Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Romney Salts

 Romney Salts - warm, dry and sunny, N4 - I decided to walk the Salts this morning with Ted and count every farmland bird I saw or heard along the four mile route. It came as no surprise that the eventual list was poor in both numbers of birds and diversity. However, to put things into perspective we didnt set off until late (9am, finishing at 11.30) and there was a fair old breeze, so both the time of day and weather should be factored into the paltry tally. The flat lands here are dominated by fields of intensively farmed cereals (mostly winter wheat and a bit of spring barley without any headlands) along with one field of oil-seed rape and one of potatoes by the Dengemarsh Sewer. Other associated farmland habitats include: two dung heaps, strips of rough grassland and scrub along an old railway line and a speedway track, patches of reed-fringed drainage ditches and an overgrown garden. I`ll spare you the gory details from the 30 species and 118 birds recorded, but the highlights were; 12 Linnets, eight Skylarks, three Corn Buntings, two Yellowhammers, two Reed Buntings, one singing Reed Warbler, two Yellow Wagtails overhead and a Kestrel. There was no sign of any Tree Sparrows in what was one of their traditional haunts; the grubbing out of virtually all tree and scrub cover along the ditches in recent winters by landowners and the Environment Agency has most likely `assisted` their decline/extinction locally. On a brighter note a Common Sandpiper was an unexpected find `bobbing` along the margins of one of the drainage channels on the new industrial site beside Church Lane. 

Red Kites - Yesterday afternoon whilst driving through Ivychurch an adult Red Kite in heavy wing moult flew over the lane heading inland; Chris P also reported a couple around the same time from St Mary-in-the-Marsh, while two more were seen over Dungeness today with many more having been reported across the south-east recently. A bird that only a decade ago was something of a rarity down here now appears to be almost commonplace.  

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