An ambulance was on call at one of the houses along the approach to the reserve so we parked up and watched the mixed Yellow and Pied Wagtail gathering in the fields while we waited; a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat were in the same area. Once on the reserve, the first unexpected encounter involved a juvenile Cuckoo feeding on caterpillars in a dead tree on the grazing marsh – the first I’ve seen for some time – closely followed by the strange sight of a juvenile Hobby trekking low across the surface of The Swale. Two Greenshanksdived over onto the East Flood and good numbers of Grey Plovers were on the Sheppey side, along with three Marsh Harriers and a couple of Buzzards. A couple of Bearded Reedlingsteased us with their calls from the reedbeds but remained unseen, as did a few Cetti’s Warblers. A Peregrine buzzed the flood, repeatedly setting up the waders, and later on a juvenile Osprey gave good scope views as it circled to the west. It later took its turn at stirring panic among the waders as it cruised low over the East Flood, where highlights included nine Curlew Sandpipers (one adult and eight juveniles), the adult Long-billed Dowitcher and four Knot. Two Wigeon also put in an appearance.
A curious call overhead alerted me to a Pectoral Sandpiper which circled the west side of the reserve twice before disappearing to the southeast! Walking back to the car, conversation with a group of three other birds revealed that they had also clocked the Pec.
David Campbell and Cory Gregory