86 Bewicks Swans on Romney marsh today
The Bewick’s Swan remains with the Mute Swans, and the Bittern continues to boom. Two Hobby’s five Marsh Harriers two Peregrines and two Buzzards were also seen around the general area.
Good numbers of summer migrants still arriving with an obvious arrival of yellow wagtails, and Reed Warblers.
47 Mediterranean Gulls flew over the Marsh, bittern and Marsh Harriers still remain very active and Bewicks Swan remains with the herd of Mute Swans.
Some new arrivals on Walland , with 5 Sedge Warblers, 6 Yellow Wagtails, Black Redstart.
Bittern continues to Boom. There are also 135 Shoveler and a single remaining Bewick’s Swan on the marsh. Raptors remain prevelant with 3 adult male Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, and Buzzard.
The signs of Spring are finally arriving on the Romney Marsh, the water levels around Walland are encouraging this year for wet grassland species and a small number of lapwing and redshank are active in addition the ever elusive breeding bittern was booming on Walland Marsh on the 19-20th March.
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.
26th Jan 2011 at Little Cheyne Court. Optimum water levels maintained across the SSSI which continues to attract large concentrations of waterfowl. 71 Bewicks, 420 White fronts, 73 Barnacle geese, 300+ Greylags, 330 teal, 80+ Shoveler, 50 Pintail, 6000 Lapwing, 600 Golden Plover, 300 Dunlin.
In addition 1 adult male Hen Harrier hunting across SSSI with attendant Merlin
27th December on the Walland Marsh area saw of note 152 Bewick’s Swans , 220 Mute swans, 187 White-fronted Geese, 5000 wigeon, 45 pintail, 3 buzzards. Also , c300 skylarks
Much of the area still frozen over with most of the wildfowl concentrated on the walland reservoir. The bulk of the bewick’s were feeding in rape fields in the area of Newlands with a small number associating with Mute swans around the Marsh in general.
I visited Walland after the excessive snow on Walland Marsh yesterday, with temperatures not rising above freezing all day. The numbers of Bewicks have increased to 105, Mute swans 180, wigeon, 1100, shoveler 37, mallard, 130, teal 200 . The ground conditions remained mostly frozen with open water largely frozen. The continuous days (8)with freezing temperatures did not however preclude the wildfowlers from shooting over the Cheyne Court SSSI with a regular barage of gunshots forcing most of the wildfowl including the swans to be constantly forced to leave the area before returning to feed only to be shot over again. The wildfowlers were shooting throughout the day remaining until dusk leaving little opportunity for wildfowl to feed successfuly. It is unfortunate that the voluntary restraint on wildfowling during prolonged periods of severe weather seems to have been largely ignored in this area.