Twelve members met at Oare Marshes KWT reserve on a bright and sunny morning. The early arrivals had brief views of a short-eared owl followed by a good view of a red kite. However, a little while later, the short-eared owl played the game and gave everyone great views as it quartered over the reeds to the west of the car park. Skylarks were up and singing, a Cetti’s warbler was sounding off and occasionally a Mediterranean gull would be heard and seen flying overhead. We went up to the slipway and looked out to see a receding tide. There were black headed gulls and a few teal and redshank on the muddy shore in front of us. Julie spotted a common lizard lurking in some vegetation by the path. It seemed happy enough to stay in sight while the group had a good look.
Whilst walking along the embankment reed bunting and oystercatcher were spotted and a kestrel flew low and fast out across the Swale to The Isle of Sheppey. At the first hide some twenty seals were seen basking out on the sand bank. Avocets were noted and a large group of black tailed godwits were seen on the shore ahead of us. Estimates of their number centred around 500. These were probably passing through on their migration further north – one possible destination being Iceland. A marsh harrier flew over and put up the godwits. Malcolm spotted grey plover in the group. A hairy caterpillar was seen on the path and it was identified as a garden tiger moth.As we walked along Faversham Creek the unique ‘pinging’ sound of bearded tits was heard.
Then a male popped up and kept us enthralled with its antics, going up and down and across the reeds, occasionally doing the splits as one foot held on to one reed stalk and the other foot to another.
Looking into the reserve, shoveler, gadwall, pintail and teal were seen out on the water. As we were about to turn inland a peregrine was spotted high up on a pylon on the other side of the creek. As we walked towards the hide, stock doves were seen in the fields and chaffinches were in the bushes. Whilst in the hide having our elevenses (actually twelveses – don’t let it be said we rush along) mute swan, wigeon, greylag, tufted duck and cormorant were seen along with many other species. Whilst most of us left the hide to return to the car park for lunch Malcolm and Sally stayed behind to finish their cuppa and were rewarded with a swallow flying by. On the way, linnet, starling, house sparrow and a pied wagtail were seen.
Marsh frogs were calling loudly in the ditches by the side of the road. Over lunch a small ladybird was looked at through a hand lens by a number of the group and was identified as a 24 spot. Sometimes also called the hairy ladybird, its hairiness was clearly apparent.
After lunch we set off towards Uplees Marshes with a hope of seeing wheatear and possibly the short-eared owl again. Unfortunately neither were in evidence. However, herring gull and lesser black backed were around. We stayed by the small wooded area for a while with little to report other than a robin singing and a buzzard sitting on a post in the far distance. A good spot by Hazel. A gentle walk back got us to the car park with nothing else to add to the day’s tally of 55 species.
Over the course of the day peacock butterflies were in evidence all around the reserve. A few whites (probably small) and small tortoiseshells were also flying.
Pete & Karen Hall
Thanks to Peter and Karen for leading and for the report. Thanks to Chris, Steve, Terry and Sally for the splendid photographs.