KOS September Outdoor Meeting
The weather looked ideal for migrant birds for our KOS Outdoor Meeting at Dungeness on the 22nd September, Ray O’Reilly writes:
Sixteen of us met outside the Bird Observatory and ventured out into the Trapping Area around 8am we then walked up The Pilot Path before swinging round close to the Power Station perimeter fence and finally via the moat returning to the Obs. The going was slow, plenty of Swallows and Sand Martins passing through with Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Robins and Dunnocks in the bushes. A small group of Wheatear were seen here and later on in the morning also.
It started to rain fairly heavily so we visited the shelter of the Hanson and Screen Hides and worked the area close by. Great White and Cattle Egrets sat on a close by island, a few Pintail upended in the shallows, one or two juvenile Common Terns were hawking over the ARC Pit. We had our first Goldeneye of the autumn and a flock of 38 Golden Plover on the shingle gave us a couple of birds in mostly breeding plumage. Goldcrest and Yellow Wagtail was added to the day list.
We went to the reserve visitors centre for lunch, en route Brian had a pair of Whinchats. The reserve itself was quiet with very few migrants a ruby-eyed Black-necked Grebe was the pick of the bunch found by Ted.
Dave Perrin, John Thompson and Brian Crawford decided to go to the Fishing Boats for a seawatch adding Gannet, Arctic Skua, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern and Common Scoter. Taking our daily total to 76 Species seen. This was the first ever field trip that we did not record Blackbird!
Our dates for our Monthly Outdoor Meetings for the remainder of the year are now fixed and are as follows:
- 27 October
- 17 November
- 28 December
All Sundays, except December which is a Saturday.
Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) Open Day at Ham Fen on 28th September
The KWT are looking for helpers for their open day at Ham Fen on 28th September
You might recall this event was scheduled for July. Unfortunately, bad weather prevented the event from going ahead. They are now keeping their fingers crossed for clear skies this time!
The purpose of the day is to show people who made a donation to the Ham Fen appeal around the reserve. They will be taking them on guided tours throughout the day as they expect a large number of people to attend.
The KWT need volunteers to help them by greeting people, showing them where to park and perhaps assisting with the guided walks.
A message from Dr Mark Avery in reference to the Wild Justice e-petition calling for a ban of driven grouse shooting.
I have given talks to all of your groups in the past few years, including talking about the ecological damage and wildlife crime which emanates from intensive grouse shooting.
There is a new, just over a week old, petition calling for a ban of driven grouse shooting and I am asking for your help in promoting it.
The petition was set up by Chris Packham and has already gathered over 72,000 signatures in just over a week. That’s good going. But time is short because we need to get past 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in the Westminster Parliament to raise the profile of this issue. Although in theory we have until 13 February to get to 100,000 signatures it isn’t that simple as, if a general election is called (as seems likely some time this autumn) then all petitions are closed and we’d have to start again!
So I am asking for your help, please, whether you agree with the petition or not, to spread the word to your group and friends and colleagues.
There are four ways that you can help, please:
- sign the petition yourself
- forward this email to friends, family etc.
- include the link to the petition in any newsletter to your group: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/266770
- provide copies of a postcard we have produced to your group at its next meeting.
The first three of those things are pretty straightforward, I hope. I’d be very grateful, and so would Chris, for any support. The fourth would require you to send me the following information please: an address to which to send the postcards (and a name), a number of postcards requested, and the date of your meeting so that I can make a just-in-time decision to send them and plan postcard production accordingly, please.
Any help that you can give me would be very gratefully received – thank you.
Dr Mark Avery
Please sign the Wild Justice e-petition calling for a ban of driven grouse shooting
Wild Justice – Ban Driven Grouse Shooting
KOS August Outdoor Meeting
The August KOS Field Trip took place at Dungeness on the on the 18th August, Ray O’Reilly writes:
We had a particularly high turn out for today’s field trip to Dungeness including three debutantes, clocking up a staggering 94 Species all seen with a couple of other species just heard. We had seen 80 species by lunchtime (a record for us!).
We started and finished the day with a seawatch firstly from the hide and lastly from the fishing boats, many Gannets, Common and Sandwich Terns were present, 4 Common Scoter, Fulmar, 3 Kittiwakes and a dark morph Arctic Skua chasing terns. A flock of Turnstone were on the beach including a pristine bird in full breeding livery, Harbour Porpoise kept leaping out of the English Channel glistening in the sunshine.
