The sun was shining, but a very strong cold easterly wind was blowing, when 15 of us met at the car park midway between Leysdown and Shellness. On a rising tide, and with the strong wind whipping up the sea, it was difficult to see anything on it, at all. We started to make our way towards Shellness. On the right we saw magpie and woodpigeon in the fields feeding, whilst herring, common and black-headed gulls were along the shoreline with oystercatcher and turnstone. As we sauntered along the path, sanderling were running along picking up food, as the waves hit the beach. A sharp-eyed spotter noticed a few avocets flying past, over the dunlin and redshank scurrying around on the edge of the waves. As we continued, a large flock of brent geese flew over into the fields and joined the feeding curlew, magpies and carrion crows, which were dotted around. We noticed that a few pied wagtails were feeding along the bottom road, which was very much warmer and sheltered from the wind.
We decided to descend from the higher path to look behind bushes on the bottom road, hoping to see the brambling, and we were rewarded. The sun was shining on the bushes, and the brambling seemed to be enjoying the lovely weather, as they were very sheltered from the strong wind. It was thought that there were many more brambling in the field, along with goldfinch and chaffinch. Then a dunnock flew in and sat on the top of bramble singing his lovely song. As we turned to continue our journey, we were treated to a good view of a kestrel, firstly hovering and then sitting on the top of a telegraph pole, before flying off to find his next meal.
Returning to the higher path, we reached the end car park and saw moorhen, coot and mallard along the ditches, and behind, in the field, noticed a few red-legged partridge scurrying around. Taking the path from the end car park towards the beach, it was again sheltered from the wind, and we were treated to a view of a small tortoiseshell butterfly. We reached the WW2 pillbox on the beach. This has an impressive hen harrier painting on one of the walls, and as this gave good shelter from the wind, we decided it would be a good time for lunch. Afterwards, a count was made of the oystercatchers on the end spit, a total of approximately 350. A few ringed plover were feeding among the vegetation on the beach.
As the tide was high, and many places on the beach would be impassable, we returned along the same path hearing skylark and pheasant and seeing meadow pipit and two more small tortoiseshell butterflies. On the raised path by the end car park, we had good views of linnet and reed bunting in the small trees. Making our way back, we took a second look at the brambling, and had some more stunning views before continuing to the farm, near Muswell Manor Holiday Park.
On the road we passed the memorial statue of the ‘Short Brothers’. It was here in 1908 they erected several aeroplane sheds and began to design and build their own aircraft, as well as manufacturing 6 planes for the Wright Brothers. The first flight by an all British, aircraft, engine and pilot was made near here. Within a year they employed 80 people, and from here they expanded to Eastchurch, before eventually, in 1910, moving all manufacturing to the Esplanade in Rochester, where they made the famous seaplanes.
We headed along past the barn, on the path towards the RSPB managed land. Wren, stonechat, greylag geese and little grebe were seen and possibly two green sandpipers with their distinctive white rump as they flew away. We were then treated to good views of three marsh harriers over the fields. Returning across the open parkland, a green woodpecker and song thrush were seen before we returned to the car park.
On the day we had a total of 50 different birds. Thank you to everyone who joined us.
Norman and Sandra
Thanks to Norman and Sandra for leading and for writing the report. Thanks to Steve, Terry and Sally for the photographs. Malcolm