Trip reports

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve - Castle Water - report by Anne McGregor.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

As we stepped from our cars the torrential downpour ceased instantly, to be replaced, within the hour, by sunshine and some beautiful cloudscapes.Initially the bushes and trees were alive with 'willowchiffs', interspersed with Blackcaps, Common Whitethroats, Cetti's Warblers, Blue and Great Tits, Robins and Dunnocks. From the view point we saw Marsh Harrier and a Sparrowhawk which, although distant, remained perched for some time, affording good scope views. More...

Samphire Hoe - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

A perfect summer's day gained Samphire Hoe some new converts. Blue sky and sea, majestic white cliffs, clouds of House Martins, picnic on the beach, Buddleia festooned with Painted Ladies, ice creams: all highly satisfactory!For once the M20 excelled itself, allowing us all to arrive and start half an hour earlier than anticipated.A Peregrine cruised along the cliff tops, as did a pair of Kestrels, Ravens, Buzzards, gulls and a single Fulmar. House Martins nested lower down. More...

Stodmarsh, 17th July 2019, report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

A beautiful summer's day spent at a beautiful reserve.As expected at this time of year, birds were not numerous, but sightings included three brief Bittern flypasts, a pair of Green Sandpipers, two Hobbies, a pair of Yellowhammers, Marsh Harriers, Skylarks and a single, distant, Turtle Dove was heard to purr. Bearded Tits were fairly prolific but largely invisible.There was a profusion of wild flowers including Purple Loosestrife, Bramble, White Convolvulus, umbellifers, Ragwort (complete with black and yellow Cinnabar caterpillars), Flowering Rush, Marsh Sowthistle, Dittander and the insectivorous Bladderwort. These attracted good numbers of butterflies and hoverflies. More...

Ashdown Forest 22nd May, report by Anne McGregor - NOTE THIS WAS RESCHEDULED FROM 12th JUNE

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

An iridescent Green Hairstreak fluttering in the car park was an auspicious start to a glorious day and was soon followed by a striking Speckled Yellow moth posing on a bluebell.On the reserve up to six Buzzards circled overhead and we were accompanied by the songs of Chaffinch, Wren, Blackcap, Whitethroats, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff amongst others. More...

Conyer Creek - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

It's very sad to think there are proposals to put housing on this beautiful site. The scrub was full of birdsong, including Common Whitethroat, Wren, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Blackcap, Cetti's and, best of all, several Nightingales, one of which provided excellent views whilst in full song. Skylarks sang, Mediterranean Gulls mewed constantly overhead and the Cuckoos, also calling, were almost as obliging in showing themselves as were the Nightingale s. If only the ever diminishing Turtle Dove could have added its voice to the springtime chorus. More...

Oare Marshes KWT Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

The highlight of the trip had to be the Spoonbill which performed several elegant flypasts close in front of us before landing to feed, continuing to give good views.The runner up was the Grey Wagtail, in dazzling breeding plumage, running around on the mud at the Gunpowder Works.Despite constant sunshine the North East wind was bitter and so strong we had difficulty keeping our binoculars steady on the seawall. Not surprisingly, Sedge Warbler, Bearded Tits and Cetti's kept well down in the reedbeds. Even the Black-tailed Godwits had relocated to a more sheltered spot, but provided a wonderful spectacle of rufous, black and white when circling, like the Spoonbill, against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky. As always, a good variety of ducks were present, including a solitary female Pintail. More...

Dungeness RSPB Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Despite over sixty bird species being recorded, the eagerly anticipated migrants were in short supply, comprising one Swallow, one Sedge Warbler and a smattering of Chiffchaffs.However, though mainly overcast, there was a definite touch of Spring in the air, with a couple of Bitterns booming, an excellent variety of displaying ducks and gulls in pristine breeding plumage plus, during the sunny morning, a couple of basking Common Lizards and several Peacock butterflies on the wing. More...

Sheppey - a report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

As we approached Shellness several hundred Brent Geese murmured and clucked amongst themselves in a field close by the track before taking off and heading low over our heads to the sea.At Shellness a good variety of waders showed well, some remarkably close, and the spit was black with the usual density of Oystercatchers. More...

New Year at Bough Beech led by John Waterman. Report by Brian Nobbs

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Large numbers of people were out at Bough Beech to start the New Year, including some twenty from Sevenoaks Group joining John Waterman's field trip.The bird list couldn't have started much better when a pair of Red Kites circled over us at the KWT centre whilst we were watching Marsh Tits amongst the more common Blue and Great Tits, with Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Fieldfares. More...

Rye Harbour 9th December - led by John Waterman, report by Brian Nobbs

Sunday, 9 December 2018

As soon as we arrived at rye Harbour, the rain stopped and the sun came out, but the wind was still whipping up the waves on the beach in a dramatic fashion. The pool behind Flat Beach had a good selection of duck, including Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler and Tufted Duck, together with Redshank. More...

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, 5th December - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Despite the abysmal forecast, this was a remarkably successful day, with the only rain falling when we were comfortably ensconced in the Tyler Hide. A long time was spent here trying to identify a largish mystery bird, which appeared to be in a state of collapse just too far away for us to ascertain details. We even summoned a KWT birding expert, complete with scope, who was equally baffled, despite returning to the centre and going through all the European birds, as did I. Maybe an escaped ornamental duck or chicken.... More...

Reculver 25th November - led by John Waterman, report by Brian Nobbs

Sunday, 25 November 2018

It was cold and overcast, but mercifully dry, for the filed meeting at Reculver on Sunday 25th November. It was a case of quality rather than quantity of birds, with a succession of migrants flying past or resting on the sea, including Red-throated and Black-throated Divers and Slavonian and Great Crested Grebes. More...

