Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Faversham Creek

On Sunday, after aikido, Rob and I went to Faversham Creek (it's just east of Oare, on the other side of the river) to look for Grasshopper Warblers. We didn't find any. (Sorry if you would have liked some suspense there...). We did see some other things though, and it was a beautiful afternoon to explore a rather gorgeous spot. The area was mostly rough grazing pasture, with some crop fields, plus the creek/river and its various reed-fringed offshoots.

We parked the car in front of a sewage farm. That wasn't so great, but opposite there was a big field of rape in full flower. The path led us around the margins of the field. A Kestrel hovered overhead and a few Orange-tips patrolled the field margin.

Beyond the field was an area of woodland on one side and scrubland on the other, from which we heard the first Whitethroat of 2011 making disgruntled 'jerrrr' noises in between bouts of song. I couldn't see it though, so here is some Cow Parsley instead.

Having passed the point where the rumoured Gropper wasn't, we continued alongside a small reedy ditch, pausing for a look at this Corn Bunting along the way.

Just before we reached the main river we found quite a decent-sized patch of reeds and bulrushes, from which a Reed Warbler invisibly sung. I tried some arty reed shots. Rob didn't like this pic, but for me it has a certain something (blurriness? bad composition?)

Quite a lot of Rooks were flying overhead - there must have been a rookery nearby though I didn't spot it. The tide was low, and a few Redshanks were on the mud along with Black-headed Gulls and a handful of Little Egrets.

We went a little further, then turned back (we wanted to look in at Oare Marshes while it was still light). Passing the big reed patch again, Rob spotted this well-hidden male Reed Bunting. OK, so the reed cutting across him (the bunting, not Rob) is annoying, but he was well back from the edge of the patch and things could have been a lot worse.

Back through the scrub, I added a couple more butterfly species to my 2011 list - Small White and Green-veined White. Still not a peep from the Gropper.

While Rob turned the car around I had a go at photographing the Swallows that were zooming around. The sharpest pics were all in suboptimal light, but since twiddling with my settings I'm definitely getting better pics of these speed demons.

There was only an hour or so of light by the time we got to Oare. The flood was quietish, most of the birds well beyond photographable range except this nest-building Little Grebe in the ditch between the flood and the road. Out on the flood was an islandful of Redshanks, which seemed to be doing a synchronised call/display routine, a lone Avocet, a few Tufties and not a lot else.

Something put the ducks and Redshanks up just after we arrived. Maybe it was this majestic Grey Heron (probably not).

A trio of Tufties, panicking about something or other.
Across the road, a Meadow Pipit was performing its song flight. I tried some photos, they were not good. But it was a lovely thing to witness.

My filename for this photo is 'Retarded Blockhead'. This probably warrants explanation. It's an adult, but it's not yet in full breeding plumage unlike all its friends, which means that it is showing a retarded moult pattern. 'Blockhead' is just my affectionate nickname for Black-headed Gull. Not the most exciting bird to finish with but it flew past nice and close and the photos came out OK.

And a quick postscript - the day before this trip, I paid a very brief visit to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve with Michele, on our way somewhere else, and found this Chiffchaff gathering nesting material (either that or it's grown and styled its rictal bristles into a very natty moustache).

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