Wind gusts of 40mph and heavy rain did not deter the 8 dedicated members of the group who braved the conditions and met at Grain Country Park on Sunday morning. We set off along the coastal path and although high tide had past, the waters edge was still fairly close to shore and we had good views of the many waders feeding on the freshly exposed mud flats. Curlew, black-headed gull, oystercatcher, brent geese, grey plover, dunlin and little egret were seen as we braced ourselves against the very strong wind and rain.
Offshore, standing at the mouth of the River Medway, is the Grain Tower, providing some shelter for the birds. It was built in the 19th century to protect the dockyards of Sheerness and Chatham from the French during a time of tension in the 1850’s.
Closer to us a large flock of black-tailed godwits were feeding and it was estimated that there were close to 1000 of them. Further along were great black-backed gull, widgeon, redshank, and grey plover. We made our way along the coastal path and found a shelter from the wind and rain. From here we could see the masts of the SS Montgomery protruding from the water. She ran aground, broke in half, and sank in August 1944. Great black-backed gull, widgeon, redshank, starling and meadow pipit were seen. Braving the wind once more we continued along the path, eventually turning inland and back through the woods and the more sheltered areas of the country park. Robin, long-tailed tit, great tit, chaffinch, magpie and house sparrow were seen before arriving back at the car park. By now the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to come out from behind the clouds that had dumped so much rain on us in the morning. We had our lunch at the picnic tables, in the lovely sunshine.
We moved on to the RSPB Reserve at Northward Hill. On the water were pochard, mallard, coot, heron, mute swan and shoveler along with many grey-lag geese feeding. Good views were had of buzzard and a distant marsh harrier and cormorant. Blackbird, chiff chaff, goldfinch, jay, magpie, starling and pheasant were seen, and a cetti’s warbler let us know of its presence, but as usual not seen. In the field in front of the heronry, large numbers of rook, jackdaw and carrion crows were gathering, before going to their roost.
Although the day started very wet and very windy, from mid day it was dry and sunny and a total of 38 different birds were seen.
Thank you to everyone for being brave enough to turn out.
Thanks to Sally for the photos.
Norman and Sandra
Thanks to Norman and Sandra for leading – I think that they secretly hoped that no one else would turn up so that they could go home! The clocks went back on the day of the trip but not by that much. So don’t try to go on any of the advertised trips on the park notice board. It was so wet that no cameras were allowed out – so I had to insert two photographs from a previous trip.