170 species recorded in 2017
These are the species recorded in the area so far this year. It includes those seen from Oare Marshes e.g. over Sheppey and on the Swale, and on adjacent areas to the reserve itself, west to Uplees copse and in the trees and scrub opposite the cottages.
168 species were recorded in the area in 2016.
For a list of all the species ever recorded in the area see the Oare Marshes Species List and the Oare Marshes Check List
The only addition to the year list this month was a Jack Snipe on 1st which brought the total for the year to 170 species (two more than last year). Bittern and Spoonbill were also seen that day. The drake Green-winged Teal, though elusive at times, was seen on many dates up to at least 29th with two reported on 7th and 23rd. The adult Long-billed Dowitcher was present throughout the month with the juvenile also seen on 14th. Other birds reported during the month included two drake Goosanders on 2nd, a ringtail Hen Harrier on 3rd and an adult male on 22nd, a Little Stint on 3rd, a Water Pipit on 22nd and a Brambling on 16th.
08:15-12:45 Cloudy, light westerly wind, low tide rising. The adult Long-billed Dowitcher was on the east flood. There were 12 Pintail on the flood and, as the tide rose, one Ringed Plover, six Grey Plovers, a Knot and19 Bar-tailed Godwits, with hundreds of Dunlin, joined the flocks of Golden Plovers, Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks. Only one male Ruff was seen. Single Fieldfare and Redwing were seen in the scrub, a female Stonechat was near the east hide, and four Yellowhammers in rose bushes by the sluice was unusual. A Rock Pipit fed below the sea wall hide and a duck Gadwall was on the west main dyke. Three Marsh Harriers over the floods included a female with green tags on both wings.
November 28th – December 3rd
The two Long-billed Dowitchers remained until 1st but only the adult has been reported since. The drake Green-winged Teal was seen again on the east flood on 3rd but is proving very elusive. Other birds of note have included a flock of 14 Siskins flying west on 28th, a Short-eared Owl on 29th, a Bittern, a Spoonbill and a Jack Snipe (flushed from the roadside ditch by a Chinook helicopter) on 1st, a Goosander on 2nd and a ringtail Hen Harrier on 3rd.
27th November 11.00 to 15.00 Dry but cold!
Male Green-winged Teal still present roosting among the Teal. The most surprising event was when we were watching the Long-billed Dowicher and doing a double take – as TWO Long-billed Dowitchers were feeding together on the East Flood! We only had one compact camera between us but managed this shot.
Trevor Manship, David Hale and David Wilson (thanks to Dave W for the photo)
0830–1015 Pouring rain and dismal light but eventually caught up with
the Green-winged Teal centrally E flood. Teal numbers again building
and birds were restless–although the bird does seem to spend much of
its time roosting. Great video clip however by Jonathan L B , of the
bird active and swimming in open water prior to weekend.
0830—1315 A grey, rain-swept start with a gathering SW was not a good omen; exercise whatever, so I headed for Conyer Creek. 7 duck Common Scoter came into the Swale, continuing W. A Buzzard struggled across the W flood; small parties of Avocets; Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover were on the shoreline. circa 2000 Wigeon were well into TQ around South Deep and Fowley Island although no sign for me of the Shorelarks, and confirmed separately by two familiar faces. However, some 30 mins into my return Danny C. reported Shorelarks returning to the seawall from Fowley—-c`est la vie ! The `diluted` Curlew (presumed male); a subject of correspondence four years ago from Murray W and myself with the Natural History Museum , was again in the saltings. Ten years from first report! Difficult to get a digi shot from distance and with the wind. At the E flood around HT, Dunlin and Teal numbers were impressive –c 1000 former and 600 latter. The Long-billed Dowitcher was feeding towards the SW aspect; Snipe were roosting with Golden Plover and Lapwings and there were at least 25 Ruff dispersed around the flood. The duck Goosander was preening amongst the other wildfowl but departed SW towards the creek/ponds.
0830—1200 Initially still and 3deg; fresh W and rain imminent by close of play. I circuited the creek and associated ponds from Oare village. 21 Little Grebe were located and the Kingfisher was very mobile. 4 Long-tailed Tits were in hawthorns ; a Cettis was singing at head of the creek, and 6 Little Egrets were feeding in the low creek waters. 25 Dunlin; 5 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Bar-tailed Godwitwere in Oare creek. A Little Owl was prominently perched in a favoured spot, and returning on the road , a Merlin swept low across the arable fields and over the creek towards Nagden. 28 Gadwall; 76 Teal and 54 Tufted Duck accumulatively were in Ham Road ponds with 3 Great-crested Grebes and circa 40 Coot. Pochard were scarce, but vision remains frustratingly obscured along Ham Road !
0730-1015 It was just above freezing with minimal cloud but less of a W/ NW blow than predicted. For 150 m on the entrance road a Sparrowhawk was in low level attack mode, hugging the shaded side of the hedgerow. A dozen Fieldfares were at early breakfast in the hawthorns, with others to the rear of the shrubbery, in what appeared to be a small overnight fall. `High` tide was low, with Turnstones, Oyster Catchers and 14 Brent Geese around the slipway. With six juveniles in the goose party, this was contrary to the numbers of juveniles seen off South Swale a week ago, where there were single figures within the thousand plus goose flock. 3 Great –crested Grebes were off the point disputing fishing rights. I didn`t recognise the buzzard- sized raptor perched on Mocketts hill. See there`s a Saker X gone AWOL……….maybe? Dave Perrin reported a sighting of a male Hen Harrier later through Sheppey banks—good to know they still get down here for winter given the turbulent times further north. A Little Owl was working the fence posts as sunlight moved through; a Cettis was mobile along the ditches; and further into Oare , 4 Greenshanks were feeding together near the head of the creek. A Goosander was later reported too. Still in the locale , a Grey Wagtail worked one of its favourite watercourses.
There was a Spotted Redshank also, feeding with the Greenshanks.
0715-1215 Eye watering in 2 deg of near still W air, following Sunday`s extravaganza in the northerlies, per Murray W and Neil B.! Tide was on the turn as I walked W. A male Marsh Harrier harried by a continuously vocal Raven over the W flood was a good start—20+ Greenfinches were at Dan`s Dock and Skylarksong greeted the sun`s warmth. A pair of Stonechats were around the saltmarsh and a further pair W of Uplees copse. c 60 Avocets, 200+ Golden Plovers and similar numbers of Grey Plovers lined Sheppey banks. 2 Buzzardsand a Marsh Harrier were quartering the saltmarsh and a Green Sandpiper flew from a near dyke – white rump gleaming in the sun. Deep into TQ Great Crested Grebes were again numerous in the channels—-a duck Red–breasted Merganser was trailing two of the grebes. A Corn Bunting was in a favoured spot. Beyond FSB, the island`s margins were lined with Wigeon; a conservative count of 1600—no doubt accounting for the flocks leaving Mocketts earlier. Little Egrets and Grey Herons were a continuous feature appearing both leaward of the seawall and along the Swale`s margins. Shelduck numbers have been recently boosted and c 650 were along Sheppey banks too. Two flocks of c 80 Fieldfares flew W during the morning; but Starling parties were near continous during the walk—-substantial immigration of this sp over the last few days!
1400-1530 A stiff W breeze and intermittent sun. Following on from the early morning substantial thrush movement through Seasalter there was not one to be seen this PM! Noted 3 Little Stints on the E flood and 12 Ruff with the Redshank / Blk T Godwit flock. The duck Garganey was withTeal in the SE aspect and the Long-billed Dowitcher was close to the road.
08:15-12:15 It was a cloudy morning with a freshening SW wind and a low tide. Amongst the ducks on the east flood were a Garganey and a pair of Pintails. Waders included the juvenile Little Ringed Plover with a droopy wing, two Little Stints, a single Knot amongst the Black-tailed Godwits and, later in the morning, the adult Long-billed Dowitcher (first seen on August 12th). A Water Pipit was in the SW corner of the flood. Three Swallows flew SW over the cottages and, in the scrub opposite, there was a Fieldfare (first of the autumn), a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Mistle Thrush and two Jays. A Raven flew low over the cottages at 10.15 am and, later, one was seen circling over Mockett’s Hill. A Greenshank was in Faversham Creek, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was with Dunlin just east of the slipway, two juvenile Common Terns flew down the Swale and a Rock Pipit was just below the sea wall near the slipway.
A short visit in the afternoon at high tide. Noted there were c200 Avovets roosting with the Black-tailed Godwits and a group of ten Bar-tailed Godwits separate from the main godwit flock. Met the three Swedish birders who are doing a Big Western Palearctic Year List. They had spent much of the month on Corvo in the Azores and were now looking for the Wilson’s Phalarope. It fell to me to tell them that it hadn’t been seen since Sunday! However, we had an interesting chat (even touching on the infamous Tufted Puffin). When I left I asked them where next? “Maybe Denmark”, they said, but “we’ll think about it over a cup of coffee”. Good luck lads! They left Corvo with a list of 727 species. Unfortunately, Wilson’ Phalarope was not to be their 728th.
A cool SW at 11deg. Walked west into TQ beyond FSB. Greenfinch numbers exceeded 20 at Uplees copse; Golden Plovers came high off the Sheppey shoreline; Meadow Pipits were mobile around the piles of Bladder-wrack and 2 Rock Pipits were with them. A duck Goldeneye flew W and dropped into the South Deep channel where accumulatively westward, there were at least 53 Great-crested Grebes. A Corn Bunting alerted me with a brief stanza and a pair of Stonechats were active in the reed beds. A Sparrowhawk hugged the seawall cover in low level attack, scattering the pipits. Curlews; Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers worked the shoreline back towards the W flood.
08.00 to 12.00hrs
Dry and calm around 14C – High Tide at roughly 11.30
Spent a pleasant 4 hours this morning, amassing a total of 21 wader species. The Wilson’s Phalarope and Long-billed Dowitcher are still present. The Phalarope seems to like following Teal closely and feeding in their wake. 3 Green Sandpipers were seen over the West Flood. On the mud before high tide near the Causeway a Curlew Sandpiper and an adult Little Stint were feeding amongst the many Dunlin and Redshank. 3 Bar-tailed Godwit also on the mud with Curlew, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, Grey Plover and around 150 Avocet feeding off Oare Creek point.
Looking East down the Swale towards Castle Coote the distant Black-necked Grebe was diving and feeding near a Great Crested Grebe and Cormorant (strange size comparisons). Lots of Oystercatchers were on Horse Sands and 20-30 Little Egrets were feeding off South Swale reserve. Around 300-400 Brent Geese came off fields on Graveney out onto the Swale.
Back on the East Flood for high tide, at least 11 Ruff, 4 Little Stints (3 Juvs and the Adult seen earlier), 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 4 Knot some 150 Golden Plover, the usual hoards of Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank and Lapwing, about 500 Dunlin came in which was an impressive sight as they wheeled around looking for a landing space. 2 Snipe flew around calling.
Called in to the Gunpowder Works on way back – 2 Siskin, Treecreeper, Grey Wagtail and 3 Little Grebes on the lake, were of note.