Dungeness RSPB Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

An amazingly warm day, with cloudless skies, certainly enhanced our enjoyment of the day's birding.The highlight had to be the Peregrine (see Erik's photos on the Facebook page) which, having caused mayhem amongst the Lapwings, sat on the shingle spit in front of the hide for ages, initially gazing skywards, with what appeared to be deep suspicion, before waddling tentatively into the water, but deciding against bathing once chest level was reached. A return to the spit for more skygazing, fluffing out its sharply contrasting black speckled breast feathers to dry, preceded a second, successful, bathing attempt prior to its flying off, calling. More...

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

A most enjoyable day despite the intermittent drizzle, the dull light actually showing the birds to very good advantage.We started at the bittern viewpoint, Bittern free as usual, though a Kingfisher showed briefly and Bearded Tits pinged but failed to reveal themselves. Marsh Harriers and Kestrel were seen and Cettis vocal but unseen.Our subsequent stroll produced a handsome Wasp Spider, a first for some, but the highlight was the huge mixed flock feeding on the Elderberries. This included Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Dunnock, Long Tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Chaffinch and Goldfinch. More...

Oare Marshes KWT Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Considering how many interesting species were recorded just prior to our visit, and immediately after it, I expected a little more cooperation from the birds not an unreasonable expectation. Passerines, particularly, showed a marked reluctance to honour us with their presence.Good numbers of waders included close views of a Little Stint in addition to the anticipated Godwits, Ruff, Golden Plovers, Oyster Catchers, Dunlin, Redshank, Avocets, Lapwing and solitary Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover. More...

Stodmarsh 18th July 2018, report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A most enjoyable summer's day was spent ambling, extremely slowly, around the reserve. Much time was spent admiring the myriads of insects nectaring on the Hemp Agrimony, Willowherb and umbellifers. It was lovely to see such good numbers and varieties of butterfly, Peacocks, perhaps, predominating. Also plenty of dragonflies, including Black-tailed Skimmers, Emperors and a Banded Demoiselle. More...

Bough Beech 12th July - report by Brian Nobbs

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A fine evening at Bough Beech for a stroll along the causeway. To the south-west, on the main reservoir a large number of young Great Crested Grebes, still stripey but now independent, indicated a successful breeding season, Lapwings were ranged along the water's edge preening or just dozing in the evening sun, and a Common Tern was looking for a late fish supper. So too was a Little Egret, but most of the Grey Herons were just standing idly around. More...

Ashdown Forest 20th June, report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A wonderfully peaceful day with scarcely a soul around, the only intrusive sound being that of aircraft flying overhead.Birdsong was surprisingly prolific for the time of year, though the performers were challenging to spot amidst the dense foliage. Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow warbler, Chiffchaff, Tree Pipit, Wren, Linnet and Song Thrush being particularly vocal, together with mewing Buzzard and chakking Stonechats. More...

Broadwater Warren RSPB Reserve 17th June

Monday, 18 June 2018

Last night's meeting was dull, chilly and damp with drizzle, I think the coldest night for a while. But that said it was a nice walk, very quiet for bird song, those seen or heard totalled 15. After a break for a cup of tea/coffee, we walked back along the track to the watch point seeing Tree Pipit, 2 Wood Lark (1juv),and 6 Exmoor ponies. More...

Conyer Creek - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Fortunately the spring migrants had finally arrived and Swallows were all around and perching on the wires where we parked.As we ambled along we were accompanied by a backdrop of sound: Skylarks singing on the other side of the creek, Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls calling overhead, a solitary, purring Turtle Dove, a distant Cuckoo and, from the dense greenery, Nightingales (6+?), Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Sedge, Reed and Garden Warblers, Chaffinch, Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch and Linnet being particularly in evidence, whilst from the creek Oystercatchers, Redshank and Lapwings could be heard. More...

St Margarets-at-Cliffe and Samphire Hoe - led by John Waterman, report by Brian Nobbs

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A misty morning start at St. Margarets-at-Cliffe, but rather atmospheric as Fulmars, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls emerged from across the bay. The walk up to the lighthouse produced Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Yellowhammer and Linnet, whilst Skylark were in fine voice at the top. Sparrowhawk and Kestrel showed well, but the star performer was a Peregrine - rising and then diving repeatedly in display before nonchalantly cruising past at head height along the edge of the cliff. More...

Rye Harbour - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Though Sevenoaks was left in fog and drizzle, by the time we reached Rye it appeared that spring had sprung. Jackets were discarded, the first few Whitethroats sang, a couple of Swallows flew past, a Common Lizard basked in the sunshine and several Peacock and Large White Butterflies fluttered around.A little patience at the bittern viewpoint and nearby track rewarded us with a good variety of small birds singing, Peregrine, Green Woodpecker, a pair of Marsh Harriers and a Buzzard being mobbed by a. Crow. More...

Dungeness RSPB Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Despite leaving Sevenoaks in the snow the sun was out by the time we reached Dungeness. Being in good time our car made a brief detour to look for the reported White-fronted and Bean Geese, but had to content ourselves with a large flock of Barnacles. Not a goose I often see in Kent. More...

Oare Marshes - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

A beautiful, sunny day, if somewhat bracing.As usual the Turnstones were turning seaweed on the causeway, and the rapidly rising tide pushed up good numbers of waders, especially Dunlin, as we set off along the sea wall. Small birds, understandably in view of the wind, which nearly blew me off my feet several times, kept a very low profile, though we had seen a pair of Stonechats well from the car.We stopped at the Swale hide, which provided a welcome respite from the wind. A variety of waders zoomed past but the only discernible ducks were large, distant flocks of Wigeon. Most surprising was a Buzzard flying really low over the water, possibly one of the half dozen or so we saw circling over Sheppey later. More...

