Trip reports

Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory (Leader Sue Carter)

Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory (Leader Sue Carter)
Jackdaw [Nigel Blake]

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Dynamic Dozen assembled promptly at 8.00 am and received the usual warm welcome from the Sandwich Bay Observatory staff. We loitered in the car park ticking off jackdaw, curlew, dunnock and redwing before the ringers returned with their bouncing bags and we gathered in the hut to watch. Chiffchaffs, robin and chaffinches emerged in turn to be sexed, aged, weighed and ringed, as well as having their body fat measured. We learnt about emargination and outer primary coverts and were thrilled to see a first-year redwing, which was less than happy to see us and squawked loudly whilst being processed. Happy to report that he/she flew off strongly after the humiliation, but not before it had left its calling card!

We then set off down the lane, marvelling at a flock of well over one hundred goldfinches feeding on spilt seed in the company of several house sparrows.

Then it was on to the Elms Copse where we found a tit flock which comprised long-tailed, great and blue varieties. A robin was very vocal and we added common whitethroat, wren, blackbird, chaffinch and chiffchaff before we crossed the road and watched lapwings circling with three smaller unidentified waders.

On the way to the Restharrow Scrape we had a pair of stonechats and a kestrel, plus the ubiquitous corvids and starlings. Once inside the hide we counted at least seven snipe, dozens of teal, singles of moorhen, shoveler and meadow pipit and four stock doves.

Outside again we headed along the footpath towards the sea and saw several skylarks calling and interacting overhead. In the garden of one large property on the seafront we found a wheatear, a robin, more stonechats and meadow pipits and a couple of pied wagtails.

We then turned our attention to the sea and despite a strong easterly breeze we spent some time watching skeins of dark-belled brent geese, a seal, common scoters, wigeon, shelduck and appropriately, Sandwich terns!

By the time we reached the Royal St. George's golf course we had added rock pipit to the list. We crossed the course on the footpath taking care to watch for any stray overhead balls. The sun came out and the temperature rose considerably.

Whilst having our lunch back at the Observatory we were tipped off that a female brambling was being processed. Then hearing more squawking coming from the ringing hut we rushed over to find a female great-spotted woodpecker having the same treatment and we were able to see both birds fly off strongly complete with their new jewellery and none the worse other than for their loss of dignity.

A thoroughly enjoyable morning with a species total of fifty-two. The Observatory is in the process of raising funds to buy more land and enlarge and deepen the Restharrow Scrape, so as a way of saying thank you we made a donation to the Restharrow Project Appeal.

Sue Carter