Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Old News

Walking back across the reserve yesterday morning I was watching one of our regular Barn Owls flying across some rough ground with a vole or mouse in its talons. As it flew past a pair of circling Kestrels one of the Kestrels swooped down, flew up under the owl, flipped upside down and snatched the mammal from the owl and sped off. I've never seen that before.

On a different theme but also yesterday during a quiet period in the afternoon, I had a read through the 1961 KBR which I picked at random from the shelf. Those were the days when we still published a list of the names and addresses of all the members and I was amused to see myself listed as an "under 18" member, oh happy days! It was interesting though to see how many of the current KOS heirachy go back that far, not that many to be honest.
Becoming hooked I then had a look at the 1963 KBR which came up with some startling comparisons with today. I know the beginning of that year was part of the infamous 1962/3 freeze up which could of been the reason for some of the high numbers, but how about some of these counts that I picked at random and how they compare with today.

Twite - 600 at Chetney in January - I doubt that figure has been reached again by adding all the following years together.
Snow Bunting - 300 at Elmley in February.
Brambling - 1400 at Sandwich Bay in January
House Sparrow - 1000 at Sandwich Bay in October
Brent Geese - 180 in February was the highest count for the year!
Collared Dove - 6 at Whitstable in March was the highest count for North area that winter!

Lastly, and this must cause people to think of such good old days - Red-backed Shrike - successful breeding at Canterbury, Chatham and Nothfleet.


  1. Hi Derek.
    I watched a Kestrel pinch a vole from a Short Eared Owl whilst in flight at Elmley last year.
    Unfortunately the good old days you cite were well before my birding life started. I wish I had started in the 60's and 70's because it's hard to imagine such counts, sad to say they will never be repeated.

  2. Phil,

    They were indeed good and simple days with good bird numbers but I guess that with the way the environment is going, there will be a time in another 40 years, when people will envy the counts we are getting today.
    I guess the benchmark for all these thoughts is, who would ever have thought that we would have the good old Spuggy becoming a scarce bird?