KOS May Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
We started off this month’s field excursions just outside the county at Broadwater Warren NR which is a stones throw from Tunbridge Wells where we had an evening walk. On both occasions we had a mixture of seasoned birders and new KOS members and we all gelled nicely. A Garden Warbler sang near the car park and we marvelled at the numbers of singing Willow Warblers. As we strolled around the heathland a WW2 Spitfire flew over our head and we were surprised to hear a Nightjar churring at 6:30pm but alas we couldn’t locate him. We would have to wait another three hours before getting views and then they would be very different ones throughout the group, although we had at least four singing males heard.
A superb Hobby was watched perched and Dan spotted a pair of Dartford Warblers that we watched on and off throughout the evening. They were very late to go to roost. Yellowhammers were also numerous on site and great views of singing birds were had by all. A close calling female Tawny Owl called an end to the meeting and we left with 30 species recorded.
On Sunday we visited my local patch Cliffe Pools with the hope that we would see the long staying Collared Pratincole and we weren’t disappointed as we saw it on at least two different occasions with Mike Roser and Dave Perrin having an additional lunchtime showing. Cuckoos put on a good show with at least four birds, a fleeting Kingfisher spotted by Gunther and at least eight Nightingales often still in full song. Lesser Whitethroats also seemed particularly numerous and I haven’t seen so many Yellow Wagtails on the pools for ages as they are usually in the cereal fields around the village. A splendid red Black-tailed Godwit was enjoyed as was a Little Ringed Plover seen on a couple of occasions on the Flamingo Pool. All in all 80 species were recorded and other critters included Roe Deer, Common Seal, Stoat, Large White, Orange-tip and Wall Butterflies, a 20-Spotted Ladybird and Common Blue Damselfly. Highlights of flora were several clumps of Goat’s Beard at Cliffe.
- We are having our next Field Trip on June 20th 2021
Sorry, but KOS Members Only!!!
KOS April Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Ray O’Reilly writes:
We are back with our Outdoor Meetings and had a busy weekend 21st – 23rd April 2021 with 100 species recorded in challenging conditions that included three species Bittern, Willow Warbler and Cuckoo on our pre-meeting walk at Westbere.
This was probably one of the most challenging weekends since my tenure as the leader as bitterly cold North-easterly winds prevailed throughout both days, becoming even stronger as the day wore on yesterday at Dungeness. It made communication difficult and every loose item had to be held onto. On a plus side it was dry the entire time.
On Friday we met in the main Car Park at Stodmarsh NNR and made our way through the wood towards the Marsh Hide, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Barn Swallow and Common Treecreepers were recorded. Bullfinch showed to some and we listened to the difference between Reed and Sedge Warbler songs (through the wind), Cetti’s Warblers were seemingly everywhere. At the flood Greenshank, Redshank and Barnacle Goose were added and we all had superb views of a determined Hobby trying to hawk insects aerially.
A lot of work has been carried out on the reserve including much clearance. The installation of benches and viewing flaps have now replaced the Harrison Drove Hide. We wondered up to the viewing ramp at Grove Ferry seeing Wheatear on route Common Snipe, Sparrowhawk and Sand Martin were all seen well and David Rumsey picked out a couple of House Martins.
We walked across to the River Stour, up the river path past the Oxbow Lakes and onto the Lampen Wall and back to the Car Park. Common Terns were back on the Pontoons but little else of note was added.
We decided to spend the final hour of our birding day near the entrance to Elmley Reserve near the Gun Club. A very elusive Cattle Egret was seen as were displaying Meadow Pipits, more Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails and several Red-legged Partridges. We finished the day on 70 species.
On Sunday we met outside the breezy Seawatch Hide at Dungeness at 8 am. Communication was difficult, but we dug in almost immediately seeing a flock of close 25+ Bar-tailed Godwits, many of them in breeding plumage. We would see them and flocks of Whimbrel throughout the day. Kittiwake, Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot and several flocks of Common Scoter were watched as was a nice Bonxie/Great Skua and an Iceland Gull. We walked up to the patch along the shingle seeing Peregrine Falcon and a lone Red-throated Diver.
