It has been some time since I last told you about some of our birding trips. We are not always good at making a decision of where to go – often the car is moving but we still don’t know where we are going! But over the last few weeks we have been particularly fortunate in our choice of places to visit.
At this time of year wading birds have started to leave their breeding grounds in the “North” and are making their way down the east coast as they travel southwards. The Thames estuary, the Medway and the Swale are favourite stopping off points for these birds as they refuel for their long journeys. (And, of course, one of the reasons why this area is of such high conservation value). So sites along the Thames and Medway are good places to see these birds of passage. Often we visit the “day after” or the “day before” and rarely do we get it “just right” – but not this year. Our visit to Oare coincided with the arrival of about 800 black-tailed godwits – an amazing sight with most of the adults still in breeding plumage. They were noisy too!
Irene (I just knew she would come good one day) spotted a spotted redshank. I have never seen this species at quite this stage of moult before. But a closer look at the photographs shows at least two, if not three, spotted redshanks! Here we also heard a flock of whimbrel flying overhead – for me, at least, the wildest sound along our estuaries at the moment. At Cliffe we were fortunate to see a family party of greenshanks actively feed together and later I saw a flock of about 40 in total (my birding friends had moved on at this point and refuse to believe me!). A visit to Elmley added little ringed plover, common sandpiper and green sandpiper. And even more will come in the next few weeks.
As I have said before – the best birds are those doing the right thing, in the right place at the right time. And for once we have got it “right” too. If you get the chance and are able to get somewhere along the Thames shore – go for it!
Thanks to Sally and Terry for the photographs