We moved onto the Power Station, the area around the bird observatory including The Moat where we watched Wheatears, Black Redstarts, Stonechats, Whitethroats and Peregrines including the latter dive bombing a Common Buzzard. Many butterflies were recorded including Small Copper and a Hummingbird Hawk Moth was examined in the hand.
We made our way mid morning to the ARC Pit and went to the Hanson and Blind Hides and wandered up to the pines. An Osprey gave great views as it sailed over us, several Hobby, 4 Wood Sandpiper, Common and Little Gulls, Common Swift, Great White Egret, at least 8 Willow Warblers, 3 Garganey, 3 Little Ringed Plovers and a few Ruff were all additions for the day.
Lunch was had outside for most and inside Dennis’ Hide for some, before visiting Firth and Makepeace Hides adding Yellow Wagtails, Black Terns, Golden Plovers, Lesser Whitethroats and another view of the Osprey.
We then drove down Denge Marsh Road to Springfield Bridge getting great views of a Bittern and 2 Cattle Egrets.
Thanks to Lys Muirhead for some excellent field work, Lyn Griffiths for running the list and David Fenton-Scott for his image of the Black Redstart.
KOS July Outdoor Meeting
Following the July KOS Field Trip to Oare Marshes on the 14th July, Ray O’Reilly writes:
Despite three major sporting events we had a good turn out for today’s outdoor meeting to Oare Marshes and environs. The morning started for us with some light rain but became steadily brighter and warmer as the day progressed before turning into a hot, sunny July day.
We were on site to see the tide ebb and flow over the high tide and we finished early around 2pm. The American brace were still present and we had prolonged views of the Lesser Yellowlegs and watched the Bonaparte’s Gull on the Swale feeding on small lug worms and roosting on the flood, both birds were adults in breeding plumage.
We totaled 70 Species including Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Peregrine, 2 male Ruff, male Sparrowhawk, Spotted Redshank an adult in transitional plumage, adult Common Gull, Raven, Knot in breeding plumage, 2 distant Little Terns and a Greenshank.
KOS June Outdoor Meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes:
Once again our outdoor meeting was well attended even though it was slightly out of the county in East Sussex at Broadwater Warren RSPB Reserve. We met at 6pm and had a leisurely stroll around most of the reserve. We were unlucky with the weather as our few hours there were the coldest and windiest of the weekend being permanently overcast and we even experienced a little light rain. But this didn’t thwart our quest and at the end of the day we were rewarded with 4 Nightjars including one particularly well marked male another separate bird was heard churring nearby.
The reserve was quiet bird song wise due to the weather but our support cast was equally impressive nevertheless with 8 Willow Warbler, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Woodlark, 1 Hobby, 2 Treecreeper and 3 Yellowhammer. (Thanks to David Fenton-Scott for the photo of the Woodlark).
Turtle Dove Records and KOS Sightings Database
The Rare Breeding Birds Panel has recently announced that Turtle Dove is now included on the list of species that it annually monitors. Thus Turtle Dove is now an RBBP species.
For many RBBP species it is the policy of the KOS to use sensitivity filters so that records of these species during the breeding season are not publicly viewable on the sightings database. All records submitted are, however, recorded on the society’s central database.
Immediately following the RBBP announcement a filter was put in place for Turtle Dove. However, after discussion with the Operation Turtle Dove team, it has been agreed that no filter will be imposed on records. It is considered that the risk of disturbance is low and that it is important for records of Turtle Doves across the county to be viewable. Hopefully this will encourage people to report sightings of this highly threatened species. The sightings database is very useful for the project team, to help them plan where action plans might best be instigated, as well as providing a means of monitoring how the species is faring during the season and from year to year.
The KOS urges all observers to report their sightings of Turtle Doves to the sightings database or BirdTrack. All records are useful, whether of single non-singing birds, singing males or pairs. Please try and record the location as accurately as possible and mention any breeding activity such as song or display.
KOS May Outdoor Meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes:
We had pleasant sunny weather for our May 12th Outdoor Meeting and a good turn out. We met at 8am at Stodmarsh NNR Car Park and were soon watching a Garden Warbler one of four this morning. The Reed Bed Hide gave us views of a Bittern and the chance to hear another bird booming. Swifts, Swallows and Sand Martins were passing overhead for much of the day and we all enjoyed pleasing views of Cetti’s Warbler.
