Trip reports

RSPB Bexley Group Walk Foots Cray Meadows - Tuesday 5th January 2016

Thursday, 7 January 2016

RSPB Bexley Group Walk
Foots Cray Meadows - Tuesday 5th January 2016
The wettest December, a very wet start to January and still 19 members and friends joined us for the first walk of 2016 no doubt wishing to walk off some of the festive season excesses. The sun shone all morning providing excellent light for viewing and photographing the meadows and its birdlife.

We were governed a little but not put off by the incredibly wet, muddy conditions underfoot but getting close to the river was a priority and within 15 minutes of the start we were all enjoying fabulous views of a kingfisher. It sat for many minutes, certainly long enough for all to watch at least once through the telescope.

After such a start we were worried the morning could perhaps only go downhill but not so. We were soon enjoying a stock dove, quickly joined by woodpigeon a for comparison and then jackdaws with carrion crows. A jay and magpies completed the corvid collection. There was a constant racket of parakeets as background noise but there seemed to be more song thrushes trying to out-compete them and we enjoyed excellent views of one close by. Dunnocks, wrens and robins were also nearby as was a little egret perched in a riverside tree. Little egrets were often seen flying up and down the river all throughout the morning. There were probably at least two birds present. Next up, despite the advice that grey wagtail would be hard to see given the high water level a fantastic adult male probed along the fencing put into the river for realignment purposes. With the sun shining on it we could easily understand why some people think they were seeing a yellow wagtail. I hope the photographers managed to catch the image with the yellow reflection in the river.

The lack of garden birds has often been recorded this winter and this was reflected in our walk. There were no finches, no winter thrushes and no decent sized tit flocks though long-tailed tits gave frequent and good views. We even think we saw two blue tits pairing up as they displayed on a tree trunk. On the Loring Hall fields we watched four mistle thrushes though the light wasn't good here.
Continuing round to the edge of North Cray wood we didn't add much to the list so we returned to Five Arches and a cormorant flew overhead but didn't stop. On the open water there were many black-headed gulls and mallards primarily because there were still some families out feeding the birds. Around 13 tufted ducks hung around the feeding activities but didn't participate. Moorhens were feeding on the grass edges which were mostly muddy now and coots squabbled amongst themselves. We had really good views of up to four little grebes and a pair of gadwall (what a fantastic specimen the drake is).
Time was marching on so we made our way back hearing the loud squeal of a water rail but no sighting and reached the cars by 12.15.
Birds seen : Little grebe, cormorant, little egret, gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, water rail (heard), moorhen, coot, black-headed gull, stock dove, woodpigeon, ring-necked parakeet, kingfisher, grey wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, song thrush, mistle thrush, long-tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, jay, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow. (28 species).
Ralph and Brenda Todd