Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tally ho!

Dungeness - 0830hrs - cold, cloudy, e 5 - Started off the day at the seawatch hide where just about nothing was moving on the sea in a biting east wind. What with all the shingle movement going on we gave the Patch a miss, but there didn`t appear to be any birds there anyway.
Lade - Pretty much as yesterday on the water, plus a flyover Bittern and minus any passerines due to the strong wind.

                                Buzzard, Walland Marsh

Walland Marsh - Criss-crossing the Marsh looking for wild swans etc drew a blank, although the large flock of up to 1,000 Fieldfares was still in the Midley area and several Buzzards and Marsh Harriers were noted along the way. And then I had a very odd encounter with a load of foxhunters...
On the lane past Wheelsgate farm, by the railway crossing, a collection of Range Rovers and onlookers with crap optics could only mean one thing - the local hunt was on the Marsh. So, I pulled up and casually walked over to a group of Barbour-clad toffs wearing Tilley hats. Ok, so I look a bit grim at the moment (or rather more so than usual...), dishevelled, unshaven and mop-haired, as I`m getting in character for a fancy dress party this coming weekend (it`s a hippy themed thing...). Anyhow, as I was saying, I ambled over to a group of hunt followers, said a cheery good morning and commented on the foxhounds working their way along the railway embankment, only to be met by stony silence. They obviously had me down as a pinko, lefty, hunt sab type; you could`ve cut the atmosphere with a knife. I felt like an atheist in a mosque, so I sidled off like Gollum and watched proceedings from the car, all the time aware of their gaze and finger pointing.
Now, while I wouldn`t want to take part in fox hunting (and they were hunting, not following a scented trail) I`ve got no axe to grind with them, but was genuinely interested in the working hounds, being a country lad and having done a bit of terrier work in a past life, ferreting, and that kind of thing. Still, I guess they`ve got good reason to be suspicious of someone with a pair of optics that are worth more than the old banger he`s driving...
Anyhow, as I sat watching the pack crashing about in the railway embankment cover the number of birds they disturbed was incredible; mostly Wrens, Dunnocks, Robins, thrushes, a couple of Pheasants, two Snipe and even a Woodcock, rocketed out, plus a dozen rabbits. I didn't hang about to see the inevitable fox ripped to shreds, but drove off glad to see the back of it all, a most uncomfortable experience indeed.

                               East Sussex & Romney Marsh Foxhounds, Walland Marsh

Burrowes - Just the usual wildfowl, Great White Egrets and Black-necked Grebe sheltering from the brisk wind. The White-fronts were reportedly in the feral goose flock on the fields at Boulderwall.
Dungeness - Finished the day walking the shingle around the sea containers looking for Snow Buntings seen earlier, but without success. As the rain swept in off the sea and the light dropped we called it a day and headed home for tea.


  1. The Hunt actually carrying out old fashioned hunting as per pre. Ban, is a regular sight here on Harty Sheppey, as well. Yet in the Press the hunting fraternity will argue black and blue that they aren't allowed to hunt anymore abd that the Ban should be repealed.
    While I haven't got a problem with killing foxes, it's the disturbance caused by that form of hunting that I don't like, here on Harty they push the hounds through several miles of reed beds, all SSSI status. Two men at night with lights on a 4x4 and high powered rifles could kill more foxes, with no disturbance.

  2. Derek, I agree about the level of disturbance and was amazed at how much stuff the dogs were flushing. Apart from incidental road kill, lamping remains the main form of fox control down here on the Marsh.