Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A clifftop walk, moth variations, and the Diary of a Church Mouse

A week ago Sunday lunch was unexpectedly put back until the evening, so Nancy and I took the opportunity for a walk to Oldstairs and back along the cliffs - it was a lovely walk even though we failed to find the Wasp Spider which Dave Kirkaldy kindly told us about on Kingsdown Leas when we met him by the golf club. I'll let the photos speak for themselves

There was much to enjoy and lots to see; and a very relaxing walk it was. The tea went down very well when we got home, and before we set to and got the dinner under way

Autumn is well and truly here as evidenced by these two moth species typical of this time of year, first a Feathered Ranunculus - don't ask, I have no idea how some of these creatures came by their names, but this one would be invisible on a lichen-covered stone or tree trunk. Not unusually there is wide colour variation with this species and more so with the next

Lunar Underwing, another seemingly daft name, but the hind wing (or underwing) has a characteristic blob on it which is said to resemble the crescent moon - even more colour variation with this moth as you can see

And now to St Peter's, West Cliff for the Harvest Festival last Saturday, beautifully decorated for the occasion. These photos hardly do credit to the skill of the ladies involved, and to the stunningly simple beauty of the Church and the floral displays there. Betjemen's poem is one of my favourites and came to mind at once when we arrived

Regrettably we'd only been there some ten minutes when I got a second-hand message from Lifeline calling us to Capel urgently to Nancy's brother who was in difficulty. Next day he fell again and we all spent 4 happy and fascinating hours in A & E at the William Harvey Hospital. Happily all is now well

Friday, 9 September 2011

Dungeness Double Dip

Today provided are rare and precious opportunity to spend time birding at Dungeness, a place I first visited some 52 years ago - sea fishing with my Uncle Graham. In those days the "new" access road had just been finished and work was starting on the "A" station. The cooling water intake was a huge tower offshore which looked as if it were made of Meccano, and had a pair of Carrion Crow nesting on it - no sign of the large number of Cormorants around today. Now all there is to see is this buoy, given a sense of scale by the ILB paying a visit

And here's a passing Cormorant

Today's first dip was Barry's glasses lost out by the fishing boats - I couldn't find them for him, but an angler packing up there showed me the dozen or so Channel Whiting he'd caught and planned to eat grilled with cheese on top - dunno if that appeals to me, better give it a try later this autumn I suppose. While we were chatting a super super Arctic Skua was chasing the Sandwich Terns fishing there out of the SW wind, too far off to photograph I'm afraid

I did find the Cattle Egret, though, at a distance and feeding in the grass, a lovely bird and very nice to see. My pics only marginally worse than Phil Smith's, I think(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cm4CH0sjwQk/TmZSnrrDA2I/AAAAAAAACKA/57NVWr-7mlI/s1600/DSC_8913.JPG)


This juvenile Oik not much better, notice the brown back, not a black back

Someone came rushing into the Hanson Hide at the west end of ARC asking if the Pectoral Sandpiper was there. Well, I'd given everything in view a  good bashing, including the 200 or so Golden Plover, and a second going over after a Hobby had dashed over and re-arranged them all in a panic, and I was sure there were no "peeps" there. I remembered a small group of Dunlin up the other end of the pit, and thought it might be with them, so off I went, to find this Common Sandpiper, so that was the second dip

Oh well, it was a good afternoon, 51 species,  topped off by a super Ice-cream from Chris' wonderful Ice-cream parlour in Dymchurch, called Twice as Nice, by the mini roundabout at the West end of town, Try it, superb!!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Oliver Crumble

This blog about a mixed day today starts with yesterday, in typical Wellsy fashion, when this Painted Lady appeared in the garden late in the afternoon. It is the first we've seen this year, although I am aware others been seen back in the spring round about. Anyway, from the look of the state of it's wings it's had a hard life so far and may well have travelled a long way to us, for it was very intent on feeding at the Verbena bodensae beside our patio

After a damp night including a few flashes of lightning and heavy rain, I found very few birds until I got to the South Foreland Valley where John Clements' nets were out, and catching tens of Blackcaps. Also ringed and released was this Lesser Whitethroat, lovely little bird

and this noisy female Great Spotted Woodpecker, which was eventually ringed after drawing blood from John's thumb 

Then it was home to a late breakfast and a delve into the moth trap, finding fewer moths than recently, but this first for the year, a Feathered Gothic. That blob beneath it turned out to be a very worn Spectacle - so much so that it's flying officer Biggles "goggles" markings on its head were all but indistinguishable. Another moth that declined to stay and be photographed 

After lunch we took Matt to Shepherds Well station in the rain to see Oliver Crumble come by heading a steam train to and from Faversham. Nancy came too and took this photo of me looking a complete pratt just to amuse you!

Oliver Cromwell is a BR built standard class 8 engine named after historical characters. We were discussing an earlier visit by this engine a while ago, again over lunch which had just included a superb apple crumble. Young Matthew heard the conversation and became muddled by Cromwell, and Crumble - understandably I guess. Anyway he piped up and asked could he and Grandad go to see Oliver Crumble - so thats what its been called ever since.  
 Here it is being dragged back up to Favvers by a Class 47 diesel after visiting Dover

Later Nancy and I had a very pleasant walk at Samphire Ho and watched the train go by on its way back to London