Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sanderlings, DBO Report & Park Wood

Lade - mild, grey, misty, dripping wet - A couple of grim old days of weather with low cloud and fog soaking the landscape typical of a maritime island. Birdwise there was little change on the local patch, or across the peninsula for that matter, judging from the lack of tweets over the weekend.
However, a full circuit this morning did turn up the first 2 Stonechats of the year, a redhead Smew on north lake, an increase in Teal numbers to 550 and a Woodcock inadvertently flushed from the sand dunes at Greatstone. On the walk back the tide was racing in so we settled down opposite the Tavern to watch one of my favourite waders edge closer and closer until the sea lapped our feet. 
  Sanderlings are full of energy, like small clockwork toys scurrying along the tideline picking up marine morsels, and then in an instant roosting in tight flocks. Being of high Arctic origin and rarely encountering humans (lucky old them) Sanderlings often appear fearless and confiding; even with a small brown dog eyeing their every move (he never moved a muscle even when they were 5 yards away). I could watch them all day, and listen to their liquid contact call; infact an hour soon past and it was only that my rear end was getting damp (onset piles and all...) that we moved on.

                               Sanderlings, and a Dunlin, Greatstone Beach

                                Woodcock flusher
Dungeness Bird Observatory 2014 Report
I`m aware the info is all on line at the click of a mouse, but being old school I still prefer a summary of the year in the printed format, as produced in fine style by DBO. As always there`s lots to saviour here for Dungeness aficionados in this latest report which not only covers birds, but also the full gambit of fauna from mammals to moths and even a new hoverfly for Kent in between. A centre piece selection of photographs comprises some stunning images through the year, none more so than the extraordinary pic of a Swallow x House Martin hybrid. There is also an obituary to the late Mary Waller by Jim Flegg.
  However, the bulk of the report concerns birds with the systematic list summarising sightings, numbers and trends in the traditional manner, some of which are depressingly familiar such as the paucity of many of our summer migrants; there was only one record of an autumn Turtle Dove, can you believe. On the plus side though, egrets, herons and the like are well represented.
  But fear not there was still plenty to celebrate in 2014, including three memorable birding events. In April an unprecedented arrival of Black-winged Stilts on the bird reserve was followed by an incredible tally of 105 Pomarine Skuas on May Day, which being a Bank Holiday was enjoyed by many observers; a flock of 12 gorgeous `spooners`, ponderously passing up-Channel, and within the cardinal buoy, are permanently etched on my memory bank. Having already said how poor the return passage was in general for land birds, one migrant that did buck the downward trend was Ring Ouzel when hundreds were grounded across the trapping area and around the moat, by the weather gods, in mid-October.
  For gull-lovers there is much to glean from this report including masses of data on ringed birds and their origins; while most of us will weep at the all too brief appearances of Ross`s and Audouin`s Gulls...
  So, plenty to read and ruminate over, and if you haven't got a copy, the 2014 Dungeness Bird Observatory Report is available from the Obs (£9.25, inc p&p) or in the Visitor Centre at the RSPB reserve. 

Park Wood, Appledore - This semi-natural deciduous woodland, a remnant of the old Orlestone Forest that once straddled the Low Weald is currently owned and managed by Kent County Council with open access to the general public. Past conservation work has included rotational coppicing, to the benefit of Nightingales, Garden Warbler and a host of woodland flowers and their associated insects. It is a particularly good wood for a wide range of resident birds as diverse as Tawny Owl and Treecreeper.
  However, KCC are considering selling Park Wood which may have implications for access. Currently it is an important amenity & leisure open space serving Appledore, Woodchurch and the surrounding area, as well as visitors to the villages.
Time is short to lodge any objection. Written objections must be made BEFORE 1st February to
Councillor Mike Hill, Kent County Council, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1XX,
Or M. Hill, Millican, Woodchurch Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30 7AD
Or email: There is also a petition in Appledore Stores, please sign it.
Local Press have been informed and they are visiting the woods at noon on Monday 25th January for a photo shoot of anyone who is protesting. If at all possible please attend. A crowd will have more impact. Most of us will have enjoyed these marvellous woods at sometime, whether birding, dog walking or just admiring the bluebells and anemones. Please don’t let this important local resource be lost.
Thanks to Bernard Boothroyd for flagging this up.

                                Park Wood, Appledore in full spring pomp

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