Archive for the 'Dungeness National Nature Reserve' Category

7th October 2010, Thursday

Southern Oak Bush Cricket

Southern Oak Bush Cricket
I was shown a cricket which was potted off a residents window (Dave Bunney) last night at Dungeness Point. He had found a dead Oak Bush Cricket floating in his water butt a month back (first record for Dungeness) and so phoned me as he thought it was a Southern Oak Bush Cricket (Meconema meridionale) after looking on the internet and after I reminded him of this species spreading in the London area. I had a look and identified it to this species and took a fuzzy photo. Keep your eyes peeled for this species – which is a late species – especially with the warm weather this weekend.

18th September 2010, Saturday


Earlier in the summer I reported the discovery of a new population of the stinking hawk’s-beard at Dungeness, and that the species may not have gone extinct in the UK after all in the 1980’s.  The two thousand odd plants were growing on an area of grassland that is scarified each autumn.  They avoid undisturbed shingle on the adjacent Dungeness National Nature Reserve that lies a few metres away.

Today the plot was given it’s annual treatment, as was a piece of ground on the Dungeness NNR for the first time.

Scarifying a plot on the Dungeness NNR

The plot is to be left to see if Read the rest of this entry »

14th September 2010, Tuesday

Shingly sand, or sandy shingle.

There are certain plants you expect to find on a shingle beach.  There are others you expect to find on sand dunes.  But in the Dungeness area there are a limited range of species that seem to favour the edge between these two habitats, to the extent that it is difficult to determine if they are dune or shingle beach species.  One of these is saltwort Salsola kali. 

Saltwort.  Salsola kali.

This is an annual plant that grows on the drift-lines and therefore is one of the very limited range of species that Read the rest of this entry »

7th July 2010, Wednesday

Did the stinking hawk’s-beard become extinct in the UK in 1980?

I had a fascinating e-mail this morning from a resident at Dungeness reporting a number of stinking hawk’s-beards on their lawn.  This plant is reported to have become extinct in the UK in 1980 when the last Dungeness population died out, and has been subject to various reintroduction programmes since the early 1990’s, resulting in limited success at Dungeness, and a burgeoning population at Rye Harbour.  So it was surprising to find a new population of 2000+ plants, with their obvious white seed-heads today.

Stinking hawk’s-beard in seed

What was interesting was that Read the rest of this entry »

23rd June 2009, Tuesday

One more bumblebee related item!

With apologies for those who might feel these posts are being dominated by bumblebees at the moment, last week Pete Akers and I undertook timed monitoring walks on the RSPB reserve last week.  To date we have not monitored the fields in June, but this has commenced this year because short haired bumblebee could be flying now, if the species is re-introduced.

By far the most abundant bumblebee was the red tailed bumblebee Bombus lapidarius (see Sam’s photo below), which was clearly benefitting from the large amounts of bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus on the reserve at that time.  The photo below shows this plant with viper’s bugloss Echium vulgare, on the damp margin of one of the gravel pits at Christmas Dell

Also growing along these gravel pit margins were pyramidal orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis Read the rest of this entry »

13th March 2009, Friday

RSPB Dungeness

Slavonian and black-necked grebes and a few smew are still around. A bittern was seen on most days this week at New Excavations. Two avocets were on the ARC pit yesterday and the firecrests remained on the willow trail. A single female brambling was near Boulderwall Farm on Wednesday and a raven was heard but not seen this morning.

4th January 2009, Sunday

Then and now 9

Some further photo’s showing the extent of change on the Dungeness shingle beach, this time Dungeness Point in 1946. The most obvious change is the extent of superbly vegetated ridges where the power station is now.

There is also the present-day grid of tracks to the east coast which are the “beach feeding roads”. One of the consequences Read the rest of this entry »

17th December 2008, Wednesday

Lade Pits

Now into their second month on site the female Long-tailed Duck and Scaup look set to spend the winter on north pit among the legions of diving duck, while the farmland between the pits and the airport is currently attracting several Marsh Harriers plus a ringtail Hen Harrier.

14th December 2008, Sunday

Then and now: 5

The following post shows the results of not designating land as an SSSI.  This photo shows the Lade, the north eastern part of the Dungeness shingle beach in 1946. This section of the beach is relatively young with a series of beach ridges terminating in the marsh soils to the west of the shingle. The dark line bending round from the top left and cutting south across the shingle is the old railway line, with little development to the west of this feature other than the listening mirrors, which were reached by tracks from the east coast. These structures were a pre-radar attempt to focus the noise of aircraft crossing the channel for its operators, and in those days they have a relatively clear view of the sea with only scattered housing along the coast. the most extensive buildings are the beginnings of the Romney Sands holiday camp.

The shingle shows the characteristic relative absence of vegetation on its northern fringes, a consequence of the gravel consisting of very large stones, more hostile to plant life, and no doubt the origin of the term Greatstone. The ridges are aligned in a north-south direction, with the strips of vegetation aligned also in this direction. The pale lines crossing east-west are footpaths across the shingle.

Flick forward to the current Google Earth aerial Read the rest of this entry »

11th December 2008, Thursday


Walking the Dungeness shingle in December reveals scenes you don’t normally notice at warmer times of the year. Such walks are relatively guilt-free because the lichens are soft and spongy, and don’t fragment when you walk on them. Something else is different about them at this time of year, or rather their illumination. The sun is at such a low angle that even a relatively flat featureless scene such as the Dungeness landscape is shown in its micro-topographic spendour. The peaks and valleys of mats of Cladonia lichens, like a miniature range of hills, are revealed by the shading produced by the almost horizontal rays of sunshine

Other features Read the rest of this entry »