1430—1630 Great to still have the opportunity to view the long staying, clock-wise spinning E flood Wilson`s Phalarope; following a bit of Balkans travel. The bird habitually was in close tow with Teal or Shoveler, picking / jabbing minutia in the disturbed water in the wake of the ducks. Not quite symbiosis ; so maybe `commensalism` ?? Whichever, one heck of a lot of birders were continuing to get get their moneies worth!!
There were 2 Wood Sandpipers together on the East Flood today, from 4.15 to after 5.00pm.
1030-1300 A short visit with a W/NW strong breeze and HT. From the seawall hide, Common Terns were fishing in the creek; a Marsh Harrier in distinctly untidy dress laboured towards Sheppey; two Great Crested Grebes were off the point and a large dark unusual profile in mid channel turned out to be a juv Gannet. 4 others came into the mouth of the Swale but veered away. Two Spoonbills had a ten-minute stopover on the the E flood (another flew through S per Jonathan L ) Golden Plovers are vocal and twitchy and in excess of 6oo —-golden indeed in the spasmodic sunlight. Ruff; Curlew Sandpipers; significant numbers of Ringed Plovers and a good mix of duck sps continue to be a supporting cast—I`m sure the Long-billed Dowitcher was there somewhere, but was flushed from its earlier location close to the road. A small party of Knot joined the plovers and Swallows continued to move through, with the Iberian coast probably sometime this week unless the SW looks good for lingering. A Green Sandpiper was on the W flood and a male Migrant Hawker finally rested on autumnal brambles, initially well camouflaged in merging colours.
1000-1130 A brief visit –enjoying with Murray W close views of Long-billed Dowitcher on the E flood . Not as well defined as Jonathan L`s Facebook pics of yesterday; nonetheless even point and shoot through the `scope, produces a recognisable image with the plumage characteristics pronounced. Prominent supercilium; barred flanks; and bold spotting on both vent and under-tail coverts.
Q. Do all waders respond in the same way; ie with the `nictitating membrane` of the eye and its constant use only when heads are submerged, or is it dependant upon light conditions either under or above water to give a better advantage in prey seeking and / or better protection of the eye`s cornea ?? One piccie appears to show the membrane; this was after head withdrawal from under water. Must say only recall a much used , well seen, prominent membrane on Dipper before—which reflects badly on what one actually takes in when eyeing an individual bird !! Not sure either, that the eyelid one sees with roosting birds is the `nictitating membrane ` HELP !
An adult Sabine’s Gull was seen by Arnie Van Orsouw as it flew up the Swale close inshore, passing the sea wall hide then returning east, at 11.20 am. This is the first here since 2014. Whilst on the subject of gulls, the Bonaparte’s Gull appears not to have been seen since 6th?
12 deg C initially; SW gale and pulses of rain but did brighten somewhat later! From E flood hide I counted c 550 Golden Plover and c 95 Avocets The Long –billed Dowitcherwas near the road feeding amongst a Lapwing flock , but was spooked by the Peregrine and lost amongst the host of Black-tailed Godwits. 12 Ruff/ Reeves were visible plus 1 Yellow Wagtail, with 2 Snipe in the reedy margins.Made a change to see predominately House Martins moving through, albeit in small numbers. with C 40 in the session. Low water was mid-morning so moved on in the locale to sheltered accommodation.
06:25-13:35 – cloudy with a moderate westerly wind. Murray was there when I arrived and we spent a pleasant morning teasing out all the species we could find. These included the adult Long-billed Dowitcher on the east flood and the Bonaparte’s Gull on the mudflat east of the causeway. The juvenile Cuckoo was seen in the hedge to the south of what had been the SE scrape and the Osprey flew over the east flood towards the Swale, at 1.15 pm, almost lost amongst the thousands of wheeling waders. Waders included four juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, c140 Ringed Plovers, only one Knot, nine Curlew Sandpipers with one adult, a flyover Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper, a lone bird in front of the west hide. Up at the cottages, a Goldcrest was in the hawthorns by the paddock, warblers were Cetti’s, Reed, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff and a Mistle Thrush was the first I’d seen here since January. Other birds included several Hobbies, one landed on Horse Sands and another, a juvenile, was resting on one of the concrete blocks near Dan’s Dock. We also saw single Whinchat, Stonechat and Wheatear and three Wigeon circled over the east flood. We amassed a total of 89 species but contrived to miss a Little and a Black Tern and a Peregrine whilst Murray, with Tony Swandale, had a calling Pectoral Sandpiper flying around the east flood which was independently seen by David Campbell (a Beddington birder, I believe). Although this is the most frequent Nearctic wader, there had not been one seen here since 2006.
An ambulance was on call at one of the houses along the approach to the reserve so we parked up and watched the mixed Yellow and Pied Wagtail gathering in the fields while we waited; a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat were in the same area. Once on the reserve, the first unexpected encounter involved a juvenile Cuckoo feeding on caterpillars in a dead tree on the grazing marsh – the first I’ve seen for some time – closely followed by the strange sight of a juvenile Hobby trekking low across the surface of The Swale. Two Greenshanksdived over onto the East Flood and good numbers of Grey Plovers were on the Sheppey side, along with three Marsh Harriers and a couple of Buzzards. A couple of Bearded Reedlingsteased us with their calls from the reedbeds but remained unseen, as did a few Cetti’s Warblers. A Peregrine buzzed the flood, repeatedly setting up the waders, and later on a juvenile Osprey gave good scope views as it circled to the west. It later took its turn at stirring panic among the waders as it cruised low over the East Flood, where highlights included nine Curlew Sandpipers (one adult and eight juveniles), the adult Long-billed Dowitcher and four Knot. Two Wigeon also put in an appearance.
A curious call overhead alerted me to a Pectoral Sandpiper which circled the west side of the reserve twice before disappearing to the southeast! Walking back to the car, conversation with a group of three other birds revealed that they had also clocked the Pec.
David Campbell and Cory Gregory
1000—1200 2 Green Sandpipers were at the west side pond and a Buzzard circuited the shrubbery. 2 Cetti`s were singing in different locations and both Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat plus Chiffchaff were on the fruiting brambles. c 70 Ringed Plover were again on the E flood close to the road plus one Curlew Sandpiper.Walked W as tide filled with Curlews and Grey Plovers on the tidal margins. 2 Wheatears were at Uplees and 3 Marsh Harriers were quartering the saltings Sheppey side. Swallows and the occasional House Martin passed W in small, but continuous, numbers.
0800—1530 An excellent turn-out from the KOS for this month`s Field Trip led by Ray O`Reilly. Swift and juv Cuckoo were amongst the first sps encountered, together with Sparrowhawk. Spotted Redshank; Whimbrel; Little Stint and Common Sandpiper were amongst the wader flocks with Golden Plover and Black-tailed Godwit numbers remaining significant. Water Rail gave good views and Yellow Wagtails were at the cattle`s feet; Cetti`s was again loud after summer`s sojourn and a Peregrine announced its arrival sending the waders into dispersal mode. 3 Curlew Sandpipers were subsequently found plus Knotand finally the Long-billed Dowitcher, but bird of the day for some was probably the Osprey , this time over the fishing ponds to the rear of the Reserve, providing lengthy views. A Hobby; Buzzard; Marsh Harrier and Kestrel completed a seven raptor day. Off shore, terns were numerous with buoy resting Sandwich Terns, and mud resting Common and 2 Little Terns. 3 Black Terns were in the melee, with distinguishing features of Arctic Tern well seen (thanks Ray !) 95 species for the day was an excellent return with some members getting new sp. sightings under their belts!
1500—1645 Warm; ebbing tide; light E breeze. Undoubted highlight (1545-1610) was an Osprey flying E along Swale below Harty skyline; spending some time hovering and plunging (not seen to take a fish) and gradually moving into the mouth of the Swale and finally lost in Whitstable Bay`s haze. 72 Common Ternsalighted in Horse Sand`s shallows—bathing and preening before continuing W in two flocks. TheBonaparte`s Gull was on the mud just W of the slipway. Ear spot is pronounced ; bill black and the gape line is noticably accentuated. Alongside Black-headed Gulls it appears more `round-headed` and distinctly smaller. Well, that`s my interpretation !! The Long-billed Dowitcher was better seen from the main hide, where it was feeding within a Lapwing flock towards the SE aspect. Twice, a fem Sparrowhawk flushed the wader flocks. Two Little Ringed Plovers were towards the NE corner and Ruffnumbers continue to slowly increase. Mike Roser
Red-necked Phalarope; reflections in still waters of Spotted Redshanks, and for some ,with patience, perhaps combinations of Bonaparte`s Gull; Long-billed Dowitcher and Red-necked Phalarope. The supporting cast of waders clearly provides an opportunity of twenty plus wader sps presently at this site, and with luck to include one or two other wader sp sightings which continue to appear, if only briefly. Would be good to see some quality images on this site from those wielding camera kits!
It rained steadily for most of the day but this did not prevent it from being, perhaps, the best day of the autumn so far. The bird of the day was a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope found by Roger Lawrence on the east flood at 9.08 am. There were no other birders in the vicinity at the time and Roger had to leave. However, he posted the sighting on the KOS database and, at about 2 pm, Julian Russell saw this posting and headed down to the flood. On arrival, he found that Jonathan Boyce Leigh was already watching the bird and, as the news spread, there was a steady trickle of birders arriving to see it, including myself. This was the first seen here for three years and, personally, the seventh I have seen at this site. The supporting cast included the Bonaparte’s Gull and the Long-billed Dowitcher and other waders included several Little Ringed Plovers, a Little Stint and a Curlew Sandpiper and two Spotted Redshanks. Terns were on the move and included some Arctic Terns and Black Terns whilst a juvenile Little Gull graced the east flood briefly. To end the day, Mike Buckland found a Purple Sandpiper, a rarer occurrence here than the Phalarope, which settled amongst the Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. This was my second for the site. The previous one being ten years earlier and also unseasonally in August. This has brought the total number of wader species seen so far this year to 29.
Initially foggy and autumnal, developing into a hot sunny morning. Walked westward and deep into TQ past the FSB. Sandwich Terns were calling, and a mournful whistling came from a flock of c 40 Golden Plovers appearing out of the mist. 22 Linnets were atop the seawall in the seeded flora; with Shoveler and 2 Little Grebes just discernible in the main dyke. c 50 Stock Doves were near Uplees copse; Goldfinches were flocking and 2 Greenfinches with them on thistle heads. Cetti`s song was fore-shortened , but loud, and the first for several weeks. Nice to find the elusive Whinchat—with Stonechat—in the same bush. Common Terns were plunge diving in the Swale and a flock of c 60 Curlew were Sheppey side. a Greenshank was probing the muddy runnels and Common Gull numbers have started to build with a group of 17 on the foreshore. Whimbrels continue to be present—-one interestingly facing-off with a Curlew. Starlings joined Lesser Whitethroats at the blackberry harvest, and Dan`s Dock serpents were again active—a copious supply of toadlets are now to hand for easy pickings.
A brief but very enjoyable evening visit. Highlights were the adult Long-billed Dowitcher showing rather well, a juvenile Little Stint, eight Ruff (including a juvenile female), six Whimbrel, five Snipe, four Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Common Terns, 10 Sandwich Terns, a Bearded Reedling and at least seven Yellow Wagtails. Hurried and rather rough higher counts included 500 Grey Plovers on the other side of the Swale, 600 Golden Plovers, 2500 Black-tailed Godwits, 600 Redshanks, 60 Ringed Plovers, 70 Dunlin, 150 Lapwings and 90 Avocets. The most unusual sighting was my first Oare Marshes record of Rose-ringed Parakeet as one squawked overhead!
