Trip reports

Oare Marshes Saturday 20th September 2014

Oare Marshes Saturday 20th September 2014
Brenda Todd

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fourteen members joined us for a most enjoyable morning walk at the Kent Wildlife Trust reserve at Oare Marshes, noted by many attending as the best birding site for waders in the South East and despite a foggy, gloomy and damp start, it didn't disappoint today.
With the tide rising there was just a little exposed foreshore to investigate where the only curlew of the visit was seen amongst black-tailed godwit and redshank. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day - 17 brent geese flying west along the Swale. Walking east along the sea wall a cetti's warbler called briefly from its usual location near the car park and a single common gull and sandwich tern were seen perched on mooring posts. As we approached the sea watching hide a male whinchat gave stunning views with a supporting cast of reed bunting and meadow pipit. Once past the hide some had a brief view of a common (harbour) seal but this was soon ignored when the pinging of bearded tits were heard. The calm shelter of the sea wall soon had quite a few birds flitting amongst the reeds and eventually three (including one young male) decided to sit high and still for what seemed a few minutes - what a highlight.
Moving on towards the sluice a gathering of waders were resting close by in a corner refuge - redshank and black-tailed godwit dominated (as they did across the whole East Flood) but given a little time we were soon ticking off little stint, curlew sandpiper, greenshank, ruff and knot - great for good comparisons. A lovely flock of avocet flew over to brighten what was still a gloomy morning. Turning towards the East Hide, three stonechats were active in the adjacent field and a peregrine was well spotted high on a distant pylon. Time was marching on, past 11 a.m. and the East Hide provided a welcome rest where we had closer views of avocet and the large gathering of black-tailed godwits along with teal and wigeon (still in eclipse plumage).
With no time to visit the West Hide we concentrated on the roadside viewing of the East Flood and with the temperature rising and the sun out the light was fantastic to enjoy what is one of the great birding spectacles in the South East - hundreds of black-tailed godwits, dozens of lapwing, redshank, ducks of varied species including a female pintail and a few shoveler. However, even with another curlew sandpiper, little stint, snipe and little egrets to compete with, the highlight for us and we think many of the group was the mass of golden plover, many still showing signs of the black belly of breeding plumage constantly being joined by small groups flying in, some making the mournful call as they did so. For those who stayed a while to have their picnic lunch a marsh harrier quartered the West Flood.
It is easy to understand why the group visits Oare on such a regular basis, a fabulous reserve and very easy to walk and enjoy. 57 species were seen (or heard) by the group.
Birds seen: mute swan, Canada geese, dark-bellied brent geese (17), wigeon, teal, mallard, pintail, shoveler, tufted duck, cormorant, little egret, grey heron, little grebe, marsh harrier, kestrel, peregrine falcon, water rail (heard), moorhen, coot, avocet, golden plover, lapwing, knot, little stint (2), curlew sandpiper (2), dunlin (1), ruff, snipe (3), black-tailed godwit, curlew (1), greenshank (1), redshank, black-headed gull, common gull, herring gull, sandwich tern, stock dove, woodpigeon, collared dove, green woodpecker, jay, carrion crow, bearded tit, swallow, cetti's warbler (heard), reed warbler, starling, blackbird, robin, whinchat (2), stonechat (3), house sparrow, pied wagtail, meadow pipit, linnet, reed bunting.
Ralph and Brenda Todd