Bough Beech - report by John Waterman

Monday, 1 January 2018

After some heavy rain in the morning of the 1st, pm cleared to sunny spells. Of the 30 odd birds seen, of note where a very wet Little Owl trying to dry out and preening, I missed the 2 Brambling in the orchard but while watching from the hide a male Sparrowhawk tried taking a Goldfinch. Out on the reservoir there where 5 Goosander (3 male, 2 female), 8+ Mandarin. More...

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, followed by Bough Beech - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Birding at the Jeffery Harrison reserve was a joy, just like it used to be in the good old days when it was only frequented by fellow birders. We virtually had the place to ourselves and were able to enjoy our birding without disturbance, and the intermittent rain was light enough not to cause problems.Siskins were present in enormous numbers with dense flocks numbering over a hundred. Inspection of the alder tops put me in mind of a swarm of bees. More...

Shellness and Harty Ferry - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

A beautiful day of blue skies and non-stop sunshine was accompanied by very strong winds, causing many species to keep a low profile and making it difficult to hold the scopes steady.Shellness, our starting point, produced, predictably, large flocks of waders, especially Oystercatchers, Brent Geese and fast flying LBJ s, most of the identifiable ones being Meadow Pipits with the odd Skylark. More...

Dungeness RSPB Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

A glorious, sunny autumn day with rosehips glowing scarlet against the bright yellow lichen, and the Hawthorns bearing an exceptionally dense crop of deep crimson berries. Good numbers of dragonflies were active, as were masses of Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Clouded Yellow butterflies. The trees still hid plenty of Chiffchaffs, Stonechats seemed to pop up all over the place, and flocks of Swallows circled overhead. Duck numbers were starting to build up again and included Pochard, Pintail, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler. More...

Oare Marshes - report by Anne McGregor

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Our initial progress along the sea wall was not particularly enjoyable, the strong wind making it almost impossible to hold our binoculars steady.We arrived at the Swale hide just in time to take shelter from the elements whilst watching a variety of waders on the mud including Grey Plovers, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Whimbrel, Turnstone and a Grey Seal consuming a fish close inshore.When the wind and rain abated we continued our circuit, stopping to enjoy the first of several flocks of Yellow Wagtails, and the Marsh Frogs, looking remarkably photogenic piled on a piece of golden coloured styrofoam floating in their usual dark drain. More...

Bough Beech - report by Anne McGregor

Monday, 31 July 2017

A pleasant summer's evening, to my relief, and our arrival corresponded with the appearance of a leucistic Pied Wagtail, which stayed with the rest of the flock for the duration of our stay, attracting much interest.Together with the usual suspects there was a large flock of Lapwings and several Green Sandpipers in addition to the Common variety. A Buzzard made brief appearances over the treetops.We walked along the road to the wooded area, where a large flock of Long-tailed Tits awaited us, as did a tree full of Cormorants assembling to roost. A distant Godwit elicited much discussion, but was eventually seen well enough for a positive identification of Black- tailed. More...

Stodmarsh Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Thursday saw Stodmarsh at its summer best. I'd warned people to expect quality rather than quantity (though we did record around fifty different species) and quality was what we got.Having safely negotiated the swarms of bees nesting in the walls, we took advantage of the beautiful new loos before setting off for the Reed Bed Hide, where our patience was rewarded by Green and Common Sandpiper and two Bittern fly pasts, though the Bearded Tits were less obliging, making only fleeting appearances.En route to the Tower hide for lunch we had brief views of a couple of Kingfishers, timing our arrival to coincide with the only rain of the day. A handsome male Marsh Harrier, Herons, Cormorants galore, Swallows, Sand Martins and numerous brown ducks in eclipse were not unexpected but the appearance of a Peregrine was a pleasant surprise. More...

Old Lodge, Ashdown Forest - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Our arrival in the carpark was greeted by a chorus of Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Wren and as we ambled off on our circuit of the reserve the clouds cleared to leave a largely sunny day.It wasn't long before we saw the first of many Redstarts, definitely the day's star bird, and subsequently many further close views were had.A Sparrowhawk landed briefly on a low branch almost next to us, showing its distinctive, elongated shape well in silhouette.Fortunately the sun was out when we reached the ponds, where Broad-bodied and Four-spotted Chasers, brilliant blue damselflies and several Emperors provided some jewel like flashes of colour. Unusually good views were had of the Emperors, as females were ovipositing and a male landed on a reed, showing us his back for a change.A distant herd of Fallow Deer was seen and a Roe Deer bounded down the hillside nearby. More...

Conyer Creek - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

English spring at its best: warm, sunny, lush, green and filled with birdsong, blossom, various butterflies and a large, early dragonfly.Of particular note were the anticipated migrants: Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Chiffchaff, Swift, Swallow, Whimbrel, Common Tern, Turtle Dove and Nightingale. More...

Oare Marshes - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

On a glorious sunny day we walked along the sea wall at low tide, Whimbrels on the mudflats, reeds full of Bearded Tits pinging but not showing, and also Sedge Warblers, which were showing, but a mystery wader in the reeds refused to show itself properly. More...

Dungeness RSPB Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spring! Blue skies, sunshine and warmth. Chiffchaff called, butterflies were on the wing - namely Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock - Marsh Frog were seen and heard, and a Grass Snake backed on a clump of dry reeds.We started at the ARC, but the water levels there are now so high there are no spits for waders.En route for the visitor centre we scanned, unsuccessfully, for the Ring Necked Duck before making our way to the picnic tables at the dipping pond, where we had lunch overlooking the incredibly well camouflaged Long Eared Owl.The Burrowes Pit held good numbers of assorted ducks and gulls and a few, rather distant, waders, plus lots of very smart Cormorants in breeding plumage carrying sticks for their nests. More...

