Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Oare Marshes

My apologies for lack of posts, RSI to blame. This is an amalgamated report for Oare Marshes which I visited on 6th and 14th October and have slowly typed up over the last 10 days. Future posts may have to be less wordy in order to be more timely and less of a historical document.

Ruff - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (6/10)
Thursday 6/10/2011 was a blustery day with a warming sun fighting through broken cloud, however it was still cold enough that I had to wear a coat for the first time this side of summer. I arrived with the tide out and started off with a scan from the ramp being rewarded with a Wheatear by the west gate and a Ringed Plover on the foreshore. 

Ringed Plover - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
I travelled along the road where a Meadow Pipit shot off to the west and arrived at the East Flood where the Black Tailed Godwits were gathered in their hundreds, a few Redshank around the periphery. There was also a smaller group of Avocets nearby. Little Egrets were fishing round the edges of the flood and the Cormorants were sat on their usual island. Teal were at the back of the flood with a pair of Mallards, there was also a Little Grebe diving. Small groups of Starlings were flying around and as I moved from my viewing spot a Kingfisher took off from about 6 feet away flying low towards the sluice gate. I passed a group of House Sparrows on the road before heading to the East Flood hide
2 Black Tailed Godwits - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (6/10)
On the path I spotted a Kestrel in a small tree in the field to my right, it spotted me and flew a bit further away alighting on to a fence post. I watched it for about 5 minutes before it swooped onto some prey the other side of the fence, immediately after a Green Woodpecker flew over the same piece of fence in the opposite direction, a blackbird took off from a nearby bush and a hidden Robin became vocal, it was suddenly all go here.

Lapwing - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
I went into the hide out of the stiffening breeze where I was able to look closer at the Godwits. At the edge of the flock near the Redshanks were a couple of Curlew Sandpipers a nice find but too far away to photograph. Out of the hide and up to the sluice gate where I had a good look for the Kingfisher, but no joy, that was until I walked across the sluice and once again it shot off this time from under my feet! How can something that colourful stay so well hidden?

Dunlin - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
The wind was well up by now and the path to the Sea Wall hide was so blustery that I had to hold my tripod to stop it toppling. From here I got better views of the Teal, but nothing new on the flood. Behind me in the creek there were about two hundred Redshank dotted up and down both banks busily probing the wet silt. The only other sighting before I took refuge in the Sea wall hide was a Reed Bunting and a Curlew.
Little Egret - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
I settled down in the hide to watch the tide come in, spending a couple of hours there. In the Estuary were some Great Crested Grebes whilst out towards Seasalter Brent Geese were gathering. On the foreshore of the opposite bank were Turnstones, Cormorants, Shelducks, Oystercatchers, Curlews, Grey Plovers and Redshanks. A mixed flock of about 30 Dunlin and Ringed Plover flew in but were scared off by a low flying military jet as was a Sandwich Tern who was sheltering in a dip along with the Black Headed and Herring Gulls.

Black Headed Gull - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (6/10)
Wendy joined me about , and ten minutes later a bird hit the hide! I leant out of the flap to see if it was hurt, but it was a Kestrel that had landed (heavily) on a ledge attached to the hide. It took off immediately, the below photo is the same bird as it wheeled round in front.
Kestrel- Canon 400D + 100-400mm (6/10)
We left the hide and headed back towards the East Flood for one last look from the road, this gave me four more fresh sightings for the day, this included several Herons who had up until now remained hidden, a sole Golden Plover on one of the islands, 3 Shovelers at the back of the flood and a Snipe by the Southern shore. Seen but not listed above are Carrion Crows, Wood Pigeons, Great Black Backed Gull, Lapwing, Coot, Moorhen, It was a good day with 36 sightings, nothing new, but lots of activity.

Friday 14th was a sunny day so I returned to Oare to try to get some better photos unfortunately something was wrong with the autofocus, nonetheless another good day was had. First up was a Cetti’s Warbler by the car park – as always, heard but not seen. Up to the East flood where the nearest islands revealed a few Ruff, Moorhens, and Ringed Plovers, whilst present in larger numbers were Lapwings, Starlings, Dunlin and Golden Plovers; Avocets, Cormorants, Redshank and Black Tailed Godwits were in the middle whilst at the back were Dabchicks, Teal, Little Egrets, Shovellers and some Mallards.

Group Photo (all facing into the wind) Golden Plover/Little Stint/ 2 Ringed plover/Lapwing - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
The nicest spot here were 3 Little Stint that were running around the nearest islands which I had missed the previous week.

Dunlin & Little Stint - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)

Little Stint - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
The Golden Plovers were so dense on one of the islands that it was almost a carpet of gold, highlighted by the reddish heather they were standing on.

Golden Plover - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
 The West flood was completely dry, the only spot a distant Green Woodpecker.
A very blurry Green Woodpecker - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
The path to the sluice gate revealed a female pheasant in the field to my right, a Robin, some House Sparrows and a Blackbird. A flock of Goldfinches also kept me company for a while whilst a closer study of the Black Tailed Godwits revealed a Bar Tailed Godwit in their midst which I managed to pick out as it stretched its wings revealing its barred tail.
Goldfinch - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
The next year spot was a flock of five Bearded Reedlings that flew past me near the sluice gate heading up the creek, despite many visits in the past this was the first time I had seen them. Excuse the blurry picture but they did not want to hang around for photos.

Bearded Reedling - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (14/10)
The walk to the Estuary revealed very little as it was now high tide. The estuary had a few Great Black Backed Gulls and a larger number of Black Headed Gulls whilst in the Swale were Brent Geese. Other spots for the day were Carrion Crows, Wood Pigeons, Herons and a Blue Tit. A total of 33 spots, not bad, especially as the tide was in.