Sunday, 5 July 2009

Langdon - What a hole

Just north of Dover harbour, Langdon Cliffs rise up as a challenge to the nearby French coast (Look at this if you disagree) .
A large dip between two of the higher cliffs is known as Langdon Hole, and is the site of some of the few remaining kittiwake colonies hereabouts.
The usual photographable nests were empty, confirming our fears of continuing decline. Just a couple of roosting adults were seen.
But further along, the unforgettable cry was heard, and sure enough there were some chicks - only a very few, but the colony is hanging on. I counted 15 occupied nests and there may have been more unseen, but it is a horribly small number considering the 1,121 counted in 2002.
The area has a smuggling history of course, and this shaft cut into the chalk may have been used to haul contraband like liquor and baccy from the hidden beach far below. Or it may just be a bit of industrial archeology.
Two peregrine falcons were seen above the docks, and the quiet interlude for butterflies seems to be over, with plenty seen across the downs.
Small (or Essex?) skippers

Small copper

Chalkhill blue

This photo of white dead-nettle is for Mrs K, whose contribution to the schooldays nettle debate was a memory of seeking out the fairy-shoes in the flowers. Gerard says that 'the distilled water of them is used to make the heart merry, to make good colour of the face, and to refresh the vitall spirits'.

And finally........just off Dover, the Sandettie light vessel guides shipping and records the weather.
On Friday at 7am, a windspeed of 107mph was reported. Quick, put up a turbine!


JRandSue said...

Great looking Butterflies,nice sellection.

Greenie said...

Steve ,
Risking life and limb again I see . Obviously a trustworthy soul on the ankles .
Difficult to say on your Skippers , the one on the left a probable Small , and a possible Essex on the right , altough I haven't heard of any seen yet .
Just out of interest , did you look under the top lip of that White Dead Nettle flower ?

Steve Gale said...

Steve, the black underside of the antennae tip suggests that the skippers are Essex. Loved the Tango advert...

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks John!

Greenie, back in my preferred habitat! And I assume I should have looked under the dead-nettle lip for a reason?

Steve - hilarious advert, only improved by the appearance of some of the family in the rent-a-crowd.

Mary said...

It always amazes me that you can get those photos without falling off the cliff. A shame if the birds have declined that greatly. What a terrible place to have to find nesting spots. Great shots of them! Love the butterfly shots and that beautiful flower!