Sunday 30 May 1915, New Romney


After lunch I motored Percy Lowe out to the western side of the Ness and we spent the afternoon among the birds of that portion of the beach. I revisited the gull ponds and found that the black-heads were there is even greater abundance than I had at first supposed. Wading in a few yards, we counted no fewer than 35 nests in a very confined area – in a space of roughly about 2½ by 8 yards. Two of these nests contained four eggs each, two one egg and the remainder two and three in about equal proportions. One clutch was distinctly interesting in regard to the deposition of pigment on the shell. What was presumably the first egg to be laid was very dark brown in colour and heavily blotched; the next was many shades paler and much more lightly marked, while the third was blue and almost spotless. In one instance the young had  just hatched.


Later in the day I chanced upon a nest of this species in the very centre of the beach – three eggs laid upon a flattened, dead clump of broom, nearly a mile from the ponds and two or three miles from the sea. Large numbers of other non-breeding gulls were resting and sunning themselves on a ridge near the ponds (herring gulls, lesser and greater black-backed and, I think, the common). These rose with a great gobbling uproar as we approached. Whenever one of these strayed near the colony of black-heads, it was promptly assailed by the smaller birds and driven away.


This practice is of course shared also by the terns who are often very energetic in their efforts to harass the intruder. Last Sunday I was amused to see a common tern attack a sheep that was grazing dangerously near its nesting site (no eggs had yet been laid). Time after time she stooped at the animal’s head, coming within an ace of striking its face – and I am not at all sure it did not actually touch it, The sheep did not seem much perturbed by this angry onslaught although it finally moved away. They are equally demonstrative against hares (of which there are plenty on the beach). Lapwings will also stoop at hares and a few days ago I watched a pair of these birds tumbling and turning over one of these animals.


I found a song thrush’s nest in a gorse bush far out on the shingle. One can’t help wondering where they get their food from on this expanse of dry pebbles unless they fly to the marshes a couple of miles away. Fledgling meadow pipits are already on the wing. I know however of a clutch of six eggs, deep coffee in colour.


[1] There are now large areas of water, the legacy of gravel-digging. In Ingram's time there were only the natural 'Oppen Pits'.

[2] Ingram added at the foot of the page, ‘All the broom growing on the beach is prostrate, possible because it is continuously nibbled back by the sheep and rabbits, while the wind may also contribute to this recumbent habit.’



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