Trip reports

Medway Local Council's Riverside Country Park (Leader Warren Mann)

Medway Local Council's Riverside Country Park (Leader Warren Mann)
Collared dove [Ray Kennedy]

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

After the stiflingly hot weather we had been experiencing, it was with some relief that twelve of us met at the RCP in pleasantly warm, slightly overcast conditions. Before leaving the car park we had seen a wood pigeon, collared dove, greenfinch, goldfinch and great tit. We made our way to the path leading to Horrid Hill and surveyed the mud flats. It was three hours before high tide, and the tide line was some distance away, so it was mainly telescope work. There were the inevitable black-headed gulls plus a herring gull, redshank, curlew, oystercatcher, lapwing and little egret.

We walked along the path alongside the river which leads to Bloor's Wharf, with the intention of reaching there before the tide had covered the mud flats and had driven off the birds. We saw shelduck and great-crested grebe, and on a rusting barge there were several gulls, including both lesser and great black-backed.

Adrian H then briefly glimpsed a wader with yellow legs which dropped into a gully before the rest could get onto it. Adrian pursued his bird and got another brief look as it flew off. He could not be certain, but he thought it was possibly a wood sandpiper.

In the scrub we heard a green woodpecker, blackcap and song thrush, and saw a fly-by linnet and several swallows, plus a mallard and cormorant on the river. We could see that the tide was coming in faster than expected, so after hurrying some way along the track we decided to stop and check what was on the fast-disappearing mud. We were rewarded with good views of a number of black-tailed godwits in breeding plumage. We were then distracted by Adrian O saying he could hear a turtle dove. It was difficult to locate at first, but eventually we realised there were two birds and we all got good views. Undoubtedly the star bird of the day.

As we retraced our steps we heard and then saw chiffchaff, and amongst others we added common gull and swift to our list. We decided to visit the small pond not far from the Visitor Centre, and as well as good views of birds we had seen before such as greenfinches and goldfinches, we had sightings of blue tit, wren, dunnock and robin. These were trumped by a pair of common whitethroats, which seemed to have a nest in the undergrowth, and a pair of flighty moorhens which were being pestered for food by a couple of black fluffball chicks.

We walked on to Sharp's Green and then to Copperhouse Marsh. It was now top of the tide and the marsh was practically submerged. There was nothing new on the river, so we decided to return to the carpark by way of the scrub. We were pleased to see a long-tailed tit and a pair of nesting blackcaps. This brought our total for the walk to 42 seen, two heard and one possible. All very pleasant, but there was no doubt as to the bird of the day - the turtle dove.

Warren Mann