Today was the first of Malcolm and Sally’s Tuesday walks for the year and our venue was Riverside Country Park in Gillingham.
As the weather forecast was rather wet (who said that the rains would come once the hosepipe ban came into effect?) it wasn’t too surprising that a select group of six turned up. Still as we moved from the car park and got some shelter from the bushes we were bouyed up by the incoming tide, and the possibility of close views of waders.
Redshank, black-headed gull, curlew, oystercatcher and grey plover were settled in the higher parts of the salt marsh with the rain running off their plumage. We, on the other hand were hoping that our wet weather gear would be equally effective.
Blackcap, great tit, long-tailed tit, green woodpecker, song thrush, and dunnock were calling. Blackbird and robin were extremely active as they fed along the path ahead of us. On the high tide line both dunnock and blackbird turned the seaweed over releasing insects to eat. Chaffinch and goldfinch called from the tops of the trees and showed well. The highlight however was a black-tailed godwit in almost full summer plumage, absolutely beautiful to see. A little egret flew off as we rounded a bend and disappeared not to be seen again.
Near the shoreline brent geese and shelduck were battling against the rain and the incoming tide, with one great crested grebe sheltering towards the bay at Bloors Wharf. A peregrine gave great views as it flew overhead and then away from us. A kestrel completed our birds of prey for the day. Wood pigeon, collared doves and feral pigeon were collected at the far end of the prom.
Partly for our own protection from the weather and also in the hope of a nightingale we did a circiut of East Rainham Dock. Again blackcap, dunnock and robin called, but not the elusive nightingale – I don’t blame them it was a cold, grey and wet morning.
We re-traced our steps back along the promenade, with the sun coming out and the rain clearing we picnicked with blue skies overhead.
The day had one last hit – a rain squall as we started out on our afternoon walk, in the opposite direction towads Eastcourt Meadows – but that soon cleared. Two mediterranean gulls called above us, their almost transparent wings showing well in the bright sky.
Black-headed gulls and herring gull enjoyed the protection at Sharp’s Green, and as we continued along the path, we saw many more blackbird and robin. On Copperhouse Marshes a colony of black-headed gulls were in residence, with several oystercatchers, mallard and starling sharing this haven, cut off from the mainland.
Finally, we returned to the car park another excellent day out.
Thanks to those who turned out on such a damp day, and to Malcolm and Sally for providing their usual brand of knowledge and leadership