Friday, July 31, 2015

Oare Marshes

Couldn't resist another trip to North Kent on a still warm afternoon.  The Bonaparte's Gull and Temminck's Stint had moved on by the time I arrived but there was plenty still out there to see.

Black-Tailed Godwit seemed fewer in number than the last visit but at least 300 was still a good count.  There were around 50 Avocet, 60 Dunlin, three summer plumage Golden Plover, three Curlew Sandpiper (two in summer plumage), six Ruff (four male, two Reeve), a single Green Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover seen in flight heading down Faversham Creek, one Spotted Redshank, two Whimbrel, three Yellow Wagtail, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull that settled briefly on East Flood, and two Bearded Tit.


 Ruff

Whimbrel 


 Bearded Tit








Ruff

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Oare Marshes

The North Kent Marshes are providing me with a real escape from the doldrums of these ongoing health problems.  Couped up at home, I am taking any opportunity to head out before cabin fever really takes hold and I end up chewing on the carpet and scraping my fingers down the wall.  I have always loved the Oare Marshes, the East Flood always impressively stockpiled with Waders.  A little further on from Cliffe, I thought I would give it a go - and an easy ride it was.  Arriving in just over an hour, the number of Waders out on the scrape was astonishing and I just couldn't wait to jump out of the car.


I have no idea how many Black-Tailed Godwit there were out there, but if I say 500, I'm sure I have included all of them and maybe with a few more to spare.  They were congregated in two distinct groups of which the majority were in stunning summer-wear.

Avocet (practicing for Beijing) 

Plenty of Avocet too, perhaps 150 here, typically energetic and vociferant.  There were other crackers here too.  Three Little Stint, two of which were in prime summer breeding plumage, I don't think I had ever seen these looking so dapper - the combination of it's dimunitive size and the rusty-orange tones - as they scampered along the island margins.  There was also a third that was in a transitional phase and had lost the bright hues.  

 Little Stint

Golden Plover 

A single Golden Plover in full breeding plumage was present for a short while and engaged in flight feather preservation before heading off west.  There were also three adult Ruff on the scrape, and around 150 Dunlin.

Wader ensemble feat. Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin 

Scanning through the Godwit, I picked up a couple of adult Curlew Sandpiper, still in brick-red summer plumage - such lovely birds.  From the same vantage point, Lapwing were present, and at least two Bearded Tit flew along the tops of the reeds in the strong warm breeze.  A Yellow Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit flew over.


Whimbrel 

Heading down to the shore, the tide was low and there was plenty of exposed mud.  A few Dunlin and Redshank were pulling out snacks from the claggy mud.  There were three Whimbrel here and also around a dozen Curlew, curiously a bird I hadn't seen for a while.  Heading east along the path, a Green Sandpiper tucked itself into one of the shallow pools away from the main congregation of waders.  It maybe felt like I did, just glad to be out and about, away from the carnage, and enjoying a bit of peace on earth.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cliffe Pools RSPB

Not allowing health issues to get the better of me, things felt calm - the sun was out and I was itching to get out of the flat.  So Kat and I headed over to Cliffe Pools, an RSPB reserve that I had never visited and less than an hours drive away from home.

On arrival the car park was pretty sparse, while a couple of retarded under-educated shit-kickers (Bryson, 1989) smeared their cheap shit-mobiles around the car park, it was a relief to make tracks onto the reserve.

The buddleia-lined paths were generously occupied by butterflies with Painted Lady, Peacock, Large and Small White, plenty of Gatekeeper, and Comma animated in the warm sun.

 Gatekeeper

The path coursed round bi-secting pools on either side, interspersed with areas from which to view the islands and the open areas of water.  There were loads of waders.  Around 300+ Black-Tailed Godwit were in community with 150+ Avocet, 15 Greenshank, 50+ Redshank, 15 Dunlin, three juvenile Little-Ringed Plover, at least a couple of Bar-Tailed Godwit, and the real prize of four moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper.  The islands weren't as close as I had hoped, and a scope was absolutely necessary to view.

Walking further along the path, five Whimbrel flew over calling before settling on the last pool before the seawall.  Five Ringed Plover were also present, along with rausous Oystercatcher.

A Peregrine flew low over that was observed chasing a passerine without success - an impressive sight.  A female Marsh Harrier quartered the marsh and a Hobby dashed through.

Whimbrel

The circular walk back to the car park takes roughly two hours, and there is plenty of scrub, open water, and scrape to make this an appealing autumn birding destination.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rainham Marshes

Breezy but warm.  An increase in Black-Tailed Godwit islandica numbers than my last visit with at least 45 counted (44 on Aveley and 1 on Purfleet) with some really smart adult birds there.  On Aveley Flashes, three juvenile Little-Ringed Plover remained with small numbers of Teal and Shoveler.  Two Whimbrel flew low over the reserve and toward Aveley Bay.  A lone Swallow flew through.

A distant Common Buzzard hovered on the breeze towards Wennington.

The Kingfisher showed well albeit briefly from the MDZ as did a young Water Vole oblivious to the onlookers peering through the netting.

A pristine Painted Lady settled on the path up towards the Riverside, where a Common Darter flew past.  A few Black-Tailed Skimmer were seen around the reserve.

Water Vole

Black-Tailed Skimmer

Painted Lady

Monday, July 13, 2015

Rainham Marshes

Despite the gloomy weather, I headed down to Rainham Marshes which despite a few rain showers and extremely dank conditions produced seven Black-Tailed Godwit (one on Purfleet, six on Aveley), four Greenshank and three Little Ringed Plover on Aveley Pools, a flyover Hobby, a family group of six Bearded Tit by the DragonFly Ponds, 30+ Little Egret around the reserve, and a Whimbrel on the shoreline of Aveley Bay.

Also conspicuous in number were Sand Martin forced down by the low cloud base.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Minsmere

You make plans, you change plans, and you end up at Minsmere.  What a scorcher of a day, blue skies, warm sunshine, those high cirrus clouds that I just love seeing.  The reserve looked immaculate, what a great place to be on a Saturday.  It wasn't busy, just right, people out enjoying wildlife as it should be because we have it in abundance.  Lots of great stuff to see.

A leisurely start of tea and cake from the cafe, and then towards the East hide stopping first at the dragonfly ponds where there were plenty of Azure Damselflies and a few Common Emeralds.  A Brown Hawker whizzed round with the backdrop of busy Sand Martin frequenting the sand bank.

Common Emerald


Heading over to the East Hide, there was plenty of interest on the scrape.  Avocet were busy feeding, five Ruff in moulting plumage were present, as were a group of Black-Tailed Godwit.  A Green Sandpiper was picked out through the heat-haze toward the back of the pool, and Spotted Redshank were happy to hide by the bund next to Island 3.  Then a smart Little Tern flew in and settled next to four Sandwich Tern, and at least eight Mediterranean Gull were well suited to the current climate that bears its name.


On South Scrape 17 Little Gull with 12 still in summer plumage sat on the bank with a Whimbrel in attendance.  There were seven summer plumage Dunlin here with a Ringed Plover keeping company.  Six Siskin flew east over Whin Hill.



It's tough leaving Minsmere - such a great place but the general area is so rich with wildlife.  So after a hearty dinner at a local village pub, we made our way over to Dunwich Heath where shortly commencing our walk, a stunning male Dartford Warbler appeared, singing on the tops of the heather before disappearing into cover.  The area was generally quiet, but the walk was a joy through the heather and sporadic tree-lined paths.

Westleton Heath proved to be a more productive visit.  A distant cry led us to an area of exposed ground where a solitary but vocal Stone Curlew paraded through the bare land and into the heather, actively feeding before trotting off into the gloom.  A Woodlark sat along the fenceline, teasing us with a brief utterance of song.  A juvenile Cuckoo appeared from the thickets, flew across the skyline briefly settling on the tops before disappearing over the ridge.




Stonechat chacked way in the distance, a Dartford Warbler scratched away as the daylight ebbed away, on the most perfect of English summer evenings.



Friday, July 3, 2015

Waterworks

A lovely warm summers day and the Waterworks were alive with Butterflies, particularly Large, Small, and Essex Skippers noted by their abundance.  The area does look great at this time of year.

Essex Skipper


Large Skipper

Rosebay Willowherb