Trip reports

Saturday 4 November 2017 - Foreness and Reculver, Kent

Saturday 4 November 2017 - Foreness and Reculver, Kent
Snow Bunting by Dan Bound

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

There was a Kestrel on the way down and a small flock of Lapwings near Manston. We also saw the Lapwings on our way back and they turned out to be the only ones of the day! At Margate we stopped as usual near the sea front for a comfort break and quick look over the beach. A couple of Rock Pipits and a few Pied Wagtails greeted us. After parking near Foreness we kitted up and headed to the cliff top. An occasional Skylark could be heard calling overhead. It quickly became apparent that searching for our main quarry, Purple Sandpiper, was likely to be a problem as the tide was in and none of the rocky beach was visible; even the groyne we have seen them on before was completely submerged. At this point a thrush was picked out flying in off the sea. It perched briefly on wires near the road and Redwing was added to the day's list. About the same time a Blackbird flew down and under the cliff. Further scanning of the sea revealed a Razorbill, several Common Gulls and a flock of about 10 Common Scoter. There was also a steady trickle of Gannets, mainly adults flying east but one immature bird was heading west! At 10:42 a flock of small birds was seen near one of the ships moored in the roads. They were watched flying towards the shore and disappeared over the cliff somewhere west of us. Although not positively identified, the large white wing patches on some birds and smaller ones on the others was strongly suggestive that these were 10 Snow Buntings coming in off. As we headed to the pumping station a pair of Stonechats entertained us. At one point at least one of them was sharing a perimeter fence with three Goldfinches, and a Rock Pipit. A Kestrel was hovering just beyond the building. In the shelter of the block house another Rock Pipit was found, but scanning the sea produced little apart from more Gannets and a Great Crested Grebe before the first of the forecast showers hit us. We decided to risk walking further east along the clifftop scanning the sea and grass as we went. A few Meadow Pipits and yet more Gannets but nothing of note. By the time we got back to the block house a bit more beach was visible and we found 10 Sanderling, 20+ Ringed Plovers and a goodly number of Turnstones, but no sandpipers. One of the plovers was colour ringed - turquoise over turquoise on left leg and red over black on right; details have been submitted to BTO to try and find about its origin. By now the rain was setting in and we hoped to get some shelter by making our way back along the promenade rather than on the cliff top. To no avail, when we finally reached the car we were soaked through.

From Foreness we made tracks for Reculver and as we neared our destination there were several more Redwings flying above one of the hedgerows. We stopped at the car park where we ate lunch in the car and were treated to the sight of about 20 House Sparrows feeding by a nearby car. By the time we had finished eating the rain had stopped but the wind had got up and it was now chilly. After kitting up we set off for the towers and Coldharbour. There were a few Brent Geese on the river, but a brief seawatch from the towers produced nothing of note. As we walked down towards the sea wall one of our party had a Merganser fly past, but it was lost to sight by the time the rest of us got there. As we walked along we found a few waders in the form of a Curlew along the beach and several Redshanks in the ditches and pools. There were a couple of Little Egrets over the marshes and a distant flock of 50+ Linnets. Then we found the birds of the day - a male and female Snow Bunting feeding on the beach, giving us some excellent views.
At Coldharbour there were another 10 or so Linnets on the fields, 30+ Mallard (the only ones of the day) roosting on the beach and Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and Oystercatchers were on the beach. The only birds of note on the return leg were a couple of Kestrels and, for one lucky person only, a Kingfisher at the sluice that flew off inland before the rest of us could see it.

Not a high species day, but worth it for the Snow Buntings.
Report by John Birkett