Saturday 1st August
It had been a while since Surrey Ed and I had joined forces and spent a day chasing rarities. Our home county of Surrey had been fairly quiet of late therefore it was time to spread our wings and venture into the neighbouring county of Kent.
Oare Marshes was an obvious choice with recent sightings of Bonaparte’s Gull, Temminck’s Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank! High tide at Sheerness was not until around 1300hrs which gave us plenty of time to land and explore the area. The BBC weather website has a link to high tide times and is a must when visiting a coastal site and arrival approximately 1-2hrs before high tide is recommended.
The first notable bird of the day was not on our wish list but a welcome site all the same. A Little Stint was viewable on the East flood close to the road. The bird was busy feeding along a small mud spit where a Golden Plover seemed to be standing guard. Unfortunately the sun severely hampered the chance of a good shot of the bird.
A walk along the road towards the Swale produced female and juvenile Bearded Reedling. A host of Reed and Sedge Warblers and a Spotted Redshank tucked away in the NE corner of the flood. Common and Green Sandpiper added to the growing wader list.
Having completed two thirds of the circuit and with the sun behind us the task now was to work our way through the Black-tailed Godwit masses in search of Curlew Sandpiper and anything else that may have dropped in overnight. The result of a very patient search revealed two Curlew Sandpipers one in moult from breeding plumage and the second in fresh juvenile plumage. Dunlin and Ruff in various stages of moult and were also noted.
A visit to the East hide produced a Med Gull thanks to a gentleman sat next to me. This incidentally was a new bird for my Oare list. Wildlife Recorder does all the technical work for me! A second adult Med Gull with less black on the head did make an appearance as we arrived back at my car.
It was time to hit the road and have a look around the Isle of Sheppey. Capel Fleet was to be our first stop with Marsh Harrier flying close to the raptor watch-point. A couple of Buzzard and Kestrel were added to the raptor list.
The next stop in our North Kent tour was to be at the sea watch-point at Shellness where terns would be our target birds. Our guide for the walk to the point was two Yellow Wagtails! But there was better to come with Eagle eyed Ed picking up a Black Tern fishing out on the Swale. A bird was also observed amongst the Sandwich and Common Terns near the point. No Little Terns were seen within the roped off area where a mass of Oystercatcher were poised to chase the tide out and begin feeding on the mud.
The surprise bird of the day was a lone Dark-bellied Brent Goose (which was clearly lame) which had decided to spend its summer at the holiday resort of Shellness!
A brief return to Oare Marsh and then we headed back to Surrey to look over some farmland before dark. Then at dark the entertainment continued having driven through and disturbed Tawny Owls who were road side in a dark lane.
This had been a fantastic days birding which had notched up a massive 17hrs door to door! Roll on the next adventure!!