As the morning warmed up then out came the Hobby’s with a least twenty of these enchanting falcons on view, often flying close by catching insects. Several Cuckoos were seen and heard today as were three Bullfinches. The star turn along the River Stour was a pair of Turtle Doves that we all studied through the scope. A pair of Treecreepers were watched collecting food for young and we had a late lunch back at the car park.
As the tide was rising we decided to make a visit to Pegwell Bay and we were not out of the car two minutes, before we were watching an adult Spoonbill that had obviously been part of a breeding programme in continental Europe. Five Common Sandpipers were among a selection of waders, terns and gulls seen here along with Common and Grey Seals. We had some lovely critters today including a swimming Mole! Broad-bodied Chaser, Variable and Lilac form of Common Damselflies, Banded Demoiselle, Orange-tip Butterfly and two or three species of Shield Bug. We saw 79 Species of birds throughout the day. (Thanks to David Fenton-Scott for the photo of the Spoonbill).
KOS Outdoor Meeting, Dungeness
Our KOS Outdoor meeting on April 28th was as enjoyable as ever with another eventful day at Dungeness.
We started the day with a seawatch that produced Common and Sandwich Terns, Mediterranean Gull, Common Scoter, Fulmar and the odd Harbour Porpoise. The power station behind us gave us a male Black Redstart in song and a pair of Peregrine Falcons that were seen grappling and plummeting to Earth and later landing in the garden of Lloyds in front of an astonished resident. They left in opposite directions apparently unharmed.
We took a roundabout route to Denge Marsh and The Hay Fields adding Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow, Little Owl, Cattle Egret in breeding plumage, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Common Swift, Sand Martin, Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, with two in full breeding plumage, booming Bittern and a Grey Heron struggle to consume a massive Marsh Frog. We then walked to The Makepeace Hide and were rewarded with a drake Garganey and two Little Ringed Plover before heading to Dungeness Bird Observatory for a late lunch not before Lyn found another pair of Garganey.
After dining we had a walk around the moat and the perimeter fence of the Power Station watching a showy pair of Wheatears, we were lucky as the male Serin that was found by Chris Bond was still present with Linnets and we all had excellent scope views of it. Our final stop was to The Hanson Hide and the Viewing Screen by the ARC Pit and our final two species of the day were Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat making the total seen as 89 Species.
Natural England revoke General Licences
Following a legal challenge by Wild Justice, NE have revoked general Licences which formerly were used to justify the lethal control of 16 wild bird species. As of April 23rd 2019, gamekeepers, farmers and others must apply for a licence to kill birds of any of the 16 species, specifying the reasons why non-lethal methods cannot be employed, and it will be unlawful to kill wild birds without such a licence. The species concerned are listed on the NE website and include carrion crow, rook, jackdaw, jay, magpie, collared dove, woodpigeon, feral pigeon, lesser black-backed gull, Canada and Egyptian goose, ring-necked parakeet and monk parakeet. Mammals such as stoat and fox are not affected.
NE is ‘working at pace’ to bring forward new regulations, but as things stand it is now illegal to kill the species listed, which is likely to have a major impact on the activities of gamekeepers and others.
Watch this space!
Kent Ornithological Society – Annual General Meeting – April 11th 2019
The Society’s Annual General Meeting will take place on the evening of Thursday April 11th, at 7.45pm at Grove Green Community Centre, Penshurst Close, Maidstone Kent ME14 5BT.
- President’s introduction Chris Cox
- Apologies for absence
- Minutes of the last meeting
- Matters arising
- Chairman’s report Martin Coath
- Report of the Editorial and Records Committee Barry Wright
- Report of the Conservation and Surveys Committee Murray Orchard
- Treasurers report Mike Henty
- Election of Officers Martin Coath
Please do come along to this important meeting. There are a number of issues facing KOS and we need to discuss our future development with our members. Tea and coffee is also available!
You can read the draft minutes from the 2018 AGM here:
Draft Minutes 67th AGM 5th April 2018
Members (and others) might be interested in the Bird Survey and ID courses being held by the BTO at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory in the coming summer.
