Sunday, 13 February 2011

Reculver and Stodmarsh (Grove Ferry)

Visiting my grandson in Kent at the minute so ventured out on Saturday as the forecast was reasonable. Grey and overcast in the morning but at 14.30 hours the sun burst forth and it was beautiful.
The morning and early afternoon was spent at Reculver, a spot on the north coast of Kent in between Herne Bay and Minnis Bay. The beaches here are disappointing to say the least and shingle is about all you will get. The nearest sand being at the local builders merchants. On leaving the car park 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were immediately viewed from the sea wall but in the wrong direction from where i was heading and i thought i would possibly see more later. All the usually birds along the strand line but within 10 minutes i had picked up 3 small birds on the shingle. Getting closer i could see they were Shorelarks, a first for me as i had missed out on the bird at Tynemouth. I was interested to read that numbers can vary greatly from winter to winter. As i was taking in the Shorelarks waves of birds appeared up the coastline heading my way but quite distant. I was struggling to figure out what they were initially. As they got closer i thought they might be geese of some sort but the size didn't look right. There was 3 waves of 30-40 loose flocks of birds, but as they got closer i could hear them and realised they were Brent Geese, the Dark-bellied race, the variety you get in the south from Norfolk down over. More skeins of geese drifted in and landed with the others just offshore. No sooner than they had met up when they all lifted and passed overhead to the other side of the sea wall and onto the fields. They passed back and forth between the shore and the fields continually for the couple of hours i spent in the area with another 100 plus joining the 300 i had previously counted. They are a pleasant goose to spend time watching as they aren't as harsh sounding as, say, Greylag or Canada. Add to this the fact that the Shorelarks were putting appearances i had a cracking morning. Shame about the light. A Hooded Crow had been sighted earlier in the day further along towards Minnis Bay but 2 ageing local birders i spent 20 minutes chatting with could not locate it so i stuck with what i had.
      Shorelarks at Reculver.
      Dark-bellied Brent Geese "commuting" between sea and land.
      I included this to give an idea of the size of these birds. Look at the gull in the background. Light conditions not good.

Back to the car for 1.30 p.m. and off for an hour or two at the Grove Ferry end of Stodmarsh. A Song Thrush was singing its heart out as i walked into the reserve and i heard Meadow Pipits and a Cettis Warbler in the next moments. A view from the ramp gave me over 600 Lapwing in amongst over 300 Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Mute Swan and a few Gadwall. The Feast Hide pond held more Teal in with a pair of Shelduck, Mallard, Coot and a lone Tufted Duck. In amongst the huge expanses of reed beds a Marsh Harrier was watched on two seperate occasions, elegantly gliding over the reeds in search of prey. One dropped and not spotted again the other drifting off into the distance. Unfortunately neither came close enough for an image but i had great views. No Bitterns or Bearded Reedlings for me today as i didn't venture too far. The underfoot conditions this time of year as you head into the marshes can be described as treacherous to say the least. It makes walking in Gosforth Park childs play.
      Tuftie in nice light.



  1. Sounds like your enjoying your birding down there John. Good that you got the Shore Larks. Brian

  2. Just the odd day out Brian. The Shorelarks were a bonus, especiaally after missing that one at Tyne mouth. It's quite quiet down here, much the same as up home. Back tomorrow.

  3. Sounds like your having a nice time John. Not using your poles to help u stay upright in the marshes??


  4. Only managed the one day out birding John. CAN'T AFFORD THE PETROL. Back in the chilly North East again today. I had forgotten how bad it gets in the winter at Stodmarsh. I nearly had my boots sucked off by the mud twice. We will have to organise a spring days birding out soon somewhere.

  5. Glad you had a good day out in this part of the world Brian.