Riverside Country Park - Report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Having, with some difficulty, found our way to Riverside on a grey and drizzly day, I checked with the ranger to discover that several of the more exciting species we'd hoped to see had decided to winter elsewhere, and as we set off the drizzle turned to rain. Not an auspicious start.We headed east with the vast expanse of mudflats on our left and fields on our right. The latter contained good numbers of Redwing, Blackbirds, and a pleasing number of Song Thrushes. The mudflats held assorted waders, Shelduck, Shoveler and some very smart Pintail. More...

Shellness and Harty Ferry - report by Anne McGregor

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Thursday saw Sheppey at its absolute best. Non-stop sunshine produced a brilliant blue sky, reflected in a dead calm Swale and with the pale golden salt marsh we could have been on the African plains. With the lack of breeze, even the low temperature wasn't a problem.We started at Shellness, where the tide was at its lowest ebb and the mud flats covered in waders. The further ones, with the aid of Tony's scope, morphed into, mostly, Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Redshank, Knot, Ringed and Grey Plover and Avocet, whilst obligingly close Turnstone and clockwork Sanderling scuttled around in the shingle with shells in their beaks.Close behind us a Short-eared Owl quartered the marshes, giving us brilliant views with the sun at our backs, as did the Kestrel perched on a nearby post, seemingly totally disinterested in our admiring presence. More...

Bough Beech, walk led by John Waterman

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Despite the light drizzle some dozen Group members joined John Waterman at Bough Beech to start their 2017 bird lists. More...

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve & Bough Beech - report by Anne McGregor

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Initially we had to work quite hard for our birds, but then started to encounter mixed flocks including Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Treecreeper.Flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing started to arrive in the treetops and a Sparrowhawk showed well as it circled low overhead. By the time we reached the John Tyler hide things were picking up. The colours of Wigeon and Teal were stunning against the backdrop of the dark water in the somewhat gloomy light. A single one of the many Snipe showed itself well and the flocks of Lapwing were the largest I've seen at the reserve. More...

Cuckmere Haven - report by Brian Nobbs

Sunday, 27 November 2016

From the car park at Seven Sisters Country Park we followed the path on the eastern side of the River Cuckmere towards the beach. Several Stonechats, notably occurring in pairs, perched well on fences to allow appreciation of their colours, and charms of Goldfinches flitted around from one patch of Teasels to the next and on one occasion stopping at a cattle trough to drink. As the water level was too low to allow them to perch on the edge and drink, they had to dip down in flight for a sip. More...

Oare Marshes - Report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A remarkably mild and sunny day, so warm there was even a pair of dragonflies mating, started well with a Rough -legged Buzzard hovering on the other side of the Swale. More...

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Having assembled at Rye Harbour car park we drove back up the road and ambled across to the viewpoint overlooking the reedbeds towards Castle Waters and the castle. Mixed flocks of tits and Chiffchaff were constantly on the move in the bushes and a couple of Marsh Harriers flew low across the reeds. More...

Dungeness RSPB 21st September - report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

A really glorious day with non-stop sunshine and temperatures which didn't even necessitate the donning of jackets.We started at the ARC, where water levels are finally lower again, revealing plenty of gravel strips and a variety of waders. Particularly appreciated were the black, white and golden flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover flying against the blue sky. A Marsh Harrier flew directly towards us giving lovely views, and a juvenile consumed its prey within full, if rather distant, view. More...

Oare Marshes KWT Reserve - report by Anne McGregor

Friday, 19 August 2016

Despite the ominous forecast, the weather remained mainly dry, other than a shower when we were in the hide having lunch.As the tide was out, we started our walk clockwise along the sea wall where various waders were feeding on the mud. The best entertainment was provided by an immature Herring Gull doing battle with a large Eel. Every time it caught the Eel another juvenile would try to grab it, causing the original bird to drop it and then go through the finding and catching process over again. This scenario was repeated several times accompanied by hysterical Herring Gull cries at full volume. More...

Stodmarsh NNR, report by Anne McGregor

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Visually Stodmarsh is probably at its best at this time of year, with masses of mainly pink and purple wild flowers. When the sun finally came out these attracted a nice selection of butterflies, demoiselles and other insects.Ornithologically it can be quiet, but we still saw over forty species of birds.Highlights included a food pass from a female Marsh Harrier to a juvenile and the subsequent squabble when the other juvenile launched itself at its sibling. More...

Nightjar on ground among heather

Monday, 4 July 2016

It would appear that anyone hoping for good views of Nightjars should have accompanied me on a recce 4 nights earlier. In the event we did hear a Nightjar which was spotted by just one member of the group. Even my double handkerchief whirling failed to deliver further sightings [male Nightjars have white wing flashes and are said to respond to a waved white handkerchief during their territorial display flights - ed]. More...

Old Lodge, Ashdown Forest, 17th June 2016 - report by Anne McGregor

Friday, 17 June 2016

The birdsong was quite impressive, with Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Tree Pipit, Wren, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Skylark prominent. Of particular note were Nuthatches, Redstart and Stonechat feeding fledged young, a pair of Siskins ahead of us on the path and a Bullfinch which appeared to be feeding on the seeds from fallen pine cones. More...

