Our first trip of the year was to Reculver Coastal Park, and the day dawned cloudy but bright and dry. Sixteen of us met in the car park and before proceeding along towards the towers we had a brief look out over the sea. Malcolm spied a distant diver flying past but the rest of us had to be content with a few gulls and a cormorant. It was surprisingly busy there with many walkers and cyclists, even a few other bird watchers!
Around the towers we sometimes spot a black redstart so we diligently scanned the ruins but alas no, not to be. Scanning over the fields mute swans could be seen in the distance and quite a few stock doves were present on the old toilet block of the now empty caravan site. In the past we have seen little owl here but not today. Walking on along the coastal path a group of brent geese flew by over the sea. It was high tide and they were probably looking for somewhere to settle until the tide went out again.
Next, we had the first sighting of stonechat for the day. A pair flying to and fro, perching on bramble and then down to the ground before coming up again. Always scanning the sea as we walked, more divers were spotted and this time we all managed at least a brief view of a black-throated diver on the sea, diving frequently for food.
We were alerted, by a very kind chap on his bike, that there was a report of a dartford warbler along this particular stretch of the path. So eagerly we started looking for it and sure enough after a short while there it was flying up and down with the stonechats ( just as they say in the books). It looked quite different from normal because it was in winter plumage. Much less dark with a warm colour on its breast, but it still had its distinctive shaped head and long tail that was often cocked. I think that it was possibly a juvenile as it did not appear to have the red orbital ring around the eye as found in the adult. A few reed bunting were spotted racing along through the vegetation and then in amongst a large group of house sparrows a few corn bunting were found. Looking further afield a rather splendid male marsh harrier was seen quartering the ground.
We found a sheltered spot on the beach for lunch, first picnic of the year, and scanned the sea while we ate. Gannet, great black-backed gull, more cormorant and common gull were added to the list with some turnstone along the edge of the beach. After lunch we continued on to an area where there is a small pool between the beach and the path. Coot, redshank and little grebe were present in the pool and further along the beach there appeared to be a roost of 100+ oystercatchers, about 20 curlew, several ringed plover and grey plover.
As we turned back, we could see rain heading our way so it was heads down and a brisk walk back to the cars.
We had over 30 species for the day which is not a great number but as they say, it’s quality not quantity that matters!
Thanks to all that came along and made it an enjoyable day.
Irene and Terry.
Thanks to Steve and Sally for the photographs and to Irene and Terry for leading and the trip report. I think the redshank has been ringed by the Swale Ringing Group. If anyone gets more information on this bird please let us know.