Monday, 6 May 2013

Lydd Heronry

Dungeness - 0645hrs - Early fog, - With no breakies to cook this morning I was all prepared for an early seawatch only to be frustrated by the fog. However, it suddenly cleared so we rushed down to the point and in half an hour had a cracking close Pomarine Skua, an Arctic Skua, Fulmar, Kittiwake, 12 Common Scoters, a steady flow of Gannets and Commic Terns plus 15 Little Terns. After which the fog returned and that was that.
Lade - Back home the moth trap contained a single Knot Grass, while 2 Greenshanks flew over in the mist calling.
                                Knot Grass

ARC - At the south end from the causeway road 3 Barwits, 5 Common Terns and a Ringed Plover and another Greenshank over, while news came through of a Purple Heron flushed from Dengemarsh Gully that flew eastwards into the mist (MH, BP).
Lydd Church Tower - 1000hrs
Once a year, on the first Bank Holiday in May, the church tower at All Saints Lydd is open to the public, affording panoramic views across the surrounding countryside to the sea and the Low Weald to the north, although a bank of fog along the coast restricted the seaward view for a while. From this lofty viewpoint it always strikes me how vulnerable the Marsh is with sheets of glistening water encircling Lydd and the ever present threat of flooding from the Channel kept at bay by a ribbon of shifting shingle. Local landmarks inevitably draw the eye: the lighthouses and power stations at Dungeness and Cheyne Court wind farm, while I always try and locate the other 13 medieval churches scattered across the flatlands. The farmland is mostly arable with splashes of yellow oil-seed rape amongst the green corn fields, the bare earth of recently planted potatoes and peas and here and there grazing sheep. The sleepy town of Lydd below gathered around the Rype butts up to the Army ranges where great swathes of bright gorse contrast with the brooding presence of the ancient Holmstone holly forest in the distance.
  However, I digress. My reason for being up the tower is to assist the RSPB and church wardens in showing off unprecedented views of the herons nesting in the holm oak trees below. This year there were 19 occupied Grey Heron nests along with 4 Little Egrets across the heronry, plus hundreds of nesting Rooks, and everyone who climbed the narrow staircase enjoyed stunning views of juv herons in the nest alongside attendant adults. One group also had good views of 2 Little Egrets that briefly landed atop the holm oaks; one of the adult egrets was seen feeding well grown young. Other birds noted were Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Swifts and House Martins.
  All Saints church Lydd was constructed in the 13th century and is an architectural masterpiece. At almost 200 feet it is the longest parish church in Kent and the tallest on the Marsh with the tower, built in the 15th century, rising to 132 feet. Inside, the cavernous roof space with its supporting timbers are a construction engineers delight while a 4th or 5th century Romano/British basilica has been incorporated into the walls. How these medieval artisans built such an impressive structure is a mystery to me, but there it is, still standing proud after all these years, and I`m sure they would have been pleased to learn that even today this magnificent building is known locally as the `Cathedral of the Marsh`, and rightly so.

                                Sunbathing Heron

                                Adult and juv Heron

                                Adult Heron

                                Lydd Heronry, The Grange

                                View to the south

                                Juv (brancher) Heron

                               Adult Little Egret on nest, Lydd

Lade - 1600hrs - Wandered over the pits this afternoon to check the reedbeds for any herons, following this mornings news from the gully, but all was quiet with just the usual breeding birds going about their business.


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