Archive for the 'RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve' Category

28th June 2012, Thursday

The creature from the pit

A couple of winters ago a small willow dominated pit had its cover of trees removed and the vegetation is still in transition.  A range of ruderal species grow on what was once shaded bare ground around the pit whilst the open water, lacking in aquatic flowering plants, is dominated by filamentous algae, with unicellular algae colouring the water.


Over time of course the vegetation will settle down and become dominated by the species associated with unshaded wetlands, with seeds lying dormant in the seed bank in the silt at the bottom of the pond providing some of the likely successful species.

The aquatic fauna seems to be on the way to establishing itself too. Peering into the turbid water to see if I could spot one of the medicinal leeches I noticed a few weeks back, subtle movements drew attention to

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28th June 2012, Thursday

Life moves on!

Back in 2008 I wrote about the broom cycle at Dungeness click here.  The last two photos in this post show a broom Cytisus scoparius I got to know well in the 1990s.  It was growing on previously disturbed shingle and was heavily grazed by rabbits, forming a low broom turf.  Then an outbreak of myxomatosis allowed the bush to reach for the skies (the second last photograph in the above post shows this just as time was starting to catch up with this plant and it died).  The final photo shows a number of  seedlings colonising around the remains of the bush, benefitting from the humus it had added to the bare shingle.

Move forward four years and those seedlings have formed several large wood sage Teucrium scorodonia plants.


The wood sage plants are growing with

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2nd June 2012, Saturday

RSPB Dungeness sightings

In addition to our bittern that has been booming from Hooker’s pits since March (who we believe has mated with at least one female) we have had several reports of a bird at the ARC site over the past few days. Is this the bird from Hooker’s pits going for a wander or is it another bird looking for a mate? Please let us know if you see any bittern activity on the ‘other side of the road’.

Visitors have been lucky enough to get some good sightings of garganey this week, with up to three seen from the gate on the bridle track at Denge Marsh. With hobbies and marsh harriers flying overhead and up to 40 common terns in the area Denge Marsh is definitely the place to be at the moment.

2nd June 2012, Saturday

What to do today?

Come down to RSPB Dungeness and join in our Bee Fest activities, that’s what! In the comfort of the Visitor Centre you can make a cosy bee house, have fun at our craft table and visit our bee market where we’re selling a wide range of bee goodies – everything from hand-knitted bees and honey to hand lenses and id guides for the serious bee watcher. Outside you can follow our bee trail and enter our priize draw or even do a spot of pond-dipping! Activities start at 11 am on Saturday and Sunday and continue throughout the week – take a look at the events pages for full details.

28th May 2012, Monday

Back at last

Back in 2008 we started planning the return of the short-haired bumblebee Bombus subterraneus, a species last seen in the UK at Dungeness in 1988 and declared extinct in 2000.  We have searched every year for this insect since the late 1990s and considerable effort has been devoted to restoring legume-rich pasture, first at the RSPB reserve, and then across Romney Marsh.  Initially plans to bring back New Zealand bees, descended from British insects, failed because the insect was difficult to breed in captivity and also very inbred.  However the project was thrown a lifeline by Swedish entomologists who reported the healthiest population of this insect in Europe.  Otherwise it is highly endangered across the continent due to loss of wild flower-rich pastures.

So, today 51 Swedish females were released on the RSPB reserve at Dungeness.Bombus subterraneus 

This was one of the first specimens I

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14th May 2012, Monday

Poor Fen

Not a term of commiseration, or criticism, but the name for one of the scarcest habitats in the RX region.
Poor fen habitat
The poor fen communities in the Cladium Pit at Dungeness RSPB reserve are bursting into life at the moment Read the rest of this entry »

6th May 2012, Sunday

RSPB recent sightings

For the third day running hundreds of swifts, swallows and martins could be seen over all the reserve’s main pits. Sadly there was no sign of a red-rumped swallow that was seen briefly over New Diggings yesterday evening. Common sandpipers, little ringed and grey plovers were on Burrowes pit and black and bar-tailed godwits, whimbrel and greenshank could be found around the site. A drake garganey was on Burrowes pit this morning and two more males and a female were on Denge Marsh. There were at least five hobbies around the site.

23rd April 2012, Monday

RSPB Dungeness sightings

There were a lot of happy visitors around at the weekend as our booming bittern put on quite a performance. He was even seen briefly, as was another bird – presumably a female.

Pairs of garganey were seen both on the ARC pit and on Denge Marsh and the long-tailed duck was also seen at ARC.

There was a good variety of waders around, although not in high numbers. Two little ringed plovers could be seen well from Firth hide, four bar-tailed godwits were seen from the Visitor Centre, three snipe were tucked up in the vegetation on New Excavations and a ruff was on Denge Marsh. The first green sandpiper of the spring flew over Boulderwall Farm early on Saturday morning and eight whimbrel were in the field to the right of the entrance track. Late on Sunday afternoon a little stint was found at the ARC site.

There was some excitement on Sunday afternoon as an osprey flew north over the Water Tower. Sadly it appeared as little more than a dot when viewed from the main car park but this was more than compensated for by the two spoonbills that dropped into Burrowes pit a little while later.

Two little gulls, a few common terns and two pied flycatchers were also of note.

9th April 2012, Monday

RSPB Dungeness sightings

The long-tailed duck and spoonbill were still present on the ARC pit yesterday and a hen harrier flew over. The bittern was heard booming at Hooker’s pits, where willow warbler and corn bunting were seen. A wheatear was near Scott hide and a black redstart at Denge Marsh. Several chiffchaffs and sedge warblers were around the site and eight swallows flew over.

3rd April 2012, Tuesday

RSPB Dungeness sightings

Highlights so far today: spoonbill on the ARC pit, bittern booming at Hooker’s pits, bullfinch at the willow trail, willow warbler at the ARC site and in the main car park bushes, blackcap near the viewing screen and two swallows flying over. Yesterday three garganey (two males and a female) were on the lake near Boulderwall Farm and two little ringed plovers were at the eastern end of the ARC pit where the first whimbrel of the season was also seen.