Sunday, 27 September 2009


More blue skies and dawn-to-dusk sunshine - it's all getting very dry. The most likely visitor to the scrapes is a sandhill crane.
For a bit a relief from the dust I strolled around the Fowlmead slag-heap, which may not seem the best place to go to find water but it's surrounded by dykes which give some respite.
Up on the heap itself, however, it's as dry as a bone, and since my last visit numerous bike paths have been cut through the scrub, and I'm pleased to say that the place was busy with people having fun.
Sea buckthorn has spread, despite being quite far from the sea, but its orange berries are a welcome bit of colour.
I knew it was too early and too dry, but I did hope for some fungi.....all I saw were birch polypores - white ones are this year's growth, while darker ones are left over from last year. The odour is 'pleasant' apparently, but I've not found any reference to being edible - merely being used as a razor strop because it is so tough.
It may be dry now, but this land is below sea level and at risk if the tide, wind and moon combine in the right (wrong) way. The sea defences that were improved in the 1970s have done their job so far, and will hopefully continue to do so. Otherwise the areas of dark blue on the map will be a lovely new wetland for birds.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Better pics than mine

This last few weeks have seen a good set of birds passing through East Kent, like the glossy ibis seen again yesterday at Stodmarsh, but as usual I've missed most of them (just don't try hard enough!). Fortunately, the intrepid Kingsdown Sherpa has been out and about, and is getting quite handy with the camera, as his Flickr site shows.

Dotterel on the beach at Sandwich

Ruff at Restharrow Scrape

Red-backed shrike at Dungeness

Somehow Steve has the charm to get close to the birds, or maybe it's something to do with the size of his lens - this spotted flycatcher is impressed.

Spotted redshank at Backsand Scrape

Curlew Sandpiper at Backsand Scrape

Kingfisher at Grove

And then of course there was the famous tufted puffin, which flew in, swam about a bit and swam out again, at Oare.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

So that's why

The beach was cleaned by 20 people, concentrating on a survey area of 100m of beach at high tide, then continuing up and down the coast (and around the trippers enjoying one of the last days of summer).
Each bit of rubbish collected in the survey area was recorded in detail, and I'll try to get the results from the Marine Conservation Society. While there were plenty of large items like tyres and trainers, the sheer number of small bits of plastic and lengths of fishing line was horrifying.
Oi, you missed a bit.
This is the piece of beach where the rubbish was in the previous blog - nice and clean now, until the next high time brings more. So that's why we did it - a little community service makes a great difference in your local area.
Amongst the detritus were mermaid's purses, the egg cases of rays, skates and dogfish.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Why bother? (2)

It all just depresses me.....climate change, pollution, species extinctions, population explosion, drought, famine, disease....whether you consider them on a world scale or in their terrifying detail, the sheer scale of the horror is numbing.
The particular problem on Kingsdown beach is the litter which sounds a bit 'Sunday Express' but in fact illustrates the plight of our resident fulmars that feed on scraps floating on the sea; those scraps increasingly consist of bits of plastic, which are found in appalling quantities in their digestive systems.
The north-easterly wind has swept large quantities of rubbish onto the beach, and the plastic can be clearly seen, mainly as bottles which quickly break up into small digestible pieces.

This Saturday (19th September) there will be another beach clean by locals in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society and Seafrance (details here).

When the world's problems are too great, start small and start local. Hey, that's not bad!

First year lesser black-backed gull

Seventh year great black-backed gull (my contribution to Dylan's gull post today)
Meanwhile, a bemused wood pigeon reckons it's spring. With robins, chiffchaffs and other birds starting to sing again at this time of year, you can understand its confusion.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Why bother ?

Every cloud, they say, has a silver lining. So an ill-advised trip up to Oare Marshes in search of a (the?) glossy ibis was not all in vain, when I noticed that a restharrow plant on the causeway had spines. Not at all interesting to most, but I've got into the habit of checking out restharrows for prickliness, in the hope of finding the rather less common spiny restharrow.

So there we are....a life tick. Not quite as impressive as a glossy ibis, but that's my history of twitching for you. I never have time to spend the required amount of time, so invariably leave disappointed, while the sought-after bird lurks somewhere nearby. Even more irritating, when the bloody thing appears after I've gone 'showing well'.
Was it. Really. Great.

There were plenty of birds around, including three ruff...
...and I was pleased to meet Bo, the Fat Birder, at last. Especially when he pointed out a merlin 'showing well' in a nearby bush.

On the way back to DIY-land, I detoured to watch the harvesting of the hops, now in full swing. No stilts these days, of course. I'd like to think that the hops are taken a couple of miles down the road to the Shepherd Neame brewery.
And most of the oast houses (which were used for drying the hops) have now been converted into des res housing.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Nettle-leaved Bellflower

There's not a lot of floral interest in the hedgerows at this time of the year, but a few plants of nettle-leaved bellflower caught my eye in an unassuming lane on the way to work.

This is more seasonal fare.....hazel nuts (they are all Kent Cobs to me, but I understand that that's a name of a cultivar)...
....and bittersweet.
A caterpillar (marbled white?) has taken a fancy to my tyre, but Pete got a rather more spectacular beast - a privet hawk moth caterpillar.
House martins are now the only inhabitants of the cliffs (apart from resident doves and jackdaws).
The garden was buzzing with warblers today, in a mixed flock with chaffinches, blue tits and long-tails.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Dylan comes out

A warm welcome to Dylan to the blogging world - as co-founder of the Planet Thanet website in the days before blogs he has plenty of experience and an attitude to go with it ("makes the Leicester Llama look like an RSPB newsletter" - Daily Telegraph).

Now he has his own blog The Dumpton Non-conformist he will be free to air his own opinions without the restraining hand of Gadget.

And he starts off with a photo of a fan-tailed warbler and a dubious claim of having seen one earlier this year but not reporting it. Satrt as you mean to go on, mate!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Back to buzzards, devil's bit and blues

OK, I'm sorry, this will be the last time I write about devil's bit scabious, but just look........

As predicted, the thousands of flower-heads are opening to give drifts of lilac-blue across Lydden Downs.
There were few butterflies to enjoy the blooms, just an occasional white, meadow brown, painted lady, small copper, small heath and adonis blue.
I assume that this faded butterfly, shacked up for the evening with a ladybird in her nest, is an adonis brown.
Above the down, two of the three buzzards were seen, constantly harrassed by crows.