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve - report by Nick Barlow

Friday, 27 May 2016

We met at the Martello Tower car park at 11am (deceptively mild here, sheltered from the wind). We were very grateful that the reserve manager, Dr. Barry Yates, kindly led the group for the first couple of hours and, as well as pointing out birds and flowers and discussing the wildlife (including the predatory Badgers), was most informative about the Reserve, its management and future plans.We walked past the Information Centre to look from the hide and the path at numbers of birds on Flat Beach, especially the nesting Little Terns - Barry told us that decoys have been mistaken for real birds - something to watch out for! That Little Terns are doing so well is due to better management of the Reserve for them and also for larger species which help to keep off predators. From here on there were nesting terns, waders, and gulls; and large numbers of chicks venturing out (we did see a Herring Gull take a chick). Many of us know to have a few 'comparison' birds to help identify other species; helpfully, Barry told us that a good comparison bird here was the Black-headed Gull. More...

Havergate Island - report by Roy Furley

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Havergate Island is a low lying island situated in the middle of the Ore estuary to the south of the village of Orford in Suffolk. It consists of 6 saline lagoons surrounded by salt marshes & mudflats which provide breeding, roosting & wintering habitat for a variety of wildfowl & wading birds & is home to a wide variety of rare plants & insects.In December 2013 however a surge tide overwhelmed it causing severe damage but it has since been largely reconstructed.We set off early in the morning with a full minibus & after an excellent journey arrived on schedule to then divide into 2 groups to make the 20min.boat trip to the island. There was no evidence of global warming & the temperature & consequent sleet flurries reminded some of the Falkland Islands without the penguins. More...

Pulborough Brooks RSPB, led by John Waterman

Sunday, 17 April 2016

A splendid sunny spring day greeted the members visiting Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve, led around by John Waterman. The human visitors were not alone in appreciating the weather as a number of migrants had arrived and were singing and generally showing off. One Nightingale in particular made sure we not only heard its lovely song but also saw it well. They may not be the most colourful of birds, but this was showing off its richly rufous tail as well as all angles of warm brown plumage. Later, another was feeding on the grass in front of a hedge - its not often you see a Nightingale on the ground in the open. More...

Oare Marshes - report by Nick Barlow

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

We arrived just as a male Marsh Harrier gave perfect views as it flew across the reserve. The tide was high, so we looked at the causeway for Turnstone. We were rewarded with three, one of which looked like it was trying to get rid of a bit of 'rubbish' attached to its neck and upper breast - amazingly this turned out to be a crab which was either too entangled or just wouldn't let go. More...

Sevenoaks Wildlife KWT Reserve - report by Nick Barlow

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

After recent storms and rain we were very lucky to have a calm if somewhat grey and overcast morning. Good numbers of birds (44 species) and lots of birdsong.We started well at the 'horse field' by the entrance track; lots of activity including a flock of Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Then we followed the path past the Visitor Centre and along the edge of the West Lake, with Song Thrush singing, the first of many active singing Wrens, and the first of several fluttering Goldcrest. More...

Dungeness RSPB Reserve

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Sunshine and clouds, dry, but very cold: feeling like minus three in unsheltered spots! Unusually, in our experience, the wind was from the WNW which had quite an impact on the location of various birds: this was particularly noticeable from the ARC hide where there were no ducks and very few birds on the exposed left side of the pit, which normally seems to be highly favoured. Our 38 species included some super sightings.For me the best sight was a magnificent Long-eared Owl roosting in plain view at the front edge of the willow thicket on the far side of the 'childrens dipping pond'. It was awake and alert, but not bothered by us. It's used to bird-watchers as it's been roosting here since last November; so every chance it'll stay for the winter now. More...

Bough Beech Reservoir

Friday, 1 January 2016

Thirteen members took the chance to birdwatch locally on New Year's Day. John Waterman started the meet at 2pm, and gradually as the light faded, more species arrived to roost on the reservoir. Water levels were very high reflecting recent rains, but up to eight Mandarin duck were seen displaying close to the causeway. Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Gadwall tended to shelter from the wind on the water's edge. More...

Oare Marshes - report by Nick Barlow

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

We met at 10.30 on a cloudy day with bright spells; a little cool and breezy but quite pleasant, and the rain stayed away. It was very busy, as crowded as I've ever seen it: was there a rarity? -No, just several other groups choosing the same date. We were there at high tide and as the tide went out; just right for waders.We had a good turnout, and saw thousands of birds including a total of 54 species. More...

Brownsea Island - report by Jean Clift

Sunday, 25 October 2015

It was cold at the start of our day, as we all had to rise before dawn, though a compensation was to see both Venus and Jupiter close to each other in the South-eastern sky. We travelled in the early morning light, tired, but full of anticipation of a warm and sunny day, which did not disappoint. We arrived at Sandbanks at 9.45 am with a wonderful view of the shores of Studland Beach across the water, and the first glimpses of Brownsea Island. The weather conditions were perfect for our trip across to see Bob (RSPB's adopted name for the indigenous Red Squirrel) and to observe the bird life that had temporarily, or permanently made Poole harbour their home. Brownsea is the largest of the islands in Poole harbour and includes woodlands and heaths. The harbour itself is an ideal place to provide the food (small worms, crustaceans and molluscs) required for the wildfowl, waders and divers that we saw.54 bird species were seen in total during the day. This included observations at Brownsea, and later at Blashford Lakes on the edge of the New Forest. Three mammals of particular interest were the Red Squirrels at Brownsea, a Bank Vole at Blashford Lakes, and New Forest Ponies. More...

North Foreland, led by John Waterman

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A glorious sunny day with clear skies at North Foreland and Botany Bay, near Margate, for this field trip led by John Waterman. At the outset, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat and Stonechat lined up on the edge of a cabbage field to allow a detailed comparison. More...

