So four days in and I haven’t kept to my wish – to write up these blogs straight away, whilst you remember all those little details – here were are a week later and I can barely remember where I went let alone what I saw – anyway, here goes:
Where did we go for our first Wednesday outing of 2012? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The delights of Leysdown, Harty and Capel Fleet on the Isle of Sheppey, of course!
We began at the seawall east of Leysdown where the tide was in but receding. Although it was windy we decide that sitting in the car was the wimps way. So we watched from inside for a while!
Oystercatchers, turnstone, herring gull, and curlew were seen on the beach and sea. Behind us on the playing field was a large flock of black-headed and common gull stoically facing into the wind. Magpies were strutting about. A kestrel was spotted by Sally on a distant telegraph pole.
We walked along the seawall towards Shellness, cormorants were flying past. A large number of brent geese were in a nearby field. My comment of “there must be a pale-bellied in that lot” was met with determination by Malcolm to find one. Within minutes he had. A handsome beast, with white side and front which once located, seemed far too easy to identify. We still managed to lose it a couple of times as we set up the telescope though! Nearby a reed bunting sang before moving off ahead of us.
Curlew, dunlin, golded plover and grey plover fed along the waterline. Malcolm was convinced there should be sanderling – happy to repay the debt of the pale-bellied, I spotted one on the beach and we all had great views before a dog walker disturbed it. A couple of godwits tested our newly acquired identification skills of this species (regularly honed but found wanting I might add). We discussed and debated, referred to the field guide and decided on a bar-tailed. The bird flew – proof indeed that we were right – no wing-bar!
We decided to wander along a footpath leading to some fields where there may be lapland bunting. We found a plaque to the first powered flight made by a briton, several barn owl pellets which Malcolm pulled apart, revealing vole skulls, at least 20 more curlew in the fields and lapwings galore, but no lapland buntings. A flock of at least 15 chaffinch flew into a tree and gave great views.
As we ate lunch in the car pied wagtails ran around on the sea wall, black-headed gulls came begging for food.
On the way to Harty we stopped to see red-legged partridge, at Capel fleet there were at least 80 mallard, shelduck and a few teal and on the wires overhead a few corn bunting. As we watched they flew off to join a large flock which had been perched on a nearby bush. We watched for a while as the group gathered and then small numbers split off as they chose nearby perches.
At Harty things were quiet with a lone shelduck, grey heron, a few curlew and redshanks on the mud by the river, a distant marsh harrier flew. On the way back we spotted a (ring-tail) hen harrier which we watched from the car as it flew low over the field.
A great end to our first trip of 2012