We went from there to the Bird Observatory where Dave Walker helped Mike Roser and myself out with some Bee ID. We had a walk out into the Trapping Area down the Pilot Path, along the Long Pits and around the Power Station perimeter fence line. We didn’t add anything new but yet more Wheatears.
Next up was the reserve. We drove down Dengemarsh Road and entered it from the rear, walking up to the flooded Hayfields where we saw a few species of wader, including Dunlin in breeding plumage, Common Swifts buzzed over close by and our first Lesser Whitethroats of the year were recorded as well as another pair of Hobby.
Some of us re-traced our steps and others walked to Cook’s and Tanner’s Pools were we met them and drove up to Burrows Pit. A mixed flock of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and a lone Sanderling were enjoyed.
The ARC Pit was our final destination this month and Dabchick/Little Grebe was our 100th species.
Harbour Porpoise, Grey and Common Seals, Brimstone and Orange-tip Butterflies were among other wildlife and thanks to Lys Muirhead for pointing out a patch of Water Dock at Stodmarsh.
The photo was taken by Keith Cutting.
The KOS Annual Report and Accounts 2020
70th Annual General Meeting of the Kent Ornithological Society
Wednesday 7th April 2020 at 7.30pm via Zoom
Please join us via zoom for this meeting:
KOS AGM Zoom Meeting
- Introduction – Chris Cox President
- Apologies for absence
- Annual Report 2020
- Treasurer’s Report
- Questions to the Committee
- Minutes of last meeting (11th April 2019)
- Election of Officers
- Any other business
Nominations for Officers and Ordinary Members:
- President: Chris Cox
- Chairman: Andre Farrar
- Vice Chairman: Chris Roome
- Hon. Secretary: Brendan Ryan
- Hon. Treasurer: Mike Henty
- Membership Secretary: Chris Roome
- Chairman of Editorial & Records Sub-Committee: Barry Wright
- Chairman of Conservation & Survey’s Sub-Committee: Murray Orchard
- Editor of Kent Bird Report: Keith Privett
- Outdoor Meetings Organiser: Ray O’Reilly
- Indoors Meetings Organiser: Vacant
- Archivist: Robin Mace
- Ordinary Member: Stephen Wood
- Ordinary Member: Keiron Palmer
- Ordinary Member: Vacant
- KOS News Editor: Norman McCanch
Access the KOS Annual Report and Accounts 2020:
KOS Annual Report and Accounts 2020
The KOS Turtle Dove Survey 2021
The KOS Turtle Dove Survey 2021 needs your help!
We’ve now allocated 64% of squares!
However, the majority are in East Kent and we need a greater uptake of squares in the Weald area, from Tonbridge to Tenterden.
Many thanks to those who’ve volunteered so far. With almost 80% of squares taken up, another set have been added and are available to survey. Please take a look and see if there’s one near you!
Please see the link below for details of how to take part and to select a square for survey:
Additional Turtle Dove Records
If people know of sites where they regularly record Turtle Doves, which are not included in the selected survey squares, please go ahead and survey if you are able and wish to do so. However, it’s important that you note the 1km square reference and that you survey the whole square using the instructions and recording form provided on the survey website. These squares will not be displayed on the survey map but the results will be used in the survey. Please submit results to the survey organiser as directed on the website.
Please submit all other records of Turtle Doves, outside the survey, to BirdTrack. Please give full details including date, accurate location (preferably 6-figure OS reference), number of birds, whether singing bird or pair etc plus any other relevant comments such as brief description of habitat. These casual records will be considered when the population estimate is calculated from the full survey results, and will be important for the Society records and contribution to RBBP.
KOS Outdoor Meetings 2021
Ray O’Reilly writes: We are pleased to announce the return of our Outdoor Meetings and plan to run two field trips in April. On each date will take ten members and split them into two groups one will be led by Lyn and the other myself. We will be in contact by mobile phone.
Bookings are open to members on a first come basis. Location is in Kent and will as always to be decided on during that week. I will inform all those that are booked on the trip:
All participants are advised to download the phone App RingGo and register their vehicle there as several Reserve car parks have installed this system of parking during lockdown.