David Campbell and Ian Jones
0730—1230 Persistent light rain with full cloud; humid and windless. With Swallows gathering on wires, it felt like Autumn`s approach, and several Sand Martins were over the E flood too. In the NE corner, 2Ruff, and a Spotted Redshank now in winter dress, were tarsus deep and a Water Rail gave good views as it moved through the reed margins. 4 Little Ringed Plovers were in the SE corner and 2 Green Sandpipers in front of the main hide. The Long–billed Dowitcher was belly deep among Mallards a Shoveler on the north side, but a low flying Buzzard put up the throngs of waders . A Wheatear was on the roadside fence. White-headed and ginger plumage was still evident with Turnstones on the slipway and 2 Whimbrel were at the shoreline with Curlews. At Uplees copse, hirundines were hawking at treetop height and a further Wheatear was on the seawall; 2 Stonechats female and juvenile were evident together with a couple of Whitethroats and juvenile Green Woodpecker A swirling, dense cloud at the base of Mocketts drew my attention—expecting waders, it turned out to be Starlings en-masse—early I thought for a substantial `murmuration` ! A Greenshank flew E calling; 20+ Goldfinches worked the thistle heads and Sandwich Terns were atop the slipway markers at the carpark end, as the tide filled.
A productive few hours included the adult Long-billed Dowitcher, the adult Bonaparte’s Gull, an adult Curlew Sandpiper, two adult Spotted Redshanks, two juvenile Little Stints, four Whimbrels, two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, two Ruffs, a Greenshank, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 180 Golden Plovers, 150 Avocets, 60 or so Grey Plovers and three Turnstones among a typical suite of waders and wildfowl. A handful of Mediterranean Gulls were around, including at least four juveniles, as were six Yellow Wagtails and two Bearded Reedlings. Two Peregrines, an adult female and a juvenile male, repeatedly buzzed the East Flood and a fresh juvenile Common Gull was also nice to see. Trickling through were small numbers of Swift, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow.
David Campbell, Magnus Andersson and Simon Worsfold
From 11.30, a warm and sunny day: Cormorant, grey heron, mute swan, mallard, shelduck, tufted, kestrel, sparrowhawk, buzzard, marsh harrier, coot, moorhen, oystercatcher, ringed plover, little ringed plover, golden plover, lapwing, dunlin, common sandpiper, redshank, black tailed godwit, curlew, whimbrel, snipe, ruff, long billed dowitcher, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull, bonaparte gull, medi gull, herring gull, common tern, woodpigeon, collared dove, swallow, pied wagtail, yellow wagtail, robin, dunnock, reed warbler, magpie, jackdaw, crow, starling, house sparrow, linnet, goldfinch and avocet.
Initially we struggled to find the Dowitcher but after lunch it showed well feeding in the water if a bit distant. I managed a video of it digiscoping and the attached photo (right) is an extract from that.
9th August – 08.00 to 12.00. Dry but with threatening clouds to the West, NW wind.
The Long-billed Dowitcher found yesterday was still present on the East flood. The bird an adult seemingly moulting out of summer plumage, was watched by many during the morning, roosting and feeding amongst Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Redshank and Dunlin giving good size comparisons.
Other waders of note on the East Flood, Little Stint (Adult), Curlew Sandpiper, still 2 Spotted Redshank (1 SP AND 1W), at least 2 Ruff, 2 Little Ringed Plover and Golden Plover numbers are on the increase.
Walk to Uplees didn’t produce anything of note by which time the forecast rain was becoming a reality; at Midday 2 Ravens flew over heading for Sheppey calling to each other.
0745—1200 Blustery and cool; threat of rain. Slowly walked the E flood with Dave P; meeting up with Geoff B . A shallow tide barely lapping the base of the seawall. A Peregrine was on its usual lofty perch; Yellow Wagtails and Whimbrel were on the saltings ; Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were Sheppey-side and another extremely pale `chequered` Clouded Yellow defied a pic on the sluice saltings. Geoff provided eye-line to a young Water Rail; a Little Ringed Plover was with two Ringed Plover, and a further LRP was roadside. Two Brent Geese, bathing and preening ,could hardly be attributed early arrival status—over summering no doubt , but awaiting northern based brothers and sisters given today`s autumnal conditions! The Garganey was busy head down, dabbling, but occasionally showing the subdued head markings and pale bill spot. ( beware a Mallard with a strong pale head crescent ! ) Golden Plover numbers are slowly growing ; a predominately black Spotted Redshank remains with the Black-tailed Godwit flock. Far fewer gulls on the flood but included several Mediterranean Gulls. A Green Sandpiper was in the W side dyke. Dave P`s botanical nous provided Fool`s Watercress—although that was seriously trumped outside of Oare radar, as the rain curtailed play for the day.
08.00 to 12.00. Dry and mainly sunny morning with SW light
The make-up of waders on the East Flood has not really changed since last week. The Little Ringed Plover still feeding along the south margins. 2 Spotted Redshanks, 5 Turnstone, 3 Snipe, 4-5 Ruff, few Golden Plover and a single Curlew Sandpiper were the main highlights. 3 Sandwich Terns flew in then left just as swiftly. Party of Sand Martins came across feeding as they went. The eclipse Garganey was still feeding on the flood. Around 6-7 Mediterranean Gulls were also roosting.
On the falling tide, the Bonaparte’s Gull went back to feeding on the mud. Few Whimbrel also out on the mud.
A walk to Upless Copse found the Corn Bunting calling from bushes near the copse and a singing Willow Warbler in the copse seemed like a herald to the return migration! 3 Painted Lady butterflies were seen along the sea wall.
0715—1000 Blustery from the S/SW with significant showers in the estuary. With some site clearance work on the E flood margins it was prudent to walk W to the FSB. No sign of the recent Osprey lingering—as reported by Murray W and John S. Some Black T Godwits are in stunning plumage presently and deserve accolade for `best dressed` sp. Family party of Green Woodpeckers were marshland visitors; Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts were in numbers collectively moving west; a Meadow Pipit lingered with food for nestlings which were sited at the base of entangled Salsify and grasses. circa 80 Curlew were along Sheppey banks and Whimbrel were probing the seawall rocky foreshore. Grey Plovers were prominent in summer dress and a Green Sandpiper was at a favoured dyke. Common Terns and a Buzzard completed the early (ish) scene. Graeme B reported a Yellow-legged Gull in Oare creek. The stands of Toadflax continue to spread in the damp rank grassland near Dan`s Dock.
08.00 – 12.00 Mostly spent around East Flood. Waders of note; 3 Spotted Redshanks (1 in full summer plumage, 1 in winter and 1 Hybrid!), 5 Ruff, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and heard Greenshank. Kingfisher flew across the flood and there was a Lesser Whitethroat calling and feeding along bushes near East Flood hide.
1000-1230 Achieved a fifty per cent return on today`s target sps; ie Yes, Clouded Yellow (s), No, Whinchat ! A West side story of a fast flying, `chequered` pale looking butterfly near Uplees copse. Not recognisable by me but eventually `pinned `down on Red Clover where with inevitably the wings closed, it revealed as a Clouded Yellow. Perhaps with closed wings the paleness was less apparent, but one can detect a near off white to outer aspects of the upper-side wing. The second Clouded Yellow was near Dan`s Dock and a clear contrast, with bright yellow uppersides and black bordering; but refusing to settle. It appeared larger than the first insect, which maybe was the palest of pale female croceus and not one of the other pale sps. A Painted Lady was also on clover, and skippers various; Common Blues and Gatekeepers were abundant. A female Sparrowhawk was disturbed, making the resident Green Woodpeckers twitchy. Whimbrels were sea-bathing; 5 Sandwich and a Common Tern flew W; Swallows were having a field day and a Pied Wagtail family party were catching diptera on a bank of cast up Bladderwrack, andSwifts are at the departure gates. Marsh Mallow continues to spread—hard to appreciate its confectionary roots or its medicinal remedies; and Golden Samphire withstands the sea`s battering and continues to prosper. Left Whinchat for another day, although a near Autumn day in the SW gale suggested sooner than later!
08.30 to 14.00. Largely cloudy day and some sunny periods in afternoon. Light N / NW breeze.
Clocked up 19 species of wader during the day. Usual high numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Redshank and Lapwing. 4 Whimbrel on mud and few Curlew. Small flock of Golden Plover on East flood near road. 4-5 Ruff, 3 Snipe, 7 Turnstone in summer plumage. Single birds of the following; Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper (in summer plumage) and Knot (in summer plumage). As High tide approached around 150 Dunlin came on to East Flood. Oystercatchers were also present.
The Bonaparte’s Gull started off on the East Flood roosting amongst the Godwits, then flew out onto mud around 10.00 to feed. Mediterranean Gull was on East Flood in afternoon, as well as a Common Tern.
The eclipse Garganey was seen feeding in and out of the reeds on the creek-side of East flood. One of the highlights of the day was seeing a juvenile Cuckoo flying around to the south of the East flood hide track. Turtle Doves were seen on telegraph poles around the paddocks. 3-4 Yellow Wagtails were feeding along creek vegetation.
Singles of Hobby, Kestrel and Buzzard were seen. The only Butterfly of note was a Painted Lady near East flood hide.
Trevor Manship, Dave Sydall and David Hale
1130—1300 A near gale from the W/NW as high tide approached. Plenty of activity on the E flood, but reed growth is giving restricted viewing of the small party Curlew Sandpipers and other smaller waders in the SW shallows. An impressive party of 33 Greenshanks circuited the flood, calling continuously. The bulk of the circa 1000 Black-tailed Godwit flock and equally impressive Redshank flock were inclined mainly to the sheltered aspects. However, 3 Spotted Redshanks were viewable from creekside, as were 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Little Stint, 8 Ruff / Reeve, 10 Turnstones — near white-headed; c. 200 Avocets were widespread, with Swifts forced low by wind and rain, together with numerous Sand Martins. Whimbrels stalked the saltmarsh and were vocal. Golden Plovers are spangled, with numbers building. Dunlin vary enormously in plumage and bill length; the presumed race schinzii, shows some impressive dark grey, dense streaking on the upper breast and nape, together with large black belly patch—-smart birds! Amazing the difference a few days make in density of waders returning; plus many in summer dress just commencing moult. At last, for me, definitive views of Garganey in its subdued head-dress!
1300—1430 Blustery SW and hint of further rain. A short walk round part of E flood. Water levels were lower than of late, and muddy surrounds attracted returning waders.Tide was falling with much of the Redshank flock departing for salt water margins. 8 Curlew Sandpipers were largely associating with the Redshanks; and a few score Dunlin were widely dispersed. One (still predominately black) Spotted Redshank was with the Black tailed Godwits; 2 Snipe were at the marsh overhang; 1 Greenshank; 4 Golden Plover and 5 Ruff / Reeves were additionally located. Whimbrels were vocal and over- flying. A Common Sandpiper was in the creek margins;( there were 4 at South Swale earlier in the week). Moulting Mediterranean Gulls were prominent in the gull roosts; whilst Bonaparte`s Gull was typically `asleep`( grey mantle a subtly, slighter darker shade of grey than the accompanying Black-headed Gulls} and it was very close to the road. 4 Buzzards were over Mocketts, a Turtle Dove `purred` in the W side scrub and Yellow Wagtails briefly showed at the reedy margins. Water Rails squealed and went unseen. The Garganey duck continues to elude me , as do dawn Wood Sandpipers !!
