Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Lade Ponds and Red Knots

Lade - cool, cloudy, sw 5 - Following on from the deluge on Sunday the shocking `summer` weather continues with two days of near gale force winds rasping across the peninsula, during which time the moth trap has remained idle. This morning the wind relented a little (although it picked up again during the afternoon) such that you could at least cross the storm ridges without too much of a buffeting. As we ventured over towards the lakes a trickle of Sand Martins were already flying south towards Dungeness, while on the Desert the roosting Curlew flock had hunkered down out of the wind behind a large willow.
Along south lake huge baulks of Canadian pond weed were heaped up on the bank once again attracting two Common Sandpipers and the obligatory Starlings and House Sparrows. More Sand Martins were skimming the lake and a juv Marsh Harrier was making heavy going of it behind the `mirrors`. It was hopeless trying to check the wildfowl, so we headed for the sanctuary of the ponds.

                                             Raspberries and Cream

                                Large White

                                Ribbed Melilot

                                Small White

Lade ponds is my favourite part of the site as it is sheltered from the prevailing winds, being sandwiched between the caravan park and willow swamp; and at this time of year it is a riot of colour and activity. Even though the ponds are beginning to dry out plant growth remains luxuriant with vibrant patches of yellow Ribbed Melilot contrasting with reds of Valerian and tall Hemp Agrimony. Common dragons and damsels were everywhere along with butterflies such as whites, browns, skippers, Painted Lady and at least one Common Blue. We spent a happy hour here just mooching around enjoying the rich diversity of plants and animals on offer before heading back out into the wind tunnel and home for breakfast.

                                Common Blue - its been a poor summer for this butterfly

Burrowes - With the sun arcing over the yard arm it was time for a wader fix; both Burrowes and ARC are best viewed in the afternoon (the later the better) with the light behind you. Hadn`t been down for a week and even more wader-friendly islands had emerged attracting a scattering of distant 10 Dunlins, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Greenshank, two Knots and four Redshanks. However, fortunately the two adult Red Knots flew over and landed on the mud in front of Firth hide affording superb views of these stunning waders in breeding plumage which were just beginning to show signs of wear. Its not often you get such great views of Knots so I made the most of it for a full 10 minutes before they were flushed by a Sparrowhawk. 

                                Red Knots, Burrowes

ARC - Not quite so profitable here with just a juvenile Dunlin and two Little Ringed Plovers amongst 120 Lapwings, plus legions of common wildfowl and hundreds of Sand Martins over the lake.
NB: The first Great White Egret of the season was reported from Dengemarsh this morning, so that's winter on the way then!

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