KOS – Shared Webinar Event with Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex
Dr Mark Eaton talks about the work of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel [RBBP]
Dr Mark Eaton (RSPB) has agreed to give a talk on the work of the RBBP to Sussex Ornithological Society as part of a series that Mark Mallalieu of SOS has established. The talks are being run as zoom webinars which enables up to 1000 attendees.
As well as discussing the work of the RBBP, and some UK- level results from that work, Mark also likes to give a local aspect. KOS is therefore delighted to promote the talk to members of our bird club in Kent, as well as joining with Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, as Mark will also focus on rare breeding birds in South-east England to this combined audience.
The talk will take place on Wednesday 24th March at 7pm until 8pm and is Free. Participants need to register with Eventbrite – the Webinar host and organiser – and will need access to Zoom on their PC/Laptop/Phone.
To register for this event please register on the following link below:
KOS Outdoor Meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes:Our outdoor meetings took place on 25th and 30th October and we visited Sheppey and Dungeness. Our new groups of ten worked out perfectly with Lyn leading one group and Myself the other.
On both outings the weather was not kind to us but we battled through. We started at Shellness where we got the tide perfect seeing a smart drake Common Eider in moult and an unexpected Purple Sandpiper found by Lys Muirhead. A host of commoner waders were seen close by including Knot, Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit. A flock of four House Martins were also seen.
We moved onto Capel Fleet watching White-fronted Goose, a flock of Corn Bunting sitting right out in the rain, Sparrowhawk and a lovely ringtail Hen Harrier.
We spent a long time looking for the Great Grey Shrike that we failed to see and called it a day mid afternoon.
Our Dungeness trip we met at around 1pm and went to view the ARC pit where Dave Perrin spotted a Black-necked Grebe. The first of five Great White Egrets were enjoyed before we walked up into the reserve looking at Hookers Pits and Denge Marsh before reaching the Hay Fields. Five Cattle Egrets were recorded and a Glossy Ibis was seen by some. Due to the weather dusk fell early and we were all too soon driving home in the dark but not before we made a social visit to the Bird Observatory for a cup of Tea.
Migrant Hawkers braved the elements and were our non avian highlight. We saw 76 species of birds but only 11 species were added at Dungeness surely an all time low?
Our November Field Trips are cancelled due to new regulations but I have every hope of running two trips in December on the 18th and to work off that Christmas Pud on the 27th, please message me if you would like to attend as it is on a first contact basis. I will take bookings from now on.
KOS Outdoor Meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes: Our recent September 2020 Field Meetings were a success being our first since the new booking rule. On Friday 11th, we went to a new site in the afternoon Worth Marshes, an area of grazing fields some flooded with hedgerows and The Great Wood. Sparrowhawk and Cetti’s Warblers were seen and a mixed tit flock that contained a couple of Lesser Whitethroats and half a dozen Chiffchaffs were observed on a couple of occasions. Our main target the two Pectoral Sandpipers were easily seen along with a couple of Green Sandpipers. Stock Dove and Buzzard were added to the list as we carried on over a narrow bridge that was a challenge to navigate. We arrived at some duck pools with Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler present. Many Migrant Hawkers and Speckled Woods were spotted. We walked back through the pleasant village of Worth after previously looking around the Churchyard. A Ring-necked Parakeet flew over. We then moved onto Sandwich Bay where we saw no less than 11 Grey Partridges calling and interacting and a small group of Curlew.
On Sunday 13th, we met at the Hanson Hide Car Park at Dungeness at 8am and looked across the ARC pit from two places Pintail, Black-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, Golden Plover, 2 Cattle Egrets and a Glossy Ibis were watched. We walked up to the Water Tower Pines where we saw at least 50 Chiffchaffs, Lesser Whitethroats, Blackcap, 4 Greenfinch and 65 Siskin. A stroll back and around Boulderwall Farm and Cook’s Pool gave us more views of the three species of Egret including Little of course and Liz found a Sedge Warbler. A Clouded Yellow was also seen.
