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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Harbour mastering?

Over the past couple, or so, years the Dover Harbour complex has been the focus for a very active group of birders/photographers - their results being a dazzling array of images of what can be discovered in these most bustling environs. My mate (and soul blog follower) Mark Chidwick has a blog (The Harbour Master - I would post a direct link if I had the first clue about such things!) in which he recalls his adventures and sightings from the various points around this incredibly busy Channel port.

A juvenile Great Northern Diver which spent nearly three months around the life-boat station - 2003
I make these references because I have also had reason to be appreciative of the facilities offered by the Royal Harbour at Ramsgate. An international ferry port and a commercial harbour, Ramsgate has so much to offer the birder who has time to look beyond the obvious. In 1993, when I first moved to Kent, Ramsgate Harbour was a location that was visited very rarely, however, when I relocated to Thanet, it took on a whole new dimension and my visits became very much a part of my weekly routine.


An adult Shag - ringed on the Isle of May - returned for three
successive winters to the same pontoon in the Inner Harbour
I make no claim to have made discoveries beyond the knowledge of current science, but I did regularly find myself amazed by the diversity of birdlife that could be found within the boundaries of this, most, industrial site. Could this pattern still continue? I am no longer able to offer an answer - I haven't visited the harbour in over a year! What I can say is that the fishing fleet and ferries still operate and the off-shore wind farms have added to the craft which ply their trade from this historic port. I do not have a "harbour list" - although I feel I probably should, but can recall many highlights from the start of the new decade. I think the first real star was a juvenile Great Northern Diver, which remained around the lifeboat station for much of the winter - my photos were digi-scoped using a 2-mega pixel Nikon CP 775.
 
Yellow-legged Gull - Ramsgate Harbour
1st winter Caspian Gull - Ramsgate Main Beach (right behind the Casino building)
 
Over the years I have had many opportunities to discover birds that were "out of range" - mostly of the gull family, but odd Shore Larks, Snow Buntings, Black Redstarts and waterfowl ensured that I kept a close eye on what was about. My fascination with gulls is as a direct consequence of my time spent in this place. The numbers and variety being a result of the activities of the remaining fishing boats and a bi-product of the geography (Thanet sticking out into the base of the North Sea!) I really feel that gulls are a group/family of birds that you either love or hate - there being no in between?
Because the birds are familiar with the comings and goings of the human visitors, they tend to be at ease with close approach - a fantastic opportunity for the naturalist/photographer.

One of the most important discoveries I have made - an adult winter "ommissus" Herring Gull (Marsh Gull)
(The first individual ever photographed in Kent?)
From my own point of view, I have had so many enjoyable sessions around Ramsgate Harbour as for it to be impossible to define what it is that makes it so special. I studied the beak patterns of Cormorants, looked for colour-ringed gulls and had the chance to take the first photograph of an "L.a.ommissus" Herring Gull in Kent.
So please make an effort to search your Google "thingame-bob" to locate Mark's Harbour Master blog, but even more importantly, if you ever find yourselves at a loose end - check out the wildlife that shares the industrial sites where you are - I'm sure you'll be surprised by the diversity to be found.

2 comments:

  1. Dyl, you can click on his avatar in your members list at the topleft of the page. He is the only member. (I keep you in "my favourites"). That will take any visitor to his blog.
    You've had some great finds in the Harbour.

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  2. i agree shame you don't do it anymore,i pop down there yesterday and had rb merganser,thanks for the kind words but the harbours are so over looked until someone finds something catch up with you soon

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