Trip reports

Hampton Pier/Bishopstone Glen (Leader Sue Carter)

Hampton Pier/Bishopstone Glen (Leader Sue Carter)
Purple sandpiper [Steve Goodrich]

Sunday, 4 November 2018

At the appointed hour ten regulars assembled next to Hampton Pier and were dismayed to find that the rising tide had come in ahead of the predicted time. However, all was not lost as keen eyes picked out our number one target, when an extremely confiding purple sandpiper was found by Richard on the seaweed strewn rocks at the base of the pier. We all managed to see the bird well and even invited some keen passers-by to view the bird through our scopes.

Whilst there we also saw turnstone, redshank, great-crested grebe plus the countless cormorants festooning the remains of Herne Bay pier. John and Steve got onto what they thought was a single male eider flying rapidly west. A juvenile herring gull hung around near to the purple sandpiper and attempted to swallow a moribund fish whole.

A lady approached us and asked if we had seen her lost white Jack Russell and gave us a card to contact her if we found it during our travels.

We then made our way the few miles to the car park at Bishopstone Glen, an area new to most of the participants. We stood on the grassed area overlooking the bay and watched a large number of skittish blackbirds, which flew from bush to bush and appeared to be incoming migrants. A sparrowhawk circled over the Glen spooking starlings, lapwings, wood pigeons and collared doves and we picked out some gannets flying over the mill-pond like surface of the sea in front of the wind turbines.

We set off for the Glen walking in single file and stopping when we heard or saw something of interest. Robins ticked, a wren scolded and the hungry sparrowhawk re-appeared in the gap between the trees, circling high above. In the open area we saw three chiffchaffs, blue and great tits, chaffinches and goldfinches.

Next, we took the path down to the beach where we saw meadow pipits and lots of house sparrows feeding on weed seeds in the bushes. We remarked on the large numbers of juvenile house sparrows we have noticed this year, a sign of a good breeding season. We then walked along the base of the sandstone cliffs looking at the nest tunnels now vacated by the sand martin colony. Before retracing our steps, we scoped the rocky spit ahead where we found three ringed plovers and loafing gulls which included common, black-headed and herring varieties.

Back at the cliff top we found a white Jack Russell which seemed to be lost and attached itself to our group, so we held it by the collar whilst John rang the number on the card but no answer. Several minutes elapsed before the dog's real owners shouted from the car park and the dog took off in their direction. Richard went over to explain that we weren't dog-nappers and the saga ended happily when the lady rang back to say her lost dog had been found!

We watched a great black-backed gull balancing on a buoy and gannets plunge-diving into the still calm sea before heading to the picnic tables for our lunch. Three skylarks called overhead as we lunched. A pleasant morning with sunny intervals and good company. Five of the group decided to walk on towards Reculver whilst the other five left for home.

Sue Carter