Rare visitors making themselves at home
Up to three rare penduline tits have been seen during November on and off in the reedbed by the Hanson Hide. The hide is opposite the entrance track to the Dungeness RSPB part of the National Nature Reserve. They are small birds roughly the same size as the familiar blue tits you get in your garden, but they are found in marshy areas where reedbeds, stands of bulrushes and willow bushes are found. If you get a good view of one – they are quite distinctive in that they have a black face mask, a bit like a bandit within a grey head. They have cream underparts, and a rich tawny brown back. Their call is fine and high pitched, but they do hide in the reeds for long periods. One trick is to look for the bulrush seed heads which are shaped like big cigars and watch for the fluffy seeds floating in the wind, when the birds rip them apart. They don’t breed in Britain, but are spreading across Europe and is a species which may start to breed in the future. Dungeness has plenty of suitable habitat for the species and usually gets at least a sighting most years and sometimes multiple birds appear like this autumn.
For more information contact Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Project, telephone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk