Saturday, July 22, 2017

Oare Marshes & Cliffe Pools

Another trip to Oare Marshes for the start of wader season.  Well, the marshes always has waders but you know what I mean.  It also has a regular returning Bonaparte's Gull that finds the Oare Marshes a pleasant place to spent a few weeks in the summer arriving from goodness knows where before finally heading off to goodness knows where.  Wouldn't it be nice to know though.  'Napoleon' was starting to transition into winter plumage, but only just.


On site today were six Ruff, the first Golden Plover with seven, and eight vocal Whimbrel seen departing to the west.

Around 500+ Black-tailed Godwit and 100+ Avocet were regular fixtures on East Flood as were my first two Common Snipe of the autumn.  A smart adult and three Curlew Sandpiper were there as well as a winter plumage Spotted Redshank, two of my favourite waders.


I then headed over to Cliffe Pools.  By this time, the sky had filled in and the clouds looked very menacing.  I took off though and started to make my way round the reserve.  The rain started to fall.  It didn't stop as I connected with the Marsh Sandpiper, my third for the UK, as it fed close to the shoreline but a little obscured by the scrub.  Also there were two Spoonbill and a Greenshank.


The rain kept falling as I headed round for the Black-winged Stilt, but I failed to notice the even darkening skies.  It was warm, humid, and storms were a feature in the south of the UK.

I was alone, out in the open when the first clap of the thunder was heard somewhere in the near distance.  And then the rain strengthened and I was stranded and a little panicked.  I was probably the highest point in my immediate vicinity clinging onto a metal tripod.  This was a tricky situation and not altogether sensible and well thought through.  I legged it, before finding a large bush where I hunkered down, taking refuge from the bombardment of summer rain that threw down upon the Kent countryside.

Yes Black-winged Stilt, adults and juveniles.  Breeding success.  Bloomin' marvellous really.  Wish I could have appreciated this a little more as I cast a soaked and feral soul drudging mournfully back to the car.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rainham Marshes

Today was Wildlife Explorers day, so not much opportunity to get my eye in for a bit of birding as I had to rush off afterwards.  However, while on site with the kids, a radio message came through with the call that a couple of Great Egret had settled on Target Pools as seen from the Butts hide.  This was all very frustrating as this would go down as a London first.

En route to the MDZ, a Little Ringed Plover was present on Purfleet Scrape and a Hobby shot low over.  Bearded Tit were heard calling from the reeds along the river.

As luck would have it, on my way back to the visitor centre, one of the Great Egret lifted off and flew over toward Aveley Flashes where it appeared to settle and obviously pleased to have now completed the Egret trio for London.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oare Marshes

A rare trip out birding where opportunities of late have been few and far between.  Oare Marshes is always worth a visit at anytime of the year, so with Graham, we headed down to this superb north Kent site to connect with early returning waders.

Bird of the day went to the Ruff, particularly 2-3 male birds still clinging onto their breeding plumage and looking rather splendid in the summer sun.  The poor photo obviously don't do these birds justice.


Also on site, were two Spotted Redshank, one of my favourite waders particularly in summer plumage which these were.  They were associating with the Blackwits so difficult to pin down on camera.

Marsh Harrier were seen soaring on the opposite side of the Swale.

Standard fare were impressive numbers of Avocet and of course the Black-tailed Godwit numbering over 500 congregated within the 'midfield' of the East Flood.

A single Greenshank was also nice to see as were adult Mediterranean Gull on the Swale.  An early Common Gull sat amongst the ubiquitous Black Headed Gull.  Yellow Wagtail 'seeped' as they flew over with small groups also present along the muddy fringes.

Resident Bearded Tit in small groups 'pinged' within the reeds animated by the warm breeze.