Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter Saturday

We were supposed to go out on Good Friday but it rained (and rained and rained) so we paid a visit to my dad in Hastings during the day. By late afternoon the rain had passed and it was a lovely evening - we raced to the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve but it was a bit too late for any decent photos. Nevertheless, we saw a couple of Little Ringed Plovers, and Rob whiled away a few happy minutes photographing one of the territorial Lapwings as it wheeled and whooped over the heads of assorted non-plussed geese, Cormorants and gulls. I include this photo because it shows the Lapwing rather cleverly flying upside down.

The following day, the plan was to go to Seaford with Dianne and Kuldeep, but the forecast was abysmal. Checking other local forecasts I found that the one for Faversham was sort of OK (sunny intervals rather than torrential rain) so we headed for Oare Marshes instead. When we arrived, it was raining (curses!) so we went for a pub lunch in the Castle in Oare (Rob seeing a Stoat from the car on the way), hitting the trails after that when the rain had abated.

Oare was quiet, with a 'between seasons' feel. Not many ducks were left (Wigeons, Gadwalls, Teals, Mallards, Tufties) but no spring visitors either. There was a roost of mainly Black-tailed Godwits on the East Flood, some in smart brick-red breeding garb, with a few Redshanks among them, but they, like most of the birds around, were too distant for decent photos. We really need that 1,000mm lens... This Lapwing took pity on us and flew past at point blank range.

There were lots of Little Egrets around, a lone Snipe, at least two distant Marsh Harriers, and from the reedbeds near the sea wall came the tantalising 'pings' of Bearded Tits, tucked out of the strong wind and giving only a couple of brief and hopeless 'flight views' as they popped out to see if the wind had dropped before vanishing again. No Med Gulls around, just numerous Black-headeds. Nothing to see on the Swale. However, by the time we got back to the car it was pretty much wall to wall sunshine. Looking at the map, I suggested we zip down the A2 to Samphire Hoe, as a sort of Seaford substitute.

Samphire Hoe, made out of the stuff they excavated to make the Channel Tunnel, is a nicely landscaped bit of rolling grassland beneath towering chalk cliffs, leading to a small shingle beach. It is very scenic, which made up for today's lack of birds. On the beach, Dianne collected about a billion hagstones, while I took photos of assorted stuff in the tideline, such as this dogfish eggcase.

We all accidentally dozed off on the beach and then had to hurry back along the seaside path to the car as our parking ticket was about to expire. On the way I took some dodgy photos of the Rock Pipits on the sea wall.

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