Oare Marshes 3 February 2024

A mild morning chilled by a breeze greeted the five members who made the journey into East Kent. The tide was low and the Swale mud held numerous waders, mainly Redshanks interspersed with Oystercatchers and Dunlins with the odd Grey Plover and Curlew. The gulls included three Great Black-backed and a Common while some Brent Geese flew up the Swale and a Buzzard circled. On the sea wall two Rock Pipits appeared and were joined by a Meadow Pipit while among the reeds Stonechats and a Reed Bunting were perched. Close to the sea hide flocks of 100 Avocets and 70 Black-tailed Godwits had gathered before taking to the air in an impressive spectacle. There were a few Great Crested Grebes on the water and common seals were hauled up on the beaches. A couple of Turnstones flew in close. Close to the sluice gates a solitary Greenshank patrolled the mud on the Flood while a variety of ducks could be viewed including Teal, Shovelers, Gadwall, Pintails, Mallards and Shelducks. A visit to the marsh hide proved productive when a Spotted Redshank appeared in close attendance on the Greenshank. Shortly afterwards a Spoonbill landed and put on quite a performance in washing its plumage and then feeding directly in front of the Great Egret. For a final flourish a Sparrowhawk streaked alongside the road pursued by mobbing Crows. The time spent at the reserve yielded a species list of sixty. 

Next, four of the group decided to visit RSBP Blean Woods following reports of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers there. Sadly no LSW could be found but numerous woodland species were seen and heard, especially continuously vocal Blue Tits. At the end two redpolls were spotted feeding on seeds. One had mainly dark brown plumage and was obviously a Lesser Redpoll. The other was much paler. Photographs of it were sent for expert examination, the result of which determined it to be the much scarcer Common (sometimes called Mealy) Redpoll, a welcome consolation for the absence of the target species. Seventeen species were identified at the location.  

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