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Dungeness today

In a valiant effort to include some Kent news on this forum, we had a great morning at Dungeness RSPB today, with lovely views of a Black-throated Diver, a Slavonian Grebe, a Bittern (on the ARC) and the long-staying drake Smew. We missed a Kingfisher on the ARC earlier, and couldn't spot the juvenile Glaucous Gull that's been turning up on Burrowes, or the regular Long-eared Owl which has become rather elusive lately.


More Cormorants from the Clifftop

Some time ago I described spectacular early morning movements [W] of Cormorants past Fairlight Cliffs, this happened again this morning, in a brief respite from the endless gales we are experiencing. At least 500 birds came past by 0715, they are pretty fast and I just managed one shot of a last group of 50 odd. It seems likely these are birds dispersing from Dungeness , where exceptional numbers can be seen on Burrowes Pit.


Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Highlights yesterday on the Friends Castle Water Walk included at least seven great white egret, two male marsh harrier, 12 ruff, a goosander and small numbers of fieldfare. Two bullfinch near the viewpoint were also a good spot by a couple of patient members of the group! Earlier in the day the only sighting of note was a covey of nine grey partridge on Harbour Farm.

Image: Cliff Dean


From the Clifftop

Yesterday morning, another gale abated and rain cleared to allow a look at the sea. Mostly auks this time, 70 west;  a lone Razorbill and several Guillemots identified. Divers seem to have decreased-just 3 Red Throats this time. Otherwise 15 Gannets, 4 Kittiwakes W, 4 Scoters E, and , a nice addition to the house list in the burly shape of a juv. type Glaucous Gull which headed towards the cliffs from far out at sea and was lost to view below them. One was reported near Rye the previous day, when I saw the faithful juv at Dungeness, no knowing if this bird was one of those. This picture is not the Clifftop bird - I didn't get such a good view as this !


Tales from the trap

One really interesting thing about trapping year after year on the new saltmarsh is seeing how the species change. When I first started trapping what is now the saltmarsh was just a muddy, bare field with little vegetatation and over the next few years the main component of the catch, as you might expect, were largely predatory species of open ground. As the vegetation has returned over the years, however, I am starting to see more plant-associated species and one such species is the weevil Gronops lunatus (below). This rather weird looking critter feeds on spurreys (Spergularia spp) and related species and has not been recorded on the reserve since 1998! A new one for me as well which is obviously far more important.