The Bird Survey Course is on Friday, May 10, 2019 – 16:00 to Sunday, May 12, 2019 – 14:00 being led by Nick Moran. Details:
The Observatory is also hosting a Bird ID course led by Steve Piotrowski on Sunday, September 29, 2019 – 16:00 to Thursday, October 3, 2019 – 14:00. Details:
These are both residential courses, but there are also non-residential options available for both. It is great to have such high quality courses offered by BTO staff available in Kent as they are always well-received and come highly recommended.
KOS March Outdoor Meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes:
“Once again it was a good turn for today’s KOS Outdoor meeting” (March 31st) “despite it being Mother’s Day. The brisk cold Nor’easterly breeze gave the day a wintery feel. We started the day at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory where we walked to the Restharrow Scrape after looking around the garden, we went up to the coastguards, where we had a brief seawatch and a stroll up the side of the golf links. We retraced our steps and cut through The Elms before returning to the Obs for a coffee break.
We then drove to the Chequers and birded that area. Highlights were numerous Greenfinches (a refreshing change), 44 Brent Geese, 2 Gannets, Red-throated Diver, 2 Sandwich Terns, 7 Goldcrest, several Chiffchaff, 5 Swallows, a pair of Grey Partridge and a very smart male Black Redstart.
We headed off to have lunch at the viewing ramp at Grove Ferry/Stodmarsh NNR. We visited the David Feast and Marsh Hides and walked up the River Stour finding a lovely Water Pipit, 15+ Snipe, Green Sandpiper, 50+ Sand Martins and 30+ Swallows and a House Martin was seen, we finished around 5pm.
Our next outing will be April 28th, followed by May 12th and June 2nd.
Contact me, Ray O’Reilly closer to the time for venue details.”
Little Tern, Steve Ashton
Little Terns at South Swale LNR
South Swale is a large and dramatic coastal nature reserve home to a wide variety of wildlife. It is also one of the last places in Kent where Little Terns have successfully bred.
These charismatic beach nesting birds are very vulnerable to disturbance and in a bid to give them a helping hand, we are looking to recruit volunteer Little Tern Wardens. The role of the volunteer wardens will be to monitor the little terns and raise awareness with the public about the importance of giving them space to nest and rear their young.
We need volunteers throughout the breeding season from May until the end of July and there are bookable slots (usually 4 hours). Training and support from staff wardens will be provided. If you think this may be of interest to you, please contact Laura Steuart of the Kent Wildlife Trust and Swale Area Warden.
AGM- 11th April – Nominations to the Executive Committee
As usual the AGM will be asked to elect officers to serve on the Executive Committee for the following year. There are currently three vacancies on the committee:
- Indoor meeting organiser
- Archivist & Database Manager
- Ordinary member
We would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in joining the committee. The committee usually meets three times in central Kent and conducts other business by e-mail throughout the year. We are particularly interested in members with IT skills and experience.
If you would like to know more about what is involved please contact Chairman: Martin Coath
Nominations should be sent to the Honorary Secretary: Brendan Ryan by 4th April
Archivist/Data base Manager
Robin Mace has for a number of years done an excellent job looking after the ornithological data base on behalf of the KOS. This involves organising data from a number of sources (e.g.: BirdTrack and the KOS online database) to ensure that a lasting archive is kept and data is available to help write the annual Kent Bird Report. Robin has decided to step down from his role as archivist and data base manager and we need to find someone with the appropriate experience of managing databases to take on this important role. Robin has agreed to stay on to ensure that there is an effective handover and is prepared to train someone for the role. If you think that you could take on this role or know anyone with the appropriate experience, please contact our Chairman Martin Coath:
Houses planned for former Conyer Brickworks site
A planning application has been submitted to Swale Borough Council for the construction of 24 houses on the site of the old Conyer brickworks. The KOS has lodged an objection based on the presence of important populations of several red and amber listed species, and one Schedule 1 species, including Nightingale and Turtle Dove.
The deadline for objections has now passed.
18/506460/FULL | Erection of 24 dwellings together with associated infrastructure, open space, landscaping, access works and Bird Viewing Tower. | Former Conyer Brickworks Conyer Quay Conyer Kent ME9 9HJ
Comments may be made:
Mid Kent Planning Support
With reference: 18/506460/FULL
Lodge Hill threat removed
The RSPB has welcomed the announcement by Homes England of its intention to avoid building housing on the Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (Medway, Kent). This nationally protected site holds the UK’s most important population of the rare and declining nightingale.