We then went onto the reserve where I received a phone call from Martin Casemore to tell us that a White Stork had been spotted I picked it up in the distance being mobbed by gulls. We saw it again around lunchtime at the Bird Observatory where we saw Black Redstarts, Wheatears and Stonechats, the latter in the hand thanks to Dave Walker. An afternoon jaunt to Scotney Gravel Pits was quiet apart from bucket loads of Egyptian Geese and a lone Avocet. Our final piece of birding was Seawatching at the Fishing Boats with more Wheatears. The first hour was quiet and almost by the clicking of a switch I got onto a Little Tern that was soon being pursued by an Arctic Skua and another four appeared with some sitting on the sea. To top it off a flock of three Balearic Shearwaters came sailing by putting a top finish on the day.
93 Species were seen (Lyn will not let us count the heards).
Our recent field trips were fully booked within two days of us publishing them. If you are interested in joining us on Sunday 25th October all day and Friday 30th October pm only, book early. We will take bookings from 1st October on a first come basis.
KOS Outdoor Meetings Announcement
KOS Outdoor Meetings, Changes to future planned events 2020. Ray O’Reilly writes:
Following the pandemic and given the increase in people now using the outdoors, I am going to make some changes to our outdoor meetings. These have been brought about by no longer being able to car share and the amount of folk wanting to attend these trips.
It is no longer practical to have large numbers of people, members and non-members turn up for our birding, as on Sunday we had 20 birders which is a number that is unmanageable even with Lyn assisting (an unsung hero). We once had 32 people at a Dungeness in 2018.
We now cannot get parked up at sites and Lyn and I cannot give people the time that they deserve. I now propose the following changes that will take place beginning 11th September!
I will be running two meetings per month.
These will be a Sunday morning until c1pm and a Friday afternoon/evening. Not all-day outings.
These will be limited to 10 people including myself and Lyn should she attend.
Participants will be selected on a first come basis and if the trip is full, they will be able to book on the next suitable trip for them.
Non-members will pay 5 GBP to attend these field trips.
I will contact those booked the night before on morning visits and lunchtime on PM ones. I require a current Mobile Phone Number or E-Mail address.
This will commence on Friday 11th September followed by the already agreed date of Sunday 13th September.
The PM trips will give us an exciting opportunity to target Owls, Nightjars, Woodcock and unusual birds found earlier in the day.
These trips will mostly be in Kent, but could be in neighbouring counties.
Message me on 07831-362502
Those existing regulars who do not have a mobile or E-Mail just need to let me know that they want to attend.
KOS August Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meeting, 30th August 2020. Ray O’Reilly writes:
We had a great turn out for our first Outdoor meeting post lockdown on Sunday 30th August 2020 and due to the weather conditions, a breezy wind East of North I decided to start at Shellness seawatching. Many other people had the same idea and so we socially distanced to the others but close enough to hear some of the shouts. Seawatching is tough birding as you have only a couple of minutes to get onto the bird usually before it disappears out of sight. One of the advantages of Shellness is that the seabirds get lost and so can come past on multiple occasions as they get their bearings adjusted. A problem though is the sound of the wind and with hoods up it can be difficult to hear the cries and instructions. A good spotting scope is essential.
A couple of Green Sandpipers were flying around our meeting point at Shellness Car Park giving their too-it calls, Swallows were hawking low over the salt marsh and it wasn’t long before we were watching Gannets in an array of plumages including 3rd year birds with their piano-key marked secondaries. Arctic Skuas were significant birds today with large numbers being enjoyed by everybody. We had adults in dark and pale morph plumages and a variety of juveniles, it was noticeable how much they could differ in size. Some of them came over the blockhouse and went over the salt marsh and a distant flock of 42 birds from Oare in the afternoon was my largest flock ever. A group of eight birds contained two juvenile Long-tailed although not all the group picked these up.
A couple of Common Scoter went by as did Wigeon and Kittiwakes. Great Skua/Bonxie flocks of up to a dozen birds wheeled around before we walked up to the blockhouse to study the waders and terns Knot, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwits and breeding plumaged Grey Plover were watched through the scope. Among the terns Sandwich and Common were the most numerous and eight Little and a single Arctic Tern were found perched. We had a few of the latter at both Shellness and Oare.
