Archive for the 'Walland Marsh' Category

3rd February 2012, Friday

Bewick’s Swans

A flock of 52 including 5 immatures at Midley this afternoon.

25th February 2011, Friday

Medicinal leeches and drought

Returning to a familiar theme, the impact of drought on a series of grazing marsh ditches at East Guldeford, my latest post brings me to the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis.  Drought would seem an obvious killer for this animal, however the leech is a resiliant beast.  Last summer I netted the ditches that had dried out in 2009 and found the leech to be distributed in good numbers through most of them, even an extremely isolated and ephemeral ditch that dries out in most years.

Whilst I guess the Read the rest of this entry »

27th December 2010, Monday

Camber sparrows

Following Brian’s posting, I’ve seen more House Sparrows in Camber than anywhere else around here. I first noticed how common they were while atlassing two winters ago, but on 7 Dec. this year I did my first “timed tetrad visit” (TTV) there and clocked up 95 in the two hours. That’s only the ones I counted (or guesstimated, in the case of several dense noisy groups in roadside bushes). In no way was that a full census of the village – the numbers there must run into the hundreds. They’re also resident at Moneypenny and even much further out on the levels at remote spots like Barn Farm. No wonder Tree Sparrows have had such a hard time competing. In contrast, I found just 10 sparrows in a more recent TTV around Ore and Clive Vale in urban Hastings.

27th November 2010, Saturday

Amphibians and dry ditches

Continuing the theme of the results of the 2009 drought on ditch flora and fauna at East Guldeford I surveyed the ditches for amphibians in March.  By far the most abundant species was the marsh frog Pelophylax ridibundus which was present in all the ditches in good numbers.  This is far and away the most aquatic of the Marsh amphibians and will have evaded the worst effects of the drought, and the little egrets and grey herons, by hiding in damp crevices and hollows in the bottom of the ditches.  Although not of any conservation significance (because it is an introduced species) it does act as as a prey species for the medicinal leech that abound in these ditches.

Great crested newt egg on water-speedwell leaf

I would not say that newts abounded in the ditches.  There were Read the rest of this entry »

18th October 2010, Monday

2009 drought one year on

Last year we had a pretty severe drought that resulted in most of the ditches at East Guldeford drying out, an apparent disaster.  Whilst this is known to be bad news for species such as water vole, and fish, does this hold for other wetland species?

This was virtually the last patch of water on this part of the Marsh last year.


This same section of grazing marsh was dramatically different Read the rest of this entry »

25th December 2009, Friday

Numbers of Bewick’s swan building up

From John Kirk

I spent some hours yesterday watching the local Bewick’s flock on the Marsh. Their numbers have risen to 72, from the 56 reported last weekend. 7 juveniles appeared to be in small broods of 2 x 2 and 3 singles.  With them were 6 bean geese.”

1st November 2009, Sunday

Autumnal crowfoot flowers

Another observation along the edge of the White Kemp Sewer yesterday were several patches of thread-leaved water crowfoot Ranunculus trichophyllus in flower.  These were seedlings that had recently germinated on exposed damp mud, grown rapidly during the recent warm weather, and managed to avoid the need to undergo an aquatic phase over winter before flowering.

This plant is distinguished from brackish water crowfoot Ranunculus baudottii as it possesses only the finely divided aquatic leaves, and relatively small flowers.  Both species are common on Walland Marsh.

It looks like they are going to have to adapt to an aquatic lifestyle soon, as the recent run of warm dry weather is breaking.

31st October 2009, Saturday

Marsh arrowgrass

Today, whilst walking along the edge of the White Kemp Sewer  (one of the main Walland Marsh water courses)  I came across a piece of ground that was scraped out in the early 1990’s to provide shallow water for waterfowl.  This area is now well vegetated and I was pleased to find numerous spikes of marsh arrowgrass Triglochin palustre. Of course by now the plant had flowered and was in seed, and it is at this time of year that it’s name makes a little more sense.

When the seed is ripe the fruits remain attached to the end of the stem and open out to form the shape of an arrowhead, unlike Read the rest of this entry »

27th September 2009, Sunday

Fine-leaved water-dropwort

One of the more characteristic plants of the grazing marsh ditches at East Guldeford is fine-leaved water-dropwort Oenanthe aquatica, a species that in early spring has divided leaves that look very much like an aquatic plant, but as the summer progresses it emerges above water level with a characteristic swollen stem that has fine ridges running down it, with cross joints where the leaf stems emerge. The flowers are packed into white umbels.


Right now flowering is mostly over and Read the rest of this entry »

27th September 2009, Sunday

Mystery photo

This weekend I revisited the dry grazing marsh at Rye that I walked over last week, and as I passed a rare puddle of water in one of the ditches my attention was drawn to a commotion on the surface of the water. Large numbers of bubbles were rising to the surface, agitated by something moving under the very turbid water. Read the rest of this entry »