Saturday 12 June 1915, New Romney


Besides the squeaky rasping tscheek of annoyance, the lesser terns utter a staccato tchek-tchek-tchek. Furthermore they make a chattering outcry, which-ck, which-ck or quich-ck, quich-ck when they meet each other and this is especially the case when one tern joins a party sitting on the sands – which they are very fond of doing – or when birds are indulging in playful quarrels.


Austen showed me the nest of a common gull on the shingle, probably the only one on the whole beach. It was a shallow cup composed entirely of grass bents and, by comparison with nests of other shingle-building birds, a fairly substantial affair, although in reality a flat and insignificant structure. The old bird was very silent and sailed around without a sound so far as I could hear.


Most of the young wheatears are about to leave their underground homes, and indeed many have already done so. When their parents approach with food, the youngsters rush up to the mouth of the burrow and acclaim their hunger in rasping, ‘tinselly’ notes. Should there be any alarm they disappear again with almost jack-in-the-box suddenness.


Although a few pairs of ringed plovers are still incubating, the majority have long since launched their families into the world. Triplets of about 14 or 15 days were feeding in a little oozy ditch behind the sea wall, whence they must have been conducted by their parents. As I approached, they vanished in the usual miraculous manner and I had some difficulty finding them crouching under the lip of an overhanging bank and screened from view by a curtain of sun-dried weed.



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