A substantial issue remains to be resolved, which is that housing may still be proposed directly adjacent to the site. This has the potential to be very damaging to the nightingales.
However, Homes England has signalled it understands the issue, and is keen to work with the RSPB and other stakeholders.
Chris Corrigan, the RSPB’s Director for England, said:
“All the thousands of people who have campaigned over many years to save Lodge Hill and its nightingales can feel their voice has been heard. We commend Homes England for listening and making amendments to its plans.
“There is still some way to go, but today is an important step in the right direction, and we will continue to encourage Homes England to ensure that their final plans fully safeguard Lodge Hill and its wildlife for the nation.”
RSPB Campaign Page
KOS February outdoor meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes:
“A great turn out today for this month’s KOS Field Outing to Dungeness area. A hovering Barn Owl en route next to the road was a good omen. Four Cattle Egrets were feeding in a pasture near Cook’s Pool and we watched them going to roost early evening from the Hanson Hide. Part of the group came with me to Pett Levels and the others walked around the reserve with Lyn. At Pett we saw many freshwater birds including 4 Ruff, on the sea a flock of around 120 Common Scoter contained two Velvets, Fulmars were flying to and fro and were already on the cliffs, Red-throated Divers, Gannets, Kittiwakes and Guillemots were also present. A visit to Jury’s Gap, Scotney Gravel Pits, Horsebones’ and Cockles’ Bridge gave us Bewicks and Whooper Swans and no less than three perched Peregrines were admired this morning. Meanwhile on the reserve Tree Sparrows, a drake Smew, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler (seen well) were all added. We had lunch at the Bird Observatory before visiting Lydd Gravel Pits, a seawatch by the fishing boats and early evening at the ARC Pit, Mediterranean Gull and Black-necked Grebe were the pick of the birds there. 88 Species recorded.
Our next outing will be March 31st, followed by April 28th, May 12th and June 2nd.
Contact me closer to the time for venue details.”
Major threat to habitats along the South Swale: New Application Submitted
Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd are proposing to develop a solar park on the north Kent coast, at a site located roughly one mile northeast of Faversham, three miles west of Whitstable and situated closest to the village of Graveney.
The Planning Inspectorate is required by law to make the information that you provide in any representation publicly available.
The Cleve Hill Solar Park proposal is for a large array of solar panels, arranged on an east-west axis, projected to generate up to 350 megawatts of power. The developers claim it could provide enough electricity to power over 110,000 homes.
KOS is opposed to this huge and potentially very damaging development
and is working to support other conservation bodies who are also objecting
to the scheme.
The deadline for registering as an Interested Party is now passed. The
next stage will be a Preliminary Meeting and the Examination, during which
time Interested Parties will have the opportunity to provide more details
of their views in writing.
Cleve Hill Solar can be contacted at
Cleve Hill Solar Park Website
Updated Member’s Blog
KOS member Steve Ashton has updated his photo blog at a new web address, with some stunning images.
See Steve’s Photographic Journal
New Kent List published
An updated and easier-to-use version of The Kent List has been published. Dating back to 1781, maintained by Keith Privett, the page lists all species reported in Kent.
Honorary Life Vice Presidents
Congratulations to John Cantelo and John Hollyer on being elected Honorary Life Vice Presidents of the Society. This recognises the contribution that both these long-serving members have made to birding in Kent and to the Society over many years.
Kent Ornithological Society’s Tetrad Atlas
The KOS Tetrad Atlas has been restored and is now available on this website.
Features: distribution maps for the New Breeding and Winter Tetrad Atlas projects (2007-13), maps for the Second Breeding Atlas (1988-94) and First Breeding Atlas (1967-73).
Kent Ornithological Society was founded in 1952.
Our aims are:
To record and monitor the county’s bird life providing both an accurate historical record of Kent’s birds but equally importantly providing data that can be used to help protect valuable habitats from development and other threats.
In doing this, we seek increase knowledge and understanding of birds and their habitats in the county and encourage and support people seeking to take up birdwatching as a hobby.
Membership of the society is open to all and costs £12 a year. Members receive a free copy of the annual Kent Bird Report and regular electronic newsletters. See details
The Society runs regular indoor talks at a central location in Maidstone and an outdoor programme of field meetings. They are opportunities for both beginners and experienced birdwatchers to meet others in the county and to develop their knowledge and skills.