On a beautiful sunny day, twenty-four of us gathered in the Salt Lane car park and welcomed four new faces – Mandy, Paul, Carol and Graham.
The usual array of wood pigeon, collared dove and crows flew overhead as we made our way to the Crystal Pool. There were coot, tufted duck, great crested grebe, canada geese, teal, pochard, linnet, greylag and on the very far right-hand island, a solitary mediterranean gull. Viewing with a scope, it stood out quite well amongst the black headed gulls and made a good start to our day. Just as we were moving on, Peter spotted a green woodpecker flying between the pools. As we made our way along the track, blue and great tit were seen, and our top spotter Andy pointed out a greenfinch flying over the tree tops.
Some members decided to have a search from the Pinnacle before we stopped for a while at the Radar Pool viewpoint. There were golden plover, lapwing, pintail, shoveler, wigeon, mallard and shelduck amongst others. A marsh harrier was spotted quartering in the distance by the black barn.
On the Flamingo Pool, we had good views of redshank, greenshank, lesser black backed gulls and a pair of goldeneyes that dived more times than Tom Daley – fortunately, Chris managed to take a photo. A buzzard flew around the pool and set up a large combination of lapwing and golden plover, with their stunning underparts glowing in the sunlight – a fantastic sight! Along the track towards the sea wall, cettis warbler, wren, robin and a song thrush gave us their melodic tunes, whilst a great spotted woodpecker drummed away in the background.
The tide was out when we reached Cliffe Creek and a couple of redshanks had the place to themselves. Whilst scanning the area for other species, a rock pipit landed on the sea wall and stayed for a while before flying off towards the fort.
Heading back to the car park between the pools, a few of us stopped to scan the area. Several of the group were discussing the possibility of seeing a kingfisher and Claire said that there was something on the far side of the lagoon. Hazel had her scope directed in that direction when the cry echoed out – KINGFISHER!! Before most of us had the time to look through the scope, this beautiful, colourful bird had flown and alas, wasn’t seen again.
Before we returned to our cars, cormorant, chaffinch and sparrowhawk were added to our list.
On our way to lunch at Northward Hill, just before Cooling Castle, Hazel and I spotted a kestrel hovering very low in front of us. Unfortunately, no time to stop and take its picture.
During our al fresco lunch, we were joined, but not at the tables, by red legged partridge, pheasant, jackdaw, blue tit, great tit, goldfinch and a pied wagtail.
Our first port of call was the view point overlooking Gordons hide. From here, we saw heron, mute swan, lapwing, teal, pochard, black tailed godwit, marsh harrier, linnet and two common buzzards languishing in a tree. One of the buzzards decided to stretch its wings and fly over the lagoon. It was, however, quickly dispatched by a small gang of lapwings, back to its perch with its tail between its legs (not literally of course)
Moving back through the woods, a great spotted woodpecker was drumming in the distance and a wren was briefly seen and heard. More LBJ’s were seen and heard scurrying in the brambles before we arrived at the view point, overlooking the Saxon Shore Way. A quick scan, then we headed towards the car park. An elusive song thrush sang its heart out for us, but failed to show itself to our dismay. The drum of the great spotted and the cheerful singing of a male blackbird, lead us neatly back to our cars, where we bade our farewells after a lovely day out with a count of 58 species.
Many thanks to everyone that attended for making it so worthwhile. We have many outdoor meetings arranged and would love to see you there. So why not join us at Sevenoaks on Sunday 4th March and join the friendly group. See our programme on the website for further details.
Steve and Hazel
Rock, water or meadow pipit? I didn’t see it but I think rock, Sally did see it and says meadow. What do you think?