thursday

Henbane

Last summer I was shown a strange looking plant in fruit at Moneypenny that I had not seen before and could not identify.  The fruits were distinctive, lined in pairs along the stem, pointing to the sky with a pair of roughly hairy leaves hanging below them.   

Henbane fruits

Returning to the same location this week I found Read the rest of this entry »

18th August 2011, Thursday

Green monster

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The march of Crassula helmsii or Australian Swampweed or New Zealand Pigmyweed goes on across the RX area and freshwater wetland wildlife is suffering. At Castle Water the thick, soft cushion of greenery is extending across the bare mud and over the plants colonising the created wetland there. One obvious casualty is the Lesser Water Plantain at its only county site! It is even giving off a strange oily smell, so it is definately evil. Lets hope the authorities sort out the biological control because it is marching across Pett Level, Walland Marsh and Dungeness…
Read the rest of this entry »

18th August 2011, Thursday

Blue Fleabane

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At Rye Harbour along the Nook Drain just east of the caravan site there is a good display of Knapweed, but in amongst it Colin Page found a good number of Blue Fleabane flowers.