132 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
To help keep this page as up-to-date and informative as possible, please send your sightings and any pictures taken onsite to
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
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.
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.