Archive for the 'Then and now' Category

27th October 2010, Wednesday

Saltmarsh re-creation

The land south of Rye Harbour village only built up since the Martello Tower (at the car park) was constructed on a shingle spit 200 years ago. As the next shingle ridge developed along the current shoreline the sheltered intertidal area became a large and remote area of saltmarsh. During the last 60 years it has changed dramatically as the land was claimed for agriculture during the post war years, first grazing and then intensive arable. Now the saltmarsh is being re-created as part of the Environment Agency’s see defence works – click here for more detail.
These aerial photos show some of the changes that are being reversed – loss of saltmarsh creeks and shingle features in the fields.
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21st March 2010, Sunday

Brede High Woods

During a Woodland Trust Landscape Archaeological walk yesterday: Chiffchaff, 4 Buzzards, c2000 Woodpigeons + Stock Doves, 2 Hawfinches. See more on RXbirdwalks.

3rd December 2009, Thursday

Detached moorlog

The recent storms have boken off slabs of moorlog,which now lie scattered along Pett beach. They originate from about 5000 years ago when the sea level was lower and forest extended into what is now Rye Bay. The returning salt water killed then pickled the forest, fallen onto its bed of blue clay, blanketing it with silt.
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3rd December 2009, Thursday

Hornbeam hedges

All through the countryside of the RX hinterland are strange forms like the one above, where a once carefully tended hedgerow has been abandoned to its true destination of treehood.
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3rd December 2009, Thursday

Wednesday (the dry day) in the Weald

07.50: Taking advantage of a long-awaited break in the rain, leave home early to do a tetrad survey out near Battle.
08.10: Wife phones to ask whether I might have taken her car keys………….
08.40: Hastings gridlocked with School Run traffic, take circuitous route to Battle…
08.55: Battle gridlocked…
09.15: Arrive Robin’s house, Mountfield.
09.20: Bag containing “wellies” actually contains “waterproof trousers”…
09.25: Robin kindly lends me his size 10 boots & I clump off like a pantomime giant…

You can predict what’s going to be there from the photo. Marshy wood to the left: Marsh Tit, Treecreeper. Alders along the river: Goldfinch, Siskin, Redpoll. House: House Sparrow, mixed tits, Pied Wagtail, Rough field: Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Everywhere: Crow, Magpie, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Wren.
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9th July 2009, Thursday

Then and now 10

Fixed point photography can be very useful to highlight slow changes in habitat that might not be noticed. July is the time that we repeat our series and this location on the Beach Reserve shows an old wooden vehicle track that we are slowly restoring back to shingle vegetation. But look either side and see how the False Oat Grass is taking over the bare shingle…



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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 »

27th December 2008, Saturday

Then and now 8

One part of the Dungeness shingle beach that has shown considerable natural change over the years is the south coast.  This map shows Wickmaryholm Pit, on the south coast of Lydd Ranges in 1878.  The is a natural shingle wetland and originally consisted of two areas of open water, divided by a tongue of shingle.  This pit was once much further inland and fresher, as witnessed by the remains of the freshwater aquatic plants such as spiked water milfoil Myriophyllum spicatum in its peaty sediments. To the east was the smaller Abnor Pit and to the west  was Tarts Cottage.

These were a fantastic series of Ordnance Survey maps covering the whole of the UK in amazing detail. It never fails to amaze me how they managed to be so accurate without the use of aerial photographs.

After this map was made Read the rest of this entry »

22nd December 2008, Monday

Then and now 7

The Holmstone holly wood, located on Lydd Ranges is a unique shingle habitat that has received unwanted attention from people over the centuries. The trees were chopped down around 1801 by the preventative men to discourage smuggling.  This 1946 aerial photo shows the lines of holly bushes orientated along the strips of fine shingle, though with an extensive and very damaging network of vehicle tracks all over the beach (1).  The lichen heath, on which the hollies would have germinated, was reduced to a few small fragments ( see 2). The lichen heath shows up as a paler patch of vegetation compared to the very dark holly bushes.

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19th December 2008, Friday

Then and now 6

This 1946 aerial photo shows the Oppen pits on Dungeness as a series of unshaded wetlands within a vast area of dry shingle, with fascinating ridge patterns showing the evolution of this bit of the beach.  How I would have loved to have visited them in this period, when they really must have felt isolated.  Since then they have suffered the triple whammy of grazing abandonment, lowered water tables, and damaging peat fires.

And in 2008: Read the rest of this entry »