Trip reports

Foreness & Reculver, Kent. Saturday 10 November, 2018

Foreness & Reculver, Kent. Saturday 10 November, 2018
Turtle Dove by Steve Grayson

Monday, 3 December 2018

We walked along the cliff top to the wastewater pumping station. Looking down onto the beach there was a single Mediterranean gull keeping company with a few black-headeds. At the pumping station we found singles of both swallow and house martin flying around the cliffs in the rain. There was also a black redstart (probably a couple) in the compound and on the building. In contrast to previous visits here sea watching was rather poor with only a single red-throated diver and a few distant gannets of note. Some of the group managed to see 3 or 4 purple sandpipers down below, although we all saw the flocks of 50 turnstones and up to 150 sanderling that built up on the shore. The forecast 'light rain showers' became almost continuous very heavy showers. At this juncture the group was split with one member down on the promenade below the cliffs, some still by the pumping station and a couple in transit between the two. These last two were unfortunate as most of the others saw a swift hawking around the cliff face; this turned out to be a pallid swift. Despite spending some time in the rain searching it was not refound by us. (others birders found it again after the rain finally cleared and we were long gone.) Several rock pipits and stonechats added to the diversity here. A peregrine flew over the cars as the first three people returned to them at the end of the morning session.
We drove back westwards along to Reculver for lunch. During the drive, one lucky member photographed a turtle dove perched on branches above the road. He also had a ring-necked parakeet fly over. It is a sign of the times that back in the 1990s our group used to include a park in Cliftonville as part of this trip in order to twitch the parakeets; now they are usually on the list while still in Croydon!!! The rain had ceased and the sun was out by the time we reached Reculver. After lunch we walked along the seawall to Coldharbour, making frequent stops on the way to scan the beach, sea and the flat arable fields inland. We had at least three sightings of female merlin during our walk, possibly all of the same individual; one was of a bird perched in the open no more than 60m away on top of one of the rock breakwaters on the beach. Most of our party saw a barn owl hunting in late afternoon over the fields behind the seawall. Amazingly, a small flock of mallard on the sea at Coldharbour was of note as this was the only sighting of any ducks during the whole day.
As for other wildlife, both common and grey seals were seen at Foreness and a mackerel was added to the list by virtue of one reeled in by an angler at Reculver.
As ever with these outings collating sightings from everyone present may miss a few species, but an estimated 57 bird species were noted during the day.

This report is based on that prepared by the leader, John Parish, and personal observations. John Birkett