Greatstone - cold, overcast, ne 3 - I`ve got a soft spot for Curlews; I mean what`s not to like about our largest, longest billed wader with the evocative voice. So, when they abandoned their traditional high tide roost site at Lade recently (probably due to increasing disturbance) I just had to go in search of the `lost 500`. Actually, to be honest I`d had a tip off that they were using the paddocks behind Dunes Road at Greatstone, and sure enough there they were this morning, all 520 of them, some asleep and others probing the pasture for invertebrates. This private site is just the job for a Curlew flock while their feeding grounds are temporarily under the sea, being a short flight from the bay, out of bounds to Joe public and with good all round visibility to spot an incoming predator. Also present were 23 Barwits and 10 Oystercatchers.
Whilst down at Greatstone we checked the wood at the end of Dunes Road where a Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and 10 Fieldfares were of note. The fields out back were virtually birdless (due mainly to a party of pigeon shooters) apart from a lone Kestrel, several Reed Buntings and Goldfinches and a mixed flock of Black-headed and Common Gulls on a sheep fold.
A quick look at Lade pits revealed eight Goldeneyes amongst numerous wildfowl, but no sign of the wintering Slavonian Grebe.
It was with great sadness that we learned this week of the death of Bernard Skinner the eminent lepidopterist. A passionate moth man, Bernard had a long list of publications to his name, including his seminal work, Moths of the British Isles. He also developed a collapsible, and therefore highly portable, rectangular moth trap affectionately known as the `Skinner trap`.
Bernard was a regular autumnal visitor to Dungeness and often stayed with us at Plovers, particularly when the wind was in the south and there was a goodly chance of migrant moths to be trapped. He loved nothing more than doing the rounds of Dungeness trap sites and having a natter and a cuppa with the likes of Barry Banson, Dorothy Beck, Sean Clancy, David Walker and Keith Redshaw. It goes without saying that he was highly knowledgeable on all matters moth related.
I found him an easy going character who was full of anecdotes and stories about fellow moth`ers and the pursuit of moths across the British Isles over many years. It was a delight to clear the traps with him when he stayed here, and being old-school he would refer to the moths` names in Latin!
Bernard Skinner will be sorely missed, but what a terrific legacy he left behind for future generations of moth enthusiasts to benefit from and enjoy.