On a cloudy, dull November morning, 18 of us met in the very wet and muddy car park at Oare Marshes Wildlife Reserve. Oare Marshes consist of 176 acres and is owned and managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. It was almost high tide and the mud flats on the Swale were covered so we decided to walk anti clockwise around the reserve. The first bird to greet us, and it was very close, was the song of a cetti’s warbler, but as usual we couldn’t see it. As we walked along the road, in the field to our right was a magpie and pied wagtail, and whilst trying to identify a ‘thrush’ type bird in a tree in the distance, we were treated to a pair of woodpeckers feeding in the field, a grey heron and a marsh harrier in the sky. We then turned our attention onto the east flood and saw pintail, shoveler, a large number of black-tailed godwits, teal, avocet, redshank along with coot, common gull, wigeon and lapwing. A flock of about 13 long tailed tits flew up in front of us and then in the distance, Hazel had found, with her scope, a peregrine sitting on one of the very large pylons. As we made our way to the first hide, a robin was singing, and goldfinches were in the trees and then a sparrowhawk flew past. In the hide, sharp-eyed Sally was the only person looking in the right place at the right time, when she saw a water rail make a quick dash across a narrow gap only to be lost in the reeds, never to be seen again. We also saw shelduck and cormorant. As we left the hide, we had good views of a pair of stonechats perching on top of some bushes.
We made our way towards Faversham creek. Earlier in the day bearded tit had been seen around the grit tray, but we weren’t so lucky, but as we walked towards the Swale hide, a reed bunting was in the bushes and great crested grebe and brent geese were on the creek.
Lunch was taken in the hide and we watched the mud flats appear as the tide receded and the birds returned. Grey plover, knot, ringed plover, curlew and large numbers of dunlin. (Very much the highlight of the day for me – the birds not the lunch). Malcolm)
Malcolm thought he heard greenshank, but we were unable to locate it. On the exposed Horse Sands in the estuary seals were resting. Whilst we were having lunch in the hide, Julie and Chris were having lunch in their car, and they had very good views of a hen harrier (ringtail) flying over our way, but unfortunately, we didn’t see it.
After lunch we made our way along the path towards the car park and a pair of mute swans flew into the east flood. A turnstone was probing amongst the seaweed attached to a cluster of small rocks. Oystercatcher and great black-backed gulls were near the receding waters edge.
We carried on along the footpath towards Conyer, and just past the jetty a bumblebee flew past. Probably a buff tailed as in the warmer southern parts of the country they can fly all winter. We then saw little grebe, stock dove and buzzard. We retraced our steps but passed the car park and continued up the road to have a look in the field opposite the flood. We were rewarded with good views of 2 goldcrest feeding and making their way along the hedge. Back on the road, looking over the pools, the rest of the group had seen snipe. Finally, we all had an excellent view of a male marsh harrier as it made its way over the fields and across the reed beds. A total of 61 different birds were seen today.Thank you to everyone who came and made this a very enjoyable day.
Thanks to Steve, Chris and Terry for the photographs.
Norman and Sandra
Thanks to Norman and Sandra for leading the walk. I have tried every which way to enhance the ring on Chris’ photograph of the reed bunting but I can’t read it. Malcolm