Having had a mild rant in my last blog about birding abbreviations, I thought I'd carry on about another pet hate of mine!
Sitting in Southfleet hide this evening, I had the surreal experience of watching SpongeBob SquarePants float across the Flood. "How amusing" I hear you say. Unfortunately, both myself and most of the birds on the Flood disagree. There's something about helium-filled novelty balloons that birds hate and it always sends them into a panic, resulting in clouds of them taking flight. Spectacular no doubt, but at this time of year birds leaving unguarded nests leaves them wide open to a sneaky attack by a predator like a crow or a gull. And for this reason these ballons are also on my hate list too. Not only do they cause big disturbances, but they also get caught in our electric fences, resulting in the system shorting out and are a danger to livestock (which will sometimes eat the things). Goodness knows where they all come from, but nature reserves seem to have a magnetic attraction for them. Our prevailing winds are south-westerly, but Sittingbourne hardly seems to be a ballon hotspot. But wherever they originate from, I'd happily ban the poxy things!
There was surprisingly no sign of either spoonbill on the flood today when I had a look, although there were 3 spotted redshank, 2 ruff, 25 black-tailed godwit & c.90 turnstone. A smart little merlin perched on a post opposite Southfleet, before zipping low across the Flood; and other notable raptors included the first hobby of the year, the short-eared owl again hunting the seawall & a couple of buzzards. Still large numbers of Med gulls around the reserve, with one flock of at least 120 between Kingshill Farm and the hides. The ring ouzel was belatedly reported again yesterday, but I didn't see it today in a quick search. Other migrants today included whitethroat, blackcap & swallow around the farm
Totally agree about the balloons. They are a menace and should be banned.
I would suspect that most are coming from the Leysdown area (which I think would tie in with westerly/southwesterly winds you mentioned). As the weather improves there is always an influx of visitors to the coast, particularly to that area, and thus the obligatory ballons get given to the kids.
Then one of two things happen: -
1) The kid lets go of the balloon and after the "Spongebob has gone to heaven" speech by the parents and copious amounts of crying they get given another one.
or 2) The parents decide they don't want the said balloon to be bobbing around in the rear view for the entire journey home and therefore "accidently" release it before getting into the car.
Certainly if I'm out and about and see any that I can get hold off I'll be making sure they end in the best place for them...the bin!!!