Lade - mild, windy, sw 6 - In contrast to the sunshine and light airs of yesterday, this morning reverted to yet another battering from gale-force winds off the Atlantic, although here in the south-east we only received a mild uppercut from Gertrude when compared to conditions further north.
Having said all that hauling my six foot frame across the shingle into the tempest, gusting at 30 knots, wasn't a great deal of fun, but there was no such problem for a low profile terrier...
I find it fascinating watching birds` behaviour in extreme weather, so we hunkered down in the shelter of a gorse thicket and scanned across south lake. The majority of Coots continued to feed out in mid-water, despite the wind strength, attracted to the thick rafts of pond weed which is their food supply. Heads down, their lobed feet must have been paddling furiously to keep station as they bobbed up and down on the choppy surface. However, most of the lighter Teal had sought shelter in the lee of the southern bank along with roosting Pochards and Tufted Ducks. Gulls on the other hand seemed totally unphased and carried on their business as normal, while a Great White Egret tucked into the reeds looked set for the duration.
The atmosphere altered somewhat as a Peregrine flew in from the north flushing many of the dabblers off the lake. A small bird, presumably a male, hacked across the sky completely in its element, seemingly riding the air currents for fun, and swooping low over the desert disturbing Woodpigeons and Jackdaws in its wake before disappearing towards the water tower. In contrast a couple of Marsh Harriers received a right old buffeting as they came over the wall `mirror` and quickly dropped into the reedbed to survey the scene - Coot was definitely off-menu today!
Dungeness - On a windswept foreshore this afternoon the wintering Caspian Gull was roosting by the puddles near the concrete road. We walked out past the lifeboat station to the area known locally as the `dustbin` where a new island and bay have formed by wave action from the long-shore drift process. Most impressive it was too and worth a look. A mass of gulls down the beach contained the regular 1st winter Glaucous Gull.