Fifteen of us left the car park to make our way to the East Flood and immediately a pair of ravens were spotted flying overhead – what a good start to the day! A Cetti’s warbler was heard en route and when we reached viewing point, we were rewarded with views of ruff, redshank and avocet in amongst the numerous black-tailed godwits and black-headed gulls. A small group of swallows, snipe, cormorant, pied wagtail and coot were also seen here and a great white egret flew lazily off into the distance.
On our way to the first hide, some of the group spotted clouded yellow, common blue, comma and several white butterflies. A small group of linnets were flitting around and blackbird, sparrows and blue tit were in the bushes, but no sign of the wryneck that had been reported.
Turning the corner to walk along the creek, a single sedge warbler was picked out in the reeds and some common lizards sat basking in the sunshine. In the distance, several seals were spotted having a lazy afternoon on the beach.
As we walked back along the sea wall we found dunlin, curlew, whimbrel and a small group of ringed plover.
After lunch, we headed back to the sea wall hoping to see the elusive Bonaparte’s gull, but unfortunately without any luck. Green sandpiper, mallard and moorhen were seen in the first pool and further along, we added buzzard and kestrel to our list.
On arriving at Dan’s dock we were treated to views of a group of juvenile yellow wagtails and a pair of meadow pipits feeding on the edge of the little water that remained. A charm of goldfinches chattered as we watched
and then just as we were leaving a common sandpiper flew up and disappeared into the reeds. We walked further along towards the trees, but as it was very quiet, we decided to return to Dan’s dock for another look.
Our second visit was far more productive. The yellow wagtails and meadow pipits were still feeding alongside a rather large brown rabbit. A pair of wrens also appeared and flitted in between the bushes. However, the highlight of the day was about to unfold. Two grass snakes appeared and were on the lookout for lunch. The pair swam around furtively until one of them dived, then re-emerged with a Marsh frog tadpole in its mouth! Everyone had good views of this and were left in awe of nature. The snake struggled for a while, but eventually consumed its prey.
The walk back along the sea wall was fairly uneventful apart from a brief glimpse of a small heath and the main topic of conversation was the amazing views of the grass snakes. We did however see several small flocks of starlings swirling around and a very distant marsh harrier. As we were about to go down the slope to return to the car park Sandra and Claire caught sight of the wryneck flying at speed, but unfortunately as they were towards the back of the group, the rest of us were not lucky enough to see it.
A total of 47 species were seen or heard and many thanks to everyone that made it an enjoyable day.
Marsh Frogs are Europe’s largest frog. They are considered non-native and were introduced into Kent in the 1930s. Since then, they have become established throughout Romney Marsh and the low-lying areas of North Kent as well as becoming common in other areas too.
Thanks to Bruce and Steve for the photographs.
Hazel and Steve