Friday, 4 July 2014

Barn Owls, Beardies & much more besides

Lydd - Yesterday evening was one those memorable occasions that happen from time to time when stuff just clicks for no apparent reason. After the Archers me and Barney nipped down the allotment in Mrs PT`s Go-Kart (aka a Mini, what an uncomfortable ride, Cooper). It was a stunning evening with little wind and after giving the plot a serious soaking, and gossiping with fellow gardeners, all was right with the world. Before heading home I was distracted by the local House Martins feeding young in mud nests under eaves on the adjacent housing estate, such gorgeous little birds and what a privilege it must be to have them nesting on your house.
Anyhow, I digress, at Cockles Bridge I pulled over to check for Little Owl, but once again got side- tracked, this time by a pair of Oystercatchers that were fussing over their three well-grown young. They were doing a pretty good job of seeing off a Carrion Crow but one of the chicks had gotten detached from the group and was plucked from the ground shrieking like a banshee. A sharp blow from one of the adults and the chick was soon back in the grass, but that old crow was not going to desist, so I decided on some direct action, being`s I`ve got a soft spot for Oycs and all, and started hurling stones and shouting at the crow. With me old bowling arm clicking away every time a stone was launched the crow was soon on the move away over towards Dengemarsh - job done! As for the Oycs, the male sat atop the tin shed piping away while the female fussed over her brood, just hoped they made it through the night.
However, further down the Dungeness Road yet again I was distracted, this time by a Barn Owl quartering Kenny`s field. We parked up in ARC and wandered over the road at Boulderwall and up to the five bar gate for a scan, where two Barn Owls were now hunting like giant moths near Gun Club lagoon. A flock of Sand Martins fizzed over heading south (my first of the `autumn`) and a couple of hundred Lapwing drifted past. In fading light a party of Bearded Tits moved through an adjacent reed bed. I casually `pished` away for a while whereupon an adult male emerged from the stems and sat out on the edge staring me out, affording brilliant views of what must be one of our most stunning passerines.
Eventually we arrived home just in time to switch the moth trap on, as I pondered what tomorrow would bring...

                        Bearded Tit, Boulderwall - one of my favourite marsh birds

Lade - 0500hrs  - warm, dry and sunny, sw 2, hot by mid-morning - With no punters in last night, but busy over the coming fortnight, we were up and about early. The garden mv was loaded with moths, mostly common stuff for down here, including another Sussex Emerald, and whilst emptying the trap a Yellow Wagtail called overhead, the first of the autumn migration.

                                "Bring on tomorrows wind and rain!"

                                Monkeyflower, Lade

We walked the local patch until 0900hrs, after which it was too much for Barney, so we retreated to Plovers for breakfast in the shade; although if the weather forecast is anything to go by this could be the last day hot day for a bit. Young birds were everywhere this morning, particularly around the willow swamp where the sheltered lake has now been covered by weed attracting scores of grebelings, ducklings and cootlets, damsel and dragonflies and croaking Marsh Frogs. Walking the track beside the ponds (c200yds) I counted 180 Marbled Whites! There is still a decent display of plants along the main track for any botanists venturing down this weekend and a nice patch of Monkeyflower was in bloom just below the aerial mound.
That`s me done for the day, until an afternoon swim at high tide, followed by France v Germany.


  1. I know, but even after nine years I still really appreciate every day living down here, especially after 30 years in land-locked Bedfordshire...