These past few days must`ve been difficult for anyone suffering from so-called `Seasonally Affective Disorder` with a bare eight hours of `daylight` rarely raising the luminosity above the candela of a constipated glow worm! Personally I`m not too bothered by the winter gloom; just work around it, keep busy and look forward to the increasing daylight. However, I do suffer from what I refer to as `Christmas Affective Disorder`, so a double whammy for many I suspect at this time of year.
Last night we went to a Solstice gathering at Greatstone (nothing sinister, no dancing around the Lade `mirrors`, just a meal and a drink with a few kindred spirits) and it was good to know that I`m not alone. Happy smiling folk just enjoying ourselves and trying to come to terms with the juggernaut that is Christmas, a kind of group therapy for fellow sufferers.
Its the excess that really winds me up, ships bringing in unnecessary crap to flog in pound shops - you know sort of things: inflatable plastic Santas, spray cans of artificial snow, tinsel and baubles, the list is endless, all made in Far Eastern sweatshops with no regard for the environment and shipped to the West in giant, polluting container ships.
And, worst of all there`s the food, mountains of it stuffed in every shop you go in, much of which will be wasted: chocolates, biscuits, millions of battery-reared turkeys, and with half the population over weight, more indulgence we can well do without.
I could go on, but I`m sure you know the drill...
Dungeness - mild, cloudy, light airs - Anyhow, it was much better weather wise today with the sun even poking through the clouds at times. At the point at least one of the Dartford Warblers showed briefly in scrub by the Britannia pub, alongside a couple of Stonechats. A walk down to the pines and Tower pits on the bird reserve delivered plenty of Long-tailed Tits, Blackbirds, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and several Chiffchaffs. ARC was packed out with wildfowl and waders, mostly Lapwings and dabbling ducks, but also three Ruff, a couple of Snipe and two redhead Goosanders. The Bewick`s Swans were still in the field opposite Cockles Bridge.
Lade - It was good to meet James on site this morning, a keen young birder from Sevenoaks, along with his father Stuart, and show them the wintering Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck. His excitement at seeing a first ever Slav Grebe was a joy to behold, the sheer enthusiasm and exuberance of youth, what a marvellous elixir for a hoary old cynic like myself.
There was also a good showing of up to 10 Goldeneyes on the lake, plus 200 roosting Common Gulls. A Peregrine caused panic amongst the gulls and Starlings along the coastal strip and James found a Dartford Warbler in scrub near the tunnel which was still present late afternoon, plus a Stonechat and Goldcrest. A day to remember, I reckon, for a highly able teenage birder.