1400—1630 A near SW gale of Mistral warmth took me westward. In an hour`s watching two Grass Snakes at Dan`s Dock I failed to see them catch a frog, although there was a great deal of underwater activity. Surface scanning Marsh Frogs seemed transfixed at the stealth of the snakes which appeared frequently on the surface, well camouflaged in water weed and debris. Handsome looking beasts! The wind did not deter a range of dragonfly sps , together with numerous Gatekeepers and Common Blues.
A brief look eastward found the Bonaparte`s Gull on the foreshore mud, before it finally flew to the E flood at 1600 where it was preening close to the roadway. Head moult appears to have started at the bill`s base and towards the eye arcs. One of the Ruff looks particularly smart in` Joseph ` dress code, plus there were 4 Little Stints as additions to the wader cast.Turtle Dove(s) continue to sing from the rear of the W flood. Good to see Frank C on site—he could have persuaded a BWS to follow him from North Kent !
The Bonaparte`s Gull continues to provide long-staying views—unlike the brevity of Saturday`s other American visitor. Oare`s muddy foreshore is favourite, where very short darting flights and determined gait seem to ensure an adequate supply of marine worms. The black bill is delicately pointed and not as robust as the Black-headed Gull. The narrow eye-arcs contrast with the near-black hood– (light dependent)—which from the rear is very similar to the Black-headed Gull in its depth towards the nape. Mike Roser
1000—1630 Pleasantly warm and plenty of eyes and ears around the site , with KOS to the fore , plus other well known personalities ! I was joined by Dave P. and Keith C. watching the Bonaparte`s Gull in different locations including the shoreline , main W dyke and E flood during the morning. Some excellent images were immediately available on social media from photographic colleagues. 3 Spotted Redshanks were located in the ever increasing Black T Godwit flock, plus Greenshank, Ruff in bi-coloured `leggings`, Dunlins and male and female Emperor Dragonfly continue to provide easy viewing. Within the locale but E of the creek, a flock of 40+ Grey Plovers swept in, supported by Dunlins , with Common Sandpiper and Ringed Mike Roser water`s edge. c 30 Yellow Wagtails ; family party of Stonechats,; singing Corn Bunting and a large party of roosting Little Egrets were highlights. Two Sandwich Terns were roosting with Blk Hd Gulls. The second Emperor of the day came in the form of a larva of the moth on bramble . Thanks for the ID KD !
The Adult Bonaparte’s Gull was feeding on the mud shoreline all morning and moved on to the East Flood at rising to High Tide around 14.00hrs. The main event of the day was 70 Mediterranean Gulls that flew into the East flood at 10.00hrs they moved on again after roosting for a short while; around 6 stayed on into the afternoon.
Waders on East flood of note; Common Sandpiper 2, Greenshank 2, Ruff 3, Spotted Redshank 3, Green Sandpiper 1, Knot 1 and around 7 Dunlin.
It says something when artists are out at 0500— finding, sketching and having the work on social media the same day. Well done Norman Mc.! The Bonaparte`s Gull was still on the muddy foreshore when I returned from reptile hunting some few hours later. Greenshank, and Ruff / Reeve were again on the E flood together with a Mediterranean Gull. There was plenty going on, though never the best light early doors looking E. Swallows were coming to the water margins—-DIY work with notions of 2nd/3rd broods ?? Towards Dan`s Dock, Whimbrels were in the saltmarsh; 2 Sandwich Terns were distinctive as they flew noisily up the Swale, but best beast was a 1m Grass Snake in the glutinous, algae encrusted reservoir. The Sea-lavender demands viewing for its in-depth colours.On departure, Bearded Tits were again ground feeding at the base of reed margins. At South Swale, Yellow Wagtails were again numerous; four calling birds were Whimbrels high towards Oare; five black-bellied Dunlin paused on the tide-line and a Common Sandpiper was a traditional find for this site.
1330—1230 On cue date-wise, and thanks to Murray W, the Bonaparte`s Gull was found early doors, and relocated to the gull roost close to the road where it spent much time asleep/ preening and appearing to catch diptera, and /or showing its blood-red gape whilst `yawning`audibly. Adult Common Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls were also evident. 3 Bearded Tits moved through close-in and Greenshank; Ruff / Reeve and Peregrine were noted. Pleased to find an ovipositing female Emperor dragonfly to go with the ever present male. Swifts were again in numbers in the locale, and Gatekeepers were suddenly numerous.
0830—0900 Hot and humid, with horticultural duties to follow, and Napoleon cherries a pre-cursor to Bonaparte`s Gull ! A few obs included Ruff and Reeve; 1 Spotted Redshank (the predominately all dark individual); Peregrine, Mediterranean Gulls and a smart Common Gull. Water Rail squealed but remained hidden.
0830—1030 Humid with a threat of thunderstorms, which in the event failed to materialise. Met up with Dave P for a short circuit. Waders starting to materialise with 2 distinctly different Ruff /Reeve—the former in colourful black/ orange plumage. 6 Dunlin were feeding alongside the Blk tailed Godwits and c 30 Dunlin left the scrape northwards, presumably for the Sheppey roost. Flying E along Sheppey banks were two parties of Bar- tailed Godwitstotalling c 50 birds. A Greenshank was near the roosting gull flock and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were in the `mix`. A Hobby flew E and Common Terns were plunge diving in in the flooding tide and a single Little Tern was in the creek. A single Rambur`s Shieldbug remains on the remnants of the Black horehound at the car park area. Swifts were ahead of the gathering clouds—and also around their breeding sites in the locale. Their departure looms!
1500—1630 Rambur`s Pied Shieldbug back on` stinking Roger`at the car park and an Emperor Dragonfly continuously restless at the sluice. 3 Spotted Redshanks on the E flood with c 120 Avocets. A Common Tern in the creek area; Shelducks with ten ducklings, and a Whimbrel again in the saltmarsh.
1230—1530 Oare`s radar would easily have dealt with the low flying chinook which scattered birds either side of the creek, besides making the Horse Sands` seals very twitchy. So happens todays obs were looking towards Oare, with up to 20 Yellow Wagtails of differing genders, plus juvs, for company; a singing Corn Bunting, and a Painted Lady for good measure. 39 seals with a few very small pups were hauled up; Great Black-backed Gulls were becoming more obvious and Curlews were again probing the shoreline. Skylarks appear to have had a good breeding season and Reed Warblers remain vocal.
0830-0945 A brief circuit of the E flood after the rain cleared. Good to catch up with Murray W and Keith P. c 110 Avocets; a Gadwall brood; 2 Spotted Redshanks—one feeding close to the reed cover and one with the roosting Blk T Godwits. Nice to find a Whimbrel on the creek saltmarsh with a Curlew—a large flock of the latter further E passing over the Seasalter Road, heading towards the Sth Swale shoreline….Plus a Little Ringed Plover, easily seen from the roadside pull-in.
12:40-13:35 – a brief lunchtime visit. There were three Spotted Redshanks on the east flood and Avocet numbers had increased to 80+. The two broods of Gadwall were still on the flood.
06:40-11:15 – cloudy with a light to moderate NE wind. There were two Spotted Redshanks on the east flood. Two broods of Gadwall, with seven ducklings each, were also on the east flood, seven Teal were present and a Kingfisher, flying across the flood, was the first post-breeding record. A Whimbrel flew west up the Swale, three Turtle Doves were in the scrub and a Peregrine was on one of the Nagden pylons. An adult Cuckoo flew across the saltmarsh at Uplees and a Corn Bunting sang from a patch of brambles there.
0815—1100 Warm and with a heat haze, a light NE breeze. 2 Spotted Redshanks were with the Black-tailed Godwits again. 3 Buzzards circled Mocketts; a Cuckoo called briefly and 3 Curlews flew west. It was pleasing to find a singleton Marbled White near Dan`s Dock—irregular at Oare. Yellow Wagtails were later in the locale and Common Seals were inquisitive.
09:50-12:20 – sunny with a moderate westerly wind. Gadwall numbers had declined markedly with only six noted whilst Teal had increased to five. There were 51 Avocets on the east flood and one Spotted Redshank remained. Two Turtle Doves and a Cuckoo were in the scrub, a Collared Dove was at the cottages and a Yellow Wagtail was on the sdge of Faversham Creek.
1245—-1445 Given the news from Eden Park, it seemed appropriate to find an `all black` Spotted Redshank picking its way through static godwit opposition, and doing its own version of the Haka round the reedy flanks of the East flood. Ahead of some very uncompromising-looking weather, c 150 Swifts gyrated over the flood and beyond, with 2-3 Sand Martins, Swallows and a single House Martin as part of the melee. A Peregrine was again atop a pylon; a Cuckoo called briefly; Turtle Doves `purred` from the rear of the W flood, and 50 + Avocets were distinctly happier with the cattle ensconced westward. The Black–tailed Godwit flock is now widely spread—-very easy to take this sp for granted here —a range of plumages; flags and rings to decipher— and a rarity amongst them –soon? No obvious sign of yesterday`s E flood Green Sandpiper—could now be a west-side story ! The Spoonbill was awaited by some for its daily commute.
11:10-13:00 – sunny with a moderate southerly wind. There were three stunning breeding plumage Spotted Redshanks on the east flood when I arrived but no sign of the reported Wood Sandpiper or Ruff. The juvenile Spoonbill was still present. The ducks included three Teal and waders included an increase in Avocets to 45 with two well-grown chicks also still present. A Turtle Dove and a Cuckoo could be heard from the scrub.
0830—1100 A slow meander in humid conditions ahead of a brief stormy period of rain squalls and thunder and lightning from the SW. Turtle Doves were `purring`; Cettis, as always, explosive; Spoonbill loaving, interspersed with preening and a minimum of sweeping the shallows. A Peregrine was tucked in close to pylon struts; Avocets guarded two young, camouflaged against a marshy overhang, and a Greenshank joined Redshank in the muddy margins. A brood of eight Shel (ducklings) were centre creek; and Chris R and Martin G were notable KOS visitors determined to source Bearded Tits in the wind blown reeds—which they did! Two Buzzards circled Mocketts, and Swifts were in numbers in the locale around their urban breeding eaves. Teals were among the scores of moulting ducks in The blood-red, waisted abdomens of several male Ruddy Darters were evident. Skies darkened and lightning had a forked tongue!
