Trip reports

Bexley Local Group field trip to Riverside Country Park, Gillingham.

Male chaffinch singing on branch

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Bexley Local Group RSPB
Visit to Riverside Country Park, Gillingham.

Weather - white cloud becoming sunny. Brisk winds from the south. Unseasonably warm (12degrees+)

The adage "fail to prepare, prepare to fail" was at the front of my mind as I approached the car park at this venue, so popular with residents of the nearby Medway Towns. Through the intervention of some nasty little "gremlin" at the planning stage the motion of the tide was the mirror image of what we wanted and too much wet mud was already visible as the waters of the Medway estuary retreated towards the sea. My hopes that nobody else would turn up to discover the planning error were quickly dashed however and our group soon numbered twenty-plus souls, including some new faces. Having explained the situation and my concerns bird-wise, we headed for the end of the spit that glories in the name of Horrid Hill, stopping along the way to search for waders and gulls that were somewhere in range. The every reliable redshanks were obvious, as were the black-headed and common gulls but a flock of lapwing that flew fairly close as we were approaching dropped, as one into a large patch of marsh vegetation and vanished. Ringed plover were "scoped" by all, but a single dunlin, that played hide-and-seek in and out of a runnel, was ignored in favour of birds like curlew that could be more easily appreciated by the group. At the tip of the spit open water was visible with the usual channel between us and Nor Marsh and eyes were soon picking up shelduck and wigeon. Over on Nor Marsh a peregrine falcon perched on the top of jumbled stone that line some stretches of the bank and then more distantly a marsh harrier took to the air providing a good display which, sadly, may have been missed by the novices among us. Retracing our steps, and ignoring the lure of the now open café, we walked east along the shoreline ending at Ridham Dock in bright sunshine, where a few black-tailed godwits fed busily among the gulls and about two hundred teal loafed, head into the wind, awaiting the eventual return of the water. The last bird I focussed my scope on was another single dunlin that seemed to be enjoying the last weekend before Christmas in Kent without going to the shops!
My thanks to all who turned up and were so kind not to complain about the birds being so far away.
And while I am at it thank you to all members who support our trips sharing the sights and sounds, with good humour, in both fair weather and foul, long may we continue to do so.

Our list for the day was kindly supplied by George Kalli, as follows:-

black-tailed godwit
black headed gull
common gull
herring gull
great black backed gull
collared dove
green woodpecker
meadow pipit
mistle thrush
blue tit
great tit
carrion crow
house sparrow
marsh harrier
peregrine falcon
little egret
Brent goose
Canada goose
great crested grebe
grey plover