Trip reports

Conyer Creek (Leader Giuseppe Raffa)

Conyer Creek (Leader Giuseppe Raffa)
Fieldfare (Rich Hanman)

Sunday, 6 November 2016

If you have waders and wintering thrushes on your mind, Conyer Creek is indeed an excellent destination. This perhaps little-known site has been in the Group programme for a while and I really hope that this will be the case for many years to come.

Five members decided to join me for this autumnal outing, which took place on a sunny - albeit very chilly! - morning. After checking the tide table, we all unanimously agreed that doing the usual circuit anti-clockwise was the best option, because we would then be in a position to scan for waders and wildfowl with a rising tide.

The strategy paid off because - after spotting common birds such as house sparrows and pied wagtails - we quickly sighted the first two fieldfares of the day, followed by a distant redwing. Walking past the orchard though was not as productive as it has been on previous occasions, as the vegetation around it is now thicker than it used to be, but Steve managed to find anyway the first green woodpecker of the day.

Surrounded by starlings, blackbirds darting across the path and a number of very active goldfinches, we reached a clearing that some of us remembered as a very good spot for buzzards. Well, this time we were not so lucky, and all we could see was a couple of woodpigeons and a few more fieldfares. Some of us though sighted a woodcock flying fast just above the tree line.

After recording the first and only stonechat of the trip and a hovering kestrel, we moved on to explore the area that has been used in the past by a long-eared owl to roost. After my pre-visit, it was clear that going back to the usual spot would be very difficult because of the extremely thick vegetation, but we decided to try anyway. All we could do was to walk not too far from the roosting site, but without luck. We then ended up on a different trail compared to that I had planned, but after a short walk we returned to the main path and started scanning the creek for waders and wildfowl.

The tide was still low, but we could easily identify wigeons, teals, dunlins and grey plovers amongst others. I must admit that this part of the walk was also characterized by a bitterly cold wind... yes, we are definitively dedicated birdwatchers! After sighting curlews, avocets and several redshanks, we chose to wait a bit more to see whether we could find a red-breasted merganser, but to no avail.

While walking back to the starting point, we finally had a close-up view of numerous redwings and fieldfares that repeatedly landed in front of us in search of food. A long-awaited marsh harrier was at last included in our list followed shortly after by the first little egret of the day.

When we were about to reach the Ship Inn pub, a green woodpecker foraging on the ground grabbed our attention and then Jeff noticed that just above it there was a raptor circling around, which - after the usual discussion! - turned out to be a common buzzard.

All in all, a very pleasant walk with 44 recorded species. I simply hope that next time we will be less exposed to the elements!

Giuseppe Raffa