0730—1200 Another `tropical` morning; a veil of high, hazy cloud and a warm E breeze which freshened as the tide turned. The Spoonbill was busy sweeping and preening early on, but took sanctuary and rested later among the circa 500 Black-tailed Godwits, and Cormorants . A range of duck sps are hurrying to eclipse on the E flood including a score of Gadwall and several Shovelers. They were dislodged from their prime roosting position by the fifty head of cattle that ranged through the water at 0745 and made the SE island their own. `Great news` for the Avocets and other waders just as the water levels were dropping!! In spite of mid-summer day`s eve. there was plenty of bird song with Cettis, Whitetroats and Linnets to the fore. Two Yellow Wagtails briefly paused on the wires; a few Swifts sourced insects and locally bred Swallows zipped about. Two Turtle Doves were mobile in the scrub with `purring` a continuous background song. Black-tailed Skimmers were in numbers; immature Ruddy Darters a feature, and skippers a defining headache—Large; Little and—–Essex, not sure ! Antennae tips: orange plays black; scent bands long or short ,or none at all—help !!
———-and a Cuckoo called at Uplees and Great Black-backed Gulls were again suddenly apparent !
16:20-17:50 – sunny, very warm with a light SW wind. A juvenile Spoonbill was on the main island in the SE corner of the east flood (it has also been reported on two other dates recently). There were 17 Avocets on the east flood and the Black-tailed Godwit flock included at least one juvenile. There were 13 Lapwings on the mud west of the slipway and an exceptional flock of 120 Bar-tailed Godwits, none in breeding plumage, along the Harty Ferry shoreline.
06:30-11:25 – sunny and warm with a moderate southerly wind. Ducks on the east flood included 45 Gadwall, a pair of Teal and ten Shovelers. There were seven Lapwings on the mud west of the slipway, c20 Grey Plovers on Horse Sands, whilst on the east flood there was the first returning Green Sandpiper and, unusually, six Knot, including one in breeding plumage which, presumably, knew not whether they were coming or going. Four Little Terns, along with Common Terns, were fishing along the edge of Horse Sands.
14:30-16:00 – sunny with a moderate SW wind. The pair of Mute Swans were on the east flood, five drake Pochards were resting on the main island in the SE corner and, unusually, a Great Crested Grebe was also present on the flood. Waders there included eight Avocets and four Lapwings. About 40 Swifts and a single Sand Martin were hawking over the flood.
15:20-17:00 – sunny with a fresh SW wind. The flock of Black-tailed Godwits on the east flood had increased to about 260 birds. There were also two Lapwings and five Avocets, the pair of Mute Swans with their three cygnets, a drake Pochard and a returning duck Teal. Overhead, there were about 200 Swifts. A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was by the cottages. Three Great Crested Grebes were on the Swale by Castle Coot and a flock of 30 Grey Plovers, a Curlew and a Turnstone were on Horse Sands.
In the next week or so, we can expect the first returning waders. The se will probably include Ruff, Green Sandpipers and Spotted Redshanks still in breeding plumage. I have seen comments to the effect that the “returning” Bonaparte’s Gull is late this year. Over the last four years, the first dates have been 22nd May in 2013 (when it was a second calendar year bird), 17th July in 2014, 20th June 2015 and 8th July 2016. It is unpredictable. It could turn up any time now or, of course, not all.
14:00-15:50 – sunny with a fresh southerly wind. There were about 220 Black-tailed Godwits on the east flood where Coot numbers were beginning to build with 101 counted. A single Little Tern flew east by Horse Sands and a flock of c15 Bar-tailed Godwits could be made out on the Sheppey shore beyond. A Yellow Wagtail flew over the sea wall near the hide (Geoff Burton)
110 Swifts were hawking low over the floods in the afternoon (Dave Perrin).
A male Montagu’s Harrier flew south over the west flood, the scrub and the rape fields beyond at 5.30 pm (Dave Perrin). This is the first to be recorded here since 2011.
06:05-11:15 – sunny and warm with a light easterly wind. On the east flood, the non-breeding flock of Black-tailed Godwits had reduced to 170 and the only other waders were two Avocets and the occasional Oystercatcher. The pair of Mute Swans were present with their three cygnets and ducks included 16 Gadwall, six Shovelers and three Pochard. There were two Turtle Doves in the scrub and, less common here, a Collared Dove on a TV aerial on the cottages. A Cuckoo, a Nightingale and a Lesser Whitethroat were in song. A Barn Owl was noted at 7.10 am and another Cuckoo, at the Uplees copse, flew across the Swale to Sheppey (Geoff Burton).
It has been a quiet month, especially in the second half when Jay was the only species added to the year list. 131 species at the end of the month is 12 behind last year’ total. Amongst the birds recorded earlier in the month were Curlew Sandpiper on 9th and a drake Garganey on 10th (also on 29th).
Of non-avian interest was a Cream-spot Tiger moth on the path along the creek between the sluice and the sea wall hide on 15th.
1445—1600 At last; 20 deg plus, with the mistral blowing hot air. Cuckoos were mobile and called from the W side scrub, with a very rufous female prominently in attendance. ( Is Swalecliffe`s bird still on-site? ) Cetti`s were vocal; a Spoonbill swept the E flood shallows; Little Egrets probed the margins and a Greenshank was ever present. 17 Knot kept the Black-tailed Godwits company, feverishly showering and preening ready for take-off, and twice spooked by the large raptor quartering the dykes. The cattle were idle, and it nearly made one think `Camargue`, especially as two Spotted Flycatchers were back in the near locale. A large fast flying dragonfly remained unidentified, so its still only damsels to date!
13th May–1200-1430 . Walked westward to Uplees copse; warm with broken cloud and sunny intervals. Blustery conditions still deter insect life, although a Small Copper, bright male Common Blues, Small Heath and a large, high,fast flying, presumed Hairy Dragonfly were on the wing in sunny aspects. 3 Whimbrel and a Curlew moved off the saltings as the tide rose; a Hobby circled over the marsh; Swifts gyrated, and a Buzzard was circling, semi-lost in the clouds. The resident Cuckoo continues to call; Whitethroats continue to confirm their status for me, as the commonest of the migrant warblers, but significant was the `purring` from the Horse Chestnut of at least 3 Turtle Dove(s)—two flew rapidly exposing their prominent tail markings, and a third was seen separately. I suspected a fourth bird later. Cetti`s also continue to sing from this locale. Marsh Frogs were audible from distance with 18 congregated on the surface water at Dan`s Dock. A Greenshank in adult summer plumage continues to favour the SE shallows of the E flood.
1330-1500 With the prevailing cold NE wind, conditions were not ideal for lingering! There had been a significant arrival of Swifts in the locale, and Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins were also hawking over the E flood in numbers. 24 drake Gadwall were amongst the waterfowl, an adult Great Black-backed Gull looked sadly about to expire; but Lesser Black- backs were in their menacing moods , and they were also prominent at Ham Pits, where Mediterranean Gulls were also on site. A Cuckoo moved swiftly through the W flood. Yellow Wagtails were around the feet of the E flood herd of cows, which appeared to be `marooned` on a SE corner island. A Grey Heron took time to KO a Marsh Frog of significant size—whether this was regular diet or an opportunistic feed was debatable—but the bulging neck suggested a `Gaviscon` antidote might be requred !
1630-1715. 10 deg and a NE wind. Scanned the E flood from the mobile hide. 3 Great Black-backed Gulls, per photos– 2nd calendar year birds, at different stages of development– were slightly surprising visitors. Unlike the Black-headed Gulls and several duck, they were not concerned by the large overflying raptor. 14 drake and 2 duck Gadwall were present, with several Teal, a pair of Pochard, a pair of Shoveler; the Wigeon long stayers,and several mobile Shelducks. 2 Greenshank zig-zagged around the flood, calling continuously before dropping into the SE corner.A dozen Swallows and 2 House Martins were hawking over the flood. A cold and somewhat inhospitable evening!!
A cool, misty atmospheric morning. Walked west past the FSB. Pulses of Swallows were already passing westward; 2 pairs of Little Grebes were in the main dyke, and Shoveler; Gadwall and Tufted Duck were paired in various dyke localities. A cock Stonechat was in breeding dress and 2 Wheatears were just west of the copse in very suitable breeding habitat. 3 Corn Buntings were singing at separate points towards Luddenham Gut. Reed Buntings were coming to the Salisfy flowers, appearing to peck at a food source on the plant stem. Mediterranean Gulls were much in evidence westward, with several adult birds in the pastures. Chiffchaff; Blackcap; Cetti`s; Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler were singing at the copse; a Buzzard circled Mocketts and a Cuckoo flew around the west flood, calling and harassed by Meadow Pipits. A few Avocets, and a score of Whimbrels were associated with the tidal margins.
06:30-11:50 – sunny with a light NE wind. A Lesser Whitethroat singing opposite the cottages was the first of the year. Other birds in that area included two singing Nightingales, male and female Cuckoos and the Turtle Dove. Ted Lee found a Spoonbill in the NE corner of the east flood but it soon flew off west at 9.05 am. A single Dunlin and a Greenshank were in the SE corner of the flood. A Snipe was flushed from pools along the path to the west hide and a Hobby was seen circling over the west flood later in the morning.
Dave Perrin was present in the afternoon on the incoming tide. He reported 27 Knot, a Ruff, 220 Black-tailed Godwits, seven Whimbrel, a Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper.
Oare Marshes 11am – 2pm
Cormorant, mute swan, grey heron, little egret, brent, shelduck, wigeon, teal, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, tufted, kestrel, hobby, pheasant, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, grey plover, lapwing, knot, redshank, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, curlew, black headed gull, lesser black back, woodpigeon, collared dove, green woodpecker, swallow, skylark, marsh harrier, buzzard, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, yellow wagtail, starling, magpie, jackdaw, crow, sedge warbler, reed warbler, whitethroat, robin, blackbird, bearded tit, great tit, house sparrow, chaffinch, goldfinch, linnet, reed bunting.
11:05-12:40 – Julian Russell reported a Spoonbill on the east flood and also that a Turtle Dove had returned to its station on the weather vane. I dropped into see them; the Spoonbill, initially asleep, performed well feeding in the NW corner of the east flood. A flock of 28 Knot came in with five in Red breeding plumage though the others were not that Great. An immature Great Black-backed Gull was resting on one of the islands and a Corn Bunting flew east over the road. It was good to see Murray Wright down at the marshes again. He reported having seen two Common Sandpipers along the creek. Bo Boelans reported a Hobby and, apparently, one had been seen the day before.
I saw Philip Goatcher at Swalecliffe who reported seeing three Little Terns on the Swale off Uplees on 29th. New birds for the year have been queing up for attention in the last few days. However, the year total of 128 species at the end of the month is ten species down on the same time last year. Birds not yet reported include Swift and Lesser Whitethroat.
15:20-17:00 – cloudy with a light NW wind and cool. I arrived to be informed by Dave Perrin that a Curlew Sandpiper had been on the east flood but had flown out when a Marsh Harrier had flown over the flood. It was not in full breeding plumage but had a few patches of red on the underparts. An early record of this scrace in spring migrant. The pair of Wigeon were on the flood and three Knot were on the islands with the godwits. There were about 50 Swallows hawking over the flood and at least two Sand Martins and two House Martins. Two stunning male Yellow Wagtails were also on the flood and a Nightingale was singing in the scrub. There was a single Grey Plover on the foreshore and Dave Perrin reported seven Great Crested Grebes at the mouth of the creek.
