Thursday, 10 March 2011

Destruction or Conservation?

It was long walk day today. From the obs we crossed St George’s golf course to the beach then up to the 100 acre field then back via Newdowns.
Not much on the walk north – just a few mippits and skylarks and still no sign of a wheatear. Along the beach we did find several pairs of displaying ringed plover and, most unexpectedly 2 snipe in the sand dunes – migrants? Up by the 100 acre field we saw a merlin which promptly landed on the beach. Why do they always seem to land near rubbish or is it just the Pegwell bird that has a rubbish fettish?
What was disappointing during the walk north was to see just how much of the sea buckthorn has been removed – KWT have cut back just about everything south of Princes new club house and a few clumps north of it for good measure. I could understand it if the buckthorn was taken out or thinned to prevent loss of the sand dunes/dune grass habitat but none of the plants have actually been removed – only cut back low to the ground– it looks more like heavy handed gardening than habitat restoration. Wityh money short you'd think they have better things to spend it on than this - preventing dog walkers from entering the restrictred areas would be a good start.
The walk inland towards Newdowns revealed more snipe, a pair of grey partridge, a few more mippit and  skylark with curlew and woodpigeon being the main species seen. On the raptor front what I assume to be the same merlin put in another appearance chasing a small bird of some description, 2 buzzards were seen heading inland and a peregrine was floating about going nowhere in particular.
Near Princes reservoir we spotted a siskin (the first record this year at the bay for Ian and myself) and outside of migration not a common bird in the area and the goldeneye was still in residence on the reservoir itself along with tufties and 3 little grebes.
Goldeneye - honest
Newdowns reservoir had 2 pochard, more tufties and the gt crested grebe.
The undoubted highlight of the walk however was as we were almost back at the obs. Phil Milton phoned to say the 2 cranes were over Pegwell. These had been reported ~ 2 hrs earlier at Shuart and were obviously making an aerial tour of East Kent.  A quick scan north soon located the cranes which at first seemed to be heading our way but they soon turned away and drifted off NW – another year tick. Some photos of the bird appear on the Reculver site of KOS.

In the afternoon I went to Langdon Cliffs to try and photograph a peregrine or a raven. I saw neither, though the kittiwakes are showing well at South Foreland with ~ 35 potential nest sites being occupied on the bits of cliff face I could see and another 40-50 kittiwakes wheeling about and/or going in to bits of the cliff face that are invisible.
Kittiwakes at South Foreland

Whilst waiting for the peregrine etc I amused myself taking photographs of fulmars but to be honest there are a lot more of these at Kingsdown.



  2. There seems no rhyme or reason to some of the so called habitat work steve - i'll go for destruction on your post title !