We headed to Oare Marshes late morning to catch the tide and because of parking we walked onto the reserve along side Oare Creek where Hobby and Mediterranean Gull were added to the day list.
At Oare we walked past the East Flood seeing Golden Plover many of them still in breeding dress and also several Ruff. We carried out another seawatch from by the hide on the Swale where both Common and Grey Seals were watched. We walked from there to Dan’s Dock seeing several Wheatears and Whinchats.
Another look on the East Flood produced juvenile Yellow Wagtails, Bearded Tit, Snipe and a Water Rail feeding out in the open along with the usual waders.
Our route back along the creek gave us a spanking Adult Yellow-legged Gull that Richard found and a smashing colony of Ivy Bees found by Lys, these were new for me. It was late afternoon and we had clocked up 84 species of birds for the day.
KOS Outdoor Meeting
Ray O’Reilly writes:
“I am pleased to announce that as from Sunday 30th August I will be running Social Distance Outdoor Field Meetings.
This will involve keeping the safe recommended distances (at present 2 Metres), not sharing Scopes, only travelling in vehicles with designated bubble buddy/ies, not using Visitor Centres, Bird Observatories, hides etc., until it is proclaimed safe to do so, bringing hand sanitizing gel, water, soap and a towel.
Despite these measures to keep us safe we will still see an exciting array of Kent’s Avian delights, have fresh air and exercise and catch up with old friends or meet new ones.
Farmland Wildlife Surveys – volunteers needed
If interested, please view the attached for further information:
Farmland Wildlife Surveys
Have your say on changes to the Lower Thames Crossing
Views are currently being solicited by Highways England.
To have your say and/or view further information:
There are also to be a number of consultation events:
KOS February Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meeting, 9th February 2020. Ray O’Reilly writes:
At the KOS we leave the decision on the venues for our birding to within 48 hours of our meeting so that we can have the most up-to-date news of interesting birds, weather and site conditions possible. However the dates that we go are set in stone, so we knew that sooner or later one of these days would fall on a significant storm and today was that day as we braved Storm Ciara.
I opted to meet up at Shellness, Sheppey at the rather later time of 10am. We had driven the Capel Fleet road earlier and seen very few birds and what we did see was mostly hunkered down.
We trudged out to the shelter on a rising tide standing on the leeward side watching waders such as Knot, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin come ever closer frantically feeding oblivious of the conditions. Several flocks of Brent Geese were checked and were all found to be Dark-bellied.
We struggled out to the point to see if any birds had be blown in onto the sand or shingle spit but the wind howled even stronger picking up sand, shells and small pebbles sending then flying into the air accompanied by torrential rain this made birding impossible.
We headed to Leysdown for lunch by the sea obviously in our vehicles, here we checked more geese and gulls finding 3 Lesser Black-backeds, when a large female Merlin was seen hurtling along the beach, this was followed by a male who caught some prey presumably a shorebird?
We wanted to check Chatham Dockyard to see if anything had been blown into the basins there, a Shag was our best find. At around 3:30pm we called it a day and headed home to Cliffe.
We had 43 Species, quite an achievement considering the weather.
KOS January Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meeting, 26th January 2020. Ray O’Reilly writes:
We had a great turn out for out first Outdoor Meeting of the year today at Dungeness. Weather wise it was a dreary-grey day but much better than the forecast and we only saw rain fairly late in the afternoon. It was particularly nice to have Johan Norrlin along with us, a Swedish gentleman who was catching a plane back to Stockholm this evening! We started off walking to the Hanson Hide seeing Cetti’s Warbler, Goldcrest, Great White Egret, several Goldeneye and Firecrest (seen by a few but alas not by me).
We walked over to Boulderwall Farm and the adjacent pools where we had large numbers of Golden Plover, a few Greenfinch, Sparrowhawk, 2 Ravens, a drake Smew and best of all a male Hen Harrier found by Dave Perrin. Our walk around the reserve was a little quieter giving us Kingfisher, Egyptian Geese and close views of a Chiffchaff.