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, report by Nick Barlow

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A lovely, warm, sunny day: just right for some gentle bird-watching. The various different habitats allowed us to see a variety of birds and a total of fifty-seven species. More...

Northward Hill RSPB Reserve. Report by Nick Barlow

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Cuckoos called from various parts of the reserve; Nightingales sang from the thicker scrub, and Blackcaps from more open perches; Whitethroat sang and made short display flights from patches of scrub and bramble where we also had good views of colourful Linnets and strikingly beautiful Burnet moths. More...

Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve, led by Nick Barlow

Thursday, 23 April 2015

We enjoyed a wealth of birdsong on a very warm day of sunshine and blue skies.We took the Zig-zag path and were met with songs and calls of Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Rooks, and a surprising number of Greenfinch which seemingly challenged each other to make the most noise. Wren's were singing all day. At Fattengates a Nightingale sang beautifully from an unusually exposed perch: we heard other Nightingales but then one above Little Hanger gave a really stunning performance. More...

Rye Harbour - report by Brian Nobbs

Sunday, 19 April 2015

From the hides around Ternery Pool we could compare and contrast Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls, and a showy Little Gull put in a welcome appearance. Almost certainly on its way north-west to breed it was already sporting a pink flush to its breast, but hadn't quite acquired the pure black hood, the head feathers still showing some speckling. More...

Riverside Country Park - report by Nick Barlow

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A fascinating and rather beautiful ever changing landscape, looking over the Medway estuary towards the Isle of Grain as the tide came in. We had a very enjoyable day with clear skies and lucky to be largely sheltered from a cold SE breeze; lots of birds though only 36 species. More...

Dungeness RSPB Reserve led by Nick Barlow

Thursday, 19 February 2015

With some very welcome new faces joining some of our regulars, we had an excellent turn-out. A pleasant day; although a very strong south-westerly wind kept some birds down and made us very grateful for the shelter of the hides. We had some great highlights as we often do at Dungeness, although our total of 43 species was the lowest I can remember. More...

Pagham Harbour, report by Nick Barlow

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A light rain had petered out and the sky was clearing by the time I arrived at the Information Centre (coffee, snacks, toilets, and information): birds at the feeders included Long-tailed Tits. Then to the path and hide overlooking the Sidlesham Ferry Pool and the Ferry Field: a highlight was a flock of c100 Black-tailed Godwits; and there were numbers of Brent Geese as well as various duck. More...

Bough Beech, report by Nick Barlow

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A good sized group of us met on the Causeway for this morning's outing. Rain clouds were close but it didn't rain and, in fact, stayed quite bright. The water levels were very high and numbers of ducks were sheltering under the overhanging trees largely out of sight; a cold breeze came down the reservoir making watching from the Causeway very uncomfortable: we saw a variety of ducks including Tufted Duck and Pochard, but could not find any Goosander. A female Sparrowhawk flew below our feet the length of the causeway: so unexpected that we were lucky to see it before it was gone. More...

Elmley Marshes NNR led by Nick Barlow

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Snow Bunting welcomed us to the reserve! Also from the entrance track there were large flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlews, and Starlings. More...

Curlew standing on weed, County Cork, Ireland

Thursday, 9 October 2014

I've read that Curlews are gregarious after the breeding season and form large flocks, but I'm sure I've never seen such a large flock as we saw today: when we arrived there just a few Curlew resting, more and more birds flew in, and by the time we left there were over 400 birds. More...

Minibus trip to Titchfield Haven NNR

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Titchfield Haven is a National Nature Reserve occupying 369 acres of the floodplain of the River Meon, which bisects the reserve. Indeed the site was formerly the estuary of the river, but since development of the sea defences, it has become a mosaic of habitats including freshwater pools, extensive reedbeds, scrub and willow carr (wet woodland), meadows and the river itself. Lying between Portsmouth and Southampton, Titchfield Haven faces the Isle of Wight across the Solent, and is owned and managed by Hampshire County Council. More...

Cuckmere Haven - report by Nick Barlow

Thursday, 11 September 2014

What a beautiful place! On a calm, mild and often sunny day, we walked to the beach and back along the paths on the west side of the Cuckmere estuary. After crossing the Exceat bridge we passed the Cuckmere Inn (previously the Golden Galleon PH).An eventful day with some excellent sightings. Mute Swans and Canada Geese above the bridge, and then a pair of Kingfishers near the pub. Little Egrets (7 in one group), Grey Herons, flocks of up to 40 Curlews, Mallard and Teal on the meanders, ditches, and water meadows. In the thickets and scrub we noticed House Sparrows, Dunnock, Linnets, Greenfinch, many Robins, Chaffinch, and Goldfinch (with one charm of around 100 birds). More...

Dungeness RSPB Reserve

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A lovely summer's day with large patches of blue sky and strong sunshine; slow moving, billowing white and grey clouds, and darker rain clouds hurrying from the west which fortunately passed us by. We went round the main part of the Reserve on the 'Purple trail' before lunch; stopping several times by Burrowes Pit where sightings included a small party of Black-tailed Godwits and a Common Sandpiper, and then by Dengemarsh where there were 2 Great White Egrets as well as Little Egrets, and Common Terns were feeding a chick on one of the platforms. More...

Minibus trip to Rutland Water

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Having visited Rutland Water with Jane, in July last year and had excellent views of a pair of Ospreys with their recently fledged offspring, it seemed like a good venue for a minibus trip.Although Rutland Water is a very large and interesting reserve, one of the main attractions is of course, the breeding Ospreys. So, with the bus booked and arrangements made with the Wildlife Trust for our group to visit, I became a bit concerned when contacting the reserve to be told that although a pair of Osprey had adopted the nest at Manton Bay, for the first time in many years, the nest had failed.I continued to follow the story on the Osprey Project website, hoping that we may still get some decent views. My worries were compounded when with a few days to go, the weather forecast for the day was for heavy rain. Low and behold, we duly travelled up from Sevenoaks in very heavy intermittent showers, with John and Chris doing a sterling job at the wheel. More...

