Lade - cold, sunny, w 5 - A bumpy old night as gale force winds rattled up the Channel, but nowhere near as strong and wet as forecast. At this low point of the winter it is always good to be reminded of warmer times ahead and those glimmers of coming spring. Foxglove and mullein rosettes are sprouting on the shingle ridges, while one day last week a bumble bee broke cover in a sheltered spot by the ponds. Yesterday a `tumbling` pair of Ravens at Dengemarsh suggested that their breeding cycle was well underway and this morning in the half-light of dawn I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Blackbird singing from the garden fir trees. Even though it only sang a half-hearted lament for ten minutes or so it was real treat; spring is just around the corner.
Dungeness RSPB - A guided walk for a U3A group from Lewes this morning, around the circular trail, produced all the expected wintering species including a Black-throated Diver on Dengemarsh and a pair of Smew on Christmas Dell pool. The group also had particularly good views of several Marsh Harriers, Goldeneyes and Great White Egrets, plus Buzzard, two Egyptian Geese, Green Woodpecker and Fieldfare. A Dartford Warbler was also noted in gorse scrub at Dengemarsh, while a flock of 20 Curlews showed well on the Boulderwall fields. Once again the roosting Long-eared Owl proved elusive behind the Dipping Pool.