Ray O’ Reilly, KOS Field Trip organiser writes:-

 “Wednesday January 10th was the first Kent Ornithological Society field outing of 2024 and our first ever on a Wednesday. As usual I led the outing with the reliable and always massive help of Lyn Griffiths. 

 It was a bitterly cold day with a strong biting North-Easterly wind, yet incredibly there was a naturist strolling down the beach near Shellness as naked as the day he was born collecting rubbish. ( Impressive dedication to the health of the planet on a very ‘exposed’ part of the Isle of Sheppey in a N Easterly….)

 Personally I managed eight FOYs (First of the Year) bird sightings putting me on a total of 112 with our group viewing 68 species during the day between us.

 We met at St Thomas' Church, Harty  - the most remote church in the county and an ancient pilgrim’s route church - and walked down through the Swale NR checking the " Grey Geese" and were pleased to pick out sixteen Greater White-Fronted Geese among the gaggle. 

 A massive flock of 140+ Stock Dove were seen in the area and a 1st Winter Little Gull over the pools was a surprise. We arrived at high tide at Shellness and watched thousands of waders on the beach and at their high tide roost including Red Knot and Bar-tailed Godwits. The walk out produced two Short-eared Owls with further perching views later. One lucky member had a female Merlin but his cries to us were lost in the wind. During lunch we were entertained by a Little Owl playing peek-a-boo.

 Highlights from our afternoon session were no fewer than three Hen Harriers, two Bewick's Swans and around a dozen Corn Buntings. Dusk didn't produce any more hoped for Owls and we headed home for a cup of Hot Chocolate to warm up the old bones.  It was a fine start to our 2024 programme."


Ray O’Reilly

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