Saturday 7 July 2018

Anticlockwise Kent 7th July 2018

A circular tour of Kent was undertaken today to find some escape from the oppressive heat and to, if possible, avoid any contact with the England World Cup match against Sweden as I tend to be a bit of a jinx on these things.

I headed south west towards Tonbridge but my route was thwarted in all directions at the A21 by traffic and so a cross country extravaganza ensued taking in various farm shops, antique emporiums and a very fine church in the shape of St George’s in Beneden. The church warden was a most friendly chap and the light trough the stain glass was magical although I was particularly taken with the Millennium Tapestry depicting the old houses and buildings of the village but also a panel with a Sparrowhawk, singing Nightingale and roosting Nightjar!

The graveyard was a wildlife haven with neat areas around the immediate church but with completely unkempt meadow of grasses and Knapweed the further you moved away. Butterflies danced and Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnets zipped around between the blooms.  There were Nuthatch, Stock Doves and Coal Tits in the trees and a Southern hawker hunting between the lichen covered stones. 

After lunch it was on towards Tenterden passing the windmill at Rolveden before diverting down through Appledore to RSPB Dungeness where a bonus Bittern was seen flying into one of the pools closest to the main road just before we turned off!

A poke around the visitors centre and car park gave some great photo opportunities (mostly missed) of Beewolves (Philanthus triangulum) returning with their Honey Bee prey sharing the sandy ground with the nest burrows of Anthophora bimaculata. I was lucky enough to spot the cleptoparasitic Coelioxys rufescens sneaking into one of their burrows.

Beewolf (Philanthus triangulum)

Anthophora bimaculata

Anthophora bimaculata

Anthophora bimaculata

Coelioxys rufescens and thanks to Tim Strudwick for helping with the ids

Mottled Grasshopper

The Common Terns were making good use of the islands and a Common Sandpiper tottered around on an island behind the only Common Gull that I saw. 

Common Gull

Rosebay Willowherb
Vipers Bugloss

Northwards now to Oare Marshes where rather unsurprisingly there were only a couple of cars (it was mid-way through the first half) and a good little session there on the rising tide produced the desired results with the family of four Sheppey-bred Black-winged Stilts putting on a good show. Mum was having some down time by herself but Dad was still giving every other wader and larger gull a rough time of it.

And a distant Mum have a break...

Hundreds of chestnut Black-tailed Godwits were coming in and a single sum plum Spot Red was amongst them while two dapper male Ruff and a single juvenile Little Ringed Plover were also seen.  An eclipse male Garganey and a female type bird were seen loafing around the islands and were my first UK ones this year.

I checked the river for the Bonaparte’s Gull but only found a Whimbrel but thankfully relocated it on the main flash island upon my return. This is the first time I have seen it in summer plumage before with his smoky charcoal black head, white eye lids and black bill.

Bonaparte’s Gull

England winning their game with no adverse input from me what so ever was a fitting way to round up a pleasant day in the country...

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