Trip reports

Botolph's Bridge (Leader Robin Smith)

Botolph's Bridge (Leader Robin Smith)
Spotted Flycatcher (Rich Hanman)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

This was the third time that I have led this walk for the group and as on the previous occasions it has not produced huge amounts of birds but is always interesting and continues to throw up a few highlights.

On what was the hottest day of the year with the mercury edging towards 34⁰ ten of us set out for this stroll alongside the Royal Military Canal (only eight returned, but that is another story!) After a quiet start we reached the viewpoint looking up towards the remains of the Roman fort and Elaine suddenly cried 'flycatcher' as a bird flew out from an isolated tree in the foreground before returning to the bare top branches. We watched it for a while before it exited stage right, all of us remarking that it was the first time we had seen one this year, a sad indictment of the decline of a once common and widespread summer visitor.

We continued along towards the Port Lympne Wildlife Park and the fields where 'the deer and the antelope roamed' provided ideal habitat for several green woodpeckers. Peter informed us that the antelope with the enormous horns were kudu and a zebra crossed in front of us eliciting all the usual corny jokes and clichés. It was when we turned into the footpath going up the hill that things again started to get interesting as a tree on the right offered up two more spotted flycatchers and then some more further back. It was difficult to determine exactly how many were there but certainly four and possibly six - a rare treat indeed.

On the way down we saw wild bison and two ostriches which had Warren in a quandary as to whether they should be added to his bird list for the day! By this time we were getting physically drained with the heat so decided to dispense with returning via the open south side of the canal and opted to retrace our steps under the shade of the trees. We did however cross over on the next bridge and were rewarded with a pair of kingfishers arrowing their way towards us and we also picked up another one further along the canal.

Throughout the walk we encountered many buzzards sailing across the clear blue sky and also one very pale kestrel.

The fact that this walk takes in the Port Lympne Wildlife Park ensures that there will be a certain amount of interest; uniqueness and humour so why not join us next year.

Robin Smith