Hobby chasing dragonflies

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

This was a day to enjoy this lowland heath to the full. On a beautiful hot, sunny day we visited every area of heath: the drier areas with tracts of sand, the wet heath, the mire, and various types of woodland. Such diverse habitat supports a very wide range of plants, insects, animals and birds: we noted Sand and Common Lizards; a Large Skipper butterfly, and various 'blues'; an Emperor Moth caterpillar; and what we later verified as an Ammophila 'sand' Wasp which was busy creating a nest hole in the sand; and besides the many dragonflies and damsel flies over the open water, a colony of Beautiful Demoiselle damselflies at the edge of a hazardous, boggy path through the wooded mire. More...

Broadwater Warren RSPB

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The meeting started in the car park where we were met by Chloe Ryder, RSPB Assistant Warden, South East Woods and Heaths who gave us an introduction to the work being carried out by the RSPB at Broadwater. For the next two and a half hours she led us around the reserve, including areas that many people don't visit, including heathland, mixed woodland, a quarry and wet areas, explaining the history, the work completed, in progress or planned for the future. More...

Northward Hill RSPB - report by Nick Barlow

Friday, 23 May 2014

A grand day: gentle birdwatching and wonderful panoramic views across the Thames, blue skies, warm sunshine, and interesting sightings. We were lucky that the winds dropped and the clouds parted as we arrived; sadly, there was an unusually low turnout to enjoy the day.Nightingales and Blackcaps contributed to the general birdsong around the car park. More...

Rye Harbour - report by Nick Barlow

Friday, 2 May 2014

A total of 51 species included some good sightings. Just eight of us on a cloudy day when we and the birds had to contend with a persistent and uncomfortably strong easterly wind: however, we had no rain and, luckily, we were able to spend some time in those hides facing away from the wind.Looking over Flat Beach we had excellent views of Whimbrel (the target bird of the day, as they're only here for a short time as they migrate north) and Bar-tailed Godwits also on migration; Ringed Plover and Dunlin also showed well. More...

Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve, led by Nick Barlow

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A very lovely day; full of birds and birdsong, leaves just starting to green the trees, spring flowers and butterflies, blue skies and warm sunshine. At the Visitor Centre we were welcomed by Anna, who kindly briefed us on recent developments and current bird sightings. Our visit was timely, with the first Nightingale of the year arriving just the week before. More...

Oare Marshes, Kent

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

On our last trip here, in October 2013, we were lucky enough to have excellent views of the Spotted Crake and rather less good views of a Red-necked Grebe: today was less exciting; however we had a total of 47 species. On this day of major pollution warnings, with our own pollution being increased by that coming from the continent together with dust from the Sahara, there was a smog-like haze visible even here at Oare. The prevailing gentle breeze from the SE gave way to a very uncomfortable E wind as the tide came in: chilly, despite the sunshine. More...

Dungeness RSPB Reserve, led by Nick Barlow

Monday, 10 February 2014

A cracking day! - Good birds, good company, and so lucky to have decent weather.We met at the Visitor Centre where we were made welcome and given useful advice about recent sightings. We started at Denis's hide with a Great White Egret hunting by the reeds. There were many ducks: 5 female 'red-head' Smew , a female Goosander, and 3 Goldeneye (1 male) gave good views among the Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck and others. A Black-necked Grebe moving quickly along the far side of Burrowes pit was a little more difficult, but eventually everyone had some sort of view. More...

Elmley National Nature Reserve, Sheppey

Thursday, 16 January 2014

There were huge numbers of birds: with spectacular flights of waders constantly wheeling over the Reserve. On another generally rainy, heavy shower day we were so lucky to enjoy some calm sunshine: our only real squall came when we were lunching in the hide.From the car park we enjoyed an excellent view of a rather statuesque resident Barn Owl posing sleepily in the nest box entrance. A delight to see a pair of Stonechat as we approached Wellmarsh Creek, from where we could also see an enormous string 'a huge rope' of some 3,000 Wigeon on the Swale. More...

Oystercatcher wading in shallow water

Friday, 22 November 2013

Nick Barlow reports - At 11.00 we met, at the lay-by, on the sea-front at Leysdown-on-Sea in horrid weather: a strong, cold North wind and driving rain! With high tide at 3.15 pm there were good numbers of waders and lots of 'grey blobs' feeding on the exposed shore. More...

Oare Marshes - report by Nick Barlow

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

We arrived a little after low tide. A lovely day, generally mild and sunny with a few threatening black clouds: warm enough for seals to bask, dragonflies to be active as well as butterflies, including three Clouded Yellows. The breeze swung from WSW to WNW during the day. We went from a very crowded car park area along the road round to the East hide, and then on round to the mouth of Faversham Creek and the Swale before retracing our steps as the rising tide moved more and more birds onto the East Flood.An early highlight was the behaviour of a very aggressive Pied Wagtail, which taking exception to a Lapwing chased it - striking repeatedly at its tail feathers in a rather Merlin-like way! From the road there were good views of ducks and waders including our only Snipe of the day and the first of many Little Egrets. More...

Birling Gap, led by John Waterman

Sunday, 8 September 2013

There was an autumnal feel in the air as John Waterman led this walk from Birling Gap, but there was no indication that summer visiting birds were queuing up to leave. More...

