A Day in Kent

I usually go to see my Mum in London on a Monday but this week changed it to Tuesday so that I could have a days birding in Kent with Ian. With a couple of good birds having been there for a few weeks I was pleased to see that the weather looked favorable. I left home at half-four for the three hour drive to meet Ian at the interestingly named Saint Margaret’s in Cliffe. After a steady drive and a brief comfort stop I arrived at the Dover Patrol Memorial as dawn was breaking. Ian arrived just after me and we sat looking over the Channel towards France admiring an impressive sunrise. As the light improved we spent a few minutes seawatching where I got my first year tick of the day, a Red-throated Diver, there were plenty of birds passing with auks, gulls and Gannets noted. We then walked down to Bockhill to try for one of the three main target birds of the day. With the temperature hovering around zero I was glad that I was wearing my Christmas present base layers, they certainly performed well. After around half-an-hour of waiting with plenty of corvids and Wood Pigeon to watch we heard the Hume’s call from somewhere amongst the ivy-covered trees in front of us. There were a couple more birders standing further along the track and we alerted them that we had located it. It was a few more minutes before we saw any movement with just a short glimpse and then several more before the frequently calling warbler showed briefly but well. Again another wait and our patience was rewarded when the bird came out into a bare tree giving excellent views fro a minute or so. A lifer for me an the second leaf warbler seen in four days. With quite a bit of ground to cover we then moved on to the Sandwich Bay Estate where the road runs just inland of a couple of famous golf-courses. Along here we saw Grey Partridge, Reed Buntings, many Lapwings and a large flock of Greylag geese with several White-fronted amongst them. A Marsh Harrier drifted across putting many birds up including a good-sized flock of Golden Plover. We then walked to the track that runs alongside the beach trying for the Snow Buntings that have been around for a while. I picked up a flock of four small birds and thought they were the buntings but they landed on the golf course out of view. They were then flushed by a Sparrowhawk and gave great views as they flew overhead. Also seen here were a pair of displaying Green Woodpeckers. Next stop was Worth Marsh for the second of the target birds, White Stork. I have seen plenty just across the channel but never in the UK. This unringed bird has been around for a while now and my expert local guide knew exactly where to find it. While watching it hunting on the wet grassland a Ring-necked parakeet flew over, one of a growing local population this was the first time I have year-ticked one outside of West London. Next stop on the tour was the River Stour at Fordwich where we were hoping to catch up with Dusky Warbler. A friend of Ian was in the area and a quick phone call confirmed that the bird was still in it’s favoured location. A ten minute walk took us to the riverbank where within a few minutes we heard the hoped for tac call. With the location pinned down it was just a case of seeing it which was easier said than done. In the end we had to be satisfied with a handful of brief glimpses as the Dusky moved around very low in the vegetation. A little disappointing but at least we did see it. On the way back to the car we had a look on Westbere Lake. There were only a few birds to be seen, Great-crested Grebe was new for the day as was a Kingfisher that flew across the water and obligingly posed on a tree stump for long enough for us to get good view. Having alreadylogged two and a half new sites ( I have been to Sandwich Bay before but not the parts we went to today) the final stop of the day was Grove Ferry which is at the western end of Stodmarsh NNR. The plan here was to catch birds coming into roost. After spending some time in one of the hides trying to count Teal, with many of them tucked away in the reeds it was hard going but we got to somewhere near a hundred. Pintail was a nice but unexpected tick from here. We then moved along to one of the viewpoints from where we had some fun counting the many groups of Cormorants that were coming in, I think we gave up at around two hundred as they started to appear from multiple directions. Bearded tits were pinging away in the reed bed but remained unseen as did Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rail. A single Ringtail Hen harrier and half-a-dozen Marsh harriers came in and a group of eleven swans that tried to sneak in low across the back of the reserve were found to have a single Bewicks amongst them. Green Sandpiper was also heard but not seen but we were luckier with Snipe, five been found along the muddy margins. Final bird of the day was a Woodcock that was doing the opposite of the other birds by coming out from roosting. So another great days birding with 82 species seen or heard getting me 18 year-ticks a UK tick and a Lifer.

One response to “A Day in Kent

  1. Great Day Malcolm

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