After lunch we headed to Walland Marsh and enjoyed a Swan fest thanks to Gill Hollamby and Neil Burt getting great views of 40 Bewick’s and 2 Whooper Swans. We did a short Sea-watch from Jury’s Gap seeing Gannet and Fulmar before finishing the day at Scotney Gravel Pits where the heavens opened, more Ravens were observed as were 5 Ruff including one male in transitional plumage. We closed the day in the rain on 75 Species. Photo David Fenton-Scott. Our next outing is Sunday February 9th.
Field Trips meet at 8am and the venues are announced near the time dependent on up-to-date bird news, with weather, wind and tide taken into consideration. Advised to always bring wellies, drinks and sandwiches.
KOS December Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meeting, 28th December. Ray O’Reilly writes:
We had our final outdoor meeting of the decade starting at dawn and finishing at dusk at the car park of Stodmarsh NNR where a Tawny Owl showed; it was my first ever at this site. We had a predictably low turn out of members although those of us that did attend were glad to get out, have some exercise and fresh air, after several days of captivity and excess.
We were met with a mild dry windless day and this enabled good views of birds such as Hen Harrier, Water Rail, Bearded Tit, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Great White Egret, Cetti’s Warbler and Kingfisher. We recorded 57 species including at least 6 Chiffchaff and 300+ Fieldfare. The water levels were very high and the paths very squidgy. We also had a frustrating time with pipits seeing many but never getting clear views of anything other than Meadow Pipit.
Thanks to Liz Ackroyd for the photo of the Bearded Tit.
KOS November Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meeting, 17th November. Ray O’Reilly writes:
We had a topsy-turvy penultimate Outdoor Meeting of the year in the Dungeness area today. We met at the Fishing Boats where a few Brent Geese, Kittiwake and a single Scoter were seen, a fishing boat sailed past gutting fish attracting many gulls and a small male Peregrine in pursuit.
Moving on we looked at the reinstated patch and watched eight Red-throated Divers move past in flight. We walked across the shingle and arrived spaced out at the moat when I picked out a bright juvenile Pallas’ Warbler, fairly low to the ground, loosely associated with some Goldcrests and Firecrests and at one point it hovered showing its lemon-yellow rump. Alas only three members saw the bird and apart from one other birder it wasn’t seen again for the rest of the day.
A phone call alerted us to a Stone Curlew on the beach near Greatstone and we were all soon enjoying scope views of this very special bird. Sandwich Terns were feeding close inshore and a selection of other waders were scoped. A very late lunch was had at the ARC Pit where Goldeneye, Cetti’s Warbler and another Firecrest were seen. We stayed out until dusk watching three Short-eared Owls, Golden Plovers and Red-legged Partridges on Lydd Ranges before calling it a day. Thanks to Martin Casemore for his photo and his help today and thanks to DBO for accommodating us with refreshments etc.
KOS October Outdoor Meeting
KOS Outdoor Meeting, 27th October. Ray O’Reilly writes:
Today’s outdoor meeting was greeted with some welcome October sunshine that lasted throughout the day and as a result a total of 90 Species were seen between us.
We commenced at the Raptor Watch Point, Capel Fleet watching Green Sandpipers, Corn Buntings and Stonechats and some large flocks of Linnets were studied. We moved from there to Shellness where we met the County Recorder Barry Wright and Young Birder of the Year, James King who told us of a drake Eider resting on the point. A large perched female Peregrine and a ringtail Hen Harrier were also enjoyed along with 8 Gannets and 3 Common Scoter. A walk to Harty Church over the very dry Swale Reserve gave us Cattle Egret and a Grey Wagtail.
After a quick lunch we headed off to Cliffe Pools and here we met Linturn Hopkins and Bernie Weight. The pits had benefited from the recent rain and the light was superb. The last few warblers, dragonflies and Butterflies were relishing the afternoon sun. 2 Greenshank, several Pintail, a redhead Goosander and a superb 1st Winter Grey Phalarope rounded the day off beautifully, a new bird for at least a couple of our members.
Thanks to Lyn for keeping order and to David Fenton-Scott for the photos.
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!
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:
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.
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.