Trip reports

Oare Marshes KWT Reserve (Leaders Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich)

Oare Marshes KWT Reserve (Leaders Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich)
Black-tailed godwits [Gorden Langsbury]

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Despite the early start of 8.00 am there was a good turnout of nine regulars on a murky but mild morning. Wildfowlers were still shooting from the sea wall so we set off with some trepidation.

The dismal conditions didn't help with the identification of the birds on the East Flood but we managed to pick out pristine shoveler, pintail, tufted duck, teal and the ever-present mallard.

The previous week had seen heavy rainfall resulting in the water level on the flood being much higher than usual and most of the birds were roosting on the few islands left exposed and not under water. Lapwings, black-tailed godwits, a couple of grey plovers, a single ruff, common gulls and starlings crowded together. A snipe flew into the margins whilst mute swans, coots and moorhens dabbled in the surfeit of water. The avocet flock totalled in excess of one hundred birds and made a majestic sight standing on their long legs in the unexpected deluge or taking flight in unison when spooked by the marauding marsh harrier.

Overhead a skylark serenaded us with its flight song while we watched some meadow pipits and linnets alight in "the" bare tree near the West Flood.

We then took the path towards the weir, ticking off a pair of stonechats, both blue and great tits, goldfinch and a jay before Steve called "mistle thrush" as a bird with undulating flight disappeared into the cover of a dense bush. It turned out to be a little owl and several of us saw it before it bounded off again and was lost from view.

There was no sign of the water pipits which had been reported on the "puddles" of the New Acquisition but we made do instead with some curlews, a pheasant and a grey heron!

After crossing the weir the path along the sea wall was extremely muddy so we had to watch our footing and at the same time avoid the many piles of dog poo. We saw a couple of reed buntings feeding on the path, a great black-backed gull perched on a buoy and Simon caught sight of a kingfisher which flew like an exocet across the reeds, but there were no sightings of the anticipated bearded tits.

At the sea hide we were joined briefly by Trevor, Dave and a lady from the Faversham Naturalists. There was much friendly banter and we spotted a great-crested grebe and several inquisitive common seals from the colony on Horse Sands while we chatted. However the highlight was watching eight buzzards thermalling together on an updraught over Harty Hill.

After we went our separate ways, my mobile rang and it was Trevor telling us that they had just spotted two red kites. We managed to get onto one of them, although it was somewhat distant. We also saw shelduck on the Swale and a gaggle of dark-bellied Brent geese near the slipway.

Back at the East Flood we added a little grebe to our tally of forty-nine species. Many thanks to all the participants for a very enjoyable morning.

Sue Carter & Steve Goodrich