Thursday, 4 August 2011

In Praise of Thanet

I like the Isle of Thanet - its lovely sandy beaches, the quaint town of Broadstairs, its romantic cabbage fields (scraping the bottom of the barrel already) and its position that is perfect for attracting interesting migrating birds.

Broadstairs hosts an annual folk festival which transforms the town, and I'm eagerly awaiting next week's concert by the brilliant Chumbawamba.

It is also where my dormant interest in birdwatching was reawakened, as when I went to work there I was struck by the large number of noisy parrots flying around. I browsed the (relatively-new) internet and discovered what they are from a specialist web-site called Planet Thanet. The site also gave remarkably detailed and up-to-date information about what else was seen around the island, so I was able to enjoy my lunch-hours watching sanderlings, turnstones and many other species new to me, on the various beaches around the coast.

The contributors to the site, which was a pioneer before blogs and other recent innovations, were invariably amusing, but also talented and knowledgable naturalists and I learnt quickly.... although not so fast that I didn't avoid some identification howlers.

The site has had its ups and downs as the "editors" have matched unfair criticism with some robust defence, but I'm pleased to welcome it back this month, and wish it well for the future.

One of the many benefits of the site is its structure and time span, which tells me, for example, that I may indeed have seen a Whinchat in the cabbage fields yesterday along with half a dozen Wheatears (although it's a bit early), and that I stood a chance of seeing a second flush of the uncommon Ivy Broomrape in August.

When I got to the site it was clear that I shouldn't have worried - among about 600 spikes there were plenty of new ones, showing off their crushed velvet to the world. The species is present in a few sites in west Kent, but it seems to be on its own here.

Talking of Thanet, Dylan of Dumpton (the Dissenting Dingbat) has been searching for bees recently, and he may be interested in this one.... an annoying buzzing led me to a hyper-active bee, which looks similar to his Wanted posters.

This was on Folkestone Warren (so not a Thanet tick).

The poor quality video is included purely to for the buzz.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, gents.

Looks and behaves like Anthophora (prob) bimaculata, though the eyes are a bit dark. Have had it in the garden recently, so timing is right.

Could try Herne Bay for the other one (not Thanet either?)

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks Anon (I have an inking who you might be).... I was a fool to even try to know something about bees....