Sunday, 15 November 2009


It was better weather on Sunday 15th than the wind and rain of the previous two days. Alongside the Strood Channel pictured above at dusk, all sorts of waders and wildfowl could be heard in the still conditions.

Amongst the flock of 400 brent geese feeding in a field by the Strood Hill, was a black brant. A slow scan through the flock with the binoculars revealed this race of brent goose with a very white flank patch, as opposed to the greyish flank patches of the other geese beside it. The rest of the body appeared blacker above and below than the other brent too. The bird stood out quite easily too, as it was easy to relocate in the flock again if you took your eyes off it. All the geese took off just after the sun set all of them calling loudly as they passed overhead, on their way to roost either in the Strood Channel or further over towards Salcott Channel.

Black brants are the North American race / Eastern Siberian race of the brent goose and are rare visitors to the Essex coast in winter. In recent years sightings have been almost annual here on the Island with the last one being seen earlier this year here by the Strood.

The low tide meant there was a good mix of the usual waders with 50 knot being the most interesting and dunlin and redshank being the most numerous and widespread. Other waders seen included curlew, black-tailed godwit, oystercatcher, lapwing, golden plover and grey plover. Small groups of wigeon and teal were gathered at various points along the Channel and there seemed to be more shelduck around too. A marsh harrier flew over the Ray Island saltings scattering other birds as it went.

As the light faded 4 corn buntings flew along the seawall calling and then headed west over to Copt Hall. Small flocks of pied wagtails totalling about 30 birds were noted as they headed off to their evening roost. Two water rails called from adjacent clumps of reeds in the borrowdyke with one bird glimpsed very briefly as it flew into the reedbed. The large dark profile of a grey heron in the fading light, slowly flapped its way over the seawall and into the Channel.


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