Sunday, 14 October 2012

Reculver and Oare

Today I went with the local RSPB group to Reculver and then Oare Marshes. After threatening rain all week the forecast has a last-minute change of heart and predicated a lovely sunny day, which was what it was.

We kicked off at Reculver at 10am. While everyone was arriving and getting their stuff sorted out I had a quick watch of the sea, which was singularly unproductive. I saw a Turnstone. And then some gulls.

Nothing unusual in the gull department, sadly, just Herring and Black-headed. Still, the light was very nice.

Shortly after this, the group leader John called 'Kestrel. No, hang on. Female Merlin.' I stared where everyone else was looking and eventually discerned a raptorial speck circling high over the sea. Happily she came close enough for some recognisable photos.

We walked up towards the two towers of the Roman fort and down onto the seaside path, where we scanned the rocks and the fort for Black Redstarts, to no avail. Then we turned inland to follow the path around the oyster farm. This path goes in between said oyster farm (a complex of very fresh-looking trenches, which held a few Redshanks) and large arable fields. A few Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Linnets bobbed overhead, but this stretch of the walk was uneventful.

We looped around and rejoined the path along the sea wall. This was busy with dog walkers and cyclists, so vigilance was necessary. We stopped for a look out to sea, and one of the group picked up a distant grey thing which with good scope views resolved itself into a Red-throated Diver. Our attempts to get everyone to see it were a little hampered by someone's exuberant collie dog who had no interest in Red-throated Divers and kept coming up to us wanting a stick to be thrown.

I couldn't get a shot of the diver, so here's the collie instead. Handsome beast, with an impressive case of heterochromia iridum.

We were all on Snow Bunting alert after hearing from another birder that one was about. Here's the advantage of going around in a big group - all of us were scanning the beach as we went but it was the guy walking at the very back who actually spotted this little beauty. We all hurried back and enjoyed very prolonged and close-range views of what I think is a first-winter male. What a poppet.

Nothing much else happened between the Snow Bunting and the car park. I photographed this Carrion Crow going over the sea, pity it wasn't an Arctic Skua.

After a bit of lunch, we drove on to Oare Marshes. The flood looked very full of water and very quiet, bird-wise, as we passed it (no room to stop). We parked at the sea wall and did the loop around the East Flood clockwise, so beginning along the sea wall. The tide was some way out and there was plenty of exposed mud.

There were numerous waders out on this mud, mostly on the far side, but a few came over to our side, including this Black-tailed Godwit. Also on view were lots of Redshanks, a few Dunlins and a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits.

We were scoping a big, distant flock of waders when I spotted a Stonechat, and then another Stonechat, in bushes just off the path on the landward side. We could also hear much Bearded Tit pinging, but only managed fleeting glimpses of the birds themselves.

We stopped again at the far end of the flood to check out what was on the islands and water. The island nearest to us was generously carpeted with Golden Plovers, and as we watched another bus-load of them arrived and did a lovely flypast for us before settling.

Noticing a bit of squeaky panic among the few Redshanks on the near shore, I looked out for an approaching raptor. A Kestrel duly appeared, and had a bit of a hover over the path a little further down before moving on.

Just where the path swings landwards again, we heard more pinging, and this time the pingers took to the air at some height. For the few seconds the two Beardies were flying high, I fired off shots of one of them - my first ever Bearded Tit photos. Let's hope my next ones are a bit better than this pile of rubbish.

We could see there was nothing much likely to be visible from the East Flood hide, so gave it a miss and rejoined the road. The flood was indeed very quiet, probably because the water was too deep. The island on which Avocets nested in 2011 was reduced to about one square inch of dry land. A few Lapwings and Teals sulked around what islands were still islands. On the other side of the road was this Grey Heron, scratching its chops.

By the time we got back to the car park, it was getting a little cloudy. Everyone went home apart from John, Phil (who, like me, had taken a lift with John) and I. We walked the other way along the sea wall in hope of Corn Buntings, but only came up with this Pied Wagtail.


Ken. said...

Not a bad day out. Shame about the Red necked Diver, not getting better views of it. The Snow Bunting was a good bird for the day. Oare Marsh is in a bit of a state at the moment, the deep water isn't helping. Shame you didn't get to see the Red Breasted Goose in the Swale area, it must be with the Brents. Very good day though, nice pics too.

Warren Baker said...

Sounds like a fantastic days birding Marianne, I might have to go off patch soon :-)

Quality photo's today, well done :-)

Kieron Palmer said...

I saw a couple of Merlin myself at Elmley on Saturday, fantastic bird!

I love the Snow Bunting photos too!

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Love the Snow Bunting shots , must get down there .
Well worth the visit for them and the clear blue skies alone .

Alan Pavey said...

Nice post Marianne, well done with the Merlin pics and the Snow Bunting, it does indeed sounds like a great day out :-)

Rohrerbot said...

Amazing photography work of birds in flight. The middle shot of all the Golden Plovers is awesome!!! Congrats on the Snow Bunting...still one I need to find.

I agree. The birding in groups has its advantage. We tend to see more and get accurate accounts. Love your adventures. Birding is amazing fun!