It was 5 deg and feeling like 0 deg. Over the E flood, Swallows and Sand Martins were `hawking` unseen diptera, and surprisingly 17 Knot were with the Black-tailed Godwitsclose to the road, but were spooked before any chance of a pic. It was eye-watering walking west; Whimbrels were scattered around the saltings and muddy foreshore with upwards of 20 birds present, one taking time to demolish a mussel A lame Curlew with weed and line around the right foot was feeding at the water`s margin. 4 Wheatearswere in the sheep fields; a Cuckoo called from Uplees direction and a small passage of Common Terns was continuous W up the Swale. Whitethroats; Blackcap; Cetti`s and Linnets were prominent at the copse. 2 pairs of Little Grebes were breeding candidates. From the seawall hide at 1030, 3 distant, all very dark `skuas`, though small, undulated and gyrated W along Horse Sands, quickly becoming apparent as summer dressed Black Terns. Todays bonus bird ! Also distantly, Lapwings were harassing a Marsh Harrier.Small numbers of Avocets lined the creek and a Greenshank called. Both Pochard and Tufted Duck were distinctly paired—the former hopefully to mirror last years success. The sky darkened substantially with visible precipitation to the North, but deep cracks have now formed on parts of the Reserve and the continuous dryness does not bode well for some species successful breeding. In a S sheltered `microclimate` on the fringe of the Reserve, Orange-tips and my first Small Copper were much in evidence, with Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff all vocal.
06:35-11:10 – sunny with a moderate NW wind and cold. A Cuckoo was calling, and showed well, in the scrub opposite the cottages, and a Nightingale sang but didn’t reveal itself. A Sparrowhawk was chased by about 30 Jackdaws to the west over Uplees. Ducks on the east flood included the pair of Wigeon and a drake Pochard. There were about 15 Whimbrel on the saltmarsh west of the slipway and another 15 on the foreshore by Uplees copse. There were five Wheatears in the field to the west side of Dan’s Dock and a pair of Long-tailed Tits in the copse. Back at the east flood at high tide, there were three Knot amongst the Godwits and three Avocets. Three House Martins flew west whilst about 30 Swallows were hawking over the rape field amongst which there was a single Sand Martin and House Martin.
0745—0930. Big skies; high clouds and subtle dawn light. A steady, light passage of Swallows; Whitethroats now evident in all the shrubberies and hedgerows and a Cuckoo distantly calling. Linnets busy collecting nesting material ,particularly `down` from the reed-mace heads.A combination of Sedge and Reed Warblers vying with Cetti`s for decibels. Mediterranean Gulls called, high, and lost in the sun. Tufted Ducks; Pochard; Gadwall and Teal continue to loaf, periodically erupting in dating manifestations , whilst the Wigeon pair remain sedate and secretive. Little Egrets are displaying a range of lilac/mauve hues about their lores, but to me their numbers appear less in their local breeding colony, a result perhaps of previous gale-damage in their local favoured woodland copse. Whimbrels are vocal throughout the saltings—a flight of 15 were in salt-marsh in the near locale later in the day.
16:10-17:20 – a brief visit with the highlight a Spotted Redshank in transitional plumage on the east flood. The pair of Wigeon are still on the flood.
0800-0845 A breakfast break at Oare produced a distant calling Cuckoo, which then circuited the W marsh calling and hotly pursued by a Magpie. Swallows were moving through in small numbers; a Reed Warbler was loud in the car-park reed-bed with a Water Rail even louder, although unseen. Whimbrels were in the saltmarsh and a Common Tern was resting on a mooring buoy. A Nightingale was in full voice in the W side scrub—–seemingly mobile, unless there were two in the general area.
06:50-11:00 – sunny but very cold in the fresh northerly wind. There were at least six Whimbrel on the saltmarsh west of the slipway. Ducks on the east flood included 51 Teal, 33 Shoveler, 14 Gadwall and a pair of Wigeon. Amongst the flock of c500 Black-tailed Godwits was the pale individual and a female Bar-tailed Godwit. In the scrub opposite the cottages, Whitethroats had at last arrived with at least three singing males but no sound of Nightingale yet. There were two Greenshanks in the creek by the Shipwright’s. A few Swallows were passing through during the morning, at least eight, but no sign of the martins. A single Yellow Wagtail was seen in the area behind the sea wall.I met Mike Roser who had seen a Peregrine fly over the east flood but a walk up to the Uplees copse had produced nothing of significance. Geoff Burton
A small group of seven Knot were reported (Nick Smith) amongst the roosting Black-tailed Godwits yesterday; and within Oare radar and just off the head of the creek in scrub, a Nightingale was in good voice early morning today (Graeme Backhurst)
15:30-16:50 – cloudy with a light SW wind. Two Sandwich Terns flew west up the Swale and two Common Terns were on the east flood. It was high tide and, in addition to the Black-tailed Godwits which included the pale individual first seen on March 17th, there were 30 Dunlin, 75 Redshanks and an Oystercatcher. A Yellow Wagtail flew west over the road, a Reed Warbler was singing just south of the car park and two Swallows were reported passing through.
0730—1000 Initially a glaring sun and an uncomfortable , eye-watering W/NW breeze. 2 Whimbrels shared the saltmarsh with a Curlew, and Mediiterranean Gulls in numbers drited through high, calling. At the copse. A Song Thrush was knocking six-bells out of a `maritime` mollusc which it had garnered seaward side, and then flown to partial cover. A Canada Goose was loudly making its presence known and a Blackcap was singing from dense cover. Swallows continue to trickle through, but are also back in home territory just off the reserve. A Greenshank was feeding on the creekside mud and c 25 seals were on Horse Sands. In the near Oare locale in a sheltered aspect, there were numerous `whites`including several Orange Tips and a Speckled Wood, plus Chiffchaff; Blackcap and Whitethroat in song and the fifth Cetti`s of the session.
06:40-11:40 – sunny with a light westerly wind. On arrival, a Reed Warbler could be heard singing in the reeds just east of the car park. A Whimbrel was in the saltmarsh to the west of the causeway. Amongst the duck on the east flood, there were ten Gadwall and five Pochard. There werealso c500 Black-tailed Godwits and a single Avocet. A Greenshank and an adult Yellow-legged Gull were in the creek by the Shipwright’s and a Peregrine was on the Nagden pylons. Completing the circuit, a Yellow Wagtail flew west over the car park but a walk up to the copse produced only a single Willow Warbler singing there and two second calender year Common Gulls on the Swale. Geoff Burton
0900—1030 Difference a day makes, with a very cool strong NW breeze. Layers x 3 again! Three Buzzards were jousting and `mewing ` to the rear of W flood, and were joined by a Sparrowhawk. Cetti`s continued to provide excellent views; a Swallow passed through; 15 Pochard favoured ducks in number, just. Sedge Warblers continue to be the only mass arrival migrant, with one bird proving to be a significant mimic of the Bearded Tit which I couldn`t find. A very pale, diluted plumaged Black-tailed Godwit was prominently amongst the roosting flock—it also showed an extensive two-thirds pink bill colour. Orange Tip butterflies were in the locale in sheltered hedgerows. c 18 seals only around Horse Sands. Mike R
0700—0830 There was an early morning `Camargue` feel this morning, which delivered a Whimbrel to the west in the sheep pastures. Sadly nothing else amongst the assorted stock and only Chiffchaffs and Cetti`s at the copse. Met up with Graeme Backhurst, who subsequently advised of a Common Whitethroat in hedgerows in the Oare locale, plus a flyover Spotted Redshank, calling near Oare creek, plus Greenshank(s). Mike R
0945-1200 High cloud and a westerly breeze. Up to four Buzzards were thermalling and calling to the East; a Swallow flew W (still only trickling through for this observer) but Mediterranean Gulls continued to move W , high and very vocal. Corn Buntings have been prominently singing at Dan`s Dock, albeit only ones and twos. Sedge Warblers are are back `in-house` in numbers now, singing from a wide range of reed-bed margins, and no doubt with the predicted warm southerly air we can expect 5-8 more sps in rapid succession over the next 72 hours. A Raven circled high over Uplees then `bombed` away westward; on the TQ boundary up to 45 Mediterranean Gulls were feeding in the close cropped pastures with Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Herring Gull intruders. There appears to be many more of this gull sp this term than I have previously seen; interesting if others concur and whether it will be reflected in breeding numbers notified further W up channel.Great Crested Grebes were `bowing and scraping`, furiously head dipping, undecided in permanence of bond—-though it looked pretty serious! Cetti`s and seaside Green Woodpeckers have territories; Skylarks are numerous—this is noticable in the wider locale, and further into TR. Little Grebes continue to `whinny` with at least three identifiable pairs around the floods. Green-veined Whites are presently the most numerous butterfly. A Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were `dating`, feeding together and showing a modicum of affection; Water Rails squealed unseen, and pressure builds ! Mike R
07:10-11:40 – sunny with a light NW breeze. The numbers of Shoveler on the east flood remains high with 77 counted today. Other ducks included three Wigeon that circled over the flood, a pair of Pintail which dropped in mid-morning whilst five Pochard were on the west main dyke. An under-rehearsed Blackcap was singing opposite the cottages and three Sedge Warblers were singing in the reedbeds around the flood. A walk to Uplees produced a Wheatear in the fields behind the copse and a Willow Warbler singing in the copse. Butterflies noted were several Peacocks and a Green-veined White. A Marsh Frog was calling near the pull-in.
