Trip reports

Sheppey Jan 5th 2014

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sunday January 5th 2014 saw the RSPB Croydon Local Group's first outing of the year, to Sheppey. Before lunch we went from Leysdown to Shellness and back. Having parked at the end of the seafront at Leysdown we walked down along the embankment scanning both the sea and the fields inland. Out at sea two distant divers flying away were identified as Black-throated, while another group of four were Red-throated. We were to get much better views of the latter with a group of eight lingering close inshore off Shellness hamlet. Flocks of ducks on the sea included Pintail, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon and Mallard. On the fields were flocks of Lapwing with Golden Plover mixed in and these were spooked from time to time by a passing Marsh Harrier, while at least three Common Buzzards were in the area. Sitting out in one field was a Hooded Crow, its smart grey and black plumage marking it out from our own Carrion Crows. A flock of Linnets could be seen in the bushes beside the track and several Reed Buntings were found beside the car park. We had seen flocks of Brent Geese flying around and settling in a field with grey geese beyond them. To get closer we detoured along the track to the Swale reserve. There were several hundred Dark-bellied Brent Geese, one of which was leucistic, and there was a single Pale-bellied bird with them. The grey geese were mainly Greylags, but there also White-fronted Geese; a good addition to the day's list. Adding to the tally was a Peregrine sitting on the ground. As the tide was still coming, the roost held few birds, mainly Oystercatchers. As we walked back a flock of Oystercatchers settled on a breakwater. A bit further on several Sanderling were on the water's edge. Before leaving we also saw several Kittiwakes and Red-breasted Mergansers.
Lunch was taken at Capel Fleet, where birds were conspicuous by their absence. Continuing on to the viewpoint half a dozen Corn Buntings were huddled in a bush. From the viewpoint we had a ringtail Hen Harrier fly past and watched Marsh Harriers settled in the fields before going to roost. By the time we left for home at least 67 species of bird had been seen as well as 2 common seals, a rabbit and a dead dogfish on the tide line.