Dover Council laid on some August Bank Holiday entertainment for us this week with the arrival of a work barge, loaded with granite. We saw it when it was still offshore and wondered what it was:
It was a time of full moon and the barge was pushed to the shore on the high spring tide in the late morning and started unloading its boulders onto the beach.
As the tide retreated in the mid afternoon, so did the barge and it moored up just offshore. Then, at the next high tide shortly before midnight, it was back at the beach unloading the rest of the stone and keeping the inhabitants of this part of Walmer awake late into the night with its clanking and crashing.
The next morning, the barge had gone but there were two piles of stone on the shore:
This granite has come from Cornwall – probably Carnsew Quarry near Falmouth – and we presume the barge is now being towed back there to pick up some more. We have a small sliver of the rock that had sheared off as the stones crashed together:
Dover Council are paying £831k to construct three rock groynes here at Walmer and one a bit further north at Sandown Castle to stop the beach being eroded and carried north at the rate that it has been in recent years.
We are now expecting the return of the barge with another load of Cornish granite before too long to finish what it has started. In the meantime, heavy machinery is still at work on the beach, repositioning the boulders and filling the gaps with smaller rocks. Once the groynes are finished, they might provide habitat for Rock Pipits, Purple Sandpipers and other exciting birds as well as helping with the beach erosion.
The recent storms caused fruit to fall from the fruit trees in the orchard. One week on and we noticed that the apples were still lying, gently rotting, on the ground:
However, all the fallen pears had disappeared. We pulled a few more pears from the tree down onto the ground below and put a camera on them to see who is so partial to our pears whilst ignoring the apples:
The camera also caught them eating pears off the tree:
I don’t blame them – they are ever so nice.
In the wood, the recent rains provided a little taster of a winter phenomenon there that I eagerly await – the Tawny Owls nightly worming. The Owl’s posture is very distinctive, staring intently down at the ground just in front of its feet.
Hopefully I will get better photos for you when the ground softens more as autumn gets properly into its stride.
Before we bought the wood, there was a big shoot there in the winters and we have quite a few Pheasants around still which, I think, are a legacy from that time. Astoundingly, 43 million Pheasants are released into the British countryside by the shooting industry every year. But, although we have seen courtship behaviour amongst the adult birds, we hadn’t ever seen any juveniles as evidence that they were successfully breeding in the wild. However, I think now we have because this bird below must be a young bird, with its short tail feathers:
In the meadows, this Fox is being very brave:
It is an exciting time of year for the Bird Ringers with a lot of Birds on the move and they have been ringing in the meadows a couple of times this week. On Friday they caught a Spotted Flycatcher:
This Bird was born this year and is now migrating to south of the Sahara. It has a very distinctive beak shape with coarse whiskers on either side:
Also, the very tip of the top beak turns down:
This species has suffered a devastating 89% population decline in the UK between 1967 and 2010 and I had actually never seen one before. Spotted Flycatcher has now entered the meadows bird list at number 80. But Friday was a great day and there was more to come. As the Bird Ringers were sitting in the meadows, they heard and saw two Crossbills fly overhead (Species 81) and then a Hobby (Species 82).
Earlier in the week they had caught a second Sedge Warbler and look what a beauty it is:
Also a lovely variety of other Warblers:
Some other photos from around the meadows this week:
I sent my Moth records up to the end of August in to the County Moth Recorder. There were a very large number of records and he queried nine of them that stood out to him as odd or unusual. I was quite pleased with that but he told me not to be disheartened which seems to imply that he thought I might be. Of the nine queries, I didn’t have photos to support two of the records so they are ignored. I sent him photos for his remaining seven queries and five of these were found to be misidentified by me. However, I did get two correct!
My mothing enthusiasm continues undaunted by all of this – I have learnt so much this summer. This is a beautiful Moth, Campion, that I caught in the week, with its purple undertones. I hadn’t seen one of these before.
I finish today with a Spitfire. In normal summers these aeroplanes are a very familiar sight over the meadows. They do acrobatics over our heads several times a day at weekends as they fly along the white cliffs, carrying fare-paying passengers in a two-seater training version of the plane. This summer, unusual in every possible way, we have scarcely seen them. However, one flew over this week and it was so lovely to see it and hear that distinctive 1940s engine again.