Cold, wet and windy - A year ago today we took delivery of a bundle of energy and mischief that had just completed a one thousand mile journey across the European continent from Rumania; to be precise, it was actually two bundles, as we also took possession of a cat! To say its been a `challenging` year is something of an understatement, but after much hard work, patience and training both Ted the rescue dog and Polly the cat have been tamed (just about!) and transformed our lives along the way. I`ve been around or owned dogs most of my life but can honestly say that taking on a six month old, feral street dog has been a challenge that is not for the faint hearted!
A sheep dog that has boundless energy such as Ted needs regular exercise and plenty of it, and as a result we`ve spent much time walking out from home and exploring the countryside around New Romney. Further afield he`s been to woodlands on the Weald and North Downs, Scotney, the canal zone, the foreshore between St Mary`s Bay and Dungeness, Dengemarsh and Lade Pits, so we`ve seen a fair old bit of the Marsh this past year, including a few places that I`ve not ventured to before. The majority of our walks have taken place on the farmland tracts around town, which is mostly arable, so winter wheat and barley, oil-seed rape, linseed and turf fields. Drainage sewers and ditches criss-cross the flatlands, many with reed-fringed margins and a few stunted hawthorns or willows here and there. Hedgerows are few with the ones in Hope Lane and the overgrown green lane to Old Romney the best of the bunch. Several heavily-stocked sheep-folds and a couple of horse paddocks complete the rural ensemble.
Needless to say that it was hardly surprising how nature depleted I found the intensively farmed land hereabouts; not once during the many hours in the field did I see a Brown Hare on the dry or a Water Vole in the wet. Tree Sparrows were absent and I`ve still yet to encounter a Little Owl or a Turtle Dove, while many former `common` resident and summer visitors were in pitifully low numbers. However, the highlights have been: Barn Owl, Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper, Common Snipe and Little Grebe along the sewers and ditches; a scattering of breeding Yellow Wagtails, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers amongst the crops and a singing Quail; on passage, several Wheatears and singles of Ring Ouzel and Whinchat; and a flock of 1,200 Mediterranean Gulls loafing on a turf field in the autumn.