Thursday, 1 July 2010

TTBG Part 2.

Gadwall. Paul Baker.

Thanks to Paul for the image of one of my favourite ducks the Gadwall which heads today's post The Teal Bay Goodie Part 2.

At the risk of Birds2blog becoming a little stale and boring I felt there were a few more details worth a mention about this smart little plover one of which I highlighted yesterday and which truly amazed me - and presumably everyone else who gave any thought to it at the time - that, not only did this individual find its way to Fleetwood every winter for six years but also found its way to the area around the old coastguard station to be always found there particularly at the high tide roost by an endless stream of admiring birders.

The first record of a Kentish Plover in Britain goes back over 220 years to May 1787 when a William Boys of Sandwich in Kent - who was an observer of natural history in his locality - shot three specimens of plover, here I must record my disgust that lots of 'old' bird records are achieved by shooting not only to fascilitate examination of them but also as an act of sport which I prefer to label 'enjoyment', a label sadly still attached to great numbers of people in the 21st century. This so called observer of natural history sent the specimens to a Dr J Latham who deemed them to be an unknown species and in due course named the Kentish Plover.

The history of the Kentish Plover is that it once bred along the coast of SE England at sites in Kent and Sussex and there are claims of up to 40 pairs during 1907-1911, but numbers showed a decline through the 20th century, and the last breeding record is that of a pair in 1979 in Linclonshire. It makes for almost tearful reading when you see the loss seems to have been attributed to a combination of  persecution for eggs, disturbance by shingle extraction, and habit loss to coastal housing. There appears to be a steady decline and the species is currently a scarce passage bird, this mirrors the scenario along the Atlantic and North Sea coasts of Europe to the exclusion of France, Portugal, and a very small population in Denmark.

In line with its former breeding distribution most of today's records come from SE England, elsewhere in GB it is extremely rare, sadly then, it may not be a good idea to hold your breath whilst you find a Kentish Plover....or is that just my pessimism coming to the fore yet again.


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