Friday 28 July 2023

Great Crested Grebes

Lade - warm, dry and sunny, SW3 - After a humid night and a bit of early morning drizzle the sun soon broke through bringing forth a host of butterflies around the site, particularly on the buddleia bush in the ponds that was smothered in Red Admirals and Peacocks. Also in the reedbed and scrub two smart Willow Warblers amongst numerous fledged Common Whitethroats, Reed and a few Sedge Warblers. I spent a fair bit of time checking on the Great Crested Grebes with a minimum count of 105 adults across both waters and around the willow swamp. The mature gravel pits at Lade with its lush marginal vegetation, thick water-weed and reedbeds is the perfect breeding habitat for grebes, particularly Great Crested, and this year at least 40 pairs are present. Early clutches never seem to do well here with most being predated or flooded out, but by now with increased cover, they`re onto their second attempt and this morning I noted nine adults with stripy chicks riding piggy-back. This summer being much wetter, windier and cooler than usual has prevented eutrophication of the water resulting in higher levels of small fish, mostly of the carp family. Dabchicks are more difficult to survey as they are much more secretive during the breeding season, however I would estimate there to be at least 20 pairs with many well-fledged juveniles already on the water. Over the years of my tenure all five regular species of grebe have occurred with Black-necked occasionally breeding; I believe Pied-billed was also recorded long ago, so maybe we`re due another... 

                                  Great Crested Grebes with chicks

                                  Reed Warbler by the ponds

                                 Red Admiral


A check of the bay at low tide revealed the expected Sandwich Terns and a few Med Gulls amongst the gulls on the sand bars, plus 30 Sanderlings and the usual hundreds of Curlews and Oystercatchers. Kerton Road quarry attracted nothing of note apart from two Common Sandpipers. The turf fields around New Romney continue to lure down flocks of Mediterranean Gulls to rest a while with a top count of 80 last Wednesday down Hope Lane. Last night was busy in the garden moth trap with 34 species of macros, including four Gold Spots, eight Dark Sword-grass and a Plumed Fan-foot.

                                 Gold Spot

                                 Mediterranean Gulls, NR

                                 Buzzard, NR

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