Trip reports

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

Medway Local Council's Riverside Country Park (Leader Warren Mann)
Brent geese - Flock [Chris Comersall]

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

When we gathered at the car park it was not too cold - overcast but importantly it was dry. However, this was not to last. As we were about 25 minutes before high tide, we decided to head straight to Copperhouse Marsh to try and locate the red-breasted mergansers (RBM) which were often seen there at high tide in winter. On the way via Sharp's Green we saw some common garden birds. When we reached the river there were a good number of brent geese close to the shore, together with black-headed gulls. On one of the wrecks there were about 30 ringed plovers, rather more turnstones and a single dunlin.

As we walked round the bay, we were joined by another member of the Local Group bringing our numbers up to seven. It then started to rain but we walked on and we saw distant shelduck, wigeon and teal. As we rounded the point and got a view of Copperhouse Marsh it became evident that there were very few birds about. Then we realised that there were two wildfowlers in a camouflaged hide on the island, so the birds were unlikely to return soon.

We retraced our steps, getting thoroughly soaked in the process, but slowly the rain slackened. We added little egret, crow, redshank, grey plover, common gull and herring gull to our list. Then as the rain stopped Yuek found a very distant red-breasted merganser on the far side of the river. Things were looking up.

Eventually we all got on to the bird, but in order to get better views we decided to walk to the end of Horrid Hill - a narrow peninsula which juts out into the Medway. As we went along, we saw oyster catchers, shovelers, cormorant and Canada geese out on the river; lapwings and curlews on the marsh; and redwings, reed bunting and song thrush in the scrub. At the end of Horrid Hill, we scanned for the RBM's but without success. We did see great-crested grebes, a great black-backed gull, several very distant marsh harriers and a meadow pipit.

It was then time to move on to Bloors Wharf.

On the way there we saw good-sized flocks of dunlin and teal flying around, and added pintail to our list, but Yuek was the only one to see green sandpiper. At the wharf we saw mallard, a few black-tailed godwits and a single avocet. The most common bird on the mudflats was redshanks and we had a number of good views of redwings in the bushes. On the return trek we saw two jays and a kestrel, bringing the total number of species seen to 41. Not a bad morning's work - despite the rain and the wildfowlers.

Warren Mann