New birds are arriving regularly now and have included a Whimbrel and a Swallow on March 27th (Terry Ryan), a Little Gull on 28th (John Bartlett), a Wheatear on 31st (Dave Perrin), a Common Tern on April 1st (Julian Russell) and a Green Sandpiper on 2nd (Sue Carter). The total now stands at 111 species. Geoff Burton
0745—1030 Initially warm from the S; a cooler SW breeze later with showers, a day early! On the E flood 70+ Shoveler were the dominant duck sp with a still sizeable low-tide Black-tailed Godwit flock. A large female Sparrowhawk put the waders to flight and gulls into turmoil including the first-winter Little Gull, which remained on the E flood for the third day—difficult on occasion to find when on the the water, but obvious in flight when amongst the gull melee, and consistently surface picking emergent aquatics. Cetti`s sang from three separate locations; a Mute Swan disputed territorial rights with Greylags, winning the contest; and further west, parties of Shelducks atop the seawall were head bobbing and sizing up burrowed accommodation. 10 Great Crested Grebes were on the Swale. Dave Perrin provided the first Wheatear report, from the west flood anthills; and there was an indication of Sedge Warbler song yesterday from the creekside reedbed, heard by others. Mike R
0730—0930 An opposite SW wind-blow to yesterday, with full cloud. The creek was `wellie boot` deep at low water, and areas of foreshore were unusually visible with Faversham Spit buoy high and dry. A Greenshank was working the creek shallows and c 200 Teal sifted the ooze. Black-tailed Godwits continued to flight in to the E flood , and c 500 were on the limited island space. A male Marsh Harrier put them to flight; whilst small numbers of Turnstones, Grey Plover, Curlew, and Oyster Catcher worked the exposed foreshore. Another sighting of a Red Kite northwards was seen later by other observers. In the locale, a Blackcap was intermittently competing with Chiffchaffs; Mistle and Song Thrushes, at choral practice. Mike R
0730—0945 A cold, nagging NE breeze in very misty conditions, but Skylark, Linnet and Goldfinches were notable for their respective songs and Cetti`s Warbler again gave good close-up views with the `stubby` short primaries and rounded secondaries considerably darker than the overall rufous of the crown and mantle. The white supercilium again for me, is much more prominent than is sometimes shown, as the bird moves further into summer dress. Mediterranean Gulls flew high, calling and a Little Gull was recorded on site sometime later by others. Improvements later in weather conditions supplied my first sweeping, dipping Swallow, albeit outside Oare radar. Mike R
0830-1030. March was welcoming spring in the usual manner with a gale of E/NE wind; leaden sky and 8 deg (in the lea) The E flood looked bleak, with circa 60 Shoveler the main duck sp in open water, whilst drake Pochards hugged the reed margins The incoming tide was lumpy—I feared for the yachtie who was precariously perched weighing anchor—but the Black-necked Grebe bouncing through troughs diverted attention. I hoped it would come closer than the Faversham Spit buoy; however the plumage seemed distinctly summery and on the odd occasion when light improved, the red eye, and gold feathering particularly was discernable. The high peaked crown was always a dominant aspect. Cetti`s sang, hidden in brambles; a female Marsh Harrier was tossed across the E flood and a small party of Brent Geesewere in the saltings. Mike R
15:00-16:20 Cloudy with a moderate SE wind. The female Eider was still present along the creek. Again, the duck numbers were lower. There were good numbers of Shoveler, 12 Gadwall but only one pair of Pintail, six Pochard and two Tufted Ducks. Apart from the Godwits, there was only a single Lapwing on the east flood and a Ruff flew across the creek. Geoff Burton
0730-1030 Full cloud with rain on the air in a near SW gale meant heads were down in the sheltered aspects of the E flood. A Cetti`s was again prominently showing; 12 Gadwall were mid-water, as were 13 Pochard—predominately drakes. A few Pintail lingered and again a single Ruff was with the sheltering Shoveler. A few Black-tailed Godwits (pictured left) were showing distinct plumage change, with upper scapulars, head and chest now taking on the stunningly bright copper / orange of summer dress. Occasionally the flock would be alert and wary with withdrawn bills; then it was bills returned to feathered scabbard and nictitating membranes again became a prominent feature. A duck Eider hauled up on the creek mouth`s margin and subsequently lingered in the bay with 2 Great Crested Grebes. Linnets are retaining their flocking instincts, with small numbers atop the seawall—a flock of 28 was at South Swale yesterday. Curlews were numerous probing the mud; some Avocets were active and spread around the creek shallows; others were seemingly comatose in tight black and white flocks—–count the legs and divide by two; except for those birds standing on one leg ! A pair of Ravens, also seen by TR; flew, calling, through the air-space towards Sheppey. A Great Spotted Woodpecker undulated through the rear scrub. Mike R
06:55-11:55 – sunny with a light westerly wind and cooler. On arrival, there was a Chiffchaff singing in the car park bushes (another two were also heard during the morning). Duck numbers on the east flood were down generally but there were 55 Shovelers and six Gadwall. Around the cottages, it was very quiet but a single Long-tailed Tit was seen. A Red Kite was drifting around over Mockett’s Hill at 8.35 am and there were also four Buzzards. Birds of the day were two summer plumage Black-necked Grebes drifting east on the Swale just west of the causeway. Over the years, these have proved to be the rarest of the rarer grebes; my only previous record was of two on the Swale in November 1994! A walk to Uplees proved fruitless save for a group of four Ruff feeding along the shoreline opposite the copse. Back at the east flood, I counted 400 Black-tailed Godwits which included an unusual pale individual. A single Ruff was also on the flood and an apparent intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull and a pair of Mediterranean Gulls flew over heading west. Geoff Burton
0745—1130 A cracking morning; glaring sun; cloud and breeze bubbling up from the SW.Plenty of birdsong with singing Chiffchaffs both on-site and in the immediate locale—great to hear those distinctive notes again! The Little Owl came and went this morning but 4 Cettis were again singing on site; one prominent at the entrance gate atop a hawthorn. The bright sun gave a shimmering aspect to the seascape where at low tide waders were moving W, including a flock of 12 Bar-tailed Godwits and many Grey Plover. A Fox watched me at Uplees, keeping its head below the reed margins and seemingly causing consternation with Cettis and Green Woodpecker alike. Two Ravens flew across the Swale towards Sheppey—with unusually subdued squeaky, rattling calls which I don`t recall hearing previously. A Buzzard circled Mocketts and Marsh Harriers lingered awhile. Curlews were in small flocks in the pastures and Grey Herons again appeared in small groups flying W . A couple of Bearded Tits `pinged` from E flood reeds but were reluctant for a prolonged appearance as the breeze strengthened. About to exit the E flood, I was prompted to look skyward where there appeared to be raptors in and out of sunlight. A Buzzard; male Marsh Harrier and best of all, a Red Kite
languidly drifting NW—all quite high—the latter especially distinctive with deep forked tail and slim, patterned wings prominent, as the the sun caught both harrier and kite. The latter my first here this year. Mike R
0730—1130 Cool W air; bright sun and high cloud. Walked the E flood and creek then to Uplees. 3 Cetti`s were widely dispersed, plus a forth later at Uplees. The Little Owl was mobile around its favoured site and on the E flood 7 Gadwall were centre stage; with the other duck sps much as yesterday—save for the Garganey—–secreted or moved on. A Buzzard was perched openly and a Greenshank probed the creek`s ooze. 14 Curlew were a tight feeding group in the pastures and 8 Grey Herons commuted W . A single Ruff was with the roosting ducks. Little Grebes were noisy and a pair of Coots were half-hearted at house building. circa 400 Brent lined Sheppey shoreline with a small party of Avocets too. Towards Uplees a Water Rail squealed unseen; a cock Stonechat was prominently coloured;and Goldfinches were on the saltings. 4 Great –crested Grebes drifted through W . In the locale 2 further Greenshanks were roosting at Ham Pits; 6 Gadwall were with Tufted Ducks and Pochards and a min of 6 Mediterranean Gulls were bathing in a mixed gull melee, their black hoods most prominent. Mike R
0745-0945 High hazy cloud and warming. A quick visit and walk west; stopping for a catch up with JR who already had found a male Garganey on the E flood—thks for my first Spring migrant! A Kingfisher zipped through ,whilst two Cettis sang simultaneously, plus a third was centre W flood. There were numerous wildfowl , with Pintail; Wigeon; Teal; Tufted Duck and Pochard well represented, plus eight Canada Geese loudly announcing their presence. A male Marsh Harrier was prominent over the W flood and two Ravens jousting with Rooks and Carrion Crows over the sheep-fields at Uplees. Size differential very pronounced as they `cronked` across the Swale from Sheppey. Skylarks were in full song and a couple of Long-tailed Tits were agitatedly house hunting. Four Great–crested Grebes swam W on the rising tide and a couple of Mediterranean Gulls flew high W . Mike R
11:30-12:25 – cloudy and calm. A brief visit to see the reported Garganey which I found asleep on the east flood. There were also four Gadwall and three Turnstones on the flood. Five Snipe were in flight over the west flood and a Long-tailed Tit was at the cottages. Geoff Burton
0745—1145 Initially walked west; into eye-watering westerly air, the glaring sun at my back. Cetti`s as usual, was vocal at the car-park; a couple of Wigeon; 11 Tufted Ducks; a pair of Pochard and three Gadwall were in the main dyke. A cock Stonechat was at the copse; Skylarks were prominently singing but a Song Thrush outdid all the vocalists from the upper circle of the arbour. A scattering of Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets were shoreline,and three Gt Crested Grebes were on the Swale; but after entering TQ , at Luddenham Gut wildfowl were plentiful , with c 240 Teal; Tufted Ducks and Gadwall seduced perhaps by the spinning decoys—a permanent feature. Mediterranean Gulls were reporting to their usual Halls of Residence for Spring term further west, Marsh Harriers were far and near; and c110 Avocets joined the melee as a Merlin hurtled through the saltmarsh. Back at base, the Little Owl was in sniper`s camouflage 200m away , with one eye cocked—-low tide roosting waders were sparse; drake Shovelers were in No 1 dress; Long-tailed Tits were looking for moss and feathers; two Buzzards were high—very high and thermalling; a Green Woodpecker yaffled and a Little Egret foot paddled the reedbed enticing the day`s bouillabaisse to the surface. c 35 seals were hauled up on Horse Sands. Mike R
08:05-11:50 – cloudy, light rain at first and a moderate SE wind. Ducks on the east flood included five Gadwall, 20 Pintail, 21 Shoveler and 11Pochard whilst 36 Tufted Ducks had relocated to the west main dyke. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker paused briefly at the cottages before heading east and two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew SE over the east flood; two additions to the year list. Four Red-breasted Mergansers, three drakes and a duck, were on the Swale east of the slipway and a flock of c10 Goldfinches were on the saltmarsh by Dan’s Dock. Geoff Burton
0830—1030 A cool SW breeze, but at least some half decent light in a cloudy sky. A slow walk, predominately round the E flood, although for starters the Little Owl gave good views from one of its favoured spots.On the E flood eight Gadwall were seemingly paired; a pair of Pochards increased to twelve, with several smart males appearing from the cover of reeds. c 30 Tufted Ducks were hunkered down, loafing in the lee, as they seem inevitably to do. Pintail; Shoveler and Teal made up the numbers with 16 Shelduck a tight knit group disputing potential partners. Greylagshave it sorted, so long as the cattle don`t scoff every tussock. That said, the hundreds of Lapwings , roosting primarily on the grazed areas, attracted a couple of Ruff within their scattered numbers. Best of all, distinctive`pinging` revealed two Bearded Tits in the reed-beds, the male a class apart with blue-grey head and drooping moustache. Black-tailed Godwits were in `low-tide` numbers, and c 25 seals were visible on Horse Sands. Cetti`s sang at the car-park; a Green Woodpecker sought ground sustenance; Skylarks were half-hearted at choral practice; Stock Doves were frenzied; and Grey Herons were on excursions from their near heronry—where clouds of Rooks and Jackdaws are into Spring with a vengeance. Bombus sps are ignorant of the cool conditions, and hedgerows are bursting with blossom. Optimism by mid-month for migrants as Spring beckons! Mike R
1000—1300. A brisk W/NW was a tad eye-watering; but after yesterday`s blow it seemed pedestrian. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew W , whilst Sheppey skyline was seemingly inundated with Lapwings; long ragged lines of ca. two thousand with c 150 Golden Plover separate in a tight wheeling flock .Marsh Harriers were active along the saltings and around Mocketts, and a couple of Buzzards were noted. In the W flood main dyke 52 Tufted Duck and 18 Wigeon were in sheltered accomodation, as were the majority of Pintail, Shoveler and Teal, secreted in the reedy margins of the E flood. ca 180 Avocets were temporarily in residence, but as the tide ebbed numbers dwindled. There were a number of very visible ringed Black-tailed Godwits—at least the legs were visible, with indeterminate bodies, amongst the flock of five hundred or so birds. Sequences of yell/org/red; yell/black/white; blk/red/grn; and red/ blk/grn should be easily evaluated as to the birds` provenance.( Will check them out—plus my ability to colour read ! ). Skylarks were vocal; Greylags were sorting their pitches; and a couple of Ruff were amongst the roosting Teal and Shoveler. Pleased to find a (the) Little Owl at one of its favourite vantage points—for me , noticable by its absence to date ! Mike R
0800–0930 Feeling masochistic, I thought I would test Doris`s wrath and the effect it was having on Oare`s birdlife. A 200 m battering to the seawall hide; composure and a hot coffee, provided the following. Lapwings were tossed in ragged lines, or facing the wind—crests parallel with the upper body—unsteady in the gusting violence; Black-tailed Godwits swept in low over the seawall; Avocets , startlingly black and white against a grey sea-scape; Teal bobbing unconcerned on the incoming tide; Dunlins , a compact cloud manoeuvring high and low; Brent Geese leaving the last vestiges of zostera for arable pastures; gulls various, carefree, hanging, blown skyward; single Curlews wading tibia deep, scooped up at speed and tossed eastward; Turnstones probing bladderwrack in unconcerned attitudes; Great-crested Grebes, nonchalant in diving mode, in the wind-torn water which was in dark formations blown in the opposite direction to the incoming tide. This had a water-calming effect in the Swale with a grey and white rippling towards the NE. Amid a gathering off-shore violence, Sheppey features became misted through a `wall` of intense rain. Fast flying Shelducks appeared head-on out of the gloom, flying inches above the water to make for the reedy respite of E flood margins. Seals were inquisitive, heads up, working the creek`s shallows, relishing it seemed,the turbulence. The hide thumped—-unsurprising in a direct SW/NE tempest ! Daylight appeared in the form of a sunny interval, but the wind increased its severity .
