We had heard that there was a possibility of crossbill at Clowes Wood near Canterbury, so we decided to give it a try.
A site we hadn’t been to before, this is yet another part of the Blean area complex and has been managed by the forestry commission with a network of tracks – not particularly easy to match up to the OS map. We were delighted to find first a female crossbill (not easy to identify with the light) high in a larch tree, but it was showing that distinctive “bull-headed” profile. The bird flew off and as we moved in the same direction we found a male showing a brilliant red plumage – text book stuff – but unfortunately a really bad photograph
Blue tit, great tit, chaffinch, robin, long-tailed tit, jay and wood pigeon all moved through the trees as we continued on our way. Goldcrest were busily feeding high in the trees, with one rather obliging individual darting around in brambles and ivy at the base of a nearby tree seemingly unaware of our presence. The flash of bright yellow on the crest showed better than I have seen in a long time.
As we continued our circuit Irene spotted a woodcock flying away from us, and Malcolm saw another one a little later. Greenfinches were feeding on some small cones at the top of a tree, but the light was quite poor – just their yellow wing flash showing.
Near the pond we could hear a strange noise and as we slowed down to track it down we soon spotted a pair of crossbills. The light was against us so we moved around to get behind the tree for hopefully a better view. We were rewarded with views of a brightly coloured male and three females – I also spotted a second male for a short time.
We returned to the car park, rather hungry but delighted with our mornings walk.
The next venue was a trip to the seaside at Swalecliffe. We had a picnic lunch in a shelter on the clifftop at Tankerton with black-headed gulls watching every move, waiting for Malcolm to throw some bread. A curlew flew past over the sea, heading for Sheerness. Soon it was time for us to move off and see if we could find a shorelark. Needless to say we didn’t!
However, we did see turnstone, sanderling, black headed gull, crow, brent geese, and herring gull all on the shingle bar. We continued along to the bridge and then back tracked on to the spit to get a better view of the area. More dunlin, sanderling, ringed plover, a grey plover, common gull, starling, oystercatcher and redshank all entertained us.
A pied wagtail strutted alongside the path as we returned to the car.