Tuesday, 27 August 2013

After the downpour

With Saturday's filthy weather plus a midday high tide, the place to be was obviously the seawatching hide at Oare Marshes. However, I don't have a car, and none of the drivers I know would really be up for sitting in a wooden box for five hours staring at a rainy estuary, so I didn't do that. I still haven't been able to bring myself to check the KOS website and find out how many Sabine's Gulls I would have seen if I'd been there. However, Sunday was brighter and Rob and I did go to Oare, though we mostly stared at the East Flood rather than the Swale.

The flood was busy with waders, but the first bird that caught my attention was in the ditch between the flood and the road, and it was a juvenile Moorhen with leucism. The individual feathers have white patches which suggests this is developmental rather than genetic (where you'd get entirely white feathers).

There were another three juvs here, and only one had normal plumage. They all seemed healthy and full of beans though.

Little Egrets were sashaying back and forth, on foot and in the air, giving occasional throaty 'gowk' calls.

Sadly most of the roosting waders were some way away, and not really photographable to any decent standard with my lens, but a few called in at the nearest island including this Redshank...

... and this Ruff, which I guess I'd better report to whoever blinged up its legs. ETA - no need, it's well known apparently - it's a male ringed in the Netherlands and is back at Oare for its sixth autumn. Other waders out on the flood included the usual masses of Black-tailed Godwits and Avocets, plenty of Redshanks, Ringed and Golden Plovers and Dunlins, and smaller numbers of Ruffs and Greenshanks. Also at least one each of Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover.

I took a walk to the sea wall to see if there was a fantastic seabird passage underway. There wasn't. I did see a few little flocks of Dunlins, whizzing up and down looking in vain for some exposed shoreline to sit on.

A Sandwich Tern, almost in full winter plumage, was sitting on one of the posts by the slipway. The tern on the more distant post was a Common, and there were several more of these on the East Flood.

Back at the flood, about half of the herd of cows came around the edge of the flood, crossing the little wooden bridge in front of us with great care and trepidation. The other half of the herd opted to take a more direct route to the other side. I watched with interest, as I had often wondered how deep the water out here is.

A bit deeper than you'd think, it turns out. The first cow made it across but didn't seem too happy about it.

The next few cows followed suit, all getting soaked and emerging with muddy tidemarks halfway up their sides. The last two in the herd lost their nerve and reversed, taking the long way round at a gallop (except for the bridge crossing) in their anxiety to rejoin the others.

Another wander along the sea wall produced this Yellow Wagtail - there had been several overhead earlier.

There was also a light hirundine passage going on - first half a dozen Swallows, then a dozen House Martins including this one, then more Swallows.

On our way back from the second sea wall visit we saw a distant Sparrowhawk, but it was surely something bigger that put up all the birds on the flood. Avocets, godwits, ducks, even the Little Egrets took off and glanced anxiously skywards as they flew, but could we see what it was that had scared them? No, we could not.

Some worried waders and wildfowl - Golden Plover, Teal and a mixed flock of Shovelers and Gadwall.

As usual, though, it was the common birds that provided the best photo opportunities. House Sparrow males, eclipse drake Mallard showing a few green feathers, and a Mute Swan family waiting for the tardy fifth cygnet to catch up.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

More nice flight shots Marianne :-)

Those cows were a nice side show!