Sunday 20 January 2019

From Scilly to Dungeness

Lade - cold, sunny, NE 2 - There was no change to the wildfowl on the local patch this weekend with six Goldeneyes the highlight on south lake for the WeBS count. Marsh Harrier and Buzzard continue to be omnipresent and yesterday I checked the reed bed at dusk just in case any harriers went to roost, but none did.
Today a mid-morning visit to the ponds in bright sunshine attracted a decent crop of passerines to feed on emerging insects roused by the warmth; chiefly a flock of Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits with a supporting cast of two Cetti`s Warblers, a Firecrest and surprisingly a Dartford Warbler in a bramble thicket by the main track. Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker also noted around the ponds.
  Back at Plovers we got in training for next weekends RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch where the House Sparrow count around the feeders hit 32. That was about the only highpoint though as few other species were noted: Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Starling and Chaffinch being about it.
  Last autumn I planted out some bulbs that our Kate had brought back from her trip to the Isles of Scilly. The first bloom emerged today; a splash of yellow narcissi in a shingle garden on the Dungeness cuspate, all the way from Churchtown Farm, St Martins`s on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, my favourite island of all the British Isles and a reminder of our first holiday there with the kids in 1982.
  It was in May and we stayed in an old farm cottage by the church just before the island had mains electricity; so, once the diesel generator packed up at about 6pm it was onto Tilley lamps for light. The kids loved having their bedtime story read to the backdrop of the hissing lamp light. One evening we walked up to the Daymark, a high point at the north-east corner of the island, and had Storm Petrels fluttering around our heads as they returned to nest sites amongst the boulder scree. The next day we found a Hoopoe probing the turf in front of the tiny school house. Happy days indeed.

                                      Scent from the Isles of Scilly

Walland Marsh - More counting this afternoon in the company of CP at our usual harrier roost site out on the Marsh. En-route we paused at Cockles Bridge to view the two Whooper Swans seen earlier, but without success. At Horse`s Bones farm 34 distant Bewick`s Swans could still be seen from the lane. At the harrier roost site 10 Marsh Harriers were in the general area, but only two came in to roost. Also noted: four Buzzards, Peregrine, Kestrel, three Ravens, 10 Snipe, six Great White Egrets and on the drive home two Barn Owls at Midley.

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