Sunday 4 July 1915, New Romney


I think Austen must be right when he says that the Kentish plovers take their young to the sand hills and the brackish dykes of the Hoy as soon as they are hatched. Be this as it may, the shingle beach is deserted now that they have hatched out and all the young I have encountered have gone to prove this statement. I found another baby Kentish this evening near the dunes.


In this individual the occipital and dorsal stripes were barely discernable and the upper surface was more of a nondescript ‘pepper and salt’ marking. This distinct variation in the density of the markings on so young a bird is somewhat surprising. The youngster was uncommonly nimble on its feet once it was set going, altogether different from the tottering weaklings of a few days since.


Five herons foolishly attempted to cross the Ness. They were of course unmercifully bullied by all the terns in this district, and as the great birds swerved and tacked to avoid the angry onslaughts of the screeching flock, they frequently croaked with fear and finally withdrew to the marshlands.


Young wheatears are much in evidence and many have already strayed from their birthplace. I suppose they will soon be working southwards. Nestling pied wagtails (I found a nest with six young birds about nine days old) have a fair amount of soft down of a dark, smoky-grey colour. Nestling swallows also have very pale, smoky-grey down, of a soft texture – moderate quantity, colour resembles that of surrounding cobwebs.


I have found two lesser tern’s eggs – a late nest as most of the eggs appear to have hatched. Making a rough estimate I should say clutches of two or three occurs in about equal proportions.

Today was very hot and the sun has considerable power. A young common tern I was photographing seemed very discomforted by the effects of the heat and almost immediately started to pant with mouth agape. Do the parents in any way assist their progeny to keep cool.

When I first found this individual it did not appear to be suffering in any way and showed no sign of panting. The Kentish plover had, I believe, taken some precautions to protect her eggs from the rays of the sun. This at any rate is my explanation why today I found the eggs partially embedded in the shells and sand that formed the nest, when hitherto they have always been lying well on the surface.




Ingram wrote at the foot of the page ‘The down on this bird’s back [the Kentish plover] seemed to have been rubbed off a little between the shoulders.’



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