Saturday, 11 February 2012

A cold afternoon in the sun

Saturday 11th Feb
Very cold - below freezing, calm, sunny and dry.

All week I've been reading about the cracking cold-weather birds being seen locally so I was dead-keen to get out this weekend. I finished work at 1 o'clock, and after a quick change into thermals and jumpers I picked Patrick up from his mum's in Faversham, and we headed to the towers at Reculver. Already there were Kerry and Alex, searching the sea for duck.

We saw a large flock of over 200 Wigeon offshore, plus 5 Shoveler, a couple of Gadwall and 2 Eider. Golden Plover could be heard calling, and one or two were flying over. As we walked past the towers we enjoyed close views of goldies and Lapwings on the grass areas. Shortly after, a Merlin flashed past heading west, then up over the towers and away.

We walked slowly east past the oyster farm, noting several Snipe, Redshank, a Pintail flew off one of the back pools, and there were 2 Shelduck on some open water. The enormous Brent flock was on the fields near Chambers Wall, and when the whole flock went up we picked out a Peregrine circling high over the geese. The flock went up several times while we were out, quite spectacular.

We chose to walk inland and follow the path round the back of the oyster farm on the return to the towers. A couple of waders flew overhead, a Dunlin and a Spotted Redshank, and a second Merlin flew east, terrorising the waders on the beach. Several Snipe later, we at last had a Woodcock fly past and land in the field a little way ahead. It obligingly stayed out in the open feeding, so we all enjoyed nice views of a bird seldom seen during the day.

Patrick spotted a male Marsh harrier over the fields, and there were 2 Kestrels in the area. While I was taking the Woodcock photos, the others had a second bird drop in a ditch nearby. At the sluice a Kingfisher flew out and away inland. A bit frustrating, because we could have had good views if we had taken a little more care not to disturb it.

Two and a half hours birding and we were back at the car park having had a really enjoyable walk, with several good birds.

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