Saturday, 11 May 2013

Alex Farm pastures (SSSI) ruined by offroaders

Alex Farm pastures close to Orlestone Forest are leased to Natural England. It is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and its unique and rare wildlife should have had the highest law protection.

 Approximately 8 years ago a newly erected wooden gate, to secure the entrance to Alex Farm Pastures, was sawn in half with a chain-saw.

I never entered beyond the gate and had no idea the site was an SSSI. But those in professional nature conservation did, and in their words - "The pastures represent one of the best surviving examples in Kent of unimproved neutral grassland, a nationally rare habitat".

And so the gate hung, swinging in the wind for years, leaving the land beyond vulnerable to off-roading and shooting and it was only a matter of time before it was ruined.

 I'd estimate that 50% of the grassland has been destroyed..

..all it ever needed was a metal gate. Protection against off-roading in Orlestone Forest seems to be a half-hearted concern by the authorities. Signs and metal posts and bollards go up one year, and are down the next.

To the reckless off-roaders who do this damage, I doubt they feel any authority is going to stop them . . . I'm sure they'll be back.

All the site ever need was a metal gate to prevent the trashing of a rare and unique site.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Dungeness, Faggs Wood and Hothfield Common

Common Terns in the fog and close in-shore at Dungeness this morning..
..and Dungeness Old light House nice and sunny this evening
Day started with a 6.00 am visit to Dungeness where thick fog parted just for a few minutes, so then back nearer home in Fags Wood for the first local calling Cuckoo at last. In Faggs wood its good news and bad news for migrant birds so far. There are plenty of Nightingales and Blackcaps in song, but just a thin number of Willow warblers spread over plenty of good habitat. In terms of scarcer migrants such as Redstart, Tree pipit, Wood warbler there's nothing that I can find at the moment.

Back in Shadoxhurst and playing football in the field with son Lewis, we were treated to several aerial displays of Buzzards and Hobbies against a fine blue sky.

After lunch, the Green family, visited Hothfield Common where we all heard and saw a dapper male Lesser Spotted woodpecker. The bird could be heard calling and drumming in the woodland at the west of the common, a reliable place to see this scarce bird this spring.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - white barring on back plus small size, is this the bird my neighbours are seeing and hearing  in Shadoxhurst?
My eldest son George, aged 16 can just about remember when we used to visit Hothfield Common to see Tree Pipits put on their fine spring 'parachute' display. Sadly, they have since disappeared from this site for a number of years. There used to be many Tree Pipits here, and puzzlingly the habitat is better than ever, so its hard to see a reason for the decline in there UK summer haunts. It would never have occurred to me a decade ago that these birds would be in danger and disappear at all.

The Day ended with Fish and Chips at Dungeness watching, Gannets, Terns and Porpoises lit by an amber sunset - a great May day.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Adult Buzzard and sub adult moult.

Back from a glorious sea watch at Dungeness by 9.30 am, I spent the rest of the day with help from Sian replacing a 6x4 m pond liner. Ocassional sky watching into blue skies on what must easily have been the hottest day of the year, brought some new summer migrant appearances including: 2 Hobbies together (so high I couldn't photograph) and our first Swift. Our local Buzzards kept their heads down for most of the day, but these two put-in an appearance mid-afternoon directly over the garden. 

Not an expert on Buzzard ageing, I guess we're looking at a fine and immaculate adult accompanied by a streaky and moulting 2/3 year bird flying below. A shame my pics aren't better, I partly blame the sun which wasn't far away.

Sub adult Buzzard with heavy spring moult to primaries and fork effect on tail. Same bird above and below.

Old liner out and new liner in, just the landscaping and planting to finish tomorrow

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Is this a Tree Pipit?

click image to enlarge more
Thank you to Scotthaughie for questioning this Pipit posted yesterday. It was photographed well away from Tree Pipit haunts - in fact Tree pipits have just about vanished from our Mid- Kent forests. The back claw looks fairly long to me, but the fine streaking does suggest  a Tree Pipit. To complicate further theres been little parties of Meadow Pipits passing through this area all month. Happy to place it as a Tree pipit with a little support..