Elmley Marshes, led by Nick Barlow

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A good day for raptors! It was misty as we approached the Isle of Sheppey but it wasn't long before the sun came through giving us a hot, sunny day with only a faint easterly breeze. The Elmley Conservation Trust now manages the whole area and from the entrance track we soon saw signs of their commitment: predator fencing has been installed and, nearer the car park, there is a lot more ground cover including gorgeous Sunflowers. More...

RSPB Dungeness nature reserve

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Nick Barlow reports that flocks of Swallows and Sand Martins hunted overhead, and there were lots of birds on the Burrowes pit including gulls: a Common Gull, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed, Herring, and Great Black-backed. Oystercatchers were very noisy. Probably the first highlight of the day was two Snipe feeding in full view on the nearest island. Also notable: a Dunlin, a solitary Knot, a Greenshank, and a Green Sandpiper. More...

Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Birdsong and warm sunshine: what a joy to be at Pulborough on a lovely May day. We had a total of only 46 species, but some good sightings and all that birdsong! More...

Minsmere RSPB Reserve

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A minibus trip to Minsmere coincided with a short spell of reasonable weather. The area close to the visitors centre was alive with singing Nightingales, Garden Warblers and Whitethroats. On the scrape areas, hundreds of Avocets, Lapwings and migrant waders as well as Common and Little Terns were to be seen resting, feeding or displaying. More...

Reed warbler singing in reedbed

Sunday, 21 April 2013

At last, a fine Spring day was appreciated not only by the group led by John Waterman, but by a range of arriving migrants including Hobby, Swallow and Yellow Wagtail. More...

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Monday, 15 April 2013

Signs of Spring with a little warmth and sunshine at last, a good turnout, a few 'early' migrants - far fewer than at this time in a normal year - and Skylarks in song-flight! It was a joy to be out; though a persistent, cold and wearying SW wind made for a tiring day. More...

Avocet wading in water

Friday, 15 March 2013

With only a hint of the odd shower (a bit of damp on the wind) we chose a comparatively good day for our outing. A strong SSW wind with some fierce gusts made for a tiring time and more particularly drove many of the waders to seek shelter; sometimes hidden under the banks out of the wind. More...

Male chaffinch singing on branch

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Well wrapped up against the cold, an enthusiastic group braved a very chilly north-easterly breeze on a grey, overcast day. As we made our way from the car park up towards the viewpoint, there were Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Wren, Blue and Great Tits, and a rather obliging Kestrel which showed quite well perched and then hunting. More...

Dungeness RSPB Reserve

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

An icy day: a heavy frost, a sprinkling of snow, and patches of mist and fog as we left for Dungeness. We had an excellent run with light traffic and after Ashford the skies cleared. At the RSPB Centre we were welcomed by a very helpful lady at reception; after which we had bright sunshine all day and, when the light was right, some excellent views among our 48 species. More...

Male wigeon swimming

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Awakening to another drab, rainy morning the thought of going all the way to the West Sussex coast did not immediately appeal. However, at Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve (now flying the flag of the RSPB) we were rewarded with a gloriously balmy, sunny day. More...

Elmley Marshes RSPB Reserve

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A superb day, lots of birds (including 56 species) and good views along the entrance track as well as on the reserve. A cloudy day with a persistent SW wind that threatened driving rain at any moment. We were lucky that it was warmer than it looked, visibility was quite good and the rain held off for the walk back to the car park! - where the flashing blue of Swallows skimming the ground was a joyous sight. More...

Oare Marshes

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Only a few of us on a day with a chilly south-west breeze, sunshine, and threatening clouds which promised heavy rain - a perfect setting for the gathered Highland cattle!At the car park Cetti's Warbler, and a good view of one of the singing Reed Warblers (we didn't find the Water Rail seen near the willows). Just along the road, a Sedge Warbler (briefly seen) in full song with a varied collection of buzzing notes and tuneful trills was a joy to hear. More...

Rye Harbour

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The strong sunshine made for some difficult birdwatching, however the warmth was welcome in the cold south-westerly wind. The flood defence scheme with the restoration of shingle habitats has already made a considerable difference to the birdwatching opportunities; and at high tide there were lots of ducks and waders in the vicinity of the Wader Pool. More...

little egret, wading, water

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Birds at the visitor centre feeder area included Great-spotted Woodpecker, Moorhen and Reed Bunting. The strong winter sun made viewing across Burrowes Pit very difficult and there was a cold south-easterly wind, but we had another splendid day. More...

Short-eared owl sitting on the ground

Monday, 23 January 2012

A brilliant day: only 36 species but some fabulous views and great memories. We welcomed 3 newcomers to our mid-week group when we met at the sea-front lay-by at Leysdown-on-Sea. More...

Reculver followed by Oare Marshes.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Report by Nick Barlow.We met at the amazing 12th century Anglo-Saxon Reculver Towers which stand proudly dominating the site of a Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort. We walked a little of the coastal path in a strong, very cold westerly wind on a bright, sunny day. Flocks of Brent Geese flew past and were also feeding in the fields. More...

little egret, wading, water

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Another very enjoyable day, the sun struggled to come through and there was a slightly chilly easterly breeze but it was very pleasant walking or when sheltered in the hides. At the car park we were entertained by an immature Herring Gull trying to eat a dab: after much pummelling on the ground the fish eventually went into the mouth and then down in one prolonged gulp. More...

House martin in flight

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The tail of a hurricane gave us a strong, blustery south-westerly wind. We set out with clear skies and a strong sun - surprisingly warm in the more sheltered spots. Before we reached the Cuckmere river, sightings included Little Grebes, Rooks and Jackdaws, and two Egyptian Geese, while House Martins hawked over the meadows. More...