We set off from Surrey at 6.45 a.m. on a cold and frosty morning and headed for Bough Beech Reservoir in West Kent as Paul had heard that two male Goosanders had been there yesterday. On arrival, we scanned all parts of the reservoir and North Lake, but there was no sign of them, the best we could find being 9 Mandarins.
FIRST LIGHT AT BOUGH BEECH RESERVOIR.
We drove on, deciding that the Isle of Sheppey in North Kent would be a better venue.
Capel Fleet was our first stop and we soon counted 8 Marsh Harriers. A Stonechat was flitting around by the fleet and then we noticed a group of swans and geese. No Bewick's or Whoopers, just Mute Swans, and the geese at first appeared to be all Greylags but, as we scanned through them, Paul soon picked out 4 White-fronted Geese amongst them.
WHITE-FRONTED GEESE amongst the Greylag Geese (Paul)
Our next stop was at Leysdown seafront where we decided to walk from there to Shellness and back. The tide was well up and at least 10 Sanderling were amongst the 40 or so Turnstones. A few Redshanks, Dunlin and Ringed Plovers were also present but it wasn't until we reached the blockhouse at Shellness that the true numbers of waders roosting there became apparent. Hundreds of Dunlin and Oystercatchers with 50+ Grey Plovers, more Turnstones and and few Knot were on the shingle.
TURNSTONE and SANDERLING (Paul)
GREY PLOVER (Paul)
THE WADERS WERE OFTEN FLIGHTY (Graham)
Out on the saltmarsh, about 40 Curlews and a few Black-tailed Godwit were roosting until a Peregrine flew low over them heading inland. Two Little Egrets were also on the saltmarsh and it was pleasing to see several Skylarks, some in full song-flight.
By now, the tide had peaked and heading back we had to negotiate a now flooded path by the hamlet.
LOOKING TOWARDS THE BLOCKHOUSE AT SHELLNESS.
LOOKING BACK ALONG THE FLOODED PATH WE HAD JUST NEGOTIATED (NO WELLIES!).
We didn't see much more on the way back so we decided a visit to Elmley in the fading light was in order.
Along the access track to the reserve, we noted a couple of Little Egrets and after arriving at the car park, we made our way to the Swale. At least 40 Pintail, 150+ Wigeon, 50+ Brent Geese and a few Teal were resting on the water. Another Little Egret flew across the reserve and looking west we picked out a Barn Owl hunting in the distance.
DUCKS ON THE SWALE AT ELMLEY (Graham)
A very enjoyable day with a few good birds to keep the interest going.
Paul & Graham