Sunday, 31 October 2010


Despite the clocks changing and the extra hour, I was still out early to check the fields near the Strood seawall on Sunday 31st. This field of weeds in the photo above has been left uncultivated through the summer and autumn and has developed a good variety of plants. The yellow flowers of the black mustard added a splash of colour, as did the daisy-like mayweed plants. There were some rape plants, thistles and various grasses too.

Whilst standing beside the field listening to the small birds as they flew around, the call of a lapland bunting was heard. At first it couldn't be seen after briefly calling while 50 linnets flew about. A short while later the bird called again and this time it was seen flying high and sadly it kept flying, eventually flying westwards off the Island towards Copt Hall. Also noted were 20 corn buntings, 10 goldfinches, 10 skylarks, 10 meadow pipits and 5 reed buntings. A second linnet flock was feeding in a field up by Strood Hill and rock pipit was seen on the saltmarsh.

The other brief excitement was hearing some bearded tit calls from the borrowdyke reed bed. Only a few calls were heard and no birds were seen but at least one or two birds were probably present. A short while later the tits had moved along the dyke and were heard calling from a second reedbed. Bearded tits were last located here about four years ago but no sightings here since then.

There was a good mix of waders and wildfowl along the Channel as the tide receded. However a red-throated diver feeding along the shallow part of the channel was unexpected and an unusual occurrence for here. It soon turned round and drifted quickly back down past the Hard, diving every so often between the moorings. Also in the channel was the high count of 28 little grebes.

Waders noted included 2 greenshank, 400 golden plover, a few knot, black-tailed godwits and 2 bar-tailed godwits as well as the usual waders. There were a few shelduck, wigeon, teal and brent geese also seen, along with one or two little egrets and cormorants resting on the mud.

Two marsh harriers disturbed all the birds as each one passed over the saltings and mudflats. This provided a good opportunity to see how many waders were in the area as they rose into the air as a harrier passed by.

The lack of breeze made it easy to hear birds call as they flew overhead with 6 brambling heard by the Dabchicks, 2 redwing, 3 song thrushes by the caravan site, 4 siskin by the Lane, 4 lesser redpolls flying west by the caravan site and 4 goldcrests in a birch tree in Firs Chase.

There were calm waters at high tide along the Strood at the end of a very sunny Saturday 30th. A walk along the seawall in the last hour of daylight didn't provide views of much, as the small birds had gone to roost as had all the waders along the Channel.

The main roost of interest were at least 20 little egrets perched on the tree-tops on Ray Island. A few wigeon, shelduck and brent geese gathered in small groups along the edge of the saltings. Flying to roost were 15 corn buntings and also 10 pied wagtails.

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