Trip reports

Weekend Walk at Oare Marshes on Saturday 26th October 2019

Weekend Walk at Oare Marshes on Saturday 26th October 2019
Black-tailed godwits. (Emily Langston)

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Despite weather forecasts for very wet and stormy weather for the rest of the country, Kent was predicted to remain dry for at least the morning.

We arrived to find a strong south-westerly wind and high tide, so large numbers of birds had moved from the foreshore to the inland lagoon. A brief stop just before the car park revealed packed ranks of waders and other waterfowl but we decided to leave a more thorough investigation of the lagoon until the end of the walk and headed out to the sea wall.

On the ferry slipway turnstones, a ringed plover, a pied wagtail and a rock pipit were seen, while a group of Brent geese investigated some reeds further upstream. A few mallards could be seen in the distance and a buzzard and a harrier were seen far off on the Elmley side of the Swale. Small groups of great crested grebes were on the water with cormorants flying overhead, while a kestrel flew in from across the Swale and was hovering in the wind over the marshes, later settling in a tree.

As we got to the sea wall hide, groups of waders of various sizes were seen in flight in all directions, with a particularly large group crossing from north to south and landing in the marshes near Whitstable. Along the Faversham creek, groups of linnets were active in the reeds but there was far too much wind to tempt peregrines to attempt to perch on the pylons.

We then turned back away from the river and looked over the lagoon from the other hide. The vegetation on the island had grown up since our visit last year so the waders had settled on a spit of land and the shallows on the banks of the lake. From this viewpoint we could see the roosting waders from the opposite side, including a group not easily visible from the road. Although identification was a bit tricky with the birds closely packed, there appeared to be a few knot on this island. This was confirmed when my daughter Emily, a keen photographer, captured a flying shot of a large number of waders that had been spooked by something. Amongst these, five or six knot could be identified. Continuing towards the road and looking back over the water we could pick out a good variety of waterfowl. The largest group consisted of black-tailed godwits, redshank and dunlins, together with a couple of ruff, one a juvenile, and a separate large flock of avocets on the shallow water beyond. Ducks observed were teal, shoveler and mallard, a single shelduck and a female pintail. Presiding over this gathering was a great black-backed gull, while black-headed and common gulls could be found scattered around, mainly on the water. A movement caught our eyes, which proved to be a pair of stonechats, adding a bit of colour to a largely grey scene. On the far bank a heron had settled amongst a group of waders which included two golden plovers, while a few grey plovers also lurked in the various groups. At least four snipe were tricky to see despite being in reeds close to the road.

Despite the high wind and high tide Oare Marshes had plenty to offer again, and the fact that this part of Kent was spared the rain until we were on the way home was a bonus.

LEGH LANGSTON