Conyer Creek was our planned venue for the Wednesday Walk this week. A lovely day with bright sunshine but with a cooling northerly breeze.
We parked the car on the side of the road in the village and then walked to the creek through the area of waste land which was previously the site of brickworks. Conyer has a very interesting history with smuggling, papermills, brickfields and barge building all featuring in its past.
The brickworks closed in the 1980’s and the site cleared. There is planning permission for 24 houses on part of the land and the rest will be laid over to nature reserve.
As we strolled through the scrubby areas with buddelia, bramble, wild rose and other wasteland species there was a particular dearth of birdlife. The occasional tweet or chirrp was heard but it was very difficult to get onto anything as it flitted within bushes and in the distance away from us.
Despite this we did manage to catch up with House Sparrow, Starling, Swallow, Green Woodpecker and Magpie. As we approached a more open area in the scrub a large number of House Martin were feeding overhead chattering to each other as they swooped overhead. Malcolm spotted a Turtle Dove; the rest of us didn’t get a chance to see it.
As we neared the waterside we could hear Curlew calling. Cormorant flew overhead, a flock of Goldfinch noisily moved from tree to tree, occasionally stopping to feed on seedheads, but like everything else at the moment they remained generally out of sight. A Whitethroat fed in a bramble bush, again keeping itself pretty much out of view, but with patience we had reasonable views.
Butterflies were a little more forgiving and we had several Small Copper, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Common Blue and Meadow Brown. Migrant Hawker Dragonfly showed really well, whilst other (unidentified) damselfly and dragonfly hovered over the ditches and pools behind the seawall.
As the tide came in Black-headed Gull, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull, Curlew and Canada Geese were seen on the mudflats. A Greenshank gave it’s distinctive call, just prior to flying away from us. Several Whimbrel were seen during the day, there were at least 20 Curlew, over 100 Redshank, 30+ Ringed Plover, half a dozen Grey Plover, at least 40 Golden Plover, and a couple of Sandwich Tern which were perched on their respective buoys. A small flock of Common Tern flew past us and the sighting of the day was a Hobby which we watched as it hunted and fed on dragonflies. Watching this amazing bird flying with such agility and catching it’s prey with great dexterity was a real privilege and delight. Twisting and turning at speed, it gave us a great show.
A group of four juvenile Shelduck looked out of place bobbing about on the water, their distance from us helping to cause a little delay in identification! Along the edge of the nearest island we found some Lapwing mixed with Turnstone.
As we had our picnic two Stoat ran along the inside of the seawall, across in front of us and carried on towards the field – we had great views. Two Seals were swimming as the tide rose. Three Common Buzzard were circling overhead and a Kestrel found hovering a little challenging in the strong breeze.
The final additions at Conyer were Common Sandpiper and Robin.
With some time left, we decided to call in at Riverside Country Park, near Rainham.
With a high tide there was little land for the birds to rest on, but again, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe.