Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oare Sunday 7th October 2007

This weekend I headed off to Oare Marshes, Kent. I had high expectations but it turned out I would see far more than I thought.
It was an average journey I saw a few Rooks in the fields we passed and even got a brief glimpse of a Buzzard sitting upright just before the Kent border on the M25.
We tried to time our journey as best we could to get there at high tide. There was meant to be a Long-billed Dowitcher at Oare/Elmley on Sheppey, going between the two sites, even though we didn't see the Dowitcher which turned out to be not nearly so long staying as last year's fabulous bird which I saw on 3 occasions last year.
The first bird I noticed was a Little Egret on the West flood along with some Teal, Mute Swan and Moorhens. There was so much, lately I had been trying to make my notes more concise by noting numbers and behaviour etc but it was almost impossible; birds were feeding and flying around everywhere! Despite this I managed to count 29 Greylag Geese about 300 Lapwings (I am very bad at estimating), at least 2 juvenile Little Stints, about 9 Black-headed Gulls, at least 500 Golden Plover, 2 Little Grebe (in winter plumage; I have noticed I see far more Little Grebes in winter, whereas I see far less Great-crested Grebes in winter) not to mention roughly 700 Black-tailed Godwits, 29 Coot, about 30 Mallard, 34 Redshank, about 100 Starling all on the East Flood; and the list goes on and on. A surprise was a lone Avocet, I normally don't see these at all or see them in relatively big numbers, not alone so this was unusual. Another pleasant surprise was 5 Ringed Plovers on the East Flood. There were 3 summer-winter moulting Dunlin with them too. I noticed at least 2 Grey Heron amongst the reeds. A flock of small twittering finches flew low over, they had a distinct yellow wing bar, this and their call and overall plumage identified them as Goldfinches, roughly 30 of them.
It was amusing to watch an adult male pied Wagtail try to drive away a juvenile, he was continuously chasing it and calling, giving no mercy.
In the conrer of my eye I saw a small, long billed and generally weird shaped bird flying, well more like plummeting in. It was a Snipe. This was the first time I had really seen one in full, high flight like this. It was fast too, but landed out of sight in the reeds.
There were 4 Cormorant on the East flood and 5 more flying over. Waders not yet mentioned include2 Ruff on the East Flood, a lone Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Gowits amongst the Black-tailed Godwits, a probable Spotted Redshank and 2 Curlew Sandpiper. I would not have noticed these if I had just looked from the road, it just goes to show that you should look at different angles and it reveals muchmore than you thought there was. Whilst i was sitting in the East Hide watching this lot, I saw a pair of odd looking Ducks that I hadn't seen for a while with a slim neck and flat, slanting forehead. They were female Pintail, I was so surprised I checked my field guide just to make sure, which I normally wouldn't do because I know these birds quite well but it just seemed like an unlikely time and place for these ducks. I also noticed a late Swallow pass low through and heard some Bearded Tits which I later saw, but a bird that I heard and certainly wouldn't see was a Water Rail squeeling, a very eerie sound. I wanted to check the seawatching hide to have a look at the mudflats and maybe some seabirds but it was too calm for any migrant seabirds really. The mudflats however were very productive with about 60 Dunlin, 54 Shelduck, 7 Grey Plover including 1 or 2 with quite a bit of breeding plumage left, there were 5 Great Black-backed Gulls and a Common Gull. Other waders included 32 Curlew and an Oystercatcher as well as a few Redshank. I scanned with my scope to check the very distant mudflats for the possibility of Seals which I had seen there once before. I wasn't really expecting anything but sure enough there were 9 Grey Seals sitting on a muddy peninsula far far off with a boat near them, watching them. As we left the seawatching hide 28 Brent Geese flew up over the Swale, this was another surprise and great to see them. On the way back I saw House Sparrows on a feeder from the car and 3 Collared Dove which made the list 50! Also a few minutes later about 20 Feral Pigeons flew up over Faversham which made it 51. It was a fantastic day with many surprises although I didn't take any photos.

1 comment:

DeesidedlyBirds said...

fabulous day and report to match.