Places to see birds

Foreness Point

Foreness Point
Brian Summerfield

Foreness Point is situated in the NE corner of The Isle of Thanet at TR384717.

There is a bird hide provided by Souther Water, in their head works, which is sometimes available for Group members to use. From the cliff top it is possible to watch visible migration throughout most of the year and northern gannets, gulls and terns occur in good numbers during passage. Divers, grebes, scoters and eider are most often seen from autumn through to spring. During the winter months occasional long-tailed ducks or smew have passed by, and glaucous or Iceland gulls are possible sightings.

At high tide, the beach is utilised by roosting waders and we regularly host a winter flock of purple sandpipers; rare elsewhere in the SE England. Other species often encountered include sanderling, ruddy turnstones, ringed and grey plovers, common redshank, godwits, curlews and whimbrel.

The rough chalk grassland, is being managed for wildflowers and insects, in particular to provide a home for some of Kent's rarer bumblebees. The lawns of adjacent Palm Bay often have resting flocks of black-headed gulls, herring gulls and lesser numbers of common gulls, black-backed gulls and Mediterranean gulls. Here in spring and autumn northern wheatears, yellow wagtails, larks and pipits are seen actively feeding.

Butterflies seem to be in decline and recent disturbance from building work may have reduced their number further. During migration peaks anything can turn up and we have had Richard's pipit, booted warbler, ortolan buntings, common crossbills, passing harriers and short-eared owls.

Access is by foot from Palm Bay School following the cliff top path to the east. It is possible to walk beyond the Foreness Point via Botany Bay, Whiteness Bay and Joss Bay to the North Foreland where further good sea-watching can be had. A roadside nature reserve here hosts several orchid species as well as a rich chalk grassland flora with abundant butterflies in good years. There are two public houses and a public toilet en route and the return walk can be comfortably undertaken in a morning or afternoon.

Foreness Point TR384717 can be reached by cliff top pathway from Palm Bay School CT9 3PP which may be reached by Bus 38 from Birchington via central Margate. There is ample car parking along the entire length of Palm Bay.