Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Worth the Walk?

A visit to Dover Harbour this morning was a bit disappointing, yes the Great Northern Diver was still around and looking healthy, but after last nights storm I had hoped to find more birds using the shelter the harbour provides. All the large gulls that I looked at were either one of the Black-backs or Herring Gulls and there was nothing with the Black-heads and Kittiwakes to get excited about. There were still a few Guillemots around and at least 24 Great Crested Grebes.

Herring Gull - adult

Back to St Margaret's Bay, and the Gull situation was the same. A couple of the Herring Gulls were posing so I obliged. Out on the sea there were a few Red-throated Divers, not too far out, and some signs of a small movement of Guillemots into the more sheltered waters.

Herring Gull - 2nd winter

A usual at this time of year the number of Fulmars is building up and they often sit in small rafts a few hundred yards off shore.

This afternoon I decided on a walk out to Roaring Gutter on the Worth Marshes, partly in the hope of seeing and possibly photographing the Great White Egret that's been around there, and partly because it is such a great area. Although it isn't really very remote, it does still have a little of the feeling of remoteness that grazing marshes should have. There really wasn't much roaring going on. I don't know if that's a reflection of the low rainfall this autumn, or because water is being abstracted somewhere else.

The area was very quiet. The only birds I saw on the water by the pumping station were a few Coots and Dabchicks and two Mallards.

I did get a good view of a female or juvenile Marsh Harrier as it hunted across the fields, but unfortunately it didn't hang around for very long.

There were few small birds around, but there was a sizable flock of Fieldfares out feeding in the Hawthorns looking towards the railway and the sea.

There was no sign of the Great White Egret, in fact the only Heron I saw was a Grey Heron that landed a couple of fields away.

It was good to be in a landscape that still has a good number of long hedgerows marking the field boundaries. Here at St Margaret's hedges are almost a thing of the past, with only small remnants remaining.

I did come across this lonely cygnet. Normally at this time of the year Mute Swans are still in tight family units so it was a surprise to find this single bird. A few hundred yards further on I did find two adults with two more cygnets. I wonder if this bird is part of this family, and if it was just temporarily separated from them, or perhaps had been banished for some sort of misbehaviour?

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