Trip reports

Weekend Walk at Oare Marshes

Weekend Walk at Oare Marshes
Dunlin (Peter Hambrook)

Saturday, 3 November 2018

On a bright Saturday morning with a moderate breeze from the South ten of us gathered on the sea wall by the car park.
With a low tide the view across the mudflats towards the Isle of Sheppey was not only attractive but also revealed a wide variety of birds. Vast quantities of dunlins were spread along the shore, often taking off in flocks and circling over the river before landing back in the same area. Redshank were also numerous although it was hard to decide if any spotted redshank were among them. Shelduck, black-tailed godwits, lapwings and black-headed gulls were also on the ground and a common gull sat on a post. On the far side of the river at least three marsh harriers, including a male were circling over the fields. One of the fields contained a mystery blue crop, but on closer inspection this turned out to be a solar farm.
On the river a group of teal were drifting with the tide while on the far bank a few little egrets were dotted around the fields. A pair of brent geese were observed on the mud, while a cormorant and a kestrel flew by. As we continued along the sea wall towards the hide, on the point where the creek heads inland to Oare Harbour, Cetti's warblers could be heard from the reed beds, but not seen. A few of us spotted a trio of wigeon towards the far shore. Shelduck, grey plovers and black-tailed godwits were dispersed along the shore with a curlew and a few ringed plovers, and yet more dunlins and redshanks. Three great-crested grebes swam close to the entrance of the creek.
Looking out to sea towards Whitstable, flocks of brent geese and herring gulls were on the beaches and mudflats and on the point at the eastern end of the Isle of Sheppey a group of at least twenty grey seals lay on the beach. Turning inland along the creek, a fortunate backward glance revealed that a group of over 100 avocets had appeared on the point and close to the water's edge.
Lines of pylons stretch across the creek and on one of these a peregrine falcon perched. On the right several small birds were in the bushes, mostly flying out before being identified, although one that remained turned out to be a female reed bunting. On the ponds to our right a mixed flock of teal, lapwing and golden plover included a ruff, while two snipe lurked on the edge of the reeds and a little stint picked its way between the loafing teal.
From the East Hide there is an excellent view over the ponds. The golden plover were numerous, with fewer grey plover. Black-tailed godwits were also present and a few mallard and shoveler on the water. As we were preparing to move on a female sparrowhawk flew overhead and landed on the opposite bank, giving us an excellent view for several minutes. While walking back towards the car park a small group of fieldfare flew overhead and a heron was spotted by the ponds. While three of us were discussing the morning over a ploughman's lunch in a small hostelry in Oare village, no fewer than sixteen collared doves gathered on the wires across the garden.
More than half of the group had never visited Oare previously and were very pleasantly surprised at the variety of birds on view on this bright late autumn morning when viewing conditions were at their best. This is certainly a reserve for repeat visits in future years.