0900—1115 A walk westward was a 2 hour `raptorial` bonanza. The sun provided some warmth against a fresh SE breeze. Scanning the low tide vista, it was apparent there was a lot of avian movement, with an immediate sight of 2 Buzzards; a female Marsh Harrier; a ring-tail Hen Harrier and Sparrowhawk all circling/skirmishing/chasing around Mocketts and Sheppey banks. The sunlight provided far better visability than has been the the case recently. With Cetti`s singing from the carpark reedbed, everything had a distinctly spring-like overture. 15 Greylags loudly dropped into the W flood; Skylarks were audible; 22 Goldfinches worked the saltings and a further large female Sparrowhawk hugged the margin of the near saltmarsh, periodically dropping to ground as it swept through. 24 Stockdoves were evenly spread round the sheep shelters—what a rise in temperature does to the avian brain! A Green Woodpecker probed the tussocks and 4 Gadwall and c 70 Teal were in the W flood dykes. At Uplees, a further 2 Buzzards emerged from the copse and were joined by a third as they flew languidly across to Sheppey, one distinctly smaller than the other two.The sunlight had awakened Marsh Harriers with a further count of 8 along the saltings and around Mocketts, with male plumages distinctive at some distance. Finally a Peregrine joined the circus performance, winging along the crest of Harty hill, with somewhat speedier intent than the Buzzards hanging in the updraught. A great couple of hours– without a Kestrel!
14:40-17:10 – Sunny with a light SE wind and a return to mild weather (11.5 C). There were five Pochard on the east flood, the first I’ve seen here this year, and also 26 Pintail. 150 Avocets were roosting on the flood at high tide and a single Ruff was also noted. 11 Turnstones gathered on the slipway. At dusk, a Peregrine circled over the flood before heading SW. In the scrub at dusk, 43 Fieldfares and a single Redwing appeared.
0930–1215 A tad less numbing today at 3deg , but layers of murk borne on the NE air made it a still uncomfortable walk—westwards into TQ to Luddenham Gut. Waders hugged the shoreline as the tide rose; a mix of Black-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover; Redshank and Curlew. c 400 Shelduck were in the lea of Harty marshes; 2 drakes and a duck Red-breasted Merganser were off Uplees and a Buzzard had the wind up its tail in direct flight westward. A female Marsh Harrier lingered around Uplees whilst the main drain in TQ held most of the wildfowl. Dismissing the decoys of Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and aberrant Scaup; the 60+ Mallard were the numbers winners with Teal and four Gadwall supporting. 4 Little Grebes were on the Swale with 3 Great Crested Grebes. The vulnerability of the seawall at Luddenham Gut is easily seen, with high water jetsam inches from topping. A Rock Pipit was on the seawall margin as I returned. In the Oare locale, 4 Greenshank were feeding together in the shallows of the pond adjacent to Oare creek—easily seen from a vehicle but flighty otherwise. Mike R
08:25-11:45 – cloudy and cold with a moderate NE wind. Ducks included four Gadwall on the east flood and there were 130 Avocets roosting there at high tide. Most surprising was my first sighting for years of the “pale” Curlew in the saltmarsh west of the slipway where it was habitually seen for many years.
0815—1000 The registering plus 2 deg seemed significantly below that, in a cutting NE breeze and fine sleet showers. With the murk thrown in, it seemed daylight was unlikely to happen today, with the landscape forty shades of grey and merging with the Swale waters ! A female Marsh Harrier quartered the W side dykes ; a female Stonechat was in the rank grassland E side whilst the flood was barren save for the ubiquitous Coots; and a handful of Teal; Mallard and Shoveler. With the rising tide, Dunlin in scores were at the water`s edge; Avocets swept the margins and started to depart to E flood roost; Brent were misty silhouettes along Harty banks and Horse Sands and a couple of well marked Bar-tailed Godwits with Grey Plovers were off the seawall hide with circa 250 Lapwings in sentinel pose facing the weather. Less than ten small passerines made an appearance on the circuit—at least the ground is presently not frozen solid; so where brambles and rough terrain remain, following significant clearance, there is some cover! A large female Sparrowhawk bombed through at reedbed height- probably seeing more buntings and pipits than I did. The Avocets gradually formed a tight knit phalanx on the flood with numbers quickly to 120+. Thank God for thermals and hot coffee! Mike R
08:05-12:00 – sunny with a moderate SE wind. Two Canada Geese flew west over the car park. There were two Tufted Ducks on the west main dyke and there were 52 on the east flood (a significant increase but still no Pochard). There were also four Gadwall on the east flood and 16 Greylag Geese came in. A Redwing in the hedge opposite the cottages was the first this year. A Kingfisher was by the sluice and there were three Ruff amongst roosting Lapwings at the mouth of the creek. A female Stonechat at Dan’s Dock was the only one recorded and, at Uplees, there was a flock of 12 Goldfinches.
Seduced by the official forecast of `brightening later` I unwisely walked W to FSB in descending gloom and rain. Save for the circa 1500 Wigeon flighting W off Mocketts and a bedraggled Buzzard plus five Great Crested Grebes, there was not too much to lift the spirits. Green Woodpecker and a `charm` of Goldfinches were coloured forms against a predominately drab grey backcloth at Uplees, where a Fox paused to assess my intrusion. A low tide visible wildfowl count from the hide`s comfort on the E flood produced 52 Pintail; 19 Tufted Duck; 44 Shoveler; circa 250 Teal ; a few Wigeon; 40+ Mallards; a single Gadwall and the ubiquitous Coot. 3 Ruff were the bonus wader. Sheltering with Keith Witham in the seawall hide, produced 3 Long-tailed Ducks bombing westward at 1155 am—-no doubt the Milton Creek birds of same number and gender, two drakes and a duck. The prominence of the drakes` head plumage emerging through the gloom was very evident. together with their streamlined `black and white` profiles.
Undoubtedly the bonus duck sp of the morning!
Outside Oare radar, Whitstable`s two Waxwings continue to demolish ornamental malus—the birds` number totally un-competitive with the Ramsgate and Malling flocks!!
15:20-16:45 – sunny, calm and high tide. A drake Tufted Duck was on the east flood and a Common Buzzard flew west low over the flood. A flock of 12 Fieldfares flew east towards the creek and another 18 were perched in trees east of the cottages. A Peregrine was perched on the second Nagden pylon, a few Bearded Tits could be heard calling in the reeds by the creek and there were two Little Grebes in the creek.
14:40-16:35 – sunny and calm but below freezing. The east flood was entirely frozen with very few duck present. A single Ringed Plover at the mouth of Faversham Creek was the first I have seen here this year. Across from the creek, a single Corn Bunting was perched in one of the sea wall bushes and two Skylarks were circling around over trhe saltmarsh. Three Fieldfares flew across the east flood towards the creek and another 28 were perched in the tall trees to the west of the scrub.
15:00 – sunny and calm. A redhead Goldeneye and five Little Grebes in Faversham Creek downstream from the Shipwright’s Arms.
08:15-13:00 – sunny and calm, frosty with the east flood mainly frozen. A single Canada Goose was at the bottom of the slipway. Birds on the open water of the east flood included a pair of Mute Swans still with their five cygnets in tow and a single Little Grebe. The scrub to the east of the cottages was noticeably devoid of small birds. A Peregrine was on the Nagden pylons, a Greenshank was feeding at the mouth of the creek and c300 Golden Plovers were on Horse Sands. A walk to Uplees produced five Great Crested Grebes on the Swale, a flock of 20 Goldfinches, two Rock Pipits and at least five Skylarks on the saltmarsh. On the return, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew down the Swale and landed behind Horse Sands and a sleeping female Common Scoter was between the slipway and Horse Sands.
11:50-14:30 – Sunny and mild with a fresh westerly wind. Visiting at high tide. On arrival, I met John Cantelo and Chris Cox as they were leaving. They had seen a ringtail Hen Harrier over Mockett’s Hill. A Kingfisher flew across the road onto the west side. There was the usual flocks of Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets on the east flood but only two Golden Plovers and five Ruff. A single Gadwall and nine Tufted Ducks were on the main dyke by the west flood. A flock of 14 Greylag Geese circled over the east flood several times before setting down on the water. Five Fieldfares flew across the creek heading towards the cottages.
08:30-12:45 Sunny with a light westerly wind. A very hard frost had frozen the east flood overnight but thi showed signs of thawing during the morning. A Water Rail was feeding in the open along the side of the road. Two drake Red-breasted Mergansers flew up the Swale. A walk up to Uplees found very little. A Rock Pipit was feedinng along the shoreline and a Kingfisher flew across the saltmarsh towards Dan’s Dock. Looking across the Swale on the return, a Buzzard wasperched on Mockett’s Hill, a Short-eared Owl circled over the hill and then headed east towards Sayes Court and a ringtail Hen Harrier was harrassing a Marsh Harrier that was trailing something from its legs (earlier Ted Lee had seen male Hen Harrier flying east across the east flood). The ice on the west main dyke was thawing and seven Gadwall had appeared. Another two Rock Pipits were feeding along the shoreline between the slipway and the creek. 150 Avocets were roosting in front of the sea wall hide and a Peregrine was roosting on the Nagden pylons. A single Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush flew into the trees to the south of the east hide. Back at the east flood, a single Little Grebe was present and c20 Greenfinches were in the scrub behind the sea wall.
14:05-16:20 Cloudy, dull with a little rain. A brief visit in the afternoon to kick off the year. An Egyptian Goose, that flew acoss the creek and continued up the Swale at 3.25 pm, and a Barn Owl hunting along the sea wall by th ee ast flood were the only birds of note.