Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Black Tern

We went over to Shoreham today, to see the juvenile Black Terns, that have been feeding around the harbour for the past few days. We parked up at the Lifeboat station and had great hopes of getting pictures of them sitting on the rails around the station.

As we arrived there were a number of Sandwich Terns feeding over the water but no sign of the target birds. Fortunately after a short wait Dave picked them up approaching from the other side of the harbour.

Black Tern

They are a great bird to see flying. Very different from the Sandwich Terns, mostly low over the water and very elegant, making the Sandwich Terns look rather clumsy alongside them.

We watched them for about an hour but in that time they did not appear to land anywhere. The best we could manage, were a few all to distant flybys. 

Black Tern

One of the Sandwich Terns was a bit more obliging coming into land on the spot we had reserved for the Black Terns.

Sandwich Tern

Earlier that day after the rain had cleared we had spent some time around Pagham Harbour looking for migrants. It seemed like ideal conditions, a clear night with heavy early morning rain, it looked a certainty for a fall of migrants waiting to cross the channel.

Once again it was a disappointment. There were a few birds around, Spotted Flycatchers, Yellow Wagtails and a single Redstart but numbers were low and I have still failed to see a lot of the usual autumn migrants. Even worse, decent opportunities for photographs seem to have dried up this year.

Spotted Flycatcher

Willow Warbler 

Things must improve soon!

Friday, 24 August 2018

Autumn Lady's Tresses

When Dave and I went over to Anchor Bottom a couple of weeks ago, to look for the Autumn Lady's Tresses, it didn't look very promising. This is one of the premier sites in Sussex and we couldn't find a single specimen. The ground was baked dry and it looked impossible for anything to break through the rock hard surface.

Two weeks on, a few days rain and everything looks so different. Green grass, fresh growth everywhere and best of all, thousands of specimens of the Autumn Lady's Tresses.

They were growing on the south facing shoulder of the site in a strip around 400 metres long and up to 10 metres wide.

There may well have been more growing elsewhere on the site but this strip was more than enough to keep us occupied.

In places you could count twenty or more to a square metre and you had to be very careful where you placed your feet.

The botanical name spiranthes spiralis is derived from the ancient Greek σπεῖρα (speira) "spiral" and ἄνθος (anthos) "flower". The species name spiralis also refers to the placement of the flowers in a spiral.

The stems were mostly in the range 6 to 12cm tall. They are small and delicate and easy to miss until you get your eye in to looking for them, then they were everywhere.

All credit to the landowner for preserving the environment in Anchor Bottom. It sustains an impressive population of insects, butterflies and wild flowers which are a joy to see but which are so dependant on his careful management of the grazing